What is SAP Workflow?
It is simply the automation of SAP business processes.
Employee applies for leave.
Without SAP Workflow:
– Employee calls manager to ask him to approve leave request
– Manager has to find leave request in SAP and approve or reject
– Manager has to call or email employee to tell him when it has been done
– Manager can also forget to either approve or to inform the employee,
in which case the employee has to keep checking or has to contact the
With SAP Workflow:
– A workitem is automatically placed in the manager’s inbox, with full
information about the leave request, and he can approve or reject
with a single click
– Employee is immediately notified by email
– Additionally, the workflow can be set up to automatically remind the
manager by email after x hours or x days, or can even be set up to
automatically reject or approve leave requests not actioned within
The above example illustrates the *minimum* benefit that can be
achieved with SAP Workflow. Workflow has scope for almost unbounded
complexity, which means that complicated business processes can be
defined and rigorously regulated. SAP Workflow also allows work to be
spread more efficiently amongst teams of employees.
Employee enters a purchase request into SAP
Without SAP Workflow:
– Employee has to know who is able to approve his request, and
contact them for first-level approval
– The employees at first-level approval have to determine amongst
themselves who evaluates the request, that person has to go into
SAP to approve or reject, and then has to determine who to contact
for next-level approval – and so on for x levels of approval
– If the purchase request is rejected at any stage, the original
requestor has to be notified by email
With SAP Workflow:
– The levels of approval are automatically determined.
– At each level, a workitem appears in the inbox of each and every
agent able to approve at that level. They are able to approve at
the click of a button
– When the request is actioned the workitems are automatically removed
from the inboxes of other agents at the same level and workitems are
automatically generated for the next level – and so on for x levels of
– If the purchase request is rejected at any stage, a pop-up window
appears in which the reason can be given. The original requestor
automatically receives an email with notification of the rejection,
including the reason and a link to let him change and resubmit his
SAP Workflow is included in every SAP system at no extra charge. In
addition, SAP has provided dozens of standard workflows catering to
the most popular uses of business automation. These workflows can be
used as they are, or adapted to local needs.
SAP Workflow transcends the usual divisions in an SAP implementation,
it can help guide a business process through purchasing to
manufacturing to material master to sales. Until you use SAP Workflow,
you’re not making full use of an integrated system such as SAP.
SAP Workflow is a secure, stable and reliable mechanism used by
hundreds of the largest SAP customers, all over the world. Workflow
usage is expanding every year. Its structure is based on OO
(Object-oriented) principles and it not only works across an entire
SAP system but also different SAP systems and even non-SAP systems.
The hardest part of implementing a new workflow is the first part:
identifying a section of the business that can be improved by being
automated, and rigorously defining how. After that, a consultant with
SAP Workflow experience can rapidly implement a new workflow using the
SAP Workflow design tools, and a prototype can be up and running
Once a new workflow has been properly implemented, the maintenance and
administration costs are negligible. Typically an administrator will
check the logs once a day; if problems arise then they are often fixed
before the users even notice. SAP Workflow incorporates features which
will even fix the most common problems (e.g. locking of data) itself.
SAP Workflow also has long-term benefits, as it can be invaluable in
finding bottlenecks in a time-critical business process. The workflow
logs also provides a wealth of auditing information in one location.
An SAP Workflow for new vendor approval has been implemented. The
users are very happy because new vendor approval is much more
streamlined and one of the most difficult parts – deciding whether a
vendor is already in the system – has been automated. An examination
of the workflow logs shows that the time taken for approval in one
department takes on average 2 hours, while in a subsequent department
it takes 1 day. An investigation determines that the process can be
made even quicker by allocating more resources to the underperforming
As SAP Workflow matures, more and more uses are being found for it and
its capabilities are expanding. Managers are now approving purchase
request workitems on their Blackberries. Incoming IDOCs are triggering
workflows automatically and even emails are being used to start
workflows and move workflows along.