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How to get the best possible answer in the SAP Business Workflow Discussion Space

Let me get this out of the way.  If you are asking a question, you need to post in a discussion space.  Not a blog post!  A blog post could be, well, like this. 

Before you go to the discussion space (forever called Forum in our hearts), consider OSS Note 322526 or the newer one OSS Note 1098805 your very best friends.  These notes contain many tips and tricks that may help you fix the problem all on your own. Log in to, access the notes, download, print, tape them to your wall. 

If you have already looked at the above OSS Note, and you are still in a bind (ha ha, workflow joke here), then you need to search for other information on your problem.  And let’s get this right out there: you are probably not the only person in the whole wide world to experience this problem.  I am sorry, I said it, but I mean it.  So be sure to look for previous discussion threads.  It’s hard, I know it.  Many times I have gotten weary reading thru forums, but it’s much better than posting the question, only to have someone else point out that it’s already been asked and answered.  Right?

What you want to do when you post a question to a Discussion is to get one answer back, with the right information.  In my opinion, this means that you need to get the attention of the readers and keep it! If you continuously have to reply to someone, and offer more bits of information then you will run the risk of losing their attention.

Readers of discussion will get worn out – even if they are just lurking – if they see a question with 42 responses. They may be too exhausted to even click into the thread! So when you are trying to get the attention of the readers (and keep it) be sure your question is complete, accurate, and helpful. For now, you want your readers to be maniacally focused (ok, maybe not quite that focused) on you and your problem.

Specify the system and release.  It does no good if you say you are doing a Purchase Req Release, because that could be on R/3, ECC, SRM 5, or SRM 7.  The system and release will help readers determine quickly if they have the experience to help you or not.

Be specific, and whenever possible, include the TECHNICAL LOG of the offending steps.  The graphical builder (SWDD) is not much help at first.  All we can see is that you have modeled a workflow.  The technical log can be accessed via SWI2* transactions, as well as SWI1.  When you access the log, be sure to select the technical view. 

To demonstrate my point, let’s compare a screen shot of the Workflow Technical Log (runtime) with a screen shot of the Workflow Builder(design time)


Workflow Technical Log – Showing no agents found for a Role

(yes, this might not be pretty, but it’s packed with information!)

Workflow Builder (SWDD)

This is the same step/task, but shown in the builder.  Not a lot to go on for runtime diagnosis!

NB: it is well worth your while to spend some time in the technical logs.  If you are a budding workflow enthusiast, hopefully this will enable you to troubleshoot more effectively.  Click on the various icons in the log.  See what it is that the log is providing you.  Check out other workflows running in your system too.  No time spent learning is wasted.

Tell us the business object (usually BUSnnnn) and whether this is the SAP-delivered object, or whether you have customized it – and done the delegation!  If you say that you cannot determine if ‘a document’ is being released – that’s just too generic, and you are guaranteeing a lot of back-and-forthing in the Discussion spaces.

In general, workflow problems will fall into these categories…

  1. The workflow is not getting triggered as expected
  2. The workflow is not going to the correct users as expected
  3. The workflow is not terminating as expected
  4. The workflow appears to be hanging
  5. Users are not seeing the workitem/email

Try to be as specific as possible when asking your question.   Tell us whether this has ever occurred before, or if it only happens for a specific user, or on a specific machine. Tell us if this has been working all along, until blah-blah-blah (Hot packs applied, transports to Production, kernel upgrades, massive reorganization)  Believe it or not, a lot of times there are issues specific to master data and SAPGui installations.  Eliminating these possibilities will save you time (and time is money!).

Only ask an Urgent question if Production is DOWN.  It is not urgent for you to build a workflow to send mail.  It is important, but definitely not URGENT.  If you’ve ever heard the story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf, you will understand… repeated usage of the word URGENT in a discussion space will essentially make everyone assume that there is no such thing as really urgent.

Do your  homework too. If others in the forum have to ask you things like ‘Have you checked for short dumps?’ that means unnecessary back-and-forthing, and a better chance you will lose your audience.  So if a background task appears in process for an extended period of time, check the short dumps before posting.

But don’t ask ‘Hey guys, I need to create a workflow for invoices with three levels of approval; please provide the solution’ because, do you know what you will hear back?  Crickets.  Just crickets. If you would instead ask ‘Hey guys, can I copy the standard SAP workflow template WS10001nn and add another level of approval?’ you are giving your readers two pieces of information; 1) you did your homework and looked for SAP templates that may do something close to what you want to do, and 2) you are not expecting your audience to do your job for you.

So earlier, I suggested that your first job was to get and keep someone’s attention.  Your second job is to read and attend to what people are suggesting, and make sure you do close the loop by telling everyone what the solution was.  The solution ‘Never mind, I found it’ is not going to endear you to anyone who has read and worked on replying to your question. The solution ‘Hey guys, thanks a lot, but I found it.  It was a short dump being created by a custom program that cause the background task to hang’ – THAT’S a solution, and that will not only generate good will from the other folks in the discussion space, but also enhances your own reputation – by demonstrating that you will close the loop, and will provide back to the community the same kind of help that you also receive.

With no closure, how do we get back to Initiation?

I am going to sneak a tip in here to the folks who respond to questions.  First of all, thank you!  You could help the community even more if you told us what specifically you are looking for.  Asking for screen shots of this or that will give you the answer, but it might also help the rest of us if you said ‘I would like to see a screen shot of the Event Log. What I am looking for is a receiver error’ – that really is more helpful, isn’t it?  I admit, I am not without fault here.  But I am going to try to do better, I promise!

Thanks for reading!

PS: I hereby copyright the term ‘back-and-forthing’ – verb, synonymous with ‘churning’ 😛

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    • Thanks Nabheet.  Feel free to add your 2c, or blog about what *you* look for when reading/writing/answering questions?  The more the merrier 😉

      • Yes..yes for sure was away from SCN for a long time so getting back…:):) right now design patterns in progress. Small beginning step towards the pattern:)very interesting they are..
  • Hi Susan,

    great blog – your advices are so  right and not only for the workflow space.

    Now we can only  hope that all those folks who are not doing their home work will read it.



    • Hi Jocelyn.

      I hope I offered some useful advice?   I probably came off a little strong.

      But I do feel strongly that if we tried a little harder in the asking and answering of questions, we could reduce clutter, and it would be easier the next time around.

      Oh, for the good old days, when there was a single moderator to the list  😉

      Thanks for taking the time to read. 
      Try the Bueller blog – maybe you should submit something to ASUG Annual Conference? <hope springs eternal>


  • Hey Sue, just discovered this excellent and a must read for all WF posters.

    BTW, like *your* term ‘back-and-forthing’, personally I think ‘frothing’ sounds more synonyrhymous than churning. 😏

    • Hi Mike,

      Thanks for your kind words.  We could start a contest here on SCN for all the terms similar to ‘churning’ and ‘frothing’… such a ping-pong…

      Hopefully some folks have read this and thought about it.  The problem is –  with all the blogs about ‘How to ask a question on SCN’  – is that the people who SHOULD read them haven’t… and those who comment on them, like yourself, already know how to ask a good question and stop the frothing.