A lot of my projects recently where all about workflow. HCM, the Human Capital Management module with ESS, MSS and Universal Worklist is an example. SRM and Purchasing is another, often requested project. And if you look at PI-based projects you can see a rise of applications that uses BPM and „human intervention” the dramatic sounding term for BPM-based workflow where user interact with the Process Integration flows.
I noticed the need to discuss the impact of all these “little” projects in broader terms with the customers, to put these activities for their companies in perspective in terms of direction and investment. And I thought I would like to share a summary of thoughts with the community.
On most companies, the so called „silo applications”, the optimization of classic modules like MM, SD or PP is maturing and coming to a certain end. New applications have a shorter, more direct focus (i.e. „Apply for Vacation” rather than „Time Management”) and in this focus, you often have the requirement for human interaction.
When discussing these project with customers, I advice them not to see only the distinctive single project, but also the overall integration of all these single projects into a Process Design Strategy
Most of these new projects have a Web Dynpro ABAP based frontend component. WD ABAP has quickly proven to be a well suited component to create quick “rich client” based user applications. When there is an Enterprise Portal involved, the integration of all applications is with workflow component is usually done by using Universal Worklist. From the user view, all process interactions starts and ends in a UWL.
From a system perspective, SAP Process Integration (PI) with their BPM-component can run the technical side of the integration extremely well.
If you look at the situation of most companies, business process across boundaries with human interaction is a logical step. Process optimization, which should always be accountable for at the end of an IT project, leads to the optimization of a series of single events, coupled into a whole process. And this is exactly the business reason for small, fast and people driven software design.
If the process is not integrating, not eliminating media breaches and truly people centric ( the real “ease of use”) , you will gain no benefits. This goal should be always present in these projects.
When you have a lot of processes, distinctive Web Dynpro-Applications and Web Services used for interaction with SAP backends, the more daunting task is to manage all these processes. The question is, how are all these development activities organized?
This is where the PI Enterprise Service Repository comes into play. The Enterprise Repository is the central place to store information about data, processes, interfaces, locations and process descriptions. The Enterprise Repository and the Service Registry for Web Services is a powerful extension of the developing process itself.
Workflow based processes should be part of a strategic movement in the enterprise towards a process oriented, modeled business design. This is for sure an evolution and no big bang project. Experience needs to be made by all project members. Developer, business owner and technical implementation needs to slowly grow into a central element for all future projects.
Workflow will integrate transactions, interfaces and people inside and outside of the company to overall business processes. This is the real new application in the next decade and you will find no other platform with this level of integration. The sum of all these components and the art of mastering it makes the new IT architecture for the next decade.