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Problem Statement

ITeLo is an (imaginary) IT company with a strength of ~5300 employees across eight different countries. Steve is the head of business accounting in ITeLo and takes sole responsibility for the audit reports on financial statements for ITeLo. For his job, Steve is in contact with people from all over the globe to get things done. The current process of such audit review is as follows:

  1. Steve drafts the financial document from a pre-defined template.
  2. Steve invites one reviewer from the various departments involved and also approvers from audit management team (internal or external).
  3. Steve sends the documents via mail to all the involved parties.
  4. The reviewers, invite their team members to provide additional contributions to the document.
  5. Once the reviewers & contributors complete the document, Steve needs to consolidate the inputs from reviewers.
  6. Once the document is merged, Steve sends it to an external auditor for approval.
  7. After all parties involved approve the document, it is submitted for the final sign-off.

But Steve has a problem right now – the audit review process is done manually. The manual processing of documents leads to an inefficient global collaboration due to duplication of data and limits the information on its current status. Steve is looking for a solution that not only manages such documents but also provides ways to collaborate with users located in different geographical regions who could be a contributor, reviewer or approver.

Solution

Automating such a document-centric process (where the documents have a crucial role in creating value for the business) will help Steve to avoid lots of manual work and exchange of ideas or feedback through emails. Steve could use SAP Jam to manage the document involved in the audit review process and also for collaboration. The SAP Jam service in SAP Cloud Platform offers a collaboration platform for business users to:

  • Manage their content (for example, documents).
  • Contribute and share review comments to any content.
  • Invite reviewers to provide additional feedback.

Embedded workflow capabilities within standard applications like SAP Jam (or other document management solutions) are usually limited, and by-design do not support full orchestration of end-to-end processes across different applications or business areas. For example, for Steve wants to invite the responsible business users as reviewers based on a business rule.

Such use cases require not only document management & collaboration capabilities available with SAP Jam but also robust workflow capabilities to orchestrate the whole approval process. With SAP Cloud Platform Workflow and Business Rules service, workflows and business decisions in SAP Jam can be easily extended.

Solution Diagram

SAP Cloud Platform Workflow service orchestrates the entire audit review process. An SAP Cloud Platform Workflow instance can be created whenever any content is uploaded to SAP Jam. It can be achieved by a custom UI application which could upload the content and trigger a workflow instance, or a background job that can look for any new content uploaded in specific SAP Jam groups or folders via SAP Jam APIs and then create a workflow instance if needed. In our case, when Steve chooses the approvers and uploads the document to SAP Jam via a custom SAPUI5 application, a workflow instance is created.

The reviewers and approvers who were chosen by Steve, log in to SAP Portal service to access their tasks in My Inbox application. Mutual trust is set up between SAP Jam and the SAP Cloud Platform subaccount (through identity providers like SAP ID service or SAP Identity and Authentication Service, etc.), so that single a sign-on is possible between the two applications. After the Identity provider service authenticates the logged in user, the application obtains a single-use token via SAP Jam OData API to authenticate the web session.

The task user interface has all the information about the document to be approved, along with a document feed from SAP Jam. The reviewer or the approver can access the document and provide actionable feedback in the document feed, and they can also see the comments from other task owners who are working in parallel.

The reviewers and approvers could invite other business users who could contribute content or comments to this document without forwarding or delegating their workflow task. These contributors will directly login to SAP Jam to provide their insights. Once all the involved parties have approved, the document is marked final by moving it to a different group or folder (via SAP JAM OData API) which has limited privileges for editing.

Process Flow with SAP Cloud Platform Workflow and SAP Jam

 

Workflow Model

Process Flow

Upload Document

  • Steve drafts and uploads the document to SAP Jam for audit review via a custom application.
  • While uploading the document in SAP Jam, Steve will identify one reviewer from each of required departments and an external auditor. A business rule proposes the possible reviewers and approvers and Steve could choose who among them can be involved.

  • Once the document is uploaded in SAP Jam, an SAP Cloud Platform Workflow service is triggered to initiate the audit review process. Steve can view the document uploaded in SAP Jam.

Note: In the example, I have shown that an SAP Cloud Platform Workflow can be triggered by a custom SAPUI5 application. But, you can also use the SAP JAM OData APIs to look out for any new documents uploaded to a specific SAP Jam Group/Folder via a background job (or SAP Cloud Platform Integration) and then trigger the workflow instance if needed.

Initial Review

  • A task is created for each of the reviewers and is available in the ‘My Inbox‘ application. The task has all the information provided by Steve along with an SAP Jam Embeddable Widget with the entire feed related to the specific document.

  • Each of the reviewers could invite users who are not part of the workflow (but are SAP Jam users) to contribute to the document. All of them work parallelly on the same document and update the content or provide their comments. The feed is updated in real time as and when there are any comments provided either by other reviewers in My Inbox application or by the contributors in SAP Jam.

  • Once the documents are complete from the respective departments, each of the reviewers individually approves the task in My Inbox.

Final Approvals

  • Once the reviewers have reviewed the documents, a task is created for the audit heads for final approvals.

Final Sign-off

  • After approval from all parties, the document is signed-off and made ‘official’ by moving to a different Jam group or a different folder within the same SAP Jam group.

Conclusion

With integration between SAP Jam and SAP Cloud Platform Workflow, both the service can take advantage of the other. While you can start a custom approval workflow for any (or specific) documents uploaded in SAP Jam, you could also use SAP Jam in SAP Cloud Platform Workflow for better collaboration between the business users working on their tasks. In my next blog (link will be updated once the bog is available), I will cover how to get this integration scenario up and running in your landscape.

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