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SAP Workflow Management

SAP Workflow Management: The Ultimate Guide

By 15. Dezember 2019Mai 26th, 2021No Comments

Do you remember your first day at your company? Did you already have all the necessary working materials? Were your laptop and cell phone ready at your workstation? If you can answer yes to the questions, your company implemented onboarding well, and you certainly felt positively received at the time.
Now you’re probably wondering what your onboarding has to do with the SAP Workflow Service? The goal of SAP Workflow Management is to increase the efficiency of such processes. This includes translating them into meaningful, easy-to-understand and automated workflows. The increasing use of process automation should enable companies to take advantage of digitization and respond more quickly to challenging situations. In diesem Zusammenhang wird SAP Workflow Service auf der SAP BTP zur Erstellung von Workflows eingesetzt.

SAP Intelligent Business Process Management Übersicht

In the onboarding example, one such workflow is the selection and ordering of devices. However, the workflow does not cover the entire process. A visit to your new employer’s office and a nice chat with your new boss were part of the process, but not part of the workflow. Workflow is the part of the business process that can be performed with IT support. It describes the operational and technical view of the business processes to be supported. This description should be so precise that the next activity is always determined by the result of the previous activity. The individual activities within a workflow are therefore usually interdependent.

Let’s look at the example of selecting your laptop: The workflow should describe that if the manager rejects a laptop, another laptop must be selected. The manager must then reconfirm the selection. In case of confirmation, the order is sent to an IT system, whereupon the further steps, such as placing the order, are carried out. A workflow also has a defined start, a structured flow and a defined end. For example, the workflow for the integration process of a new employee from the HR system could be started by calling an interface. This triggers the process described above. After confirming the selected notebook and transferring the order into an appropriate system, the workflow could end with an email to all parties involved.

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What is the SAP Workflow Service?

As mentioned earlier, SAP Workflow Service is dedicated to workflows between different systems or people and is part of SAP Workflow Management. Below we take a closer look at how you can use the workflow service.
With a workflow, you can create, execute, and manage workflows. The aim of these workflows is to structure and partially automate processes. One example of this is the induction of new employees.
Workflows can range from simple approvals to end-to-end processes across multiple organizations and applications. You can also use the SAP Workflow Service if the integrated software solutions are not from SAP. Third-party applications can be used within workflows by using a special task type to invoke REST-based interface.

In short, the SAP Workflow Service provides the ability to quickly and easily coordinate activities between people, applications, and organizations. It offers many basic and recurring functionalities and requirements for the development and management of workflows and thus serves the efficient design and automation of processes.

Advantages of the SAP Workflow Service

Why should you use the SAP Workflow Service? Let’s take a look at the benefits of the workflow service.

SAP Workflow Service provides its own interfaces. One of these interfaces allows you to launch an instance of the workflow. A possible workflow trigger could be an event in an HR system that is triggered when a new employee joins the company. The SAP Workflow Service interface is called by an HTTP call and the workflow is started. Alternatively, it is also possible to create a form-based user interface for starting workflows.

SAP Cloud Platform Workflow

Within a workflow task, you can call REST-based interfaces. The data of the workflow context is available. You can also call interfaces in the HR system. This option saves you programming effort. You can use SAP Cloud Integration to call SOAP or RFC interfaces. You also have the option to run JavaScript code, for example, to process data.

You have various options for user interfaces, e.g. for confirming or rejecting requests. On the one hand, you can realize this via your own SAPUI5-based user interface. On the other hand, you can quickly create a form-based user interface using the Workflow Service. In the integrated „My Inbox“ of Fiori Launchpad you can see the tasks with the corresponding user interface. Since other tasks are also collected there, it is not necessary to switch to a different application for each process. Alternatively, you can use the interfaces to create a completely standalone user interface.

For administrators, the Fiori Launchpad also provides applications that allow you to manage and monitor running workflows. Integration with other services from SAP’s intelligent business process management portfolio can help you gain better insight into your processes. One example is the Process Visibility Service.

For developers, the SAP Workflow Service offers additional advantages. For example, you can define the responsible agents or groups from the context, calculate and display due dates, and much more.

In summary, the reasons for using SAP Workflow Service are as follows:

  • The functionalities increase development speed and reduce development costs,
  • Web-based tools support rapid development and modification of workflow applications,
  • Increase productivity within processes through targeted task distribution and creation of transparency.
  • The service’s foundational work and connectivity to other services help provide insight into your processes. This way, you can extend your business processes through cloud applications and workflows and adapt them to your specific needs.

Alternative to SAP Workflow Service

In addition to the service in the SAP Business Technology Platform, the SAP portfolio includes other special solutions for workflows. With regard to the advantages of the service in the cloud platform, you should make a comparison with other solutions. This gives you the opportunity to choose the right tool for their specific requirement.

In addition to SAP Workflow Service, there is another solution that deals primarily with workflows: SAP NetWeaver Business Process Management, a module of SAP Process Orchestration. A first major difference can be seen in the supported scenarios. SAP Business Process Management can also be used in system-centric processes, i.e. processes that focus on communication between systems without human interaction. The workflow service on the SAP Business Technology platform, on the other hand, works asynchronously. Since system-centric processes often require fast response times, the additional use of SAP Cloud Integration is recommended for such system-centric processes in the cloud.

Other differences are more technical. For example, the programming languages supported and the underlying data models differ. These more technical differences will be neglected in the following, but may play a role in certain situations, e.g. due to the technical competence of the employees or special constraints in a project.

In addition to SAP Workflow Service and SAP Business Process Management, some SAP solutions also offer their own workflow tools that are integrated into the solution. These include, for example, SAP Cloud for Customer, a component of SAP Service Cloud. These tools usually do not offer the same range of functions for modeling and orchestrating workflows, but they are very well integrated into the individual solution.

Recommendation

When making decisions, you should consider two variables in particular: the environment or system involved and the goal or use case to be achieved.

When looking at environments, the key difference is whether it is a cloud or on-premises application. In the use cases, a distinction must be made between local use cases and cross-system workflows.

Cloud applications

– SAP Workflow Service in SAP Business Technology Platform is the first choice for automating SAP business processes. It can be used universally, but is particularly suitable for SAP environments.
– SAP Workflow Service is also the preferred solution when an organization’s central strategy requires a single workflow management tool, especially when considering the broader capabilities of the intelligent business process management portfolio, such as process visualization and rules management.

If the central strategy allows for multiple workflow management solutions, there are some cases where other solutions are better suited for specific individual requirements.

– When regulatory requirements prohibit the use of cloud services for process automation, use SAP Business Process Management to orchestrate cross-system processes, even in environments where third-party systems must be included in the process.
– When extending a local process without communication with third-party systems, you should use the workflow tools integrated in various solutions.
– For cloud products such as SAP S/4HANA Cloud or components of SAP Service Cloud, you can also use the workflow tools integrated into the solutions to automate simple standard processes. These workflow tools are typically tightly coupled with the application and provide business design and process control without requiring you to learn BPMN, for example.

On-premise applications

The answer for the on-premise environment of SAP S/4HANA is similar to the one described above. Here you have the choice of developing classic SAP Business Workflows or new flexible workflow scenarios. It is recommended to use the flexible workflow extension. This is the solution of choice for applications integrated with SAP S/4HANA, such as procurement or sales, and gives your process experts more options. Only fall back on classic workflows if the flexible workflow options are not sufficient.
In either scenario, be alert from the outset to identify signs of non-standard processes or the need for integration or orchestration with other systems and applications. These are signs that the SAP Workflow Service is the better choice.
With this information, you should be able to make a fairly confident decision about which solution to deploy.

Differences between SAP Workflow Service in Neo and Cloud Foundry

In addition to the general differences between the two runtime environments, the respective implementation of the SAP Workflow Service differs between the Neo and Cloud Foundry runtime environments.

Cloud Foundry
Neo
Development
- SAP Web IDE (in the Neo environment) - Only the DiDeveloper and Space Developer roles are required.
SAP Web IDE
Interfaces
- No separate CSRF token required when calling OAuth-protected resources. - API calls by the Approuter require a Get call to generate a token by the Approuter. Use X-CSRF token API from UIs. - The API endpoints are different. - Access from UIs is different.
POST/PATCH/PUT/DELETE requires CSRF protection.
Deployment
Multi-target application to deploy or transport all modules together
Workflow, forms and user interfaces are provided individually.
Service instances
- Multiple service instances per Space. - Workflow definitions are provided at the subaccount level (no isolation of data across Spaces in a subaccount).
One service instance per subaccount
Authentication
OAuth - Use Prinicipal Propagation for all service calls. - Client ID and Secret at the workflow service instance level. - Cloud Foundry with XSUAA.
Basic and OAuth
Fiori Launchpad Page
Defined in Web IDE and deployed via MTA.
Automatic provision of FLP content for the standard page, configuration cockpit
Availability
AWS in Frankfurt and US East. More regions planned.
SAP data centers in different regions.
Functionalities
Some new functionalities only in Cloud Foundry environment, e.g. integration with Process Visibility, form-start UIs, etc.

SAP recommends using SAP Workflow Service in the Cloud Foundry runtime environment.

Big Picture

SAP Workflow Service joins a number of other services that, when combined, become a more powerful tool.

These include, for example, the SAP Fiori Launchpad and Portal. This is where the „My Inbox“ is located, where end users can see their due tasks, among other things. In addition, you can find the Monitor Workflows application on the Fiori Launchpad.

SAP Cloud Platform Workflow - Big Picture

The upper right corner shows the Web IDE. It contains, for example, the workflow editor, options for designing user interfaces and configuring the SAP Fiori Launchpad pages.
With the SAP Web IDE workflow editor, you can directly use the services provided in the SAP API Business Hub. If the APIs are not available in the API Business Hub, you can also call other REST or OData interfaces. For example, if you want to make SOAP or IDOC calls, you can use SAP Cloud Integration.
With the SAP Workflow Service in the Cloud Foundry runtime environment, you can also use the other two services in the SAP Workflow Management portfolio: Process Visibility and Business Rules. With Process Visibility, for example, you can track process flows and thus identify error situations.
In addition to the services mentioned above, other REST-based services can also be called directly, regardless of whether they are SAP or non-SAP services.

Further information

The first place to go for further information is the SAP help page. There you will find all the information you need for the solution – the administration manual and the user guide.

The help page links to the official Learning Journey for SAP Workflow Service. This shows a possible way to learn about the service, albeit with a focus on the Neo runtime environment. In addition to the Learning Journey, a missionon the developer side of SAP is a good idea. This mission describes how to build and deploy an extension of the SAP SuccessFactors employee onboarding scenario using Workflow, Business Rules, and Process Visibility.

In conclusion, it is useful to search for knowledge in the community as well. The official SAP community can also help with this. A first step is to search theSAP blogswith the tag SAP Workflow Service.

In addition to the official SAP pages, consulting companies also publish other articles based on their experience.

With these sources in hand, you should be able to find the answers to most of your questions. If something is unclear, you can also use our contact form and ask us a question.

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Summary

What is the SAP Workflow Service?

SAP Workflow Service deals with workflows between different systems or people and is part of the SAP Workflow Management portfolio.
With a workflow, you can create, execute, and manage workflows. The aim of these workflows is to structure and partially automate processes.

What are the benefits of SAP Workflow Service?

In summary, the benefits for using SAP Workflow Service are as follows:
The functionalities increase the speed of development and reduce development costs, web-based tools support the rapid development and modification of workflow applications, increase productivity within processes through targeted task distribution and creation of transparency.

What differentiates SAP Workflow Service in the Neo and Cloud Foundry environments?

In addition to the general differences between the two runtime environments, the respective implementation of the SAP Workflow Service differs between the Neo and Cloud Foundry runtime environments. Some functionalities are only available in Cloud Foundry

What is an alternative to SAP Workflow Service?

In addition to SAP Workflow Service, there is another solution that deals primarily with workflows: SAP NetWeaver Business Process Management, a module of SAP Process Orchestration. Depending on the situation, one or the other alternative may make more sense.

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