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Business Task Management – why you should get involved!

Business task management is an IT scenario in SAP NetWeaver that focuses on how users interact with tasks. Business task management provides business and technical users with event-driven work items, alerts, business context and guided procedures to effectively react to process exceptions and tasks. Business task management specializes in human interaction with business processes. We need you to get involved in business task management because you have great skills and experience that others using business task management should know about! image Business tasks are the activities generated either by the company’s underlying business processes or by the users themselves as reminders for their own benefit or in order to delegate work to colleagues. The sooner your users complete the tasks, the quicker the processes run. The easier it is for users, departments and companies to generate and track the tasks, the higher the quality of the output from the processes and the higher the transparency of processes within a company. Tasks in SAP NetWeaver span the range from collaboration tasks generated manually in response to exceptions through work items generated from automated business processes. Business task management major capabilities include universal worklist, collaboration tasks, guided procedures, knowledge management notifications, alerts, interactive forms, and business workflow. With Business Task Management you can do things like launch Web Dynpro’s for task execution, walk users through procedures to resolve alerts, integrate business tasks with ad hoc collaboration. Universal worklist is the central location for all tasks. Using your Web Dynpro skills, you can do many things with UWL. Let us assume you have a workflow with 6 steps – some steps happen in your SAP ERP system, some don’t. You can create your workflow, for the steps that don’t perform SAP application tasks, you can launch a Web Dynpro (Java or ABAP), URL, iView to do the actual task. For more information see Think outside the box – enhance  processes with Universal Worklist Action Handlers!. Check this blog out for a specific example of Create new UI’s for existing workflow tasks with ABAP Web Dynpro and Universal Worklist!. Alerts can happen in your SAP application or in SAP NetWeaver (for example, SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence for SAP NetWeaver Exchange Infrastructure) and the alert framework can capture this alert. Once an alert has happened, it gets routed to a user via UWL. (Integrating Alerts into UWL – it’s no problem!.) The URL could be any URL you wish to call, including a Innovative ways to use alerts. Because Business Task Management includes so many functions within SAP NetWeaver, it is definitely a topic you should include in your repertoire. Whether you are a KMC expert using collaboration tasks and notifications, a developer who wants to create workflows and launch tasks via URLs, iViews, Web Dynpros, or a SAP NetWeaver BI expert or applications expert who wants to start guided procedures from alerts, business task management has a place for you!
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  • Hi Ginger,
    I've been digging around the documentation and presentations but I haven't fully understood the main difference between Guided Procedures and Business Workflow.

    I know you can integrate various types of callable objects like Web Dynpros, remote functions, web services etc. into the gp:s but that's also possible with Business Workflow's work item visualization functionality.

    I've been testing the GP framework a bit and I have got the impression that it would be more a complementary technology to Business Workflow than supplementary. Kind of Business Workflow on steroids or with a Java flavour. When running on the ABAP BPM runtime, I can't see any major differences between them (except maybe easier use of GP) but on the Java BPM runtime GP uses the KM and collaboration features.

    Could you elaborate more on their main difference and planned purpose? I remember some time seeing Alan Rickayzen's presentation on their differences, but I can't find it any more.

    Best regards,
    Mikko Mäki-Rahkola

    • Hello Mikko,
      I find your comments very interesting.  What we are seeing in NetWeaver is different tools that acomplish the same task - solving business problems.   The tool you use can depend upon your preference and what you are trying to accomplish.  When trying to distinguish guided procedures  and busines workflow, it is true they have some things in common.  They both enable you to build processes, they both handle various types of process controls and a variety of tasks.  It is true with the UWL action handlers business workflow can now launch an even wider variety of task types. 

      When deciding which tool to use you can consider several things.  Guided procedures are primarily intended for departmental processes.  So, these are business processes that are not part of core-IT processes, but ones the department needs.  For example, if you have a departmental procedure you follow before creating an expense report in the corporate process, then guided procedure is a good fit.   Another example would be you create and manage materials in ERP, but maybe you have a departmental process you do before creating a material on an ERP system, this would also be a good way to use guided procedures.

      If you need to report on the process, so if you need statitics such as 'we executed this many and they took this long and involved these people' - then we recommend workflow.  Business workflows enable strong reporting and can also report on routing - who it went to and how long it has been in their inbox.   

      Also, if the process has to be closely monitored, then business worfklow is probably a better option.

      You won't see a lot of official statements on when to use each tool because we want it to be a choice the customer makes.   

      It is true if you are going to use pure services, combined with BI and KM, then guided procedures will be easier to work with.   

      Do you have a project where you are trying to decide which tool to use?  Have you had a chance yet to work with guided procedures?

      Best regards

      • Hi Ginger,
        thanks for answering. It has been really difficult to find the main differences in functionality and use between the two so all information is more than welcome...

        Even though I haven't yet been involved in any GP projects (I work in an external consultant role), I see the enabling technology (WAS 7.0) coming to my current clients in the near future. Because you cannot really leave the decision to the customer without giving a recommendation with all the pros&cons of each solution, getting to know the differences is the key to making a competent proposal.

        What I really liked first about GP versus Workflow when testing it on the sneak preview version was that the modeling is very easily done and you can quickly develop complex processes (e.g. call RFC-enabled fm:s directly which you can't do in Workflow without making fm wrappers in bo/class methods). Secondly, as an executing user you get to see the overall process status at the same time without using external logs (which you need to do in Business Workflow), which keeps you always on track of what you're doing and of the overall process status.

        I don't know if I have misunderstood something but I have got the impression that you could also run guided procedures on the ABAP BPM engine alternatively to the Java BPM engine ( Am I correct?

        This way I think you could also achieve an improved workflow solution with GP by using the following approach:
        - process modeled in GP design time
          => easy modeling & callable object construction
        - runtime on ABAP BPM engine
          => process can be started by R/3 / ECC system events automatically
          => standard Business Workflow reporting capabilities + other features to the GP process
          => execution via the UWL with the GP overall process view to achieve easy execution

        I understand that GP's main purpose is to automate departmental processes, and that it's more fit than WF for this, but I think it could also improve WF quite well in company-wide processes with regards to modeling and task execution.

        Could you comment on this possible approach of using GP and WF together? I might very well have misunderstood something also in the GP-ABAP BPM -integration so please correct me if I'm wrong.

        Kind regards,

        • Very good understanding! You got it right. Start embracing the technology, experience with it and help your customers build composite processes with GP, VC, CAF Core.

          And forget about this departmental thing. Most likely your customers processes will b e cross-departmental and most likely you'll be able to use GP as long as those processes are user-centric meaning user interaction is important as opposed to system-centric. Good luck.

        • Hello Mikko,
          Yes, we do say GP and run on the workflow engine.  The biggest value for this is reporting - since GP has limited reporting capabilities on the process.  If the process itself is subject to Sarbanes/Oxley compliance - if you need to report how many many executed, how long the process took, who are the people who got involved, etc - then you need to use business workflow.  That's why we focus on departmental processes for GP.  Regarding the use of the workflow engine with GP - it is listed in help - so you can certainly give it a try. 

          From what I've seen so far, I think GP is a great fit if the process spans various systems, is human centric, and does not have any strict reporting requirements.  If your process focuses primarily on one system, if there are strict reporting requirements, then you need to use workflow.

          Do you think you'll have a chance to play with GP some?  Since you already know workflow I would be interested in your feedback after you use GP for process execution.   I will do a blog just on workflow tools in NetWeaver - I'm sure there will be many varied replies!!!   I'll be interested in your response!


          • Hi Mikko,
            I've just written another blog and started a wiki page on "Workflow in SAP NetWeaver" - it talks about each tool and when to use each tool.  It might help in the discussion of when to use BWF or GP. 

            The blog link is here:  Workflow in SAP NetWeaver

            Please add you comments and updates to the blog or to the wiki page - the blog points to the wiki.


      • Hello Ginger!
        I read your lines with interest. But there´s basically one thing I don´t understand:
        Why are guided procedures limited to departmental processes and what do exactly mean with departmental processes?
        (We want to do a vendor rating with participants from different departments.)

        Thank you for your answer in advance.


        • Hello Jörg,
          When we mean departmental processes, we really mean scope of activity.  Normally a process that crosses many departmental boundaries will be managed by IT.  Using guided procedures is the context of business task management means users building the processes for themselves without going to IT -for this the processes is best if it is within the department. For your vendor rating process that will cross departments, you can use business task management tools, such as guided procedures - but more than likely someone who works with all the departments will create the process, such as IT - is that right?


      • I don't understand this association of departmental processes with GP. It is really limitative and I just don't understand why SAP insists in defining such boundaries to processes and the technologies to use to software enable those processes. I've seen this departmental vs enterprise processes recently in one SDN presentation. It doesn't make sense to me.

        If GP is a good piece of technology it'll be use to run whatever processes fit the bill.

        The risk you're running here is to limit the potential of a technology and its market adoption.

        What would that mean? Is GP not strong or powerful enough to handle "enterprise"-level or cross-departmental processes?

        A lot of innovative processes are cross-departmental and they fit very well the bill as candidates for GP.

        SAP should get back to the original positioning which was user-centric processes meaning involving user interaction = GP and for system-centric processes = BPM (XI)

    • After working through you discussion and several documentations I added a table to the wiki which trys to compare the tools according to the dimension which I identified from your posting.
      Do you aggree? If not please correct it and/or re-enter this discussion.



      • Hi Torsten,
        I don't see the wiki with the latest updates...could you send me the link in email?
        I hope you are doing well! 


    • After working through you discussion and several documentations I added a table to the wiki which trys to compare the tools according to the dimension which I identified from your posting.
      Do you aggree? If not please correct it and/or re-enter this discussion.



    • Hello Mikko
      I think the biggest difference is the workflow has strong audit/reporting functions and is best when the application is in one system.  GP is more can access functions from different system...