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Contents

Please Note: This FAQ is now obsolete.
This weblog version of the FAQ has been replaced by a shiny new Wiki.
Enjoy

1. About this FAQ and the WUG

1.1. Where do I find the latest version of this FAQ?
1.2. What is the WUG and how do I get involved?
1.3. Why is the WUG not on SDN?
1.4. How do I search through the WUG archives?
1.5. Why is nobody answering my question?

2. Workflow Basics

2.1. I am new to workflow. Are there any tutorials available?
2.2. Where can I find info on my workflow scenario?
2.3. Which SAP courses are relevant for Workflow?
2.4. Would someone please post questions and answers for the workflow certification exam?
2.5. Are there any good books on SAP Workflow?
2.6. What is the difference between WebFlow and SAP Business Workflow?
2.7. What’s the difference between SAP Business Workflow and the Business Process Management Engine?
2.8. How do I convince my company to use workflow?
2.9. How do I calculate the cost saved by workflow?
2.10. What are all the different inboxes that can be used for workflow?

3. Design & Development

3.1. How can I send an e-mail from my workflow?
3.2. Why should I use start conditions instead of check functions?
3.3. I need to write custom reports for workflow, where do I start?
3.4. Why should I use events instead of starting workflows directly from ABAP?
3.5. How do I send workflow notifications to my email?
3.6. Where can I find examples of workflow techniques?
3.7. We have started using LIV, why does the “Payment Release” workflow not start anymore?
3.8. Can I use ABAP OO Classes in Workflow?
3.9. How can I use ‘advance in dialog’ with asynchronous tasks?
3.10. Why should I not assign org units to steps in the workflow builder?

4. Administration & Troubleshooting

4.1. I have updated the agent assignment, but the agents still don’t receive the work items.
4.2. Help! Why am I getting the error ‘No Administrator found’?
4.3. How can I temporarily disable a productive workflow?
4.4. Help! A runaway  workitem has gone to all users for approval!
4.5. How do I delete workflows?
4.6. Why is my mail not being sent?
4.7. How can I execute another user’s work item?

5. Using the Universal Work List

5.1. What are the limitations of the UWL?
5.2. A user has to return to the UWL for each step. How can they be executed together like in the SAPGUI?
5.3. Are Secondary Methods possible in the UWL??

6. Miscellaneous

6.1. Wow, did you come up with all this stuff?
6.2. I have a correction/contribution/tip, how do I get it included?
6.3. Where else can I get information about SAP Workflow?
6.4. Strewth, is this all for real?


1. About this FAQ and the WUG

1.1. Where do I find the latest version of this FAQ?

This weblog version of the FAQ has been replaced by a shiny new Wiki. Please refer to this in future.  

1.2. 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 Whopping big collection of tips for developing workflows.
Alternatively, see note 217229: Consultants forum for SAP Business Workflow/WebFlow 

1.3. Why is the WUG not on SDN?

The SAP Business Workflow forum contains a lot of workflow postings although currently the mailing   list has about twice the amount of traffic.
Why? Because people The SAP developer community 10 years ago 😉
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. 

1.4. How do I search through the WUG archives?

The archives are at http://mailman.mit.edu/pipermail/sap-wug/
As Alan Rickayzen has described Whopping big collection of tips for developing workflows,  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”). 

1.5. Why is nobody answering my question?

This may be for a variety of reasons. Firstly, never assume that you are entitled to an answer. Remember this is a community forum; the people on the list have jobs just like you and respond   voluntarily. Perhaps nobody knows the answer.
The following are a few tips on posting effective questions with a better chance of getting a response:

    Use a good subject line. The subject header is your golden opportunity to attract qualified experts’ attention in around 50 characters or fewer. Don’t waste it on babble like   “Workflow question”. As we all have busy jobs, often we just skim through the list headings and read those that interest us. Also, DO NOT reply to an unrelated post to ask a different question.   This confuses those reading the thread and you may lose people that would be interested in your question. Always start a new topic with a new mail.
    Bad subject:  Urgent problem with workflow
    Good subject: Error after transport: “Inconsistent workflow definition”

    Try to find the answer first. There are tons of resources out there, show that you have tried to find the answer. A question that shows that the person is willing to try and help   themselves is more likely to be answered than one which simply demands information. Tell us what you have tried to solve the problem yourself – often we can learn from that too!

    Provide enough information. For starters, please tell us which version and type of system you’re working on – e.g. SAP R/3 4.6C or SRM 4.0 (EBP 5.0). If your question is   regarding an error, include the message. If it is a request for info, please be specific. Questions such as “How do I administer workflow” are vague, tell us exactly what you want to know   – “I’m the administrator, how do I forward work items to another agent?”. If it’s a big query, rather break it down into separate questions.

    Re-read your query before sending it to the list. Put yourself in a reader’s position – does the question make sense? Can I understand the problem? Is this enough information to be   able to answer the problem?
    This is a very valuable technique, because many questions end up answering themselves when you read them carefully. It also leads to better questions. Many list readers like good questions,   especially if they are thought-provoking and thus help all of us understand things better. This is one of the main reasons many experienced consultants read SDN forums or the list regularly.

    Lastly, it’s also nice to follow up with a brief update if you have found the solution. People may try to help not because they know the answer, but because they are interested in   solving the same problem; or people may just encounter the same issue in the future and be searching the archives. It’s a good way of giving back to the community, irrespective of whether you are a   beginner or an expert.

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2. Workflow Basics

2.1. I am new to workflow. Are there any tutorials available?

Yes, there are several in the online help. Use the menu item Help => SAP Library to open the online help and search for workflow tutorial. Alternatively start up Firefox, Opera, Internet Exploder   or whatever you use to surf the net and head on over to help.sap.com

2.2. Where can I find info on my workflow scenario?

Also on help.sap.com: In the SAP library help “Scenarios in Applications” -> Workflow

2.3. Which SAP courses are relevant for Workflow?

SAP offer the following courses:
BIT600 SAP Business Workflow – Concepts, Inboxes, Reporting and Template Usage
BIT601 SAP Business Workflow – Build and Use
BIT603 SAP Business Workflow and Web Scenarios
BIT610 SAP Business Workflow – Programming
TAWF10 SAP Business Workflow Academy
See www.sap.com/education for more info.

2.4. Would someone please post the questions and answers for the workflow certification exam?

No.

2.5. Are there any good books on SAP Workflow

Sure, plug “SAP Workflow” into your favourite online bookstore and they should come up with:
Practical Workflow for SAP – by Alan Rickayzen, Jocelyn Dart, Carsten Brennecke, Markus Schneider
Workflow Management with SAP WebFlow – by Andrew N. Fletcher, Markus Brahm, Hergen Pargmann
As I have only read one of them I cannot comment on which one is better. 

2.6. 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.

2.7. What’s the difference between SAP Business Workflow and the Business Process Management Engine?

XI and workflow run on the Business Process Management Engine.

2.8. 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. 

2.9. 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?

2.10. 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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3. Design and Development

3.1. How can I send an e-mail from my workflow?

This depends on your version. For all releases, make sure you create a foreground step and have the “Advance with dialog” flag set on the previous step if you want the sender to be properly   identified.
R/3 4.6 and above: Use the “Send mail” step type. In essence this is a front-end to the process from previous releases.
R/3 3.0: Create an activity step and use object type SelfItem with method SendTaskDescription. The message subject is the work item text, and the message contents is the task description. You must   pass the receiver addresses to the method.

3.2. Why should I use start conditions instead of check functions?

They handle currencies for you. They can be understood and maintained by people who don’t know much about workflow. They can be enabled and disabled easily.

3.3. I need to write custom reports for workflow, where do I start?

Have a look for SAP_WAPI* function modules. Especially in later releases, there are more and more which are intended for customer use in manipulating workflows and reporting. Try to avoid direct   access to tables and other internal info, as things DO change through the releases.

3.4. Why should I use events instead of starting workflows directly from ABAP?

Events are far more flexible than hardcoded routines to start a WF. They can stop workflows as well as start them, they can start multiple workflows. Most importantly, if things go wrong, events   can be redelivered via the event queue (4.6 onwards). 

3.5. How do I send workflow notifications to my email?

Up to release 6.20, have a look at the well-documented report RSWUWFML2.
Release 6.40 and above – transaction SWNADMIN / SWNCONFIG
On EBP/SRM systems RSWUWFMLEC does the job.

3.6. Where can I find examples of workflow techniques?

SWUI, SWUI_VERIFY, SWUI_BENCHMARK, SWUI_DEMO, SWUI_WFUNIT

3.7. We have started using LIV, why does the “Payment Release” workflow not start anymore?

The integration between LIV and FI does not include the payment release function. There is a separate and much better solution for blocking and releasing payments in Logistics Invoice Verification.   Take a look at the customizing.
Note: You should remove some FI authorizations to prevent people from removing the LIV payment block in FI directly.

3.8. How can I use ABAP OO Classes in Workflow?

Jocelyn has written an excellent paper which you can download via the WUG archives over here 
Please note, the Mailman Archives mangle the filenames. You will need to rename the downloaded file, changing the “.obj” extension to “.pdf” and it should then open with Acrobat Reader.

Additional Note: Also read the latest and greatest help – often things are explained there that work in the lower release but didn’t make it to the documentation. ABAP OO in particular is   completely absent from the 620 documentation. 

3.9. How can I ‘advance in dialog’ with asynchronous tasks?

This is unfortunately not possible as the very nature of asynchronous taskscontradicts the idea of ‘advance in dialog’, also known as synchronous dialog chains. The two main reasons for using asynch tasks are either that the termination can happen outside of WF, or to ensure that all database updates are complete.  Both of these imply that there is an action happening outside of workflow (database updates can happen outside the user session after the transaction is completed). Since these happen outside the current dialog session, one would have to ‘continue’ another user’s session in the current dialog, which is not possible.

How it works on a more technical level:
Asynchronous tasks use terminating events which live in the instance linkage tables (tx SWEINST).  You don’t normally have to touch instance linkages, the WF system creates these as necessary, and deletes it when a task completes.
The main difference between instance and type linkages is that instance linkages have a key and are specific to one instance (hence the name), they are only triggered for the object with the same   key. Like any other event they are passed on to the event manager who triggers the receiver (the task completion in this case) via RFC (user WF-BATCH).  This is why it is theoretically impossible to advance in dialog – because the task completion happens in a separate dialog under a different user, quite possibly on a different server.

Workarounds can include secondary methods (though they have their own restrictions), or redesigning your flow so that it uses a synchronous task instead  e.g. by using a wait for event in a separate branch or creating a synchronous task instead.  

3.10. Why should I not assign org units to steps in the workflow builder?

Using org objects such as positions or org units in the WF builder is not a good idea in most cases. Aside from number range mismatches when you transport, if your department splits or changes you   need a transport for what should be a simple maintenance task.
There are a few ways around it. The simplest is to not assign any agents in the WF but to assign your recipients as possible agents of the task (which you can assign in each system, including PRD).   If WF cannot determine actual (because you’ve left it blank), it will send the task to all possibles. Just be very careful not to declare them as general tasks because it will then go to ALL   people in the system.
Alternatively create a simple responsibility rule with a dummy responsibility and use that in your WF. If you’re feeling adventurous you could even design a ‘meta-rule’ with multiple   responsibilities for different tasks/steps. This way you can maintain multiple steps’ agents in one rule.

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4. Administration & Troubleshooting

4.1. I have updated the agent assignment, but the agents still don’t receive the work items.

The organization buffers must be refreshed. This occurs daily at midnight by default – and you can’t change that time. Transaction SWU_OBUF lets you refresh the buffers immediately.
Also, check and make sure that the agents you have assigned are possible agents of the task.

4.2. Help! Why am I getting the error ‘No Administrator found’?

This is another symptom of the org buffers being out of sync. Basically you have made an organizational change that is incompatible with the previous state. When executing the work item it gets   confused with the old (buffered) and new org data. As above, SWU_OBUF should reset all buffers. 

4.3. How can I temporarily disable a workflow in production?

Event linkage is a transportable object, thus there is no way to simply ‘switch off’ a workflow. Simply switching off a Workflow may even have legal implications since Workflow provides an   important audit function, and being able to disable it defeats that purpose.
All is not lost however: If you have a workflow that requires this feature, you could include a start condition that always fails and only enable it when you want to disable the workflow.

4.4. Help! A runaway  workitem has gone to all users for approval!

This usually occurs if the set of ‘possible agents’ is very large – usually because the task has been classified as a ‘General Task’. In general, if no ‘responsible’ agents can be found, the   workitem is automatically sent to all ‘possible’ agents.
To solve this problem, reconsider whether using the ‘General Task’ classificiation is a good idea. Try to restrict the set of ‘possible’ agents to a sensible subset for all tasks.
See this thread for a discussion on the topic.

4.5. How do I delete workflows?

Firstly: DON’T. OK, if you’re in a development/QA system, there is a deletion report which you can find in the help. You didn’t expect this FAQ to tell you what it is? No, it   won’t, just to make sure you read the SAP doco advisory on using this in production. Use archiving object WORKITEM instead. The report does exactly what you tell it to without question and will   happily delete WI’s out of the middle of a log and create other inconsistencies if don’t know EXACTLY what you’re doing. There’s also the potential legal aspect: In these days of Sarbanes-Oxley and   massive corporate scandals, finding such reports in the ABAP log will not make make any auditors happy. 

4.6. Why is my mail not sent?

Symptom: You have a send mail step to send a mail to an internet address. It executes but the mail, never reaches it’s destination. There are two areas where the problem can lie:
The first is that mails are sent using the WF-BATCH user. SAP will not send anything without a FROM address, so make sure that WF-BATCH has an email address maintained.
The other is a problem within SapConnect, maintained by Basis. An easy way to test is to send yourself an email (to your internet address) from the SAP Business Workplace. If you receive it then   there’s a problem with workflow, if not then contact your Basis team.

4.7. How can I execute another user’s work item?

As a user: The user who has the item in the inbox has to set up a substitute. The substitute can then process the other user’s work items.
As an administrator: Transaction SWIA
Programatically: Function module SAP_WAPI_EXECUTE_WORKITEM

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5. Using the Universal Work List

5.1. What are the limitations of the UWL?

Whilst the UWL is a powerful tool for collating alerts, work items, guided procedures and more from different systems, it has some limitations  compared to the SAP Business Workplace (SBWP).
These are fully described in note 794439 “Universal Worklist support for SAP Business Workflow”

5.2. A user has to return to the UWL for each step. How can they be executed together like in the SAPGUI?

The feature by which a user can execute multiple work items one after another without returning to the inbox is referred to as synchronous dialog chains and can be  controlled by the “Advance With Dialog” checkbox in the workflow builder.  As described in the note on limitations (see previous question), this is unfortunately a technological limitation: A user session cannot be maintained  when different technologiesare used for subsequent steps.
A common example, is a decision step followed by an input box requesting a reason for rejection. The desision might be a Java-based iview, followed by a WinGUI step.  A workarounds would be to ensure that all ‘chained’ steps are WinGUI-based (i.e. SAP Transactions or ABAP dialog modules). This is not always possible,  particularly with ESS/MSS and similar applications which have pure web-based components. 

5.3. Are Secondary Methods possible in the UWL??

Yes, apply note 864516 – Secondary methods for UWL

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6. Miscellaneous

6.1. Wow, did you come up with all this stuff?

No, I have added the odd item here and there, but mostly I just maintain it. Many thanks to the following people for their generous contributions to the FAQ and the WUG as a whole:

Sue Keohan
Alan Rickayzen
Jocelyn Dart
Kjetil Kilhavn
Athur Krishna
Mark Pyc
Paul Bakker
Tedde Taege
Alon Raskin

6.2. I have a correction/contribution/tip, can I get it included?

Of course! This is a community effort. However since this blog is now obsolete and has been replaced by the Workflow Wiki, please make your contributions there. See top of this blog for details.

6.3. Where else can I get information about SAP Workflow?

Below is a collection of links and other resources to find out more about workflow:
sdn.sap.com (just stating the obvious)
www.workflowbook.com – The site of one of the workflow books.
www.sapfans.com
www.sapgenie.com

6.4. Strewth, is this all for real?

I disclaim everything. The contents of this FAQ might be inaccurate, misguided, or completely out of touch with reality.
This information is provided as is without any express or implied warranties.  While every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this document, the author and   any contributors assume no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use or misuse of the information contained herein.

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9 Comments

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  1. Pras Durafe
    Hi,
    This is a very good forum for workflow developers but to get more use of it, there should be more examples / tips on Agent Determination / Rules / Responsibilities, Dynamic Agent Determination.
    I am would like to know more about replacing Adhoc Anchor with another workflow. An example on this issue will be a bonus.
    Thanks and Warm Regards.
    Pras Durafe
    (0) 
    1. Mike Pokraka Post author
      Hi Pras, Thanks for the feedback. More content is on it’s way in the next few weeks, and I’ll see what I can dig up on the topics you mentioned.
      In the meantime, why not subscribe to the list and ask any specific questions there?
      As far as I know, adhoc anchors are hardly used outside of SRM/EBP, but drop a note onto the list as folks are always willing to help.
      Cheers
      Mike
      (0) 
  2. Louise Langley
    At the moment we have RSWUWFMLEC configured with a variant. The field “Row 1” has the URL link to the approval transaction, so when the user receives an email, they click on the link and it takes them into SRM to the approval transaction.

    We have a new portal, and as such the URL length has increased over the 132 characters allowed in “Row 1”. Can we use the “DEF_URL” fields to cater for the longer URL?

    Thanks
    Louise

    (0) 
    1. Mike Pokraka Post author
      Hi Louise,
      This blog is not really meant to be a workflow Q&A forum, comments should be for suggestions or comments for the FAQ.

      I try to help where I can, but RSWUWFMLEC is specific only to EBP/SRM which I don’t have access to at the moment. The other RSWUWFMLs use a Standard Text, is there none available for you to use? The programs have been revised, so maybe check OSS for any updates.

      Why not sign up to the WUG mailing list (see 1.2 in the FAQ) and ask your question there, 600+ people have a lot more experience between them than just me 🙂

      Cheers
      Mike

      (0) 
  3. avinash r
    Hi,
    This is an awesome forum to start of as a workflow developer.I think we need more info on certain topics such as Methods, error handling  process with few examples,agent determination techniques,triggering mechanism and some info on the various function modules that are used to move data from various containers during the whole workflow process.I hope our SAP SDN techies would give us feedback along with some material related to the listed topics.
    Thanks & Regards
    Keith
    (0) 
  4. Mário Ricardo
    Hi Mike,

    Congratulations 4 your blog, it’s really useful. Just a question, you mentioned the workflow notification by email – On EBP/SRM systems RSWUWFMLEC – is it possible with this report, to send a notification by email, everytime a workflow task as an error ?

    Thanks 4 the information mentioned in your blog!

    Mário.

    (0) 
    1. Mike Pokraka Post author
      Hello Mário,

      This blog is old and has been replaced by a wiki – see comment right at the top, before the contents.

      Regarding your question, no this is not what the report is for, it is to notify users of new work items. The workflow admin should receive an email automatically when a workflow goes into error.

      Also, the blog/wiki is a place for information, not really questions. Use the forums for asking questions – many more people read these and therefore many more can answer your queries. The workflow forum is at:
      SAP Business Workflow

      Good luck,
      Mike

      (0) 
    1. Mike Pokraka Post author
      Hi Vipin,
      Glad you found it useful. However note that this has been replaces some time ago by a Wiki FAQ. The link is at the top of this blog by the contents.
      Have fun,
      Mike
      (0) 

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