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Experience shows that automating your processes is half the story. Getting your users to execute their tasks (work items is the correct terminology) dilligently and on time is the other half. A good comfortable inbox strategy will coax your workflow participants to cooperate fully with the modelled business process so that at the end of the day your business area can reap the benefits.

In the past, we have seen that different SAP business suites have created their own inboxes, especially suited to their own business processes. But this has the disadvantage that your average SAP user will have to log in to different inboxes with different UIs in different system to access their work items. The Universal Worklist (UWL) iView, which is part of Enterprise Portals does away with this hotch potch of access points by providing one central inbox for all components.

Since writing the SAP insider article a couple of things have happened that confirm the success of this central inbox strategy. First of all, I was able to show the latest version of the UWL at Teched EMEA and the response I got was very good. Showing a simple generic view of the worklist but allowing pre-configured process-specific views to be called with one click is exactly what everyone wanted. Those unfamiliar with workflow found the iView intuitive and easy to use without any explanations necessary. Those, who wanted more processing power confirmed that the specialist views were exactly what their professional users would need.

The second thing that has happened is the Enterprise Portal has just released a new version of the UWL (release 50.5.1) which allows business objects involved in the business process to be displayed in the SAP GUI for HTML, without the need to adapt the workflow in any way. This reinforces what I was describing in the article when I said that the SAP’s strategy is to allow frequent improvements to their workflow access (the inbox) without needing to tamper with their back end components. This iView can be used in EP version 5.0 or 6.0 and older backend systems require the Workplace plug-in 600 to enable all the 50.5.1 features.

Last but not least, I’ve received one or two mails from consultants trying to use specialist inboxes for work items from processes belonging to other areas. They all confirmed that this fails because the different SAP components use different User Interface technologies, which are not compatible with each other (e.g. SAP GUI for Windows,CRM Blueprints ,Businesss Server Pages). So please, follow the advice in the article, stay on the beaten track, and you’ll reach your goal with a minimum of effort.

The Universal Worklist iView is the silver bullet – solving many technologically complex problems but concealing them in an intuitive user interface.

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