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SAP S/4HANA Flexible Workflow Overview and Comparison with SAP Business Workflow

Workflow is a term that describes the capability to synchronize and proactively deliver work in the right sequence at the right time to the right people, with the right information for the work to be completed with a minimum of effort and without compromising compliance.

The work packages are called tasks, one person taking responsibility of each task. And the assignment to the right people (often termed agents) is called agent-determination. The sequencing of the tasks is specified by the workflow, and this often includes specifying deadlines and escalation or mitigation routes, while the system uses events to trigger or terminate processes.

Other aspects of workflow are related to how the tasks are received by the users, how users are assigned to responsibilities and how reporting and administration is performed.

In S/4HANA workflow is mainly handled by the SAP Business Workflow software. This consists of a modeling environment to configure the route that the process takes (flow), and a run-time mechanism to generate the task instances (called work items) and control their execution. This includes deadlines, agent-determination, conditions and event-handling. SAP Business Workflow predates S/4HANA, so it is also used in environments other than S/4HANA, such as SAP Business Suite.

In SAP S/4HANA an important shift in paradigm has been pursued with respect to workflow. Whereas in SAP Business Suite the IT department models, configures and administrates the workflows, in S/4HANA it is the process expert within the line of business that takes ownership of these duties. This is a huge advantage for the business department, enabling processes to be configured or adapted directly without technical expertise and without the need for inter-departmental projects. The term flexible workflow is used to describe this aspect of the workflow tooling, whereas classical workflow describes the tooling used prior to S/4HANA. Both use the much of the same underlying framework, but to accommodate the flexibility there are differences so tread with caution when extrapolating know-how.

In practice there are very few classical workflows deployed in S/4HANA Cloud, and since the modeling is done by SAP development they are not further described here.

One final note, although developed by the same team, this is a different framework to the SAP Cloud Platform Workflow Services, which compliment the standard SAP S/4HANA processes modeled using flexible workflows. The SAP Cloud Platform Workflow Services allow customers to model free-format process definitions using a BPMN editor, whereas flexible workflows enable the easy automation of simple structured processes such as approvals.

Summary of terminology

Name Description Context ID Synonym, Notes
Task The description and context of what needs to be performed in a workflow step. Both Step type, activity
Work item The instance of a task. Both Task
Agent-determination The algorithm to determine which users are assigned to a task and receive it in My Inbox. Both Recipient assignment
My Inbox Users receive their tasks in this app in the Fiori Launchpad Both Fiori App ID: F0862
My Outbox Users can revisit their completed tasks in this app Both Fiori App ID: F0862 A parameterized version of My Inbox
Classic Workflows These are the classical workflows, built using the workflow builder and delivered by SAP. They are usually referred to as simply workflows, but sometimes referred to as workflow templates. Classic Workflow Transaction SWDD Customers of S/4HANA On-premise can still build classic workflow templates using the workflow builder.
Workflow Scenario The set of building blocks used to configure a flexible workflow. This set includes the tasks, recipient assignment rules and conditions.
Workflows themselves are configured by the customer, although one default workflow (pre-delivered content) may be delivered by SAP as part of the workflow scenario.
The resulting workflows can be configured by the process expert using Fiori Manage Workflow app.
Flexible Workflow Transaction SWDD_SCENARIO These are created in the backend by SAP development, or in On-Premise also by the customer.
Conditional Workflows This is a type of flexible workflow, whose triggering depends on a condition being met. This simplifies workflow configuration, enabling many small workflows to take the place of one very large and complex workflow. The conditions, and the flow of the process is determined by the Manage Workflow App. Flexible Workflow
Ad Hoc Workflows A UI component that is embedded in business objects to allow a user to define a one-off workflow. Flexible Workflow  An example of this in S/4HANA is the Engineering Record in PLM
Manage Workflows App The Fiori App that is used to define the flexible workflows. Applications will deliver their own individual apps, which appear identical, but each configures the workflow scenarios relevant to the one particular line of business. Flexible Workflow Fiori App ID: F2190 Most S/4HANA applications also use their own configuration of this tile preset for the application.
Flexible Workflow Templates Reusable workflow segments, that can be strung together in different sequences or used to populate ad hoc workflows. Flexible Workflow Fiori App ID: F2787
Administration Tiles Different tiles to support administration duties, such as identifying work items which have not been assigned to a user. Both
Workflow Instance Component A UI component that renders the simulation of a workflow and displays its subsequent execution within the business document Flexible Workflow For example, in S/4HANA purchase requisitions the progress of the workflow can be followed within the purchase requisition document.
Teams & Responsibility Management Management of users in teams and hierarchies of teams assigned to business context. This is one of the algorithms that can be used for agent-determination. Flexible Workflow Fiori App ID: F2412

 

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26 Comments
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  • Dear Alan,

    My understanding is also that Deadline Monitoring is not available with flexible Workflow. Is that correct or is there another way to reach the goal with flexible tools ?

    Thank you for your help

    Alex

  • Hi Experts,

    I have a little issue in testing my flexible workflow scenario in SWUS.

    I have created one scenario using SWDD_SCENARIO which is error free and active. Once I click the Test button to test it, it shows me “Task Definition <WF Template ID> Not Found“.

    My workflow scenario can also start by some event. I also raise the event I get same error in event log.

    Please see screen shots on following link: https://answers.sap.com/questions/710753/task-definition-not-found-error.html

    I would appreciate if I get some useful documentation on how to create custom workflow scenario, enable it using gateway services, and expose it in the app “Manage Workflow” to enable end-user to create flexible workflows.

    Best Regards,

    Naeem Khan

     

  • Hi Alan,

    Just started on a brand new S/4 1809 implementation! I am also looking for some helpful documentation on steps involved in creating workflows using bespoke workflow scenarios.

    Best Regards,

    Ramki Maley.

     

    • Hi Ramki,

      Apologies for the delay. You’ll find some guidance in the online help, but if you need more please mail me directly because I’m looking for feedback on a tutorial that I’m creating,

      Alan

      • Thanks Alan! I will be in touch shortly.

        My turn to apologize for the delay. Have to check my settings. Was expecting to be notified via email for a response.

        Best Regards,

        Ramki.

  • HI Alan

     

    Great post with useful information. In the classic workflow we assign a workflow variant to the company code ? What impact does the workflow variant s have on the journal entry verification workflow configured from the FIORI app “Manage workflows”. Are these independent?

     

    Regards

    Sridhar

    • Just use the Fiori Manage Workflow app to configure separate workflows for the different company codes (or cost centers or account groups).

      No technical expertise needed. The business expert can take care of this directly.

      Alan

  • Hi Alan,

     

    Great information.

    I need a quick assistance on “journal entry verification”. I have seen the standard workflow scenario for Journal entry Verification. I need to enhance the  same to have multi level approvals based on amounts.

    Can we handle loop in the Flexi blocks? How can I enhance Manage workflows app for “Journal entry verification” to meet multi level approvals.

    Vijayarama Kalluri.

  • Hello Alan,

    Do you know how can we use the app Manage Teams and Responsibilities along with Flexible workflow for PO / PR ? in 1809 FPS01 i couldnt see this option in agent determination.

    Can you share the snapshot from flexible workflow template showing where to select team in agent determination?

    Regards,

    Ashish Shah

    • Hi Ashish,

      In the 1809 release (on-premise) T&R has been enabled for purchase requisition item release and centrally managed purchase orders.

      Best regards,

      Alan

  • Hi Alan,

     

    What is the mechanism to transport a workflow configured with the Fiori Manage Workflow app across the system landscape in S/4 HANA 1809?

    Regards,

    Ramki.

  • Hello,

    I have been told by colleagues of you, that CP Workflow Service should be used instead of Business Workflow when customers think about starting with Workflows in an S/4 on-Premise environment since Business Workflow is not part of S/4 Cloud anymore and therefore it would make sense to start with CP Workflow directly if possible.

    Could you comment on that?

     

  • Hi Alan,

    I saw a question on the transport mechanism of moving these flexible workflows for production use.

    Need you help to clarify on my understanding. Is it correct to understand that the business expert setting up flexible workflow, for example for PR approvals, will be setting up these (using FIORI) in the development client.

    These would then be transported to production client when unit and UAT completed?

    Thanks and best regards
    Eu Jin

    • Yes – you could do it that way. They could also be modeled directly in production, if your QA governance supports that. It’s analogous to how a company handles business rule maintenance.

      If in doubt, err on the side of caution until experience/confidence has been built up.

  • Dear Alan,

     

    We are facing the following issue with PR flexible wf:

    If we set the total net amount check, the workflow does not care with it.
    Without the net amount check, the workflow works properly.

    We have tried a lot of version with two workflows, or several steps as well.

     

    The main goal is to send for approval if the PR total amount reaches the preset
    amount, and below the amount it has to approve automatically by the SAP.

     

    Could you send me some hints, please? Our release is S4 1809 FPS02 (on-prem)

     

    Also we have a precondition for the PR type, because we have to seperate approval
    logic per PR type.

     

    Thanks in advance,

    Gábor

     

    • Hi Gábor,

      That doesn’t sound right to me because the workflow framework can handle foreign keys such as with amounts. I suggest that you create a ticket for procurement to investigate.

      Best regards,

      Alan

      • Hi Alan,

         

        Thank you very much. We wll open a ticket, because it seems that everything is fine until we are not using the amount as a parameter in the workflow.

         

        Best regards,

        Gábor

  • Hi Alan,

    A SAP-expert told me take you cannot migrate current ERP 6.07 running workflows to S4HANA.
    To me this is still a rumour, so I would like to know, how to migrate running workflows to S4HANA.
    – how to migrate completed workflows
    – how to migrate not completed workflows, with open activities

    Regards,

    Walter