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SAP Process Observer – What is it and how does it relate to other similar tools?

Read all the detail on our Q Data USA blog posting at

Highlights from the blog posting:

Process Observer is a component of SAP’s Business Suite foundation layer. Broadly speaking it can be used to monitor SAP Business Suite processes like OTC (Order to cash) and PTP (Procure to pay).

The value proposition for the tool as stated by SAP is as follows:

  • Provide Process Visibility enabling:
    • Real-time monitoring with exception handling
    • Business activity monitoring
    • SLA (Service Level Agreement) tracking
    • Transparency on process quality
  • Process optimization
    • Recognizing deviations leading to strengthening of operations (continuous improvement)
  • Insight-to-action: Near real-time reaction to exceptions
  • Enhanced process automation

How does it work?

  • The execution of the process is tracked via Business Object (BO) events (Traditional Business Object Repository events typically used to trigger workflows)
  • The Process Observer “correlates” these BO events in to a Local Process Log and calculates KPIs at this level (also stored in the local process log) Aggregated KPIs (averages) are calculated and made available through BW, ODPs or HANA
  • These local logs are federated with each other providing the needed end-to-end process visibility and analytics

Further points to note…

  • SAP Process Observer is available in the ABAP stack of Business Suite 7i2010.
  • You can use an Event API call (POC_RAISE_EVENT) from an external system to trigger a process observer event that would then update the local process log with the event execution information. Volume and performance of external API calls needs consideration…
    • See OSS note 1737693 to see how to use this Event API
    • Events are buffered and processed asynchronously using this technique
  • The process log can be accessed via the Process Observer Tool or via Enterprise Search
  • From the Process Observer Tool, when viewing activities, you can navigate to the related business objects
  • Data sources are available for extraction to Business Warehouse. In addition these datasources can be used to replicate the process logs to SAP HANA via ETL
  • Xcelsius dashboards based on BW, ODP or HANA allow for the monitoring of business processes over time
  • A threshold exception status is maintained and displayed (exception monitoring)
    • Thresholds are used to trigger actions. The action is launched based on an “Exception” BOR event being triggered
    • Thresholds can be set for process definitions or individual processes using the BRFPlus rules engine
  • When a user views the “local” process log in one Business Suite system, they are, in fact, viewing the federated process log… Communication between the local systems is done using the Process Façade (using information from the E2E Process Registry)
  • Changes to Business Objects, right down to the field level can be captured and analyzed using the Bex Web Analyzer tool. Change documents will be made available as a generic event in the coming Process Observer version allowing the use of customizing to map change information in to your process
  • In a future release… a Process Observer side panel for SAP NWBC (NetWeaver Business Client) will be made available to display process related info like status and KPI values
  • Providing the data via a mobile device: “Process Gateway” has been built as a part of SAP NetWeaver Gateway SP04

How does it compare to Business Process Analytics in SolMan? (Courtesy of Sebastian Zick)

  • Process Observer does not require a Scenario/Solution in Solution Manager to be maintained
  • in Business Process Analytics in Solution Manager, focus is on exception reporting, not on process performance – in Process Observer, information about all process instances are logged, i.e. good for drill-down to detail level directly into single transactions
  • Process Observer can be integrated into ERP transactions via Generic Object Services (GOS)
  • in Process Observer, you can easily add “non-process” event tracking with alerting, such as tracking of single field changes
  • in Process Observer, you can connect any system with ease, e.g. external warehouse management systems, SAP NetWeaver BPM, email systems, etc.

How does it compare to SAP Event Management?

  • SAP EM provides a highly configurable web UI for generating user reports providing visibility in to business processes
  • SAP EM has a much more advanced status management concept allowing for multiple status views per object depending on the user type
  • SAP EM is robust enough to handle high volumes scenarios
  • The Application Interface (AI) used to extract data from the SAP Business Suite is pre-delivered with content to extract the relevant data.
  • SAP EM has the concept of an Event as well as the message that tells us about the event. Analytics is not only limited to the event itself but can also include analytics around the message. E.g. An EDI 856 is sent from a supplier 1 day after the goods shipped on time. The shipped event was on time but the message was sent late
  • SAP EM does not integrate with the GOS object view
  • SAP EM has very tight and easy integration with the Alert Framework for exception reporting
  • SAP EM provides web services to capture and query events in a secure fashion
  • SAP EM allows for the hierarchical display of business processes with a separate status being associated with the hierarchy as well
  • Both tools extract to BW, launch  and integrate easily with workflow

SAP continues to “muddy” the waters with multiple solutions overlapping areas of coverage. It is becoming increasingly difficult for Solution Engineers and Architects to adequately advise on the correct path to take. We need a better roadmap that is transparent to those that need to know so we don’t chase technologies that will later be abandoned. A prime example was SAP Business Objects Event Insight which was abandoned and now Sybase ESP replaces it with little to no integration with SAP!

In this particular space I have heard from SAP Solution management that both SAP EM and Process Observer will be continued in to the foreseeable future…

Let me know your thoughts…


Q Data USA (SAP Supply Chain specialists) blog:

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