Webdynpro Process Browser – The Basics & Tips for Improving Usability
This Blog is co-written by my SAP HCM Technical Architect – Manoj Gowravaram and myself (I play the Functional Role).
This is our first blog on SCN and we decided to write it on a very handy auxiliary application to the WebDynpro Processes & Forms – the Process Browser application. It’s delivered in the SAP Role as “Open Processes”, but we feel the term Process Browser just sounds more official.
This is a very handy application for anyone who has or is planning to implement some FPM based Processes & Forms. We implemented some P&Fs just when the FPM P&F technology was rolled out; while it was very exciting to be able to let managers be able to initiate their own HR process via MSS without Lifecycle Designer, one of the major complaints from the user community was the lack of visibility of where their processes are stuck in workflow. You could build detailed notifications in your workflow, but really, without a robust application where users can see exactly where their request is, either HR or Workflow Administrators will always get emails from users about the status of their requests.
We were eagerly waiting for this application, and with Feature Pack 4 of HR Renewal 1.0, SAP did deliver out-of-box Process Browser. The process browser itself is straightforward, easy to understand and implement, but we investigated some enhancement options and figured that with some quick Role and Workflow enhancements the usability of the process browser can be improved further. In this blog, we cover the basic setup to get this application up and running and then some enhancement tips to improve usability of the application.
Note: The blog does not talk about FPM P&F itself; there are tons of great blogs, articles and forum posts to learn about P&F. This blog assumes you already know some basics of implementing P&Fs and we focus especially on Process Browser.
The standard delivered Process Browser application comes with EhP6 HR Renewal 1.0 – FP4
Overview of Process Browser
Before we get into technicalities let’s review the application itself.
The application displays all the processes started by the initiating user, with other key data like affected objects and most important the current status of the process.
The user can drill down to additional details of any process.
The details page of a process has two sections: (The page has 2 sections. I think we should call attention to Withdraw button in a separate paragraph)
- a. Process Steps: This pane provides step level detail of the process. You can see important information such as who is currently processing the request, and date and time stamp of the steps within the process.
- Form: This pane displays the form with its contents relevant to the step highlighted.
Note: The initiating user has the option of withdrawing a process from this screen. During any time of the process; while it is still open; the initiating user can withdraw the process by clicking on the ‘Withdraw’ button on top of the details page. Once withdrawn, the process is immediately canceled regardless of where it currently sits and the subsequent work items are deleted from the subsequent agent’s POWL.
The users have the option to personalize how they see their open processes by clicking on the Personalize button on top right of the table.
This is very handy to, for instance displaying only open processes or sorting based on latest process first.
Basic Setup – Role Configuration
SAP provides the Process Browser application with the HR Administrator Role. This can be added to your MSS role also and by changing some Webdynpro parameters to work for initiating managers.
WebDynpro Application: ASR_PROC_BROWSER_OVP
Application Configuration: ASR_PROC_BROWSER_OVP_CFG
The parameters BROWSER_CONTEXT and INITIATOR_ROLE determine if the process browser is relevant for HR Administrators or for Managers.
Relevant for Managers
Relevant for HR Admins
Setup your MSS and/or HR Admin role with the WebDynpro Application and Config and pass the appropriate parameters to affect behavior.
By default SAP provides some basic attributes for the process browser, which may be enhanced to improve usability for the end user. In the next section we show some enhancement options. We will cover some simple scenarios, but we hope this will give you a good idea on the possibilities which you can explore based on the nature of your processes/s.
Determine Processor Roles: This activity helps you specify how the processors should look like on the Process Browser. By default SAP provides some options such as ‘HR Administrator’ and ‘Manager’, however these may not be intuitive enough particularly if the workflow is complex. For example, you may have a process that requires up to 2 level manager approvals. In such cases the initiating manager would like to know if the current step is sitting with 1st Level Approving Manager or the 2nd Level Approving Manager instead of simply displaying as Manager.
IMG Path: Personnel Management -> HR Administrative Services -> Configuration of Forms/Processes -> Process Configuration -> Set Up Processes -> Determine Processor Roles
For our example, I have created 3 additional Roles:
- Ø Initiating Manager
- Ø First Level Approving Manager
- Ø Second Level Approving Manager
Note: If you intend to use any of these roles as initiators in your P&F (in HRASR_DT), ensure you check the ‘Initiator’ checkbox in this table.
Usage of Processor Role in Workflow: Now that you have determined your Processor Roles, you need to bind these roles in your workflow steps. Let’s take the example of binding the Processor Roles to the Approval Step in Workflow.
Edit the appropriate Approval Task for your workflow. In the example below we use the standard approval task for any Webdynpro P&F: TS33700019.
The expression: PROCESSOR_ROLE in the task container should be bound with the constant value of the Processor Role you defined. This way you now display the roles you think make more intuitive sense to the initiating manager.
Maintain Business Status: Similar to Processor Roles, you may want to enhance the intuitiveness of the business statuses on the process browser to help initiating manager better understand where his/her process is currently sitting in the workflow.
IMG Path: Personnel Management -> HR Administrative Services -> Configuration of Forms/Processes -> Process Configuration -> Set Up Processes -> Maintain Business Status
Maintain Business Statuses: For each action in the workflow maintain the relevant business statuses.
Maintain Business Status for Request Step: There is a second IMG activity in this step. You will need this if you want to change the business status displayed when the workflow is in one of the main process actions: DRAFT, ERRORED, FORWARDED and PROCESSED.
For example, as soon as a process is initiated, the workflow is set to action: PROCESSED. At this stage if you would like to display your own business status, configure the appropriate Business Status for the Action.
With the settings above, as soon as the initiating manager has initiated the workflow, the Action is set to PROCESSED, which in turn displays the business status of Submitted to 1st Level Approving Manager as the business status.
Usage of the Business Status in Workflow: Now that you have configured your new Business Statuses, you will need to bind these statuses in your workflow steps. Let’s take the example of binding the Business Statuses to the Approval Step in Workflow.
In the above example, we have bound the business status of 0001 to the expressions: BUSINESS_STATUS.BACK and BUSINESS_STATUS.APPROVED.
Note that the Business Status IDs of 0001 here for Back and Approved are not the same.
From examples above its clear, when the action is BUSINESS_STATUS.BACK the status displayed on Process Browser will be “Sent Back to the Initiating Manager” whereas when the action is BUSINESS_STATUS.APPROVED, the status displayed on the Process Browser will be “Submitted to 2nd Level Approving Manager”.
This way we can display easy to understand business statuses to the initiating managers on Process Browser.
O.K, that’s all we have to share with you on this blog; hopefully it was of some help to some of you. Thanks for taking the time to read our first blog.
Looking forward for comments, questions, corrections and other additions from your experiences!
– Nakul Subramaniyan & Manoj Gowravaram