Process Observer – Old dogs and new tricks?
(This will be a series of blogs on my experience turning on Process Observer)
A few weeks ago, I was given the task to prototype the usage of Process Observer in our SRM 7 sandbox. This basically my own fault… over the past few years, I’ve gotten really annoyed at the fact that our current SRM5 workflows have to write to custom tables every step along the way so that this information can be pushed up to our BW system. So I say it’s my fault because after a few frustrasting days debugging a timing problem between SRM5/WF/BW, when one of my teammates came to talk about what we should do in SRM7, I said ‘Implement Process Observer and get rid of all this <junk>’.
I didn’t make this recommendation lightly. I had (I thought) learned a bit about Process Observer and it’s mighty big brother SAP Operational Intelligence (powered by HANA) thru various webcasts and TechEd Sessions, blogs on SCN, and generally drinking Peter McNulty’s Kool-Aid.
Step 1 – Gather the information!
So I gathered my learning materials, which I will provide to here.
First off, I had a copy of a TechEd Workshop that I had attended in 2011. And I also had browsed around on SCN and found an extremely well organized series of blogs by the Process Observer team. Basically, just type in ‘Process Observer’ in the search bar, and the first result will be an overview, which is also updated to reflect subsequent blogs and documents. So for this well organized set of information, I would like to call out my thanks to:
I also did due diligence with the SAP Help Portal, but I will have to admit, I was discouraged when the number of hits showed up. Fortunately, in the Workshop documentation, they have included the link to the right area (at the time) so you don’t need to search 11796 hits.
(NB: Did I really think I would only get 5 – 10 hits on the phrase ‘process observer’? No, of course not. That would be like Googling ‘cat videos’ and being surprised not to find your own cat immediately.)
At any rate, the Help is there, if you need it – and it is actually contained on the main Process Observer discussion page – so you don’t need to search the Help Portal at all.
Armed as I was, and having a pretty good idea of the Value Proposition of Process Observer (It’s using GPS while you drive, rather than a map) I was eager to get at it. And I was probably even more eager, because I feel as though a person with SAP Workflow skills and an understanding of Business Object Repository objects and BOR events will have a sound footing with Process Observer, although I also don’t think that is a prerequisite.
I scanned the first 25 pages of the TechEd Workshop presentation in order to get to ‘Activate Process Observer’. I always feel that when I begin working in a new area, I need to click something, show something, activate something – in order to get a quick win and boost confidence.
Step 2 – Turn something (anything?) on
In the case of Process Observer, it’s pretty obvious what your first step needs to be, because it is delivered as a component of SAP Business Suite – which means that you need to use transaction SFW5 (Switch Framework Customizing) to turn it on. Once you do, then an additional source of information is available via the IMG. But there’s no IMG on Process Observer until you switch it on.
The first thing you get is this pop-up:
Go ahead, and continue. On the next screen, ifyou hover over ‘FND_EPT_PROC_ORCH_1 you can see that this is a reversible business function. Of course, it’s clear now that I needed to check the check box and select ‘Activate Changes’.
You may notice from here on out that I stop referring to it as ‘Process Observer’ and start referring to it as ‘POB’. We’re just on good terms like that.
I always feel better knowing that there is a background job running. To make sure that I had actually turned POB on, I tried the Implementation Guide….
I knew I was successful because I could check against a system that did NOT have POB turned on, and I was not able to see these entries.
The next thing I did – before any other work! – was to go a little further in the guide and select any transaction codes I found, and built myself a little folder of transactions related to POB. Don’t mock me for pointing this out. When you have navigated thru Tools> ABAP Workbench> Development> SAP Business Workflow > Definition tools > Events > Event creation about, oh, a thousand times, you’ll start adding your most-used transactions to a folder too.
That’s all for this entry. I will be working on the next ones even as you are reading this. I hope you leave some comments!
- – It’s much harder to find the help, tutorials, and blogs, discussions that you might need if you go in unprepared and then try to dig your way out of a mess.
- – Expect a certain level of uncertainty. Take screen shots and keep a word document (or whatever your preference is) all along the way.
- – Pace yourself. Yes, I might be able to turn on POB in an hour. But understanding what I am doing – not just racing to get it done – is the real bonus.
thanks for the blog. Can you report on the value add for business and customers you now realized with the implementation?
Thanks so much for reading and asking for more info. Unfortunately, I was in prototype mode, and as is so often the case, I have been pulled off into a different project.
If I were so fortunate as to be able to follow this project through to its natural conclusion, the real value add for my customers (and for me!) would be in the BI reports that can be generated.
In our environment (and admittedly ancient workflow process reporting) we are currently updating custom tables to show the progress of documents through workflow. I would love nothing more than to get rid of this functionality, and be able to use standard (SAP-delivered!) functionality.
I recommend you catch Jens Nolte for a deeper discussion on the benefits of implementing Process Observer!