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SAP Shows some love for SAP Business Workflow

Well, first of all, did you know that SAP holds ‘Customer Connection’ initiatives?  I did – but never really thought I would get to participate in one because I am, you know, so maniacally focused on SAP Business Workflow.  So when I heard from Martijn Wever (he of VNSG fame) that a Customer Connection on SAP Business Workflow was starting up, and would I like to join… well, I could barely type a reply fast enough! 


Here’s why.  I’ve been working with SAP WF for years and years.  There were a lot of improvements in this area up until about 2005.  Sadly, improvements from then on were mostly in the break/fix mode.  As an ASUG volunteer and an SAP Mentor, I felt compelled to raise awareness of some of the ongoing struggles we face in this area.  Some would prefer to call it ‘whingeing’ I suppose.  I was even part of a group of SAP Mentors (called by our Twitter handle, SAP_WIT, for SAP Workflow Influence Team) that has worked with SAP on implementing some changes, but you’ll have to read that story in the SAP Mentors Quarterly, when it comes out (published under the ‘Articles’ section of  SCN).

At any rate, the Customer Connection series allows you to use SAP Idea Place to submit ideas for product improvement.  So you could log on to Idea Place and view the requests that were submitted during this Customer Connection  here:

Of course, you will need to get an Idea Place login first. J

You can learn more about Customer Connections here at SAP’s Influence site or read the UK and Ireland SUG description.

Over the course of the meetings, we used Idea Place to submit requests, view other people’s requests, vote on them, and ultimately ‘commit’ to them.  By committing to a request, you are saying that you want this so much, you will implement it. Otherwise, what’s the point?  SAP could approve all of our requests, but if the user community that asked for them doesn’t step up and implement them, what’s the point? 

Our final official Customer Connection call was held in September, when we were notified of which improvement requests were going to be declined, scoped, or deferred.  And I was pretty happy with the list of ‘approved’ ideas – I think they can start to make life a lot easier for SAP Workflow developers and administrators – and that helps us make life easier for our customers. In all, we had 10 Improvement requests that would be scoped and had a planned delivery date of Q1/2012.  One request, which was ‘rejected’ (improvements to the Business Object Repository editor and make those improvements backportable) was also left on the table too.  Still, I may have been a bit skeptical that they would really be delivered.

So I was quite surprised and pleased when I got an email recently that 7 (that’s right, seven! Out of 11) of the improvement requests were now available.  And technically speaking, SAP had only committed to a planned delivery of Q1-2012!  That’s probably 4 months early on over 60% of the requests.  Most of these improvement requests are available via Notes.  Some of them will be available via support packs only – which goes for my personal bugaboo (oops, I called it a favorite earlier – well, it’s a love-hate kind of thing) the improved BOR editor functionality.

So, without further ado…

1286336 – Mass logical delete for SWIA – Until this note, if there were bunches of workitems that needed deletion, you would have to run SWWL (or the program RSWWWHIDE) and everyone knows that you are not advised to use this program in Production Environments.  Or you had to drill into each workitem individually and delete from there.  This note will add a ‘Logically Delete’ function to SWIA which is suitable for mass deletion.

1640209 – Dynamic columns for outbox and resubmission folders – Your users are accustomed to seeing workitems in their inbox with certain dynamic columns.  With this OSS note, your users can now see the same dynamic columns.

1648822 – Dynamic user decision – There will be an exit which allows you to dynamically determine which user decision options should be displayed.

1642128 – Where-used-list for BOR and Class methods – You can’t see a where-used list for BOR methods or ABAP classes from the workbench, but now you will be able to with transaction SWDM (Business Workflow Explorer)

1602238 –Generic Object Services for ABAP OO – You can now use Generic Object Services (GOS) with ABAP objects

1643764 – Configurable optional/mandatory notes on decision steps – This is available on via Support Pack (and is still in German) but in essence, you can use the Workflow Builder to determine, at a user decision, if a note should be required. There are three possibilities:

           o Not required

           o note should be included (required)

           o note must be captured (required).


1639167 – New BOR Editor – Have I whinged about ‘sticks and dirt’?  The ‘old’ BOR editor was probably last enhanced in 2004.  Now you can get SE24-like features while editing BOR objects. 

I hope that some of you (dear reader) will look these notes up.  And if they are valid for your system, apply them!  Then please, give me some feedback? 

Thanks to all the people involved…Martijn Wever, Ralf G (you know who you are) Alan Rickayzen, Mike Pokraka, Tom Maue – I know there are more names.

And thank you, SAP.  For setting up the Customer Connection program, and for listening.  I will not whinge (publicly) until next year 🙂

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  • and thank you for all you do for the Community, Sue…

    I’ve seen a sneak peek of the article in the Mentors Quarterly…must read material for all!


    • And yes, I just found out that the improvements delivered via note are already there – and the ones to be delivered via support package will be added as soon as all the support pack info has been entered.  (Thank you Daniel-Alexander Heller!)
  • That is the best news I have heard for ages. Mere words cannot describe how happy I am. I have been ifnormed I am gpoing to do a lot of worklflow type things when I get back to Australia and this is wonderful news.
    • Hi Paul,
      Thanks really go to Martijn Wever of VNSG and SAP for establishing this Customer Connection.  I was just the happy messenger 🙂
    • Hi Margaret,
      Please do let me know if/when you implement these notes!
      Frankly, I may not know what to *do* when I get the new BOR editor 🙂
    • Hi Kasee,
      Configurable user decisions will be great, as will the new BOR editor.  Keep us posted – maybe even blog about the results? 🙂
    • Hi Anurag,
      I wish I could take credit for the improvements, but giving credit where it is due – SAP recognized a need to establish a Customer Connection, and followed thru on some of the improvements (in darned good time too!).
      Eager to hear how you make out with that note!
  • Hello Susan,
    I dealt with workflow while working on a banking project, last year.It was a thrilling experience in terms of understanding the existing functionality and then accomodating the change required.I remeber, debugging WF was a great challenge.But later,it turned out to be so much fun.
    The only aspect which bothered me was BOR editor.
    Let me check when I get a chance to oscillate back to WF and get to work on improved features.


    • Hi Kumud,
      I am glad that you enjoyed developing WF as much as I always have – and hope you’ll get to try the improved features soon.
  • Sue,
    Thanks so much !. At Lexmark we created some custom workflows for Material Completer activity when new materials come across from our PLM system. But when we turned it on, there were thousands of workitems generated and we needed a mass delete so badly. We did use a workaround, which was to create a user recording in the SAPGUI and this allowed for a user to delete a bunch by themself. But I know your work has produced some great improvements. Hi to Tim.
    Gary Slay
    • Hey Gary, it’s good to hear of a real-life scenario where some of these improvements that SAP has delivered would have helped out! Workarounds – we all have’em.  But it’s nice when you can use SAP’s own functionality.  So save this one for the next time!
  • Hi Susan,

    Thank you (and SAP) for your great effort.

    As a member of the Customer Connections program, may you please check if it would be possible to enhance transaction SWIA with the dynamic columns mechanism?

    (It can be tweaked via a small modification, but we prefer an official solution)



    • Hi Shai,

      That Customer Connection program ended about a year ago.  But perhaps we can use the power of SCN to see what is on everybody’s wishlist?  Hmmmm, let me think about that.

      Thanks for reading!

    • Hi Shai,

      Ummmm… not sure that SWIA is the transaction I would pick for that type of change…curious as to your scenario?  After all this is an expert workflow administrator transaction with a fairly frightening amount of power… transaction SWI1 maybe, as that has a similar display but far less power. 

      Have you exhausted the options afforded by Change Layout/Save Layout in the resulting list? Or are you looking for attributes not in your subject texts?

      BTW One thing you could do is raise your request in Idea Place. That’s one way to get it considered by SAP.



      • Hi Jocelyn,

        Thanks for the response.

        I agree that transaction SWIA might be little too powerful.

        However, we need to allow our workflow manager to complete manually several work items (in extreme cases).

        Current ALV layout is insufficient since in some cases the filtering can only be done according to container values and not according to subject texts.

        Currently, neither transaction SWIA nor SWI1 contain the dynamic columns (like in SBWP).

        I wasn’t familiar with the Idea Place.

        I checked it right now, but it seems to be closed soon (according to the announcement at the top of the page).



        • Hi Shai, Watch out for the new idea area then if you like – but you could still put your idea in now.   BTW In a case like yours we would usually recommend creating a custom app using SAP_WAPI_WORKITEM_COMPLETE and other WAPIs to avoid giving SWIA.



          • Hi Jocelyn,

            I’ll post a new idea, then.

            Is there any specific idea session related to Business Workflow?

            (I didn’t find any)

            Thanks for your recommendation regarding ‘complete manually’ operations.  We’ll check this option.



          • Hi Shai,

            Currently, there does not appear to be specific spaces on Idea Place.  There was a suggestion (by me 🙂 ) to have BPM and subcategories for ‘Business Rules Framework, BRF, SAP Business Workflow’ – which apparently was ‘delivered’. 

            If you have any better luck than I, please do post the location here, or even better, blog about it!


  • Hi Susan

    Thanks for sharing!

    You can also add the following ones…..the ones which troubles the developers the most for emails and URLs:

    Length restriction for URLS in HTML Display – 416013
    Length restriction for URLs in SENDTASKDESCRIPTION -363986
    Multiple Line Container Elements and URLS in HTML Display – 375669

    Though these are available in the latest SPs now…. however, could help people who are working with older releases.



    • I think we need to keep SAP on their toes – Workflow isn’t going away anytime soon, and there are still a lot of improvements that could be made!

  • hi Susan,

    Only thing I hate in SAP Workflow was our old BOR editor and If that can be be changed to new one then its completely wow for me while working….

    • Well, you do have the SE24-like editor now.

      OTOH, some folks have a certain fondness for the ugliness that is the BOR editor though 🙂