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Author's profile photo Arvind KULKARNI

Implementing Permit to Work in SAP S/4HANA – Part 1

Permit to Work process is a critical and mandatory process for asset intensive industry such as Oil and Gas, Utilities, Chemicals etc. The process ensures safety of maintenance workers while performing tasks in hazardous environment.

In the SAP S/4HANA world, this topic falls under Asset Management – Environment Health and Safety.

This blog post guides the SAP S/4HANA project team to implement Permit to Work processes using SAP work clearance management (WCM) module. Please note that this is not a detailed configuration guide nor a complete product information document. The focus of the blog post is to take you through a typical business process in oil and gas sector and understand the key configuration aspects to model the business process in SAP and lastly have a brief look at the user experience of SAP S/4HANA version 1809. SAP Work Clearance Management module will be referred as SAP WCM in this blog post.

This blog post is split into following parts:

  • Typical business process for permit to work (covered in this blog post)
  • Key SAP WCM Configuration to model the process in SAP S/4HANA 1909 (covered in the second part)
  • SAP WCM User experience with SAP S/4HANA 1909 and beyond (covered in the third part)


 Typical business process:

Let’s start with a typical Oil and Gas industry business process: There is a malfunction in a pump in a refinery plant. To perform the maintenance activity on a pump, a notification and order is created by maintenance department. Since the work is in an operational refinery complex, the maintenance team requires a work permit – which is a mandatory document to be issued before starting the work on pump. As per safety procedures, the pump has to be electrically isolated. At the time of job execution, safety controls should be implemented to ensure adherence to safety policies and standards. An end to end process for permit to work is shown in the below process map:



Details of the process steps:

1.1 Create notification/ work order: this is the start of a permit to work process – whereby the operations / maintenance creates a notification for reactive maintenance or a work order is created automatically for preventive maintenance. Important master data used: Functional location, equipment, task list

1.2 Plan work order: this is a maintenance process where the work order is planned for resources dates etc. Important master data used: Functional location, equipment

1.3 Create work permit: a work permit is created out of the work order. this ensures a digital integration between work order (SAP Plant Maintenance) system and work permit (SAP WCM) system. The description of work order, and location of work (in terms of functional location or equipment) is copied over to the work permit – thereby reducing manual work of entering data again. Please note that it is also possible to create a work permit without any reference to a work order and can be created standalone. Important master data used: Functional location, equipment. Typical types of work permit:

Permits can be classified as per the nature of work:

  • cold work permit
  • hot work permit

Permits can be classified depending on the risk level involved:

  • high risk work permit
  • low risk work permit

The above types will have different data entry options, validity etc and can be configured in standard SAP WCM.

2.1 Assign additional safety certificates: this process, the operations department team can assign additional safety documents to the permit depending on the nature of work to ensure adherence to following safety procedures and digitizing the process. Some examples from oil and gas industry are:

  • Isolation Certificate  – Isolation List
  • Excavation Certificate
  • Vessel Entry Certificate
  • Work at height Certificate
  • Confined space entry Certificate
  • Gas testing Certificate

The above types will have different data entry options, validity etc and can be configured in standard SAP WCM.

2.2 Attach documents: the operation team can attach pdf’s for isolation diagram or procedure description to the work permit

2.3 Prepare work permit pack: A work permit pack refers to all the certificates and documents that are assigned to a work permit. preparing a work permit mans that: all the data is checked and verified and after the permit is prepared, the data is frozen. The process then goes into the approval process. Concept of permit pack with relation to work order:

3.1 Perform isolation: Isolation is critical part of the process to ensure safety controls are implemented. for an oil and gas industry there are the following types of isolation: electrical, mechanical and instrumentation. The process of isolation involves de-energizing the system by switching OFF electrical points / closing valves etc. once the isolation has been successfully executed, the workplace is safe from hazards and the worker can start work.

3.2 Approve work permit: once the safety controls are setup and implemented as per the plan, the permit is approved. The approval process can involve one or many approvers depending on the configuration. Depending on the type of permit, the approval can be setup accordingly. This can be configured in standard SAP WCM.

3.3 Issue / receive work permit: This is an important handover process. The permit is issued by the operations and received by the maintenance team. Permit is printed out of the SAP WCM module and the paper is handed over to the maintenance team. Typically a process called toolbox talk is initiated between both the parties, whereby the issuing party signs on the permit and explains the hazards and controls of the nature of work to the executing party. Also the issuing party checks if the receiving party has the necessary certifications to perform the job, for example, if the job involves welding, then the welding certification has to be checked including the validity of the certificate. This is usually an out of system activity done manually. Finally the maintenance party signs on the permit paper to conclude the process. Below is an example print out of permit typically used in oil and gas industry



Please note, this process can be digitized using a mobile device. However there is no mobile app currently and hence has to built separately in a project situation.

3.4 Release work order: This is a maintenance process. The release of work order depends on the maintenance strategy and type of maintenance (corrective vs preventive). SAP WCM is flexible and there is no hard dependency between release of work order.

3.5 Execute job: This is a maintenance process. The maintenance team gets a job card, along with the the permit pack to execute the job. The job execution can only happen in the validity mentioned in the permit document. if the validity gets over, the permit can be extended or cancelled. once the Job is executed, the maintenance can set a status “WOCO” – work completed in the work order to indicate that the work associated with the work permit has been completed.

4.1 Close work permit: once the work is completed, a test run is executed by temporarily energizing the system. After successful test run, the maintenance team will leave the work area and handover the permit document to operations. Again the handover signatures are logged in the paper permit. The permit is closed out in the SAP WCM system

4.2 Perform De-Isolation: Operation team performs de-isolation by switching ON/OFF and opening/closing valves etc and setting the system to original state.

4.3 Close additional certificates: In case there were additional certificates like isolation certificate or confined space entry certificate – these are closed out in the SAP WCM system

4.4 Close Notification / Order: Notification and work order is closed out by the maintenance team in the SAP PM system.


Additional process features developed by customers:

Apart form the above standard process, we have seen that customers request additional process requirements. below is a collection of some common requirements seen in a project that add value to the standard best practice processes:

Customer requirement for Process step 2.3 Prepare work permit: some customer specific checks before preparing the permit could be related to checking the validity of the work permit or checking the functional location of the work permit with respect to the assigned permit template etc. in such cases, SAP WCM BAdI can be used such as:BADI_WCM_WCMOBJ; method STATUS_PREP_CHECK

Customer requirement for Process step 4.4 Close Order: Some customers have requirement on automatic closure of work permits upon closing the notification / order. This feature can be developed using enhancing the SAP solution through BAdI and BAPI’s. In this case, BAdI to be used will be: “WORKORDER_UPDATE”and within the BAdI implementation, the following API of SAP WCM can be called to close the work permit: WCHC_API_WCA_ACTION_EXECUTE

To conclude, the above processes are typically used in asset intensive industry and the information in the blog post will enable the SAP WCM project implementation team to start the design workshops with the necessary key-process building blocks. The other part of the blog post will focus on:

  • Key SAP WCM Configuration to model the above process in SAP S/4HANA 1909
  • User experience with SAP S/4HANA 1909 and beyond

Source of images: all pictures and images created by the author. 

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      Author's profile photo Jochen Bollhoefer
      Jochen Bollhoefer

      Thanks a lot, that's very helpful 🙂

      Author's profile photo Ariel Lomonaco
      Ariel Lomonaco

      Excelente Information...!

      That is very helpful.


      Thank You!

      Author's profile photo Vijay Sonawane
      Vijay Sonawane

      Thanks Arvind! Appreciate your way of connecting SAP configuration with real life scenario. It is especially important for WCM, rather Work Permit Management when introduced by SAP under umbrella of WCM.

      Author's profile photo James RABEMANANTSOA

      Thanks Arvind, great insight!

      Author's profile photo Ramakrishna Potluri
      Ramakrishna Potluri

      Very well explained, Arvind !

      When are you publishing Blog-3 ?

      Author's profile photo Arvind KULKARNI
      Arvind KULKARNI
      Blog Post Author

      thanks for the feedback Ramakrishna. will do it soon

      Author's profile photo ABDUL HAFEEZ

      This is really a good Blog regarding Permit to work. Do you have any sample Screenshot for Risk Level?

      Author's profile photo Ranjan Dhawan
      Ranjan Dhawan

      Really good explanation of permit system in domain. Thank you very much.

      Author's profile photo Silviu Vlad
      Silviu Vlad

      Good Job, Arvind!

      Author's profile photo Mariya Krasteva
      Mariya Krasteva

      Fantastic Arvind! Thank you!

      Author's profile photo Manohar Kuruva
      Manohar Kuruva

      Hi Arvind,

      Would you please let me know what's the difference between WPM and WCM ,as you shared pictures of WPM and explaining about WCM