Let us go through an example scenario which incorporates various SAP NetWeaver 7.1 components focusing on its Business Process Management capabilities. This would assist us to practically understand the usage of each component.
Consider a very simple business case where an employee intends to apply for leave. To complicate the business case a bit, let us consider that the data involved in checking the employee's leave status is maintained on a non-SAP database system. Let's see what role an individual component could perform to complete an entire Business Process.
- Employee submits the leave application on a third party Leave Application Portal (say LAP - my naming convention) which is a web server based java application. This java application must trigger a workflow in the SAP system to initiate the leave approval process.
- The call from such a third party application does not belong to SAP's understandable formats. One of the solutions here could be developing a point-to-point linkage with the SAP system holding the workflow. However, this would enhance the much-feared tightly coupled organizational systems layout. In order to achieve a strategic integration solution, a better approach would be to route the Leave Application call through SAP Process Integration 7.1 (PI 7.1) to the SAP system. This would ensure that the communicating systems remains loosely coupled. SAP PI executable version of BPM (ccBPM) would be triggered to manage the entire integration process.
- Once SAP PI passes the trigger data as a Business Object to SAP system, the Business Workflow gets triggered. In SAP NetWeaver 7.1 point of view, SAP Business Workflows belongs to SAP Core Application Process category. The workflow should internally check the database for balance leave for the employee. Therefore the workflow has to communicate with an external database. Again, the need for central integration logic is fulfilled by SAP PI to fetch the employee's data at real time.
- The next step is to take the leave approval from the Manager. At this point of time, the need for Human Interaction model arises. This could be accomplished using SAP NetWeaver CE 7.1. The workflow creates work items which is accessible to the manager in its inbox. For a complex business case, a requirement here could be use of external business process modeling tool like IDS Scheer Designer or SAP Business Server and Publisher. For this sample case, a simple solution could be picked wherein these work items could be captured at a distinct location using Universal Work List (UWL). UWL here can be considered as a component of SAP Portal which behaves as a central resource to access the work items generated across various systems (ERP, CRM, SRM) within an organization. If the manager approves the leave request, the notification is sent to the LAP through SAP PI channel. In case of rejection, the employee would get a notification based on which again the process could get repeated.
This small example thus shows the possibility of using various SAP NetWeaver 7.1 components to achieve end-to-end business process solution.