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)

adobe_form.JPG

PROS

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
Offline support

CONS

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 developer skillsets (Adobe form development and scripting in either FormCalc or JavaScript)
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

fpm_form.JPG

PROS

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!)

CONS

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).

Roadmap Forms

roadmap_form.JPG

(*screenshot from Raja Sekhar Kuncham)

PROS

“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)

CONS

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)

Mass 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.

Others?

3rd Party WebDynpro ABAP

other_wda_tHrive_aspireHr.jpg    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.

SAPUI5/HTML5

     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….

To report this post you need to login first.

39 Comments

You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.

  1. Suresh Datti

    ui5? I am bit skeptical about the viability,especially when a form gets complex with a number of fields, validations, value helps..etc might be suitable for a quick & easy form that deals with just a couple of fields.

    (0) 
    1. Christopher Solomon Post author

      Why skeptical? It’s just another UI. Nothing too “funky”. I think field binding, validation, etc. will get easier in that respect (HTML5 has a lot of nice “built in” stuff and SAPUI5 has some nice controls too). I can see it being something like AIF but with richer controls like FPM.

      (0) 
        1. Christopher Solomon Post author

          Oh I wouldn’t be. HTML5 + CSS3 is built with “any device” in mind. Look up “responsive design” and you will see. SAPUI5 has it baked into the framework. It is super easy. Look at the Fiori apps…they are SAPUI5-based!

          (0) 
  2. Derrick Banks

    Good write up Chris and nice summary of all the “currently” available options. I would agree with you that UI5 is not far behind. I wouldn’t leave out the option to create your own custom UI since the service layer of the Framework for P&F has been converted to an RFC (for those companies with heavy Java and .Net resources on deck).

    (0) 
  3. Brandon Toombs

    Many thanks Chris for writing this blog so I didn’t have to.  Great job as always!

    I was planning one on the roadmap forms but I never quite get around to it!

    A few points:

    1. 2 big drawbacks on the roadmap forms (as compared with FPM) is that (A)you can’t make the field visibility/requirement based on step (B) You are limited to segregated forms that follow the old infotype models so you can’t merge fields into a single forms.
    2. I’ve come to believe that the roadmap forms aren’t really intended to replace FPM forms, they’re going after PA30/PA40.  The dynamic action functionality that is due out in the next feature pack is supposed to work in roadmap and roadmap alone.
    3. While FPM forms don’t have client-side scripting, you can do some dynamic things like make field B appear based on the value chosen in field A.  (I know that you know that, just making sure everyone else does.)
    4. I agree with you that there will eventually be UI5 forms, at least I hope there is.  In the short term I would KILL for a simple mobile-enabled approval UI that you don’t have to buy from a 3rd party.
    5. I think it would be pretty easy for someone to write a routine to dynamically generate a smartform that would consist of name/value pairs for all of the fields that could be stored in DPF.  (Hmmm…maybe a good challenge for you or Derrick Banks) 🙂
    (0) 
    1. Christopher Solomon Post author

      Many thanks, Brandon and good points! To yours…

      1. yeh, I mentioned now Generic Services/operations but maybe that should be more clear of what more than can mean. haha

      2. Ditto!

      3. Yes, but this takes a round trip to happen….which I see as a bad thing….so hard to put it as a pro and con. haha

      4. Get in line….which I think started forming up around EhP2. haha

      5. Smartform?!??! or do you mean a smart form? haha…yeh, I suppose either/both of us could do that….but we are out slaying other dragons at the moment. =)

      Thanks again!

      (0) 
  4. Joanna Chan

    Hi Chris,

    Nice work with the comparison, but perhaps it would be interesting to also see a comparison in terms of performance. I know from experience that Adobe Forms can be really taxing on performance, and if UI5 were an option the performance wouldn’t be so crash hot either.

    Just my thoughts 🙂

    Jo

    (0) 
    1. Christopher Solomon Post author

      Thanks Joanna. Performance would be a tough one. I have seen good and bad for each. Often bad Adobe performance is due to poorly developed or overly complex forms. Excessive FPM forms can be just as slow. Then to, incorrectly sized ADS can factor in as well. There are ways to tune them in each case. Doing a comparison would be tough. In general, maybe just say that “yes Adobe forms are slightly slower than FPM/roadmap…but that is largely due to additional infrastructure pieces that it goes through.”

      Thanks for adding that in the conversation. It is definitely always a customer concern!

      (0) 
    1. Christopher Solomon Post author

      Yes (to an extent)….I just cover what is available “out of the box”. Since the change to the RFC interface now, it is wide open (mentioned in blog) however anything not covered above would all be custom development. VERY doable!

      Also you are talking a “new frontend”. I am more focusing on what is embedded as the form interface within the framework itself and as an option via configuration. With a little more work you can actually enhance it to allow whatever option you build to show in configuration as well so it can be embedded as well. Again..very doable….just more custom work.

      (0) 
    2. Brandon Toombs

      Jaron- Your statement that you can use any 3rd party front end is absolutely correct. 

      However, one point I think bears mentioning is that when customers go the custom UI route, they actually add complexity and give up functionality.  For example, if you use the FPM UI, many search helps are automatically available to you–no programming required whatsoever. It’s also very likely that most UI’s are not going to be able to take advantage of the configuration that can make fields required, display only, etc.  If it can, one has to ask the obvious question–why do you go to so much trouble to recreate what you’re already paying for with SAP?

      My point of view is that, other than mobility, there’s very little reason for customers to employ a 3rd party UI for HCM Processes and Forms.

      (0) 
  5. Rob Greenway

    Chris,

    A very interesting blog on all the different options!

    I want to ask you for your opinion on the ‘Start process for Multiple Employees’ service.  We are implementing FPM forms and we thought we could use this service in MSS to launch FPM forms but we found this note “1917919 – Configuring a FPM process of mass type leads to an error”  that says “But if you select Enable Mass start,It leads to a wrong configuration because FPM processes doesn’t support Mass Processing.”

    We are mystified why this would be the case.  Do you know that this is true and if so would this be a temporary gap in functionality?

    Regards

    Rob.

    (0) 
  6. Jayaprakash Thanadavarayan

    Hi chris,

    i have scenario in hcm forms table with four columns first column wagetype number, second column wagetypetext ,third column existing amount from infotype 008 ,fourth column amount from t510 table. its a trasparent table for that i did generice service through that values are filling in form by using  initialzation methods .here first three columns are display mode fourth column only edit mode. default values are filling in fourth column from t510 table.maybe user will change the amount .after clicking check and send button in the form need to update  infotype 008 which means fourth column values needs to update infotype 008 field betrg .

    In the form third column existing amount i binded same betrg field  for five rows  default its spliting .but fouth column different betrg fields like betrg1,betrg2,betrg3.

    how to covert line structure or how to update ?

    Regards

    Jayaprakash T

    (0) 
    1. Christopher Solomon Post author

      That looks like FIORI apps…not so much HCM P&F…am I missing something? …but yes, HTML5/SAPUI5 is here and is an option for those that want to custom develop. I am still waiting to see if SAP release it as standard in the HCM P&F framework though to help push things along.

      (0) 
      1. Anne Kathrine Petteroe

        They look like Fiori apps because they use the Fiori theme.

        (but you can of course theme the apps however way you like)

        I just wanted to use them as an example of HTML5 already being an option for custom development.

        (0) 
  7. Carla Sousa

    Hi Chris,

    Many thanks for your blogs, it has helped to break through P&F. However I am facing a difficulty regarding the attachments.

    I need to create a process with WD Form and attachments, No approval workflow, save direct in database.

    I created a process with no workflow which is using a FPM-Form Scenario with a single scenario step.  There I define a attachment type as mandatory. I implemented a wd comp conf type FORM to show the fields.

    I run the application Z_ASR_PROCESS_EXECUTE_OVP_CFG.

    Everything shows up, and the data is updated in DB (if attachment no mandatory) but the button to ADD ATTACHMENT (as in HRASR_TEST_PROCESS) is not showing up. Only button Save Draft, Check, Send are visible.

    What did I missed? I am pretty sure it is a dummy question, but through all tutorials I found I still didnt get how to do it.

    Thank you very much in advance.

    Regards,

    Carla Sousa

    (0) 
    1. Christopher Solomon Post author

      Setting to “NO_WORKFLOW” , I am guessing is bypassing saving to CASE Mgmt (and thus saving attachments). Why not make just a small “do nothing” one step WF for it that will at least save your process info/attachment. I would have to look into it….don’t recall right off if this intended for “NO_WORKFLOW” or a “bug” (might be a OSS note for it).

      (0) 
      1. Carla Sousa

        Hi Chris,

        Thank you for your fast reply.

        I have done a copy of the process, added a workflow with a single background task  CL_HRASR00_WF_COMPONENTS -> SAVE_FORM_DATA_TO_DB_WD.

        Everything works fine, the case is created, the data is saved through the WF.. Still no button to add attachment when running the application 😥 I guess I will have to debug once more.

        Meanwhile, could you answer to another doubt? We have been using OpenText to store our files. With Processes&Forms and SCASE the attachments are saved where? If in Database, this will mean the data will increase exponentially. Also, is it possible to set the DPF with Archiving in Open Text?

        Thanks once more for your help.

        Regards,

        Carla Sousa

        (0) 
        1. Christopher Solomon Post author

          Wait. You are not seeing the “add attachment” option at all? So did you configure that form scenario step to allow it? You gotta do that and tell it what attachments are allowed and how (add, edit, read only, view only). You did that?

          (0) 
          1. Carla Sousa

            Hi Christopher,

            Yes I did indeeed.

            BIRTH.png

            Even if I run the application HR_PA_XX_SPECIAL_PAYMENT_1_WD (which is using attachments as well) no button appear as well.

            Therefore, i am not sure anymore if it is related with scenario itself or any other aspect (versions).  I have read that EHP 7 has more functionalities, i am still in EHP 6.

            Regarding the Documents archiving, I wont have licence to DPF, so I suppose we will use processes&forms with archive link. Any comment/recommendation on this?

            Thank you for your help.

            Regards,

            Carla Sousa

            (0) 
            1. Carla Sousa

              In fact when running HRASR_TEST_PROCESS for Adobe Forms, I am able to add attachments and I see them in Case Managment.

              When running  Z_ASR_PROCESS_EXECUTE_OVP_CFG, i dont even see the “Add attachment” button.

              Tks.

              Carla Sousa

              (0) 
          2. Carla Sousa

            Hi Jaron.

            I have deleted the personalization

            BIRTH7.jpg

            regarding the application config

            BIRTH.png

            BIRTH3.png

            the component config being used in the standard one

            /wp-content/uploads/2014/04/birth4_432343.png

            the form being used in scenario is

            /wp-content/uploads/2014/04/birth5_432344.png

            here comes my application instance

            /wp-content/uploads/2014/04/birth7_432345.png

            is there anything you see in these print screens, that look strange to you?

            (0) 
  8. Carla Sousa

    The application recommended to run FPM processes is ASR_PROCESS_EXECUTE_OVP_CFG however I cannot run it directly as it has no parameters, so I did a copy in order to give the process and initiator role 🙂

    I will wait the installation of EHP7 (in few days) to continue this investigation, as this is quite strange and even for the Change Payment/working time (Standard WD processes) the button is not appearing.

    Tks

    (0) 
  9. Gregor Brandstätter

    Hi!

    I want to use the hire process HRPAO_GB_HIRING (based on HR Renewal).

    How can the (roadmap) form be customized -> Addtional mandatory fields, set default values like a date type in Infotype 41?

    Is there any way?

    Thanks for any response!

    Kr,

    Gregor

    (0) 
    1. Christopher Solomon Post author

      Bad news…you can’t ….the “roadmap” option is just for the MOST BASIC of scenarios…as I said in the blog, I would rather just put in minimal work and do it the other ways where I DO have more control (like what you ask for) than to bother with them.

      (0) 
      1. Christopher Solomon Post author

        ….and let me backstep/add a bit to this Gregor….you CAN make fields mandatory and set defaults for some fields…but then you would have to do this in your Decoupled Infotype Framework configuration for you infotypes and in their “conversion” methods (input/output handling)….but then keep in mind, this would affect any use of those infotypes (ie. marking a field mandatory in DIF config makes it mandatory wherever DIF is used. Brandon Toombs care to chime in on DIF and roadmap form limitations? (he “wrote the book” on it so to speak! haha)

        (0) 
  10. Gregor Brandstätter

    Hi!

    One additional question. We are using a global System. With the HR Renewal Hire scnearios HRPAO_GB_HIRING the Infotype Person ID (0709) will not created automatically.

    Because we enbled in T77S0 the switchCCURE GLEMP X Management of Global Employees we expect, that the global Id will be created automatically.

    In PA40 hire action it works fine.

    Thanks for any input.

    Kr,

    Gregor Brandstätter

    (0) 
  11. João Mariano

    Great blog.

    When my users know the ui5 world, they are disappointed with the interface of processes and forms(WDA). So, i’m expecting much the new interface of P&F on UI5 platform.

    (0) 
  12. Ghadeer Zahaiqa

    Hi Chris

    I couldn’t find any of roadmap processes(custom, standard ) in business client when i follow:

    NWBC => SAP_ASR_HRADMIN_SR_HCM_CI_4  Role => enter Employee Number => then right click on Employee to select process .


    even I can run the successfully in hrasr_test_process transaction


    Regards

    Ghadeer

    (0) 

Leave a Reply