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Author's profile photo Rick Bakker

Workflow problems? Read this first!

Attention SAP Business Workflow fans!

If you are having a SAP Workflow problem, please take a few minutes to do these simple checks.

It could save you (and us) a lot of time. Almost every day we at the SAP Business Workflow forum

get a lengthy thread describing bizarre errors which leave us scratching our heads until it’s revealed on page 3

that, oh, WF-BATCH only has the SAP_NOOB role or that, oops, the Deadline job isn’t running in SWU3.

After you have checked and tried all of these suggestions, please feel free to post your question

– we’re always keen to see interesting new problems that we may well encounter ourselves next week.

Please indicate that you have made these basic checks. Let me know with a Like or a Comment if

this document did indeed solve your problem.

I’ll keep updating this document with more checks as time goes on. Suggestions are very welcome!

I will try to put the checks in order of usefulness.

This is not a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions), more like an FPS (Frequently Provided Solutions).

I’ll keep it brief because you have a problem to solve.


This solves the most problems of all, especially after a change or a transport. Try it, it can’t hurt.


Now try again.

2. General Task

Many people set Decision Tasks to General Task but this may not get transported with the task, depending

on your system settings. Result: nobody is receiving that workitem. Compare the source and target system.

One way to check for General Task: transaction PFTC_DIS, enter TS number


Click on the spectacles then Additional data > Agent assignment > Display


3. ST22 – short dumps

Always worth checking for shortdumps in transaction ST22 if you’re having strange problems, especially a background workflow step staying in status “In Process”. Look for user WF-BATCH.

4. WF-BATCH settings

It’s amazing the variety of problems you can get if WF-BATCH doesn’t have full privileges. Do everyone a favour and check that it has SAP_ALL. One way to do this is by looking in transaction SU01D for user WF-BATCH and check the Profiles tab:


(Update: Thanks to Colleen (see comments below) I now know that SAP_NEW is *not* necessary. So please ignore that in the screenshot)

If you don’t have access to SU01D then have cheeky look in SE16 at table UST04 where BNAME = ‘WF-BATCH’ .

While you’re looking at WF-BATCH, check if it has an Output Device set (SU01D, tab Defaults, or table USR01 field SPLD). No need to panic if it’s not set but worth trying if you’re stumped. Here’s a blog Sue K wrote about how that setting can really ruin your day:

Master Data will always bite you

5. SU53 – authorization problems

This is a general SAP tip that also applies to workflow. If you’re having problems, check transaction SU53 to see if your userid is missing some necessary authorizations. It shows the most recently failed authorization checks so you can cut & paste it and send it to your friendly SAP Security gal or guy.

6. SWI1 – workflow log

If your workflow isn’t doing what you want it to do then you should, of course, check the workflow log (transaction SWI1). How many times have I had to say that… The amount of information is amazing, you can (almost) see everything that  happened. For the best results, make sure you go to the Chronological Log in the View With Technical Details :


Be wary of the Graphical Log, it can’t be trusted to be entirely accurate – and it gives very little information. If there’s an error message in the Chronological Log and it’s a bit vague then always try Extras > All Errors

(see top of picture, above).

7. SWU3 – the background jobs

At transaction SWU3, make sure the necessary workflow background jobs are running.

Under “Maintain Runtime Environment”  you should see at the very least:


If you don’t have access to SWU3, you can also look in transaction SM37 for SWWERRE and SWWDHEX (deadlines).

If these jobs are not running then your workflow deadlines are useless and a temporary error could bring your workflows to a halt.

8. Don’t forget US

A very frequent solution to posted problems is a suggestion to check if the “US” prefix was forgotten when specifying a userid as a (dynamic) workitem recipient.

9. The bindings, always check the bindings.

Many problems are caused by incorrect bindings, especially between the starting event and the workflow. Look at each of your bindings carefully, to make sure they are doing what you want and none have been missed.  Also check that each container element has been correctly specified as Import, Export and/or Multiline. Make sure the dataypes match as well, on each side of the binding. You are given a lot of freedom to get it wrong.


To be continued…

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      Author's profile photo Modak Gupta
      Modak Gupta

      Good one Rick!!!

      Author's profile photo Rick Bakker
      Rick Bakker
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks Modak. I'm hoping if we link to this often enough then the volume of questions will go down and the quality will go up! Can you think of a good Number 10?

      Author's profile photo Modak Gupta
      Modak Gupta

      We can add 'Agent Determination Check' - Users should check for Agent Determination method / Rule in silos of the workflow (if the WF is not going to the intended people).

      Another one :  maybe an extension of point 6 .... that if the readers have gone through the above points and still they face an issue .... the question should be posted with a screen shot of the 'Step History' from the technical workflow log (of the main WF and the step in question).



      Author's profile photo Modak Gupta
      Modak Gupta

      One more important point is to check import of Customizing requests to the respective clients. People develop in one client and activate the linkage there; however they test in a different client and forget to do an import ( SCC1 ) of the customizing TR - the event linkage.

      Author's profile photo Paul Bakker
      Paul Bakker

      You're going to put us all out of an (unpaid) job!

      I would also add that, to avoid problems down the line, WF-BATCH should have an e-mail address configured (like noreply@<>)


      Author's profile photo Tripurari Rai
      Tripurari Rai

      Nice one Rick . Thanx for Reminding all these necessary thumb rules for basic SAP workflow Development & maintenance 🙂

      Author's profile photo Anjan Paul
      Anjan Paul

      Thanks Rick, old rule but good handbook

      Author's profile photo Rick Bakker
      Rick Bakker
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks all!

      Author's profile photo Rob Dielemans
      Rob Dielemans

      Nice list Rick,

      I think the behaviour upon error feedback in SWE2 is one that WF consultants will face early in their careers, I admit I have messed stuff up with event containers which stopped big processes from working in production.

      Over the years I changed to being a proponent of deactivating the linkage when an error occurs in event-->WF because if you have set up everything correctly it means something serious on basis level is wrong and it is better to fix this.

      Author's profile photo Siraj Md
      Siraj Md

      Thanks a lot Rick...Good idea

      Its better other group members should provide there FPS...

      Author's profile photo Rick Bakker
      Rick Bakker
      Blog Post Author

      Thank you, but FPS?

      First Person Shooter?

      Flexible Payment System?

      Author's profile photo Paul Bakker
      Paul Bakker

      Frequently Proposed Solution!

      Author's profile photo Rick Bakker
      Rick Bakker
      Blog Post Author

      Oops, forgot my own acronym! Just what the world needs, another TLA.

      Author's profile photo Modak Gupta
      Modak Gupta


      Author's profile photo Rick Bakker
      Rick Bakker
      Blog Post Author

      Three Letter Acronym  🙂

      Author's profile photo Modak Gupta
      Modak Gupta

      OH!!!.... real S A P Fan!!!

      Author's profile photo Susan Keohan
      Susan Keohan

      This should be stickified, and before anyone can post a question in the Workflow space, they have to have read it.

      Author's profile photo Colleen Hebbert
      Colleen Hebbert

      Nice tips and tricks... I"m stuck in the workflow space a bit at the moment so always good to get the basic

      My security pet peeve - SAP_NEW doesn't have to be there....

      Life (profile SAP_NEW), the Universe (role SAP_NEW) and Everything (SAP_ALL)

      WF_BATCH is about the only account I won't attempt to restrict access but it's always at the back of my mind.

      If you don't have SU01D there is a high chance you won't have SE16 (well maybe not with a lot of support access out there). Another option is to go into SU56 and switch user to get to the WF-BATCH buffer.

      If adding SU53 to the list, tell the user to press save in there so USR07 table is updated. Make it easier to check as default parameter will now store last 100 failed checks. I stopped relying on SU53 years ago due to misleading checks. At best it tells me who the user is and what client they are in



      P.s. adding to my bookmarks 🙂

      Author's profile photo Susan Keohan
      Susan Keohan

      @colleen... *stuck in the workflow space* ???

      Author's profile photo Colleen Hebbert
      Colleen Hebbert

      SWI2_ADM1 (what got lost and missing an agent) and SWI5  (what items are with the CEO) are my friends at the moment 🙂

      Next up is hitting the other SWI2_* to say why aren't people processing their workflows before they escalate to the C level management. Let's avoid the admin person's request for chocolate powder for the coffee machine needing top level approval 😉

      Author's profile photo Rick Bakker
      Rick Bakker
      Blog Post Author

      Lots of interesting inside info there Colleen, thanks!

      I've always wondered how "New" (as in SAP_NEW) can add to "All"...

      Author's profile photo Sadiq Basha
      Sadiq Basha

      Nice Rick..... Really it will help's us lot by facing these kind of issue.

      Thanks a lot for your effort by posting this.

      Author's profile photo Suresh M
      Suresh M

      Thanks a lot Rick. As a workflow beginner it would help me in initial error analysis.

      Can you please let me know, in which scenarios we use SWU_OBUF T-Code. In what way it helps us.

      Author's profile photo Rick Bakker
      Rick Bakker
      Blog Post Author

      Always do an SWU_OBUF after a workflow-related transport, on the receiving system.

      It's also always good to try if you see something unexpected; it can't hurt. It makes sure that changes that have been made are noticed by the system.

      Author's profile photo Suresh M
      Suresh M

      Thanks a lot Rick for your response.

      Author's profile photo sundeep kolavennu
      sundeep kolavennu

      hai Rick I have requirement plz check the link Your suggestion will be very helpful to me .

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi Rick, good job with the list. Two extra suggestions.

      1. Check SM58 for WF-BATCH. Since all workflow tasks run in tRFCs then a crash will display an error there if the SWI1 error is not enough. It should be in ST22 too unless it's getting old and your basis team has good housekeeping. SM58 keeps errors so you would be surprised on how many mysterious issues stacks there after few months(or years).
      2. In SM59, test the logical connection WORKFLOW_LOCAL_<client> to see if it can connect. This is the RFC destination that the workflow uses to submit tasks. I had the basis team fix it a few times in my career. If this is not working then all workflows in the system are stuck. Pretty rare issue but it's worth knowing.
      Author's profile photo Rob Dielemans
      Rob Dielemans

      Hi Rick,

      I would mention RHMOVE30 for 2. general task. on how to fix it if the system is not open for changes.

      Also add SM21 at 3. ST22
      Numerous times (well, five-ish tbh), a workflow problem was caused by either insufficient memory or insufficient storage space for logs, or spools or a server was down. Checking the exact time of the error with SM21 you can see what else happens other than the dump.

      Cheers, Rob.



      Author's profile photo Suresh M
      Suresh M

      Keep post, Good job 🙂

      Author's profile photo Umesh   Sharma
      Umesh   Sharma

      some days before SAP system was behavioring abruptly and shutdown, after that system was restored and thereafter customised workflow is not working, can you please intimate where to find object used behind workflow

      Author's profile photo Tobias Pätz
      Tobias Pätz

      Also check QOUT-Scheduler (via SM58 / SMQ1) if the destination is registered (type=R).

      If e.g "WORKFLOW_LOCAL_<client>" has type U, all workflows keep staying in SM58 and waiting.

      Author's profile photo Gopal Prasad
      Gopal Prasad

      I am new to workflow and learning for the first time.

      I am facing issue in workflow, wf-batch user is not able to process the background task in my case i am using send mail task. After user will click on yes, background task will be called and mail will be sent to the mentioned email id.

      I am using abap netweaver 7.52 SP04 trail system.

      Please help me out i stuck-up in this issue from last three days and i have tried all the possible solutions given in different blogs but no result.


      Background task in SWIA


      Workflow log for background task

      As per my understanding after tRFC call control should be passed to WF-Batch user but it is not happening.

      Kindly help me to solve this problem.