The inspiration for this blog came about due to a recent post on the self-services forum. Someone had asked if it was possible with ESS that if an employee submits a “leave request” that they could attach the actual medical note with the request. Furthermore, they wanted the employee’s manager to be able to see that the attachment was made but not actually be able to view it.
Right off I thought “Hey! HCM Processes and Forms does that!”. I don’t know why but I had just always taken this for granted with HCM P&F. I had forgotten that this was not really possible up until now using other solutions. For example, in the “old” PCR way of doing this, you would be looking at doing some custom development to make this all work correctly. Since HCM Processes & Forms is built on top of the recent CASE Management solution, it already has this capability built-in. I guess I had forgotten that this is such a sweet, cool feature of HCM P&F because I hadn’t remembered it coming up much before. Oh yeh…I remember why….because before this, it was such a pain in the ahhhh…..nevermind….let’s continue…
So yes, HCM P&F does in fact allow us to attach attachments. In fact, we can attach attachments of any sort we like. It doesn’t really care. We simply define a “key” for our attachment (like saying “LREQ” equals “Leave Request”). We don’t have to say anything else about it….not that it’s a Microsoft Word document, not that it’s a text file, not that it’s a JPEG even….nothing about the actual attachment’s technical format. Simply, we are saying “here’s an attachment type and here’s what I will abbreviate it as”. Think of this more as “building our library of attachment types”. This is where we will set them all up to be able to use in all of our processes later.
So now, we get to define HOW we want to use it. This is the really fun and cool part I think HCM P&F did so well! We next go into our process and into the form/process steps themselves. At this point, we can do several things.
First off, we can define which of our “attachment types” are allowed for each step. For HCM P & F, we group “process steps” as “form steps” into a “form scenario”. So here, we are able to define down to the specific process step level which attachments we want to allow. So for example, we could have the employee attach a leave request in step 1, but then in step 2, have the manager attach their own “signed approval form” or some such thing, and maybe even in step 3, have the HR admin attach a digital copy of a fax verification from the employee’s actual doctor. I dunno….add your own examples…let your mind run wild…because it’s most likely possible!
Secondly….and here come the part I like a lot…now that we have defined what attachment types are allowed at EACH step, we now can define their “usage”. This gets pretty slick! For each of our “allowed” attachment types, we can further define their usage as:
- Creation Recommended
- Creation Mandatory
- Create/Change Allowed
- Display Allowed
- Display Existence Only (this will simply display if the attachment exists or not but will not allow the user to view the attachment if it does exist)
- Invisible (this means the attachment is not used in the step but might need to be passed)
The first two usages are the most often used. We can configure it so that an attachment is “recommended” (ie. optional) or so that the user can not complete the process step unless the attachment is absolutely created (ie. required). However, be warned….this “required” entry can not be validated by the system…it can’t review the attachment and go “oh yeh, that looks like a legitimate leave request….we’re good here”. So yes, if someone wanted to get around that they could simply attach some simple text file or whatever. For the remaining usages, those are typically used once an attachment is passed to another step….which leads us to the next great feature…
Lastly, this all sounds great and fine for each step, but what happens when we need someone needs to see an attachment from a previous step? Hey, SAP’s got you covered! Yes, within configuration, we can also define which attachments get passed along from one process step to the next. So using our previous simple example, suppose the employee requests leave and attaches their medical leave request form, we can then pass this form to step 2, so that the manager can see the form was attached by the employee. This is yet another cool feature….remember how we set up the usage before? So if we set it up for “display existence only“, the manger will see text showing that “yes, the employee correctly attached their required form”, however, they will not be able to click on it to pull the actual document up for review.
I can hear it now….”so great, Chris….we get to add attachments…yippee…..so now what? What happens then?” Yes, this all sounds “neat”…we can add attachments, take one down, pass them around, 99 …..oh wait…wrong topic. So yeh, what do we do with all these attachments now after our process? Well, you get to keep them! Actually, as I said before, since HCM P&F is built on top of CASE Management, we still have access to all of this great information! By going into CASE Management (t-code SCASE), we can pull up any of our currently active or even closed processes. We can view what each person put into their Adobe Interactive forms at each step. Along with this, we can also look at exactly which attachments were included at each step and pull those up as well. Therefore, we have visibility not only to the structured data at each point, but the unstructured data (attachments) as well! Using the HR Administrator business package, there are some, more limited iViews that give us access to this information as well (CASE Management transactions allow you to do much more than is needed via the portal).
Well, there you have it. Like most people, I overlooked one of the “neatest” things about HCM P&F simply because I just took it for granted. It’s straightforward and works well. It also means you get to focus on the work at hand…like configuring your actual process…rather than worrying over “howin the world am I going to get this document related to this information from this user at this point in time”. Thanks SAP….you just saved me lots of money on headache medicine!