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Workflow Self Study Notes Part 2 (Theory) – Agents

There are mainly 3 groups of Agents:

  • Possible Agents
  • Responsible Agents
  • Excluded Agents

Apart from these 3 groups, there are 2 other categories of agents:

  • Recipients
  • Actual Agents

Possible Agents

  • These are people who can execute a task.
  • Defined in the “Task” level
  • Best practice to assign possible agents, is to sync with Security Roles
  • A task can be marked as “General Task” to allow anyone to execute the work item.
  • There are different ways to assign possible agents.
    • For SAP provided workflows, we can assign possible agents using IMG.
    • When we are displaying a task, we can use the following menu path
      • Additional data –> Agent assignment –> Maintain
      • The transaction is PFTC_DIS.
    • From task profile section of organization plan
    • From profile generator (Roll Maintenance);  Transaction PFCG
    • From workflow builder during step definition.

Responsible Agents

  • Responsible agents are people who you want to execute a particular work item.
  • Responsible agents are usually assigned in workflow step level, but can also be assigned at the task level via default agent determination rules
  • Usually responsible agents are determined during runtime using two main ways
    • Expressions
      • In expressions, the data needed for agent determination is stored in workflow containers, which later is used in computations and agent is determined based on container values.
    • Rules
      • In rules, agents are determined dynamically when work items are created.
      • We can bind data from workflow to the rules to provide data for agent determination computations.
  • For a work item to be forwarded to a responsible agent, the agent should also be a possible agent.

Excluded Agents

  • Excluded agents are people who should not receive the work item for execution
  • Excluded agents are always assigned by an expression to the workflow step
  • Typically we put all excluded agents in a multi-line container in the workflow container, and use an expression to assign the list of excluded agents to a particular step.


  • Recipients are agents who receive a work item.
  • Recipients are
    • Possible Agents
    • Responsible Agents
    • Are Not Part of Excluded Agents
  • If there are no possible agents, then nobody will receive the work item.
  • If no responsible agents are determined, the system checks to see if any default agents are defined in the task level.
  • Recipients can forward work items to another agent. Whether or not the recipient can forward the work item is determined by the attribute of task.
    • General Task
      • Work item can be forwarded to anyone and executed by anybody
    • General Forwarding
      • Work item can be forwarded to any user.
    • No General Forwarding
      • Work item can only be forwarded to possible agents.
    • No Forwarding
      • Work item cannot be forwarded.

Actual Agent

  • Actual agent is the agent that is currently processing a work item or the user who has last processed a work item.

Assigning Multiple Agents to Work Items

  • Many agents can be assigned to a single work item.
  • The work item shows up in all agents inbox, and disappears from everyone else when one agent reserves or executes a work item.
  • Sometimes we need every agent to make an active decision from particular process. To do this, we can create one work item per agent.

Deadline and Notification Agents

Deadline Agents

  • Deadline agents are people who receive work item when a deadline has exceeded for a work item
  • These agents are entered in the deadline Of workflow step.

Notification Agents

  • Notification agents are people who are notified when a work item is completed.
  • Usually entered in notification tab of workflow step.

Agent assignment using organizational structure

  • Every workflow agent must have a userid.
  • Assigning userid directly for task may be very high maintenance.
  • Organizational plan helps in simplifying this issue.
  • Every SAP application server comes with basic organizational plan

Basic organization Plan

Organizational Units

  • Represents a group of people such as 18, section, Department, work area, lab, help desk, or shared service Centre.


  • A job described functional role within the organization.


  • Position represents a headcount placement.


  • Users is the actual userid of a person.
  • Workflow task can be linked to one or more Organization units, positions, jobs, or users.

Extended Organization Plan

  • SAP my HR comes with extended organization plan
  • Extended organizational plan includes personal numbers
    • A person represents a PERNR
    • a person may be assigned to one or more positions.
    • A user is assigned to a person by setting up info type 105 (Communication)
  • From workflow perspective, extended organizational plan has following benefits
    • Much more data in organizational plan to help make decisions.
    • “Evaluation paths” can be custom built and used as rules to find organization objects.

Reassign Work Items from One Agent to Another

  • If a user changes job or position, existing work item may need reassignment.
  • Typically, only served work item needs reassignment.
  • We can find outstanding work items for the user using transaction : SWI5. This transaction should be run before removing the user
  • We can find orphaned work items using transaction : SWI2_ADM1

Temporary Substitution of Agents

Sometimes will need to temporarily substituted the agent. This can be done in two ways:

  • The HR substitute relationship A210
  • User Substitution (Table: HRUS_D2)

The HR substitute relationship A210

  • We create substitute for a position using A210 relation between position and substitute.
  • All work items for that position are made available to the substitute.

User Substitution Using Table HRUS_D2

  • This is usually maintained from user’s inbox using menu path

   Inbox –> Settings –> Workflow Settings –> Maintain Substitutes

  • We can also create entries directly using ABAP

Substitute itself can be of two types:

Active Substitutes

  • In active substitution, work items are automatically forwarded or appear in the substitutes inbox.

Passive Substitute (also called adopt Substitute)

  • Require the substitutes to explicitly choose to see original agents work item

Refreshing Organisational Plan an Environment

  • The organisation plan is buffered for efficiency.
  • Changing an organisation plan will not immediately be updated in the buffer, and hence can create confusion especially for workflows using the plan for agent determination.
  • Typically buffer is refreshed at midnight.
  • Alternatively, in development systems, we can trigger refreshing of buffer using transaction: SWU_OBUF
  • It should be noted that the buffer afresh is a resource intensive process
  • When writing your own programs for buffer afresh, following function modules can be handy:

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