Introduction To SAP Workflow

What is the purpose of using SAP Workflow?

Implementing SAP Workflow ensures that the right work is brought in the right sequence at the right time to the right people.  It is a tool designed to facilitate and automate business processes that require tasks to be performed by people. Ideal for casual or non-SAP users, since all the work items can be performed outside of SAP by simply responding to an email, SAP workflow can be linked to Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes.
 
Each step of a business transaction can be easily monitored and processes are completed from the beginning to the end. Workflow allows process owners to keep an eye on deadlines, provides statistics on the length of time to complete work processes, determine the workload with regard to individual employees and save processing time.  Since Workflow delivers work items to employees automatically via email, they do not have to wait or inquire about the status of a particular transaction.
 

Short Business Example

SAP Business Workflow can also be used to respond to errors and exceptions - it can start when predefined events occur. For example, an event can be triggered if particular errors are found during an automatic check of the data SAP workflow is particularly useful when there is a business process involving more than one person, when an automatic notification can replace a manual communication and when there is a defined set of individuals and/or documents implicated.
 
It organizes one's work, alerts users and directs traffic by sending work items - once the user executes the work item, then another one can be sent to another user. For example, a Manager could use workflow to approve a vacation request from an employee. The workflow application would ensure that each person involved uses the correct online form and successfully completes their step before the planned leave was entered into SAP - either by an Administrator or automatically. By the same token, if someone registers for a training class, Workflow can act as an alert tool by notifying the supervisor in question or reminding the individual of an upcoming class. 
 

Implementation

Before implementing SAP Business Workflow, organizations should start by asking a series of questions, such as:
 
- Which HR processes do we want to automate? 

- To what extent can we change current procedures and pass them over to electronic control?
 
- What steps are these procedures made up of? 

- Who are the individuals involved and what are their roles? 

- How do we get the Work item to go to the right people?  

Even though Workflow can be implemented via user-defined tables without the Organizational Management component in place, having a pre-defined organizational structure adds tremendous value and saves time. A clear reporting structure made up of positions and position holders that is maintained by the HR department, ensures the ongoing ease-of-maintenance effort. The ability of HR personnel to add and delete users from positions as people come and go, without affecting your core workflows, is a tremendous long-term benefit. If you have Personnel Administration in place, employee's email addresses can also be maintained by the HR department in addition to employee’s respective Time/HR and Payroll administrators who might be involved in the Workflow.
 
 
External Email Connection

There are basically three options for connecting workflow to external email: Microsoft Outlook / Exchange, Lotus Notes or SAP Connect and Internet Mail.  A key factor in SAP R/3 4.6 onwards implementations and upgrades will be the use of a Web browser as the main workflow interface.
 

In Summary

SAP Business Workflow is a tool to automate complex business processes where there is more than one user involved. SAP workflow maps the position in organization because SAP believes that Positions are more stable than the people.

The SAP Workflow is a process tool that is designed to facilitate and automate business processes involving the tasks sequence performed by the users (people in the workplace) and ensure that the right work is assigned in the right sequence at the right time to the right person in the workflow. The SAP workflow can be linked to other software tools such as Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes. Using SAP Workflow, each step of a business transaction can be easily monitored throughout the initiation and completion of the business  processes. The SAP Workflow enables the process owners to track deadlines, determine the workload as well as provide statistics on the length of time to complete work processes.

The key components of the SAP Workflow include the Workflow Definition, Work Items, Events triggers and the Organizational Structure in the workplace.

Technically SAP Workflow is an integrated part of the SAP application components.

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