Solution Manager 7.2 – How to use Digital Signature in Solution Documentation to meet regulatory requirements
If you are in the Pharmaceutical or Food-processing industry, you probably had to comply to stricter and stricter regulations over the last decades. The documentation, in particular, is subject to many rules regarding the approval of their processes, and the Digital Signature (DS) feature in Solution Documentation is generally a good answer to some of these rules.
The Digital Signature is not new, nor exclusive to SAP Solution Manager for that matter, but is not very well documented in the case of SolMan. There is little about DS that has been shown in the 7.2 version, most likely because its workflow is very similar to 7.1. One of the best and only configuration guide remains the “2010 Digital Signature Tool Implementation Guide” attached to the SAP Note 700495. All configuration activities are part of SOLMAN_SETUP -> Process Management -> Step 3 – Configure Digital Signature.
So, how does it look like in Solution Manager 7.2? It is quite simple:
- You right-click on the document to be signed, and click “Sign”
- You get a popup, where you have to enter your credentials (unless SSO or another security tool is configured), and put a comment. You can either click “Sign” to approve the document, or “Cancel signature process” to reject (unless you are the first signatory)
- After the first signature, clicking the Document name in the table will first display the Signatures History, then lets you decide whether to display or download the document
- Every signature is recorded in the Document History, as well as the corresponding Status changes
- Every document that has been signed generates a printable version (see limitation below), with additional validation information such as the signatory name, the signature date, etc.
The following options are part of the standard:
- You can require users to sign with SolMan credentials, or use an external security product such as Single Sign-On (SSO)
- You can have signatures in sequence or in parallel, and choose whether all or only some of the signatures are necessary to reach the final status of the workflow
- You can define authorization groups to restrict who should be signing first, second, third, etc.
- You can make signature comments optional or mandatory – however, you cannot make exceptions such as having mandatory comments only for rejection
- You can choose whether the document to be validated should open automatically on screen (Display-only) whenever the user clicks the “Sign” button
A few limitations:
- As a general rule, it is recommended to keep the number of required signatures as low as possible to avoid complexity, but there is also a theoretical maximum limit of 8 SAP signatures
- Digital Signatures strategies are assigned to Document Types, so you can have only as many strategies as you have Document Types
- The first signature cannot be triggered by simply switching statuses in the Attributes panel (eg. from DRAFT to TO BE REVIEWED), you have to Edit Online/CheckOut/Upload New Version to start the Signature process – with the exception of a Signature process starting with a Locked status
- There are no standard e-mail notifications, so the document author and approvers cannot be notified automatically when the document is signed (neither in SAP Inbox nor through SCOT)
- There is no standard feature that allows you to choose which user in the system should be the next document approver
- For the IE browser, you need Office Integration to be enabled (meaning, you need the SAP ActiveX add-on to be installed on your computer) to be able to display documents before signing, even though the document is only in Display mode
- The “Print Document Version” that is generated after each signature is only available for .DOCX documents and tends to cause formatting issues (eg. wrong colors or fonts, compared to the original document), but this will be improved/fixed with the SP06