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Link to first blog in this series.

This tool, embedded in SAP® StreamWork™ and deployed on the SAP Cloud platform is now out of beta so you can use it in production environments (i.e. it’s dependable.) 
Tip: If you do not have time to read now, just scroll to the bottom for the graphical overview – <ELSE> read on.

Generally available = It’s dependable and reliable.

Collaborative = Several people can work simultaneously on the same diagram, wherever you are. If you like Google Docs, we think you’ll really like this.

Process = A sequence or flow of activities

Modeler = You sketch the process graphically, and adjust iteratively to ever better describe your intentions.

Once modelled you can track your process to make sure you reach your goal. The SAP development team did just that, using the tool to track the progress of development through q-gates, approvals, and acceptance tests before finally making it Generally Available. It is also the very first SAP software to be made generally available on the new SAP Cloud platform. Consistently achieving zero minutes downtime per month this platform is just perfect.

And last but not least it is useful = SAP has taken the suggestions from the beta usage and added these additional features since it first entered the beta stage.

So, if you test-drove this software during the beta stage, please pat yourself on the back and accept my thanks for providing feedback and making the tool so useful to the rest of the world (not just the SAP community.)

And this is where you’ll find the tool now:

AddingGravityToAnActivity.png

Here’s a summary of what SAP has added ….get ready to scroll because this list is long:

  1. A status flag can be set for any element in the diagram. This allows you to track the progress of processes or mini-projects. It also allows you to track the level of completeness of a process model with colleagues, so that you can see at a glance which steps in the process are in discussion and which have been agreed on. Hovering over an element you can see who and when the element was last changed by.

  2. Annotations can be created to document your model. Annotations, unlike sticky notes which are regarded as temporary remarks, are exported and imported with the model.

  3. Black-box pools to hide complex detail.

  4. Associations between annotations and other elements can be created to link the documentation with elements in the process diagram.

  5. Migration to SAP Cloud.

  6. Snap-to-grid to make it even easier to draw aesthetic processes.

  7. No need to configure certificate exceptions in your Web Browser.

  8. The user who created the StreamWork activity can lock a process model to prevent it being edited without locking the rest of the items in the activity.

  9. Ability to override the automatic line-connections so that a sequence can be connected to one side of an element to improve the aesthetics of the diagram.

  10. You can import BPMN files that you previously exported. This is useful for:

    • Creating re-usable process templates

    • Copying the diagram to a different StreamWork activity to collaborate with a different group of people (e.g. partners as opposed to colleagues)

    • Create a local versioning to revert to if you like (but importing will overwrite the current version)

    • Create a local backup copy just to be on the safe side.

  11. You can move a connector to a different element by simply

    • selecting the connector

    • dragging the end point (target or goal) to a different element (the new element changes color to show you’re on target)

    • release the end point on this new element.

  12. Internet Explorer supported.

  13. Horizontal pools and swimlanes.

  14. Intermediate events supported.

  15. Full use of screen estate. The canvas adjusts to screen resolution and orientation
    (Use CTRL + or CTRL- for browser zoom to understand the full advantage of this)

  16. Space-bar toggles between pan and select mode (very useful. Try it and find out for yourself)

  17. Ability to slide an element onto a connector so that the connector fuses around it instead of deleting and recreating the connectors. The previous connection is removed. This assumes that the element to be moved is connected in two or less places.

  18. Link to online help, system news and about section.

  19. Only contributors, not viewers, are shown in the contributor list

  20. Single-sign-on – so that an additional sign on to start the editing is not required. Just sign in to SCN or StreamWork or Google to get access

But the really good news…. despite this wealth of new capabilities it’s even simpler to use than ever before.

As an SCN user you have single-sign-on access to SAP StreamWork (bookmark https://streamwork.com/?saml_idp_id=accounts.sap.com) and you’ll find the tool in the “modeling menu”. And if you’ve already created process models, then you’ll find these in your activities just as you left them while the tool was in beta. It couldn’t be more convenient.

BTW: SAP colleagues – because you are Enterprise users of SAP StreamWork you can use this url: https://streamwork.com/sea/sap

Here’s the process my colleague, Mariyan and I modeled and tracked live to get the approval from our SVP. I sat in the SVP’s office in Germany with my laptop connected to a projector while Mariyan modeled in the same diagram from Bulgaria. The only technology we used was the web browser and a telephone – which is just so much simpler than setting up some sort of Web conference.

SVPSignoff.gif

And if I’m going to repeat this process a lot, then I just export the results in BPMN (the de facto standard for process modeling) and import into SAP NetWeaver BPM to automate the process – admittedly that is overkill for this particular process, but for more sophisticated workflow processes, that is the perfect approach to take. You can use this tool to connect with not just colleagues, but experts in other areas, or even different companies, to ensure the process that you model is correct.

Here is an overloaded overview of the tool in condensed form for those of you who don’t have time to read 🙂

InANutshellAnnotated.png

Finally, references to previous material:

For my friends in the SAP Business Workflow community: http://scn.sap.com/community/bpm/business-workflow/blog/2011/12/20/sap-business-workflow–you-can-use-the-gravity-modeler–you-can-you-can

Tutorial for getting started (but you won’t find it in the beta tab anymore   :http://scn.sap.com/community/bpm/business-process-modeling/blog/2011/07/11/simple-way-to-model-processes-in-the-web

Two minute video to get an idea of how it can be used: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgazDL5nc9U 
(I’d added SAP StreamWork to my Google account through the Google Apps marketplace)

Previous blog in series.

Next blog in series.

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12 Comments

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    1. Alan Rickayzen Post author

      Hi David,

      So many features listed that I barely made it to your comment 😉

      Many thanks for the encouragement and your great tweet,

      Alan

      (0) 
      1. Damean-BF Chen

        1) Process charting within SolMan

        -Min: Ability to display the process chart from SolMan. Either via an HTTP link or as viewable attachment.

        -Max: Ability to kick-off the process chart creation\changes directly from SolMan. 

         

        2) Context sensitive linkage

        -E.g. Linking the activity to an existing SAP transaction\program; so that it could be call directly from the process. Have an activity called “Create Sales Order” and link it to ERP transaction VA01.

        (0) 
        1. Alan Rickayzen Post author

          Hi Damean,

          Point 1. Are you a member of ASUG? There was a good presentation from the 4th April about the SAP Solution Manager SP05 planned improvements, which should make you happy.

          Point 2. Great idea.

          Would you be interested in joining me in a regular “huddle” with others about the use of this tool?

          Best regards,

          Alan

          (0) 
  1. Arturo Martinez

    Alan, I have been working with this tool for a while and I am really impressed on how it connects people to work together.

    Congratulations

    arturo

    (0) 
      1. Arturo Martinez

        Sure I will Alan:

        I am actually working on my own to get a good understanding on all the functionality and I am actually using with 2 companies I am working with. They are starting to use it more; I hope that by next month I could have a good business case to share in a blog.

        Thanks and congratulations again.

        (0) 

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