Workday vs. SAP SuccessFactors: Comparing Key Features and Functionality

Workday and SAP SuccessFactors are two human capital management (HCM) solutions that provide a wide range of HR features to medium, large and enterprise companies. Some of those features include recruiting, payroll, compensation and learning. 

In this post, we’ll compare each software on various factors to help businesses make the right purchasing decision. 

Product Overviews

Workday: Workday was founded in 2005 by Dave Duffield and Aneel Bhusri when their PeopleSoft solution was acquired by Oracle. They wanted a different goal for Workday: to provide an intuitive cloud-based software that unifies all HR and finance data and features for total visibility. Workday’s HCM software is aimed at medium and large companies – especially companies with global employees, to help them better plan their workforce.


SAP SuccessFactors: SuccessFactors is a cloud-based HCM software that was acquired by SAP in 2011. SAP SuccessFactors provides adaptable core HR features through three modules to control central HR processes. Those modules are: Employees Central, Employees Central Payroll and Employees Central Service Center. It also sells strategic HR modules, such as recruiting, learning and compensation, to name a few.

How They Stack Up


Workday: Workday’s full range of HCM features include workforce planning, recruiting, talent management, learning, time and attendance, payroll, benefits and compensation. It can be customizable for a business’ unique workforce needs. For example, Workday supports multiple currencies of companies that have multiple locations in different countries. 

Workday also includes a workforce-planning tool that helps companies analyze their workforce (labor costs, what positions need talent, etc.). Users access at-a-glance dashboards that are customized by team, department or even the whole company. With these dashboards, they can look at specific metrics, drill down into the data and get recommendations on course of action. 

SAP SuccessFactors: Like Workday, SAP SuccessFactors includes a wide range of core and strategic HR features. In addition to the three core HR modules mentioned above, it offers different modules that form an integrated suite. Those modules are: recruiting, onboarding, learning, succession and development, performance and goals, compensation, time and attendance management, workforce planning and workforce analytics. 

SAP SuccessFactors also offers cross-suite solutions to help companies improve employee engagement. Those solutions are: diversity and inclusion, health and well-being, and total workforce management.  

Bottom Line: Both Workday and SAP SuccessFactors offer the same HR features, however, each vendor offers those features somewhat differently. For example, SAP SuccessFactors offers a dedicated onboarding module, while Workday bundles its onboarding features with its performance management and succession-planning features into its talent management package. 

Implementation & Training

Workday: Workday uses a partner network for its deployment strategy. Each process depends on the client’s unique requirements and needs, but there’s a general five-step deployment process: 1.) project plan review; 2.) integration approach review; 3.) prototype configuration review; 4.) test review; 5.) final configuration review. The implementation timeline varies by company, but Workday claims that 85% of its clients have gone live with the new software within a year. 

Workday also provides a variety of training methods, such as classroom training, on-demand training, virtual classrooms and self-service online training. There is also an adoption toolkit that contains videos, job aids and marketing materials. 

SAP SuccessFactors: SAP SuccessFactors provides a variety of implementation services that range from prepackaged implementation plans to companies that want a fully customized solution. Its Advisory Services team meets with the client to discuss the client’s unique requirements and figure out the best practice of SuccessFactors deployment. SAP SuccessFactors also employ an integration delivery team to help clients integrate SuccessFactors with either SAP products or the client’s existing applications. 

Training is provided by the SAP Education system. SAP offers instructor-led specialized training and certification programs for a variety of SuccessFactors modules. SAP also offers a subscription-based service called SAP Learning Hub for users to access any training content on any of its products anywhere. 

Bottom Line: While each vendor has a general implementation strategy, the phases and timelines are based on a client’s unique requirements. The main difference here is SAP leverages its in-house resources for implementation while Workday relies on a partner network. 

Customer Support 

Workday: Workday offers a premium support service, Customer Success Management program, for clients that want to work with a dedicated customer support manager. The client works with a manager on long-term strategy and continued benefits of using the Workday software. This includes regular review of Workday usage, recommendations on further training and ensuring the client gets the right support for troubleshooting issues. 

Users can also contact the Workday Support team for questions or issues. The user can file a request for support via the online Workday Customer Center. Once the request has been made, users will receive a case number and a confirmation email, as well as status updates. The request then gets routed to the appropriate customer service representative. 

Customers can access Workday Community to receive additional resources, such as product documentation, get information on new features and communicate with other customers. 

SAP SuccessFactors: The SAP Enterprise support package includes a variety of offerings for users. First, there is the customer community for users to communicate and share ideas on issues with the software or general HR topics. There is also a support portal for browsing through articles and videos and submitting support requests. In addition, users can reach out for support via live chat, and they can learn more about SuccessFactors via webinars. 

SAP offers its SAP Preferred Care option for clients that want to work with a dedicated support manager. This option provides mission-critical support and best practices for escalating support issues.  For example, a priority 4 support (low priority support) response time would be within eight hours, rather than the two business days that SAP Enterprise support provides. The customer support manager also provides guidance in scaling up or down the solution, as well as help in navigating new product releases. 

Bottom Line: Both vendors offer similar customer service support for end users and optional priority support and access to a dedicated customer support manager. However, SAP offers end users an option to contact support via live chat, but Workday does not. 


Workday: As it’s an enterprise-level software, Workday is not designed for small businesses (companies with less than 100 employees). Also, some users have reported that the interface is not always intuitive – for instance, it takes a few clicks to complete certain processes, such as generating reports. 

SAP SuccessFactors: Some users have reported that SAP SuccessFactors can be challenging to learn and not always intuitive. Also, users have reported that customer service support tends to be slow – in one instance, it took a week or two for a simple support ticket resolution. 

Bottom Line: The one common shortcoming is that the interface has a learning curve and users desire shorter clicks to run processes. When evaluating each software, it’s key to ask for client references so you can find out not just their positive experiences but also any issues they’ve encountered. 

Note about Pricing 

Both vendors do not publicly release their pricing information, so you’ll have to contact each of them directly for an accurate quote. Be aware that implementation is a separate cost, so you’ll need to ask for those prices also. Any premium support (such as access to a dedicated customer support manager) is a separate cost as well. 


Both Workday and SAP SuccessFactors provide very similar HRMS features, training and customer support services. However, it’s best to first figure out what your business goals and requirements are, as well as must-have features. Once you do that, take the time to evaluate each vendor carefully (asking questions, participating in demos, etc.). 

Workday and SAP SuccessFactors aren’t the only HRMS solutions on the market. We’ve featured over 35 HRMS reviews on our site for small, medium and large-sized companies. 

Finally, if you’re looking for a primer on HRMS solutions in general, head over to our Definitive Guide to HRMS. Here, we detail the benefits, features and what to look for when purchasing a solution.  

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