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Workflow FAQ - General Questions

General workflow info - What it is and how it can help your company. Links to further info, documentation and tutorials

Workflow Basics

Answers

Where can I find info on my workflow scenario?

Also on help.sap.com: In the SAP library help "Scenarios in Applications" -> Workflow
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Would someone please post the questions and answers for the workflow certification exam?

No.
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What is the WUG and how do I get involved?

The Workflow User Group is a mailing list. You can subscribe to the SAP-WUG mailing list at:
http://mailman.mit.edu/mailman/listinfo/sap-wug
Alan also has some further info over here.
Alternatively, see note 217229: Consultants forum for SAP Business Workflow/WebFlow
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Why is the WUG not on SDN?

The Business Process Management (BPM) forum contains a lot of workflow postings although currently the mailing list has about twice the amount of traffic.
Why? Because people prefer it this way (wink)
Some people find email is more convenient as it's delivered to an inbox, rather than having to log on to a website. It is also easier to work with offline, for those of us who are on the road a lot.
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How do I search through the WUG archives?

The archives are at http://mailman.mit.edu/pipermail/sap-wug/
As Alan Rickayzen has described over here, you can easily search them using Google: start with this link and add your search terms AFTER the existing terms (e.g. "site:mailman.mit.edu sap-wug ESS workflow").
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What is the difference between WebFlow and SAP Business Workflow?

None! The name 'WebFlow' was established during the internet boom to highlight the internet features of SAP Business Workflow. But nowadays, the internet is no longer exotic and it makes no sense to focus on a User Interface in the Web Browser (e.g. the Universal Worklist iView in SAP Enterprise Portal user package) or an internet-based protocol such as wf-xml. So WebFlow is synonymous with SAP Business Workflow and vice versa.
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What's the difference between SAP Business Workflow and the Business Process Management Engine?

XI and workflow run on the Business Process Management Engine.
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How do I convince my company to use workflow?

Feedback from user groups emphasises that although the competitive advantage gained by using workflow eclipses the financial savings, it is the financial savings that are the deciding factor when obtaining support from senior management. Projects getting the blessing at the CEO level are much easier to manage, and far more likely to reach their goal within the project time frame. So plan well, and don't neglect the business case.
Because the following question deals with the financial case in more detail, this section will finish by listing the competitive advantages.

The quality of the process is assured by pushing the relevant information together with links to related transactions directly to the user. Managers don't have the time to search for information so give them what they need to reach the correct decision.

Cycle time is reduced by pushing the process directly to the users. The users receive notification of a task immediately and can even be prioritized by the system.

The tasks are performed consistently and diligently by the users. The workflow system pushes all the necessary information needed to perform a task, including a clear description of what has to be done, how to do it and the impact this task has on the business process for your company. At any time, the user can check the list of tasks pending and determine at a glance which are the important tasks, and which tasks can be completed the next day without any negative impact.

The process instance is transparent. Any user can check at any time how far the process has progressed and which stage the process has reached. For example the call centre can immediately see the status of a purchase order, an employee requisitioning a purchase would see at a glance if a colleague has been sitting on it for too long, the ad hoc notes made when approving an engineering change request are visible long after the request has gone into production.

The process is flexible, allowing it to be changed on the fly without retraining everyone involved. The description accompanying the change takes care of on-the-fly process improvements.

Deadline handing ensures that users perform the tasks within the time planned. Escalation measures ensure that the failure to meet a deadline can be corrected by other means.

Intelligent reporting highlights the weaknesses of a process. Often there is a simple cure to such weaknesses such as reeducating the users involved in the bottleneck or providing additional information (automatically). The difficulty of a non-automated process is identifying such bottlenecks.

The process definition is transparent. You can see at a glance how the process works and who will be selected to perform the different tasks. Think of the workflow as the process book. If you can spot the pattern and define the process without headaches, you can create a workflow definition effortlessly. However, don't forget that if a company has business processes that are erratic and lack a consistent pattern, the company is very likely to be losing a lot of money in terms of lost contracts, labour intensive administration and low customer confidence. It is my personal opinion that automating exactly this type of processes will yield the best returns, but only if you limit yourself to automating the basic skeleton of the process first. Don't get bogged down in the detailed exception handling. That can be done in the next phase once you've checked the process statistics and determined which exceptions are worth tackling.

As with most software the reasons for automating business processes are primarily to increase the competitive edge of your company and to cut costs. Although the increase in competitively gained by radically reducing process times is by far the most insignificant gain from workflow, you should not ignore the cost savings. The cost saving calculations are needed by upper management in order to approve workflow projects. This upper management signature will be very useful in different phases of the project and cannot be underestimated.
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How do I calculate the cost saved by workflow?

Calculate the cost of the manual process in terms of man hours. Don't neglect the time spent gathering information. Ask the following questions:

Is the user forced to log into different systems, or scan through printed documentation....?
Does a skilled user spend time on parts of a task, where less skilled (less expensive) user could do the groundwork? I.e. Can a single task be split into skilled and unskilled tasks to free the skilled worker for work where his/her skills are really needed?
Is time spent researching the progress of a process (usually done by someone not involved in the process directly)?
Is time spent determining who to give the task to next?

Probably the most significant cost will the be the cost of failure:

How often does the process fail?
What is the real cost of failure? Loss of a contract? Loss of a customer? Law suit?
If the failure can be rectified, how labour intensive is it?
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What are all the different inboxes that can be used for workflow?

UWL The Universal WorkList is an iView component available if you use the web based Enterprise Portal.
BBPAPPROVAL is used primarily on SRM systems.
SBWP, the SAP Business WorkPlace is the basic R/3 inbox available on all backend systems.
BWSP is the Web / ITS version of the SBWP.
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1 Comment

  1. The last question "What are all the different inboxes..." should link to Jocelyn Dart's excellent recent blog:

    Which #Workflow Inbox When? Pros and cons for SAP Business Workflow and SAP NetWeaver #BPM