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Expense statement demo

For an internal demo on SAP NetWeaver BPM I wanted to use my own scenario to build a simple expense statement process. The demo was only meant to show the power of the new modeling environment. Please don’t take the demo process to seriously. For example no backend system is used – that is something for my next trial.
OK No backend system involved, but I did want to prove some points:

  • Process composer is easy to use tool for BPX
  • Two roles (Requester and Manager) must play a part in the process
  • Without coding the decision for automatic or manager approval must be implemented
  • End user is guided through the process

Let’s start with a view on the process, as said, a very simple process:

Expense Process

Step 1 – Enter the expense details
Step 2 – Validate whether an automatic or manager approval is applicable
Step 3 – Show result to requester

Implementation expense process

I re-used the SAP NetWeaver Business Process Management: End-to-End Process Implementation Sample. This blog really explains in detail what to do with your first BPM demo, even including the Web Dynpro and Portal steps. I followed the same steps but customized it to my own needs.

I needed a validation step to decide whether automatic or manager approval was applicable. Initially I was trying to implement this with BRM. But somehow I can’t get this to work. I posted a Integration of BRM within BPM does not work and hopefully an answer is on its way.
So I decided to use the built in possibilities of the Exclusive Choice Gateway. Automatic approval when the expense amount is below 25. And manager approval when it exceeds 25.

Condition evaluation

When automatic approval is applicable, I have to set the expense status to ‘Validated’. A step that normally your backend will do. As this is a simple demo I used the Mapping step in the process. The only thing you can do here is to influence the input/output mapping with the context. I set the Approved field to status ‘True’.

Other detail steps can be found in the blog by Donka. One last specialty on the Web Dynpro site of this demo: In the Manager Validation step I had to set the status to ‘True’ when the manager clicked on the Approve button, and to ‘False’ when clicked on Reject. For me, being not a Web Dynpro specialist, this gave me a hard time. But with the help of SDN I found the solution:

  public void onActionDoValidate(com.sap.tc.webdynpro.progmodel.api.IWDCustomEvent wdEvent )
  {
    //@@begin onActionDoValidate(ServerEvent)
      wdContext.currentContextElement().setApproved(true);
      wdThis.wdGetValidateExpenseController().validateExpense();
    //@@end
  }

Screenshots of the demo

Step 1, Enter expense statement.
Enter Expense

Great feature is the tooltip to support the end user. Where am I in the process, what and who is next?
Tooltip

Step 2, Validation by manager.
Validation by Manager

Step 3, Show result.Show result

Conclusion

When I first heard that the process modeling environment was to be implemented in the SAP NetWeaver Developer Studio I was very much surprised. Do you really think that a BPX wants to install this huge development environment to model a process? I felt more for the original initiative to implement the process composer in the Visual Composer. Anyway we now have a real modeling environment somewhere and it is far more better that Guided Procedures.

Some remarks

  • Easy to model a process as the common language BPMN is used;
  • Easy to explain how modeling works;
  • Easy to understand how the process composer works;
  • Is integration with BRM finished yet?
  • Good environment to discuss with the Web Dynpro developer what the process steps really need to do;
  • If you want to go deep, train yourself in Web Dynpro 4 Java skills;
  • Thanks to Ronald Kleijn who helped me fixing the demo on the day that the demo was to be shown to all our colleagues. 

Next steps

  • Implement a ‘real’ scenario with the use of a real backend system;
  • Use real portal roles in stead of portal users;
  • Try to get BRM working in combination with BPM;
  • Implement deadlines and see how BAM can be facilitated;
  • Start the process from a functional perspective, going via the SAP NetWeaver Administrator is too techy;
  • Organize a meeting with our PI experts to discuss the overlap and new functionality that is offered.
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4 Comments

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  1. Hello There,

    Firstly good job in implementing the scenario in BPM. In your conclusion you bring up very good points regarding the BPX’s inclination in with installation. Just want to let you know that a business desinger is in works to address this exact concern.

    Also in the next release of BPM, you can do modeling using VC.

    Best Regards,
    Naveen

    (0) 
    1. Twan van den Broek Post author
      Hi Naveen

      Well that’s great news – BPM using VC. So when working with swimlanes (multiple roles) is possible in VC, why do you still need the SAP NetWeaver Developer Studio as a BPX?
      I also heard that there will be ‘light’ version of the SAP NetWeaver Developer Studio – when is the release planned? How easier it gets (the less techy the interface looks) the more BPX-ers will start using it.

      Kind regards
      Twan

      (0) 
  2. Former Member
    Twan, great posting. The scenario that you describe gives a good idea about what this SAP NetWeaver BPM is all about. 

    I have one question. Please give me your thoughts on it:

    In the tooling, SAP makes a distinction between human centric and system centric process orchestration. The human centric part is implemented by SAP NW BPM with its own business rules engine (SAP NW BRM) attached to it. The system centric part is covered by SAP NW PI ccBPM (with no business rules engine available as far as I know). 

    Why has SAP implemented process orchestration in this way? Is it a strategic choice or do you think this is just a step in a migration plan to come to a real BPMS that covers both human centric and system centric process orchestration?

    Regards, Rik

    (0) 
    1. Twan van den Broek Post author
      Hi Rik
      Thanks for your reply. I personally think that process orchestration (either user or system centric) gets consolidated into one tool. SAP NW BPM is the first step to this. PI will lose the ‘P’ and becomes XI again in order to make a clear separation between the process layer and the integration layer.
      Why? Process orchestration is hot, in 2009 will we hear a lot more about it. Hot topics require great tools to fulfill the needs of the customers/consultants. While orchestrating your process you do not want to switch to another tool for handling the user or system centric steps.
      It is also the place to bridge the gap between die hard business consultants and developers. When modeling and implementation is done in the same tool the suits and the geeks will be facilitated in their cooperation.

      What needs to be done?
      – Process orchestration is done by BPX types, currently the solution is too technical. Process orchestration is to be done in a way like the Visual Composer. A light version of the SAP NetWeaver Developer Studio would be great or the implementation within the VC even better.
      – Business Rules Management is not a feature for BPM, it belongs to the BPM concept. The current implementation is not finished. I am still struggling in getting BRM to work properly within BPM (without Java coding).
      – Spread the word on the capabilities of SAP. The concept is very powerful. With Galaxy SAP is really going in the right direction.

      Kind regards
      Twan

      (0) 

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