Maintaining Picklists in the Picklist Center


After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Maintain picklists using the Picklist Center

Manage picklists in SAP SuccessFactors

A picklist is a configurable set of options from which a user can select, typically in a dropdown menu or smart search list. You can define the picklists used in your system to limit the values a user can enter in a form, preventing them from entering an invalid value. Picklists can also have a "parent-child" relationship, in which options in the child picklist are associated with options in the parent picklist. These are also called "cascading picklists".

For example, in places where users must select a country, they might also need to select a state or province within that country. Rather than have one very long list of all the possible states and provinces in all countries, you want the options in the State picklist to be dependent on the Country selection. In this way, users can only choose a state or province that is within the country they selected. To do this, you would set up the Country picklist as the "parent" and each corresponding State or Province picklist as its "children".

Historically, picklists in different SAP SuccessFactors solutions have been managed using different tools: the Picklists import/export tool for legacy picklists and the Metadata Framework (MDF) tools for MDF picklists. Management of legacy picklists is cumbersome and error prone.

Picklist Center

As an administrator, you can manage picklists using the Picklist Center. In order to do that, you will need Picklist Management and Picklist Mappings Set Up permission.

Picklists, picklist versions, or picklist values cannot be deleted. You can only deactivate a picklist, picklist version, or picklist value.

Picklists can also be imported and exported. If your instance has been migrated to MDF picklists, you can see the new required field LegacyPicklistID added to the exported CSV file and the picklist import template.

Explanation of Picklist Fields and Picklist Values Fields

Picklist Fields

CodeUnique business key that is used to identify the picklist. (If you are familiar with legacy picklists, this is the equivalent of the picklist ID.)
Parent PicklistA picklist can have a parent picklist. For example, if only certain states can be chosen when a specific country is selected, the Country picklist is the parent of the State picklist. When legacy picklists are migrated to MDF picklists, an optionId is generated for existing MDF picklist values. For legacy picklist options that have been migrated, the existing optionId is stored in the mapping table.
Display OrderOrder in which the picklist values are listed in the picklist dropdown, for example, alphabetically or numerically.
NameUnique name of the picklist. For example, if the picklist is for the type of address (home, mailing, business, billing, and so on), you could name the picklist "Address Type".
StatusSpecifies whether the picklist is active or inactive, that is, whether it is available for use.
Effective Start Date

A picklist can have different sets of picklist values for different start dates.

Example: To add a new value New York to the Location picklist but you want this picklist to be available for this location after January 1, 2017. Enter in 01/01/2017 as the effective date, the picklist with the new value is available after January 1, 2017.

At this stage, Employee Central UI does not respect MDF picklist effective dating.
Legacy Picklist ID

The legacy picklist IDs can be edited from the Picklist Center after the migration to MDF.

Instance sync on picklists is no longer allowed if the combinations of external code and legacy picklist ID in source and target instance do not match. You can edit the legacy picklist ID to make sure that they match. The legacy picklist ID must be unique across all picklists.

Picklist Value Fields

External CodeMDF external code. A unique business key that is used to identify the picklist value, for example, state_Alabama.
Non-unique External CodeLegacy external code. Unlike the MDF external code, it can be blank or duplicated.
Parent Picklist ValueFor example, if the external code is state_Alabama, the parent picklist value would be United States. If the value is state_Alberta, the parent picklist value would be Canada.
LabelFor example, if the external code is state_Alabama, the label would be Alabama.

Importing and exporting MDF Picklists

The Import and Export Data tool is used to import and export picklists.

Exporting MDF Picklists

Exporting picklists allow you to migrate the picklists from one instance to another with the existing configurations. To export picklists:

  1. From the Action Search, go to Import and Export Data.
  2. From the Select the action to perform dropdown, select Export Data. A field corresponding to Export Data appears.
  3. From the Select Generic Object dropdown, select Picklist.
  4. From theInclude Dependencies dropdown, select Yes to include the dependencies or No to not include the dependencies.
  5. To export the Entity ID and Record ID, select Yes from theInclude Immutable IDs dropdown otherwise select No.
  6. To export the reference objects, select No from the Exclude reference objects dropdown else select Yes.
  7. To export all the picklists, select Yes from theSelect all data records dropdown. If you select No, a Select Objects dropdown appears. Here, you can specify which specific picklists you want to export.
  8. Click Export.

An export job is triggered. You can track the status of this job from the Action Search → Monitor Jobs. When the status of this job is Completed, you can download the picklist package using the Download Status link.


The results of the export of picklist values may differ from the values shown in Picklist Center due to the selection of effective start date of the values. The export will always show all the records of all the effective dates that exists.

Importing MDF Picklists

Similar to export, you can also import your picklist. Once you are done making changes to the exported picklist, you can import it back. You can import a picklist in two ways - CSV import and ZIP import.

Select the type of import relevant to your situation:

  • Use CSV import if you want to make minor changes like - updating existing values, changing a label or adding values to the picklist.
  • Use ZIP import if you want to do full purge or change the picklist headers and values separately. For more information about this second option, please review the Implementing the Metadata Framework (MDF) guide on the Help Portal.

Using CSV Import with MDF Picklists

  1. From the Action SearchImport and Export Data .
  2. SelectImport Datafrom the Select the action to perform drop-down list. Fields corresponding to Import Data appear and by default CSV File tab is selected.
  3. Select a picklist from the Select Generic Object drop-down list.
  4. Select Choose File to select the CSV file to import in the File field.
  5. Specify the file encoding from the File Encoding dropdown list.
  6. Select Incremental Load from the Purge Type dropdown list.

    You are not allowed to use Full Purge in CSV format as it leads to data loss. For example, if a picklist is referenced by an object, then after the full purge the reference goes off.

  7. Select Yes to remove redundant effective-dated records from the Suppress Redundant Date-Effective Records dropdown list. Otherwise, select No.
  8. Choose Business Key or External Code as the Key preference. Make sure that you select the same key preference as the one you chose when you exported the picklist.
  9. Choose Yes in the Use Locale Format and select the locale in the Locale field. Otherwise, choose No.
  10. Choose Yes in the Enable Decimal Round Option field if you want to round decimal values. Otherwise, choose No.
  11. Choose User Id orAssignment ID as the Identity type. Make sure that you select the same identity type as the one you chose when you exported the picklist.
  12. Choose Import and check the import status in the Monitor Job tool.

Create a New Picklist for a Standard Element

Business example

Your customer has decided to attach a picklist to the Region field in People Profile. You are creating a new picklist in Picklist Center. In the next exercise, you will learn to create a link between the Region field and this new picklist.

Task 1: Create a new picklist


  1. Use the Action Search to navigate to Picklist Center.

  2. Select the + icon to create a new picklist.

  3. Fill in the data from this table.

    Effective Start DateJan 1, 1900
    Display OrderAlphabetical
    Parent PicklistNo Selection
    Legacy Picklist IDLeave blank
  4. Choose Save.

  5. Each time, choose the + icon to add a picklist value and add the following regions:

    • Africa (external code: AF)

    • Asia (external code: AS)

    • Europe (external code: EU)

    • Middle East (external code: ME)

    • North America (external code: NA)

    • South America (external code: SA)

Task 2: Add a Picklist reference to the Data Model

You are required to add a picklist reference to your data model.


This exercise depends on the Succession Data Model XML file configured previously.


  1. In your XML editor, open the XML file from previous exercises and add a picklist reference to Region picklist.

    1. Choose FileOpen.

    2. Navigate to the file latest version of the data model.

    3. Locate the standard element with the ID custom01.

    4. Insert a blank line after the </label> tag and before the </standardelement> tag.

    5. In the new line, enter <picklist id="region"/>.

  2. Validate your changes and save your updated version of the data model.

    1. From the menu bar, choose XMLValidate.

    2. If there are any errors, review your configurations and update as required.

    3. Choose FileSave As.

    4. In the File name field, save the file as a new version.

    5. Choose Save.

  3. Upload the new version of the Succession Data Model and test the modification in your instance.

    1. Go to ProvisioningImport/Export Data Model.

    2. Make sure that the radio button Import File is selected and browse for your latest Succession Data Model xml.

    3. Choose Submit.

    4. Log in to your instance and go to the Profile. Edit thePersonal Information and make sure that the Region field is connected to a picklist.

Log in to track your progress & complete quizzes