HCM Processes & Forms:Theres gold in them there Processes and Self-Services! (Data and BI Analytics)
As a SAP Mentor, I get the unique privilege of receiving emails from people on various projects and/or various levels of SAP experience with their questions, responses to my blogs/forum posts that they’d rather keep private/direct, friendly hello’s, or request to “bounce ideas” off me. One of the cool perks to these exchanges is that I get to hear about projects going on and what people are trying to do. In that way, I get to hear what companies seem focused on, how they are using the SAP products, what they are doing custom, etc. It’s pretty neat! One of the other “side”, unintentional effects is that I also get to “see” where SAP seems to be missing something….information, examples, documentation, clear direction, etc. When I received about five emails from different people all on different projects but all around the same single question around HCM P&F within the past month, it did not take a genius (or even someone like me haha) to figure out this was definitely another one of those examples of a gap in SAP information.
I could randomly select any one of those five or so emails, but they all said the same thing somewhere in their text….”We want to track some information about ESS/MSS and HCM processes usage. I found some IMG nodes for ‘Data Tracking’ that looked very promising. I tried to search for documentation and, oh surprise!, it seems there is no documentation to be found anywhere.” My first reaction (oddly enough?) is to laugh…sometimes to myself….sometimes out loud…as I think “yep, SAP got another one! This person fell for it again! hahaha” On my list of what I believe are SAP’s own little inside jokes is the always funny “refer to documentation / no documentation found” joke! Haha I’ve been working with SAP since around 1996 or so, and I know firsthand that this “joke” goes back at least that long. But my chuckle soon passes as I keep in mind that this person needs help. This particular question (again from several people) seemed too familiar. What was it? Why did this seem so recent for me as well? Why did I remember this “in a past life”? Ah yes…..because I had been there…I had been in their current situation before.
My first experience with this seeming “hole” in information regarding reporting on self-services and HCM P&F processes began innocently enough when I stumbled across the harmless looking WebDynpro parameter “TRACKING_ID” while putting together my blog: HCM Processes & Forms: Start Object?…we don’t need no stinkin start object!
I had never really noticed this parameter before and was not real clear on what or how it was used. Of course having the word “tracking” in it, my interest was immediately piqued. At the time, I had no idea how much further down the rabbit hole would go. From here, things got “curiouser and curiouser”!
Like any good little ABAPper, the first thing I did was to use the good ol’ “Where Used” on TRACKING_ID. Oddly enough, I found very little. In fact, it seemed like it was used in some simple call to some BI related function/method. That was it. No documentation. Nothing. The plot thickens….the rabbit hole goes deeper…and onward I went.
As I often do, my next move was to search the “help.sap.com” documentation. On my search of “TRACKING_ID”, I received a results list full of hits. I was so happy at first with all the information it seemed that I had finally found. That happiness was short lived as I soon discovered that all of those “hits” pretty much all said the same exact thing. Whether MSS, ESS or HCM P&F, the documentation pretty much said:
Specifies the tracking ID from Customizing for Personnel Management under Data Tracking for Self-Services ® Set Data Tracking for Individual Self-Services. During data tracking, this ID differentiates Web Dynpro applications that are used more than once in the same portal role in different iViews.
(source: http://help.sap.com/erp2005_ehp_04/helpdata/EN/ee/268e0ffb894ae1b4a66f24caa1ec87/frameset.htm )
I thought “That’s it?!?! What?!?! Come on, SAP!!! How is this tracking ID used? What’s it for? How can I use it?!?!!”
From the crumbs of information I got from the help.sap.com information I found, I was pointed to the IMG settings (the same ones that the people emailing me had referred too as well). If you look in the IMG, you will find:
– Activate Data Tracking for All Self-Services
– Set Data Tracking for Individual Self-Services
They look so promising eh? However, as I mentioned earlier, there is little to no IMG documentation for them. Yes…the good ol’ SAP inside joke. It seemed like I had hit a brick wall again…..or had I hit the bottom of the rabbit hole?
My next step….take the crumbs I had and try to put them back together. The TRACKING_ID had yielded little information, and I ran into a wall with it. I did, however, get directed to those IMG nodes, but again, found no information directly under them. But wait….I did notice something….more repeated words. Why is that anything? Because thankfully, SAP loves to use the same phrases or descriptions together across documentation…..”find and replace” much, SAP? Haha I noticed “DATA TRACKING” in the node names. Hey, it wasn’t much, but what else did I have to go on.
So again, I did a search on “data tracking” in the help.sap.com documentation. Of course, I had several hits, but one related to the MSS business package really stood out. The documentation for “Data Tracking” stated:
Data tracking uses SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence to collect information for evaluations, for example, how often the pages are called. The iViews are for technical purposes only; they do not have a user interface and are not visible on the page. If you want to perform similar evaluations in SAP NetWeaver BI, you must not remove these iViews from the pages mentioned above or you must include them in your customer portal role.
(source: http://help.sap.com/erp2005_ehp_04/helpdata/EN/56/91b60fe1a4490ebd2ee6411dfa88d9/frameset.htm )
Now, you might think I would go to the BI help.sap.com documentation and do a similar search. Come on?!?!?! You think searching in BI documentation for “data tracking” is going to help much? That would pretty much pull up everything under the sun for BI. No…that wasn’t my next step at all. Given that the Data Tracking for MSS referred to BI, I thought I needed to search for a specific BI “content pack”….something specific to MSS/ESS/HRAS for content related to BI. I recalled mention of BI here and there in a few HCM P&F presentations I had stored away from over the years, so I went to work searching back through those.
From page 6 of the 2007 marketing document “Introducing HCM Process and Forms”, I noticed the section Delivering Analytic Insight. It states:
Within the HCM processes and forms framework, analytic functions are available through an analytics framework with preconfigured content from the SAP NetWeaver® Business Intelligence (SAP NetWeaver BI) component. When a process or service is executed– from the SAP Employee Self-Service or SAP Manager Self-Service applications, for example – multiple time stamps, information about executing roles, and executed process and service types are tracked and stored (see Figure 4). This data is the basis for preconfigured key performance indicators (KPIs), which allow HR teamsto drill down into the execution results of HCM processes and analyze their performance and effectiveness, especially in the context of an HR shared services center (see sidebar).
Examples of delivered SAP NetWeaver BI content are thefollowing KPIs:
• Number of processes or services
• Processing time
• Completion time
Queries are also delivered, and include the following:
• Process or service volume
• Average completion time
• Average processing time
Now we were getting somewhere!!! Looking at one more presentation called “Gain Operational Excellence for Your HCM Service Delivery” , I noticed a whole section on “Analyze with SAP BI”. On page 68, there was an interesting slide that mentioned the “Shared Services Analytics Infrastructure and Content” going all the way back to EhP1.
On page 80 under the “Analyze with SAP BI” section, there was a section called “HR Processes Analytics Content”.
It mentioned all those reporting options for BI that I had been looking for, however, I still didn’t put the pieces together to figure out WHERE in BI this might be found. Was it under some kind of “HR Processes Analytics” content? Nope. Then where? At the bottom of the slide, I noticed the innocent looking reference “SAP AG 2007, HR Shared Services – Positioning and Overview”. There it was again…..”Shared Services”. I remember that from the earlier slide mentioning the “Shared Services Analytics Infrastructure and Content” and from the other 2007 document that kind of glossed over “HR Shared Services center”.
I guess I never really paid much attention to it before…probably because I was thinking “My clients don’t operate in a shared services scenario and who knows what’s involved in setting all of that up”. However, now, it seemed important, and I needed to look into it more.
Once again, I went back to good ol’ help.sap.com documentation on BI (since all the previous documents mentioned BI analytics) and did a search on HR Shared Services. This is the information that came up:
Viola!!!! This was it!!!! I found it!!!! The information states:
You can use the Business Intelligence Content for shared services to evaluate the processes and services provided in the following components:·
- Employee Self-Service (ESS)
- Manager Self-Service (MSS)
- HCM Processes and Forms
- Employee Interaction Center (EIC)
(source: http://help.sap.com/saphelp_nw70/helpdata/en/ab/8defeadf6948a0b0d6868e5d08ff11/frameset.htm )
Opening the “Queries” section, I saw immediately that this was everything I was looking for and opening the other nodes furthered my validation:
So there it was….everything I had been looking for was “stuck” under “Shared Services”. Apparently, whether you are operating in a HR Shared Services scenario or not, this is the content in BI to report on Self-Services (ESS/MSS) and HR Processes. As my client at the time chose not to implement this reporting in the initial rollout and wanted to do it at a later time, I just filed all that detective work away in the back of my mind. Surely, I wasn’t the only one that was completely confused by that as well as completely frustrated by the fact that it took so much digging to find this information and how it all ties back over to HCM P&F. That was some time ago, so I really kind of forgot about it. That was, until this past month or so. The recent flood of emails from people all about this very same thing finally validated my suspicion. Yep, I was not alone. Luckily for them, I had already done all ground work before and had the scars to prove it!haha Better still for them, I don’t mind blogging about it and sharing that information.
BONUS: In addition to what BI offers, I often get asked about reporting options for things BI does not handle. For example, what if you chose not to use BI…can you still report off of HCM P&F processes? Yes! In fact, I have done some pretty slick reports in my day on this (haha). I won’t go into those, but you can find a very good document to give you an example and clues of this on the SAP Service marketplace called “HCM Processes and Forms: Create a Query to Provide Status of Processes-April 2008“ (Query_Process_Status.pdf) ( http://www.service.sap.com/erp-hcm ) Along with that, people want to know when specific infotypes change and who changed them (ie. employee vs. HR admin). For example, IT0006 changes are usually asked about. There are many approaches to this such as comparing the “last modified by” on the infotype to the IT0105 record or actually creating an audit log on the database changes. Of course, there are all kinds of ways to do this, but keep in mind the overhead of doing so. There are MANY posts about many ways of doing this in the forums.
Well, there you have it….in a nutshell, yes, there are all kinds of reporting options for Self-Services and HCM P&F processes that are all quite nice. You just have to know where to look. From this information, you can report on how often various self-services or processes or executed, what employee groups seems to use them the most, you can identify possible bottlenecks or room for improvement in your HCM P&F processes, and much much more. Now that you know where to look, it’s up to you to come up with how best to use this found information. As always…I hope this helps….and enjoy!
Thank you again for your great contribution on the blog.
While reviewing all this BI content related information, did you come across how specifically the Tracking_ID parameter will be leveraged?
Any advice on how the parameter IDs should be organized? A different ID for each logical organization of processes, or a different ID for each "administrator team" that may be processing the forms.