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I’ve just been reading an excellent article by colleague and friend, David Brutman. It’s his first publication since opting-in to the Californian way of life and a great laid-back review of what workllow looks like in Duet 1.5, it is.

SAP NetWeaver Magazine article: Workflow in Duet

This is about how to make your workflows available in Microsoft Outlook. Not just in your inbox but your list of tasks, too. So it follows your preferred way of working, whichever that be, and blends unobtrusively into the Microsoft interaction pattern making it intuitive for all users.

Version 1.0 of Duet workflow-enabled several common approval processes. Version 1.5 of Duet takes that further, as David shows in his article. It allows you to add your own approval processes to Duet.

It got me thinking – why not prepare for the inevitable? Why not get those workflows ready for Duet right now?

This short blog is just to give you a heads-up on what to expect in Duet 1.5 from the workflow development point of view so that when Duet arrives in your company there’s no re-engineering of the processes necessary.

First off, if your approvals are defined using the generic decision task, then it will be child’s play later to enable this in Duet. The decision options in the workflow builder are the approve and reject buttons that later display in the Duet/Outlook approval. That’s it. There is no additional work to be done in terms of interpreting e-mails, mapping e-mail addresses to users, parsing e-mail payloads et cetera, et cetera. It really is as simple as that. Thanks to the single sign-on authentication in Duet, you can be sure that the person pressing the approve button in MS Outlook is the same user that is displayed in the workflow logs in the SAP backend. Irrespective of whether the user was online or offline when pressing that Outlook approve button.

Secondly, if you want to display important context in the Duet action pane, to show the Outlook user a summary of the approval details, then you’ll want to add this to the workflow container so that it is transported to the MS Exchange Server, for offline display later. A Duet configuration tool, maps this container element to the action pane once you’ve installed Duet. But for the time being, it’s enough to think in advance about what that context data is. Don’t go crazy adding all sorts of just-in-case stuff – remember the workflow adage to keep that workflow container slim.

Thirdly, do make sure that you’re working on a copy of the generic decision task (TS8267) rather than using the vanilla version.  When your company does deploy Duet, the task description displaying in Outlook will mean it plays a bigger role than ever before. Someone’s bound to want it edited, maybe even on a regular basis.

By the way, when Duet is deployed, that approval will continue to work in the SAP Gui for Windows or SAP Portal (UWL) or wherever users are currently performing their approvals.

Last of all – if you’ve never dared to create your own workflows before, then now’s the time to get started. Once the convenience of making decisions securely in Outlook starts to make it’s mark, there’ll be demand for more and more of even the most simple of approval tasks to start appearing in Microsoft Outlook as well… including those approvals that are not yet automated.

That’s where Creating your first SAP Business Workflow will really come in handy. (click on the video link half way through the blog).

So get reading, get viewing, and get prepared!

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