Did someone ever tell you that you could only pick one flavor of ice cream to like? That you had only one kind of pizza you could eat for the rest of your life? Does their exist some unwritten rule that you can like burgers, buffalo wings or tacos, but never all three? (can you tell I have not had lunch yet? haha). Then why in the world do some people seem to have this notion that with HCM Processes and Forms that they must pick one form user interface and only one?!?!?
With HR Renewal 1.0, the availability of Floorplan Manger (FPM) based forms, and the more recent “roadmap” option, there seems to be this misconception that one is better than the other or that each new one is THE replacement for the previous options, or that the “old” way is now “bad”, or any other number of things I have heard lately. Well, I am here to call “bunk” on that idea! As with most things, there is a time and place for each option (and other options you might not think of as well!). So let’s have a look at those….here are just a few advantages/disadvantages of each that come to mind (feel free to add your own in the comments below)…
Adobe Interactive Forms (AIF)
|Complete control of layout (much like a web page, we can design and brand it all)|
|Client side interactivity (hide/show fields, validate fields, add content, etc. all without the need for a round trip to the backend)|
|Print form maintains true formatting (WYSIWYG)
|Easier storage/archiving for digital employee files|
LICENSING!!! (* if I could use more exclamation points and add a audio clip of someone screaming in exasperation, it still would not be enough. haha)
|Not “mobile friendly” (*see below information)|
|Requires additional infrastructure (ADS server component)|
|Interface built on the older ISR interface technology|
(* At TechEd2013 in Las Vegas, Adobe discussed a HTML5 form generation option
coming soon. I blogged about it a bit here: HCM Processes & Forms: My thoughts on the Adobe Interactive Forms TechEd 2013 announcements)
The screenshot shown is a fairly complex form for an org. related process that I developed. The image would dynamically change based on the user selections on the form.
Floorplan Manager (FPM) Forms
No additional licensing needed!
(* this is the main reason customers readily adopted it over AIF)
|Leverages existing developer skills (ABAP with FPM experience)|
|Slightly faster development than AIF forms (in large part due to the lack of free form layout and scripting support however)|
|Can embed other non-HCM P&F components into your form (such as Google maps as a I show in this blog HCM Processes & Forms: Google Maps and how to step up your FPM forms game!)|
|No support for client side scripting. Any events/actionson the client side require a trip to the backend to affect any changes/updates to the form.|
|Fairly rigid layout (you can get somewhat creative with your FPM configuration layout but not to a great extent)|
|No built-in print option (you must develop an Adobe form in parallel to be used for printing. Hopefully, this will change soon.)|
|Difficult storage/archiving of form (for the same reason as the printing limitation) for employee digital files.|
|Not mobile friendly.|
|No offline support.|
A lot of people confuse FPM with WebDynpro ABAP. FPM is a framework unto itself, though you can utilize it in WebDynpro ABAP (WDA) applications. One does not need to know WDA in order to build FPM forms (though it does help).
(*screenshot from Raja Sekhar Kuncham)
|“Quick and Dirty” / “Developer Free” option (can get process up and running with no developer involvement….pure configuration)|
|Easy to build single infotype update processes (much like PA30)|
|Currently, only processes for employee master data are supported for roadmap forms.|
|Only ONE Action can be configured (and even then some are limited by involved infotypes) or you can configure infotypes individually
|The General Process Data and Wrap Up “step” pages are generated for you and are not available for any kind of customization via configuration. (ie. you take what they give you).|
|No built-in support for Dynamic Actions (though rumored to be coming soon in upcoming releases…..why not just get rid of Dynamic Actions once and for all?!?! It’s old. It had it’s time. Time for a change. And yes, I know some customers have heavily invested in Dynamic Actions but maybe a good time for them to review that need also. We have better options now.)|
|The effective date for the roadmap process can be changed only when the General Process Data step is displayed.|
|In contrast to Adobe or FPM processes, you cannot define message mapping, fields, generic services/operations, attachments, rules, and links for scenario steps in roadmap processes.|
|“Roadmap Steps” (not same as “Scenario Steps”) do not communicate to each other therefore you can not pass data from one to another.|
|No print option available. (yet?)|
|No storage/archiving option available for digital employee file.|
|Not quite mature in my opinion. This was SAP first step in starting to ween users off of PA40 in my opinion. It *should* get better in coming release.|
(*good blog with more details from Raja Sekhar Kuncham called HR Renewal – Interesting facts about Roadmap forms)
I am not going into this here as they are pretty much your only option at this time for any kind of “mass process” (though I have seen this handled other ways as well by triggering individual processes for several selected objects at one time….ie. much like I talked about in this blog HCM Processes & Forms: Ladies and Gentlemen, start your processes…FROM ANYWHERE!!!). Personally, I have not had to implement these in production for any client nor have I heard of many customers using these to any great extent.
3rd Party WebDynpro ABAP
I won’t go into a lot of detail but it is worth a mention here as yet another option. Sometime between the “Adobe-only” days and the release of HR Renewal which brought the FPM option, there were several 3rd party SAP partners offering a bit of a “hack” that provided a WebDynpro ABAP way of providing a form interface thus circumventing the Adobe licensing issue. Do not confuse this with FPM (*see my note above under the FPM section). These come in various levels of “ease of configuration” with most all requiring some level of development (which made these products a great way for consulting companies to get their “foot in the door” to provide additional services). Some people learned how to “hack” the framework on their own and just build a WDA form on their own from scratch (I believe there are blogs or at least forum posts about it here). It is still a viable option especially for those customers not yet on HR Renewal but requires a bit more work than what FPM provides now. If interested, do searches on “tHRive” as well as looking for solutions from companies like ROC, AspireHR and Worklogix.
I am not a time traveler (as far as you know) or a psychic, but I will make a prediction….an HTML5 option is coming! Be it from SAP via SAPUI5 or from a 3rd party (or parties), I think we will see this very soon. With SAP fully behind their SAPUI5 (SAP’s HTML5 “flavor”), I think it will be rather soon as well…..especially since SAP made no bones about it when they released the FPM option that they had in fact left the framework “open” for any other option for the form UI to be developed and released (ie. no longer tightly bound to Adobe).
What will an HTML5 option give us? Well, all the great things about the Adobe option (complete layout control and client side interactivity for example) with all the benefits of FPM option as well (no licensing!). Even then, I do not think it will be the ONE AND ONLY solution either. There will still be a need for “quick and dirty” processes that can probably be better (ie. faster and cheaper) built with the FPM or Roadmap options.
So there you go…..picking just one isn’t so simple eh? Before I wrap this up, I will go ahead and pitch the great book, SAP ERP HCM Processes and Forms, by Brandon Toombs and Justin Morgalis. It provides a lot more information on the options above and is an all around great reference (not a lot of fluff and filler). If you have more to add (pros/cons of the above?) or just general comments and questions, please post below. Well, I have more blogs lined up, so time to go work on those. This one is a wrap! As always….till next time….