One of the first things about HCM P&F that I wanted to understand was how the actual data a user enters or that we default into a form gets carried along through a process and somehow “magically” ends up into the database correctly. In documentation, I had often seen mention of the “process object” and had some abstract idea of what it was and what it was doing in our technical structure. However, it was not until I actually dug into Case Management that it all made perfect sense. Not only did it make sense, but it gave me a whole new set of tools to troubleshoot, audit and support my own HCM P&F processes!
CASE Management (CASE Mgmt) is a world unto itself, so to speak. It is rather new for SAP, and it was it’s introduction that made new flexibility with HCM P&F possible. HCM P&F actually uses only a very small bit of the capabilities of CASE Mgmt….but it is a VERY important part in order to make the HCM P&F solution work. You will not need a deep understanding of CASE Mgmt., however, it will help to know how it is utilzed for HCM P&F.
Where Workflow is responsible for modeling and controlling the flow of our process itself, Case Management is how our data is actually carried and persisted throughout the process until (and if) the actual database updates are made on the backend. This was not possible previously with Personnel Change Requests (PCR) in which the data actually had to be carried along in Workflow (or other means such as custom tables). With CASE Management, not only can we see what data was stored for our process overall, but even down to the granular level of exactly what was entered/stored by each user at each step in the process itself. This provides us with a much better tool for debugging, tracking, auditing and support for processes. The following is a brief guide for locating and viewing the data saved for an HCM Processes and Forms process.
(*note: this assumes that you have done all of the initial IMG configuration steps required for HCM P&F to set up Case Mgmt. correctly such as copying necessary objects from client 000, setting up the process object and number range(s), etc. For more information about configuring the process object in Case Management, see the Implementation Guide (IMG) for HR Administrative Services under Configuration of Forms/Processes > Process Configuration > Technical Settings > Set Up Process Object. Also, insure you have proper security to access Case Mgmt transaction code SCASE.)
1. Run transaction SCASE.
2. On the initial SCASE screen you may receive a pop-up asking you for an initial RMS ID object.
From the drop-down list on the pop-up window, select ASR_POBJ.
3. You will now have access to HR Administrative Services portion/objects of CASE Mgmt. Expand the folder tree on the left side as shown below and navigate to:
HR Administrative Services -> Cases -> Process Search
and double-click on Process Search to open the search screen on the right side.
4. On the right side of the screen you will now see the various search options in order to locate a process.
5. It is easiest to search by the process ID itself and then to locate our specific process number in most cases because the CASE number does not match the process number. In our case, you can search for the cases by using the process IDs (from your HCM P&F). In our example, we will search on ZHR_PDT_INORGA.
Enter ZHR_PDT_INORGA in the “Process” input box and click the “Search” button along the bottom of the search options sub-window.
6. You will now be presented with a list of all existing “cases” for that process in the lower sub-screen on the right side of the screen.
7. It’s easiest to filter the first column of CASE IDs from newest to oldest in order to find your most recent processes.
Click the column header Case ID to select the column.
Then click the icon for filtering newest to oldest.
8. Select a CASE ID by double-clicking on the row/number cell.
In order to more easily find the specific Case related to your process, it’s easiest select a row and click the “details” icon.
This will pop-up a window showing you more details about the Case.
9. When you locate your specific Case related to your process, as said before, simply double-click the row or case ID cell/number. This will take to to the details about the Case.
The top portion can be considered the “header” and shows us details about the process overall. Key information here is process number, process status, initiator’s userid, start time and end time.
10. From here, click the “Linked Objects” button along the bottom portion of the Case details sub-screen. This will display the related “objects” in the lower part of the screen.
These additional “objects” represent the form scenarios and form scenario steps themselves.
11. Expand the folders below the “Linked Objects” node to navigate down to the actual process steps themselves.
These represent the actual “steps” in the process. For instance, a process might consist of an initiator (starts the process) step, an approval step and a step in which HR Services processes the request. The steps you will see here will be listed from the current to oldest. In the example above, we can see the initiator step at the bottom and then the folder above it is for an approval step.
The folder/node above the “Steps” node is labeled “Data Container”. Under this branch is a node that is the current data container for the process (in other words, the data that is being used now). This is also useful for debugging and support for a process. However, we will look at an example in which we want to locate data as entered/saved at a particular step.
12. Now, we want to look at exactly what was entered into the form at a particular step. For instance, let’s say in the example above, the initiating manager has told us that they entered an effective date of 5/22/2009 but the approver sees 5/26/2009.
Expand the folder for the step as shown.
As the folder name implies, this is the “data container” or “what was saved for the form”. For HCM Processes and Forms, the form and data are actually separate. The Adobe Interactive form merely serves as a template for the data collection. The data itself is saved off separately as a structured XML file.
(* note: As you can see, there is also a folder called “Attachments”. From here, if we actually had any attachments attached to our form at this particular step, we could pull those up and view them as well.)
13. Double-click on the node ASR_SPS_DATACONTAINER.
This action will open the actual XML file that was saved with the form data exactly as it was entered during this form step.
As you can see, this XML shows us the exact field names used and then the values that were stored for them. In our previous example, the manager claimed they entered an effective date of 5/22/2009. Therefore, we can scroll down our XML file and locate the field name EFFECTIVE_DATE.
Here we can see that although the manager thought they entered 5/22/2009, they actually entered 5/26/2009.
Following similar steps as above, we can locate the data at each level in the process (ie. step level, current data container, etc).
As mentioned previously, by expanding the Linked Objects node, we can get a clear picture of our specific process, where it is in the process, and what steps have been completed.
As we see above, this process was initiated by _Portal202 (bottom folder under “Steps” and look at the column “Last Processed”) who is a manager (Initiator Role in top screen). Then we can see that this went to workflow (step above the bottom one was last processed by WF-BATCH). From there, we can see that WF-BATCH/workflow has sent this to user _Portal201 who was the last to work on it (because the process status is “Completed”).
Well, that’s it….the “magic” behind HCM P&F….the wizard behind the curtain…..secrets revealed! I hope you have a better understanding of CASE Mgmt. for HCM P&F and that you can see how this is a valuable tool for our support of HCM P&F. If you are particularly clever and ambitious, it might give you ideas of how to read the process object information directly from CASE Mgmt. in order to provide alternate views of this information (ie. custom report transactions, alternate HCM P&F interfaces, etc). I would love to share some of the custom reports for HCM P&F support and custom non-Adobe interfaces I have seen and/or written, but then….that would be revealing my own secrets! (haha)