Workflow Applications – From On Premise to Cloud
In SAP there are multiple workflow platforms both on premise and cloud. The Business Workflow in ABAP, SAP BPM in Process Orchestration and SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) Workflow Management are home grown solutions. There are other flavors of workflow in Cloud LOB applications. Customers invested in on premise Workflow solutions always have a dilemma when to use SAP BTP Workflow Management and what could be the strategy to move to SAP BTP Workflow Management.
There is no simple answer because there are multiple factors influencing your journey from on premise to cloud. Of course, there are some immediate benefits when you move to cloud.
- Think about you are getting new features weekly / bi weekly in your Business Technology Platform account in a non-disruptive way, where you could consume some of the features out of the box. In on premise world an IT department needs to do 6-12 months of planning to upgrade and adopt a feature released by SAP in an Enhancement Pack or Service Pack. Please refer what’s new sections of SAP BTP Workflow, Business Rules and Process Visibility.
- Live Process Content – Workflow content packages enable customers to consume out of the box or with minimal configurations or use it as accelerator content. This will reduce the total cost of development.
- Shorter implementation cycles for eg: 6-8 weeks from development to go live for a medium scale workflow application.
- A customer could choose their preferred Cloud Infrastructure provider like AWS, Azure and in the future GCP and Alicloud.
- An API first approach enable you as a customer to build applications rapidly. You could bridge feature gaps using REST/OData APIs and deliver top class business process applications to your business. Please refer SAP Cloud Platform Workflow APIs in SAP API Business Hub.
- A developer could model business process management applications using Web based toolings and without any client side footprints. Open standards like BPMN 2.0 or DMN 1.0 enable both business and IT people to work together based on the same level of understanding.
- Fine granular roles enable you to provide access to workflows and related artifacts both at global level and at instance level to users based on their job functions. Please refer the authorization section of SAP Cloud Platform Workflow.
- Out of the box FIORI based monitoring tools for technical administrators and SAP MyInbox for business users to claim and complete their tasks.
- Plug and Play between services ( for eg: Workflow and Process Visibility) enable you to avoid all technical integration steps while building business process management application.
- Gain visibility on your deployed workflows out of the box and with a few configuration steps you could access your process visibility workspace.
- Process operators could get an aggregated view of their workflow instances based on process performance and able to access individual instances. Model operational KPIs to keep track of key performance indicators.
- Web based authoring of business rules enable you to separate decisions from your workflows and manage decisions centrally using Business Rules.
- Integration to all Cloud and On Premise applications using REST/OData APIs.
The below architecture diagram gives you a good perspective of SAP Cloud Platform Workflow together with different Cloud services,Line of business applications both On Premise and Cloud.
The above diagram indicates you could build workflow applications for different Line of Business applications. You could build extension or orchestration use cases and also embed workflow/business rules / process visibility in your line of business applications. If you are looking some known use cases
- Investment approval scenario as an extension to SAP ECC or SAP S/4HANA
- Invoice approval scenario as an extension to SAP ECC or SAP S/4HANA
- Managing Sales Orders as an extension to SAP ECC or SAP S/4HANA
- Travel Expense approval as an extension to SAP Concur Travel Expense
- Extending SuccessFactors use cases like Manage Positions, Onboarding , Offboarding, Transfers etc.
- Purchase Requisition and Purchase order creation as an extension to SAP ECC or SAP S/4HANA
- Create and Modify Business Partner objects in SAP S/4HANA Cloud
- Collaborative Document review as an extension to SAP Jam
- Managing Contingent workers as an extension to SAP ECC
- Managing Time Sheets
All the above scenarios require Workflow, Business Rules and Process Visibility.
This will lead to the next question how can I start my journey to SAP Cloud Platform Workflow.
Depends on your IT policy, you could build new workflow scenarios in SAP BTP Workflow together with Business Rules and Process Visibility services. You could plan to migrate your existing on premise workflows / business rules to Cloud over a period of time. This will enable you to leverage the services offered by SAP Workflow Management. . It is a family of services enable customers to automate structured and unstructured tasks, manage decisions, gain process visibility and process intelligence.
You could plan migration to cloud and this will naturally leads to the next question what is the migration path for a customer to SAP BTP Workflow.
In a Workflow solution, a good amount of effort spent on building user interfaces for Human tasks. If your workflow task Uis are based on SAP UI5, you could reuse them in cloud with minimal changes like adapting the API calls and some configuration changes to deploy the SAP UI5 component as a multi target application. It is not possible to consume the same on premise model because there are some differences in terms of features between SAP BPM and SAP BTP Workflow. Some of the key high level feature differences between SAP BPM and SAP BTP Workflow are
|Feature||SAP BPM||SAP BTP Workflow|
|Interfaces||Typed Webservice Interfaces||No typed interfaces|
|Mapping||Mapping activity||Script Task ( based on java script based on ECMA Script 5.1)|
|Integration to Applications||Webservice / RFC||REST/OData|
|Monitoring||Webdynpro based NWA||FIORI based Monitor Workflow Apps|
|User Interface||Webdynpro / SAP UI5||SAP UI5|
There are many customers started their digital transformation journey with SAP Business Technology Platform Workflow, Business Rules and Process Visibility. You can read the success story of couple of 2019 SAP Innovation award winners (Delivery Hero and Murphy Oil) in the Process Innovation segment .