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Jan 3 2012   2:17AM GMT

Basic Overview of SAP Business Workflow

Sasirekha R Profile: Sasirekha R

SAP Business Workflow

SAP Business Workflow can be used to define simple release or approval procedures, or more complex business processes such as creating a material master and the associated coordination of the departments involved. Workflow is used for automation of business processes in turn reducing manual work and enabling monitoring capability.

SAP Business Workflow is particularly suitable for:

  • situations in which work processes have to be run through repeatedly, or
  • Situations in which the business process requires the involvement of a large number of agents in a specific sequence.
  • Situations involving responding to errors and exceptions in other, existing business processes.

 The workflow mainly involves:

  • Events – Events are created to report status changes for an application object and to allow a reaction to the changes (e.g., Material XYZ created). These events can be used as triggering events for your workflows.
  • Tasks – A task contains a task description and the connection to the application logic via the method for a business object (e.g., Create Purchase Order). To use a task productively, you must assign the tasks to its possible agents. For differentiated control, the SAP task and customer-specific task can be used.
  • Object – Workflow routes the document among different persons who perform certain activities and the goal of the workflow can be put inside an object type. An object can be considered as a structure with certain data and some logic (e.g., FORMABSENC is an object in SAP that can be used for the notification of leave).
  • Business Workplace & Work Item – Business Workplace is a work area that an SAP user can use to carry out business Processes. For example, the inbox can be the workplace in which the manager receives the request. The request that the manager receives in this inbox is called a WORK ITEM. The manager can open it, check the details and approve the same.
  • Agent – An Agent is a person who executes a work item (e.g., the manager who approves the request).

In essence, workflow can be summarized as:

  • Workflow engine automates business processes.
  • Workflow can be triggered by an event.
  • Workflow definition consists of a sequence of steps.
  • Each step can be an activity (or a task). Task in turn refers to a method to implement a specific logic. Steps can also refer to user decision, and other programmatic controls.
  • Runtime representation of the step is called a work item. This work item sits in the inbox (business workplace) of the responsible agent assigned to the step.
  • Agent determination can also make use of Rule.

A simple and excellent document titled “SAP Workflow in Plain English” is available at http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/scn/go/portal/prtroot/docs/library/uuid/40a1a7ab-dcd5-2c10-63aa-9bc68b42e1f9?QuickLink=index&overridelayout=true.

SAP provides several workflows that map predefined business processes (e.g., Release a purchase requisition). SAP workflow automates the business processes (e.g., “leave application approval”, “place purchase order”) and can be used as cross application tool across various modules of SAP. The SAP workflows can also be used as templates for new workflow developments.

Effective use of SAP Workflow enables the incorporation of your enterprise specific business processes (approval hierarchies, business rules) along with the world-wide established best practices which the ERP tries to bring in place.

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