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Author's profile photo Fabio Westphal

Elevating Cross-Company Business Process Collaboration to the Next Level

Currently we are hosting a Customer Engagement Initiative regarding this topic.
If you are interested to join us, please reach out via email.

 

In an economy continuing to globalize and digitalize, business processes often exceed organizational boundaries.[1] For established cooperation relations, permanent cost pressure increases the need for a stronger integration and even standardization of cross-company business processes.[2] Enterprises and public institutions have to enhance collaboration with partner enterprises to develop high-quality products and services at low cost and with quick response to market demands.[3]
In this context there is a need for the business processes of independent organizations to be orchestrated into fully automated end-to-end value chains.[4]

Read bellow how SAP Cross-Company Workflow (pilot) helps to overcome these challenges by extending SAP Workflow Management with a no-code innovation to orchestrate business processes beyond organizational and system boundaries.

 

Features & Business Value

SAP Workflow Management can enable organizations to collaboratively send and process workflow tasks across a multi-tiered network of organizations.
It provides business users with flexible no-code tools for maintaining cross-company collaboration scenarios (workflow content & templates) with business peers and the ability to trigger organization-specific workflows to process cross-company tasks. By applying shared ledger technologies like blockchain, all relevant steps of a cross-company collaboration are registered on an immutable audit trail that is shared with all participants of the cross-company business processes.

 

 

As illustrated in the figure above the service provides a seamless out-of-the-box integration with SAP Workflow Management. Also, the manual integration into 3rd-party workflow tools is possible.

SAP Workflow Management supports the digital process automation journey of our customers with a family of services to digitize workflows, manage process decisions, gain end-to-end process visibility. Customers and partners are enabled to create process extensions on top of SAP and third-party applications to orchestrate tasks and processes across organizations and to build process-centric applications.
With SAP Cross-Company Workflow (pilot) we extend SAP Workflow Management so it can be applied for distributed cross-company business processes.

It comes down to four key-capabilities:

Firstly, we provide our customers with a pragmatic and non-invasive integration point from their business processes to cross-company collaborations, so that customers do not need to replace their existing SAP and non-SAP applications to gain value from their automated collaborations.

The second capability is the already mentioned out-of-the-box integration into SAP Workflow Management. Supported by the seamless integration into existing process content and business processes it enables business users to flexibly react to ever changing environments. Due to a low-code approach they can easily define and even update their cross-company business process whenever needed and don’t depend on their IT department.

Thirdly, there is a high level of cross-company automation. Each organization that is involved in such a cross-company business process is enabled to define a workflow that is automatically triggered when a specific task from an external business partner is received.

Fourthly, and last, providing a consistent and immutable audit log that gives every participant of a cross-company business process an overview about the current state of the process. It reduces the risk for fraud and misunderstandings or disputes that can nowadays only be solved by expensive audits.

 

In Action

Plagued for decades by low productivity gains due to siloed, complex supply chains, the construction industry is fertile ground for cross-company process innovations. As illustrated in the figure below, bringing together the design company, along with steel suppliers and other numerous sub-contractors, a proof of concept running on SAP Cross-Company Workflow (pilot) helps to manage a large Western European railway construction project with the digitization and automation of cross-company business processes.

 

 

Fully digitizing cross-company processes means replacing manual, error-prone approvals and payment releases with real-time transparency, boosting on-time and on-budget construction project delivery. With digital trust from streamlined workflow automation, companies can de-risk projects for greater efficiency and sustainability. For example, with a permanent record of the material characteristics used in any building, companies could potentially reuse and not destroy them, reducing their carbon footprint.

Most processes are currently executed in a manual way and digitizing them end-to-end delivers huge benefits. Lower operational cost, decreased risk for project delays or late payments and reduced carbon footprint are among these potential benefits that SAP Cross-Company Workflow (pilot) can bring to the table.

Moreover, we are working with customers and partners to apply this innovation to scenarios in healthcare, public sector, banking, supply chain, transportation and more. This shows that SAP Cross-Company Workflow (pilot) can be applied in any industry to automate cross-company business processes.

 

Next steps

Currently we are hosting a Customer Engagement Initiative regarding this topic. If you are interested to join us, please reach out via email.

This Co-Innovation opportunity provides the following benefits:

  • Explore the business value that can be created by automating cross-company business processes with low-code workflow services and shared ledgers technologies (e.g. blockchain).
  • Share your feedback with us and help us to define value-added features that should be supported by SAP.
  • Trial the SAP Cross-Company Workflow (pilot) with your scenario.

Get in Touch

For any further content please refer to our session from TechEd 2020. Also check out this analyst’s point of view, that describes how this innovation fits into the intelligent enterprise framework.

We welcome you to share thoughts and feedback or any clarification questions towards this blog post in the comment section. Also, please feel free to post any questions regarding this topic in the community or approach us directly:

Jose Prados (Innovation Owner, SAP Cross-Company Workflow)

Benjamin Stöckhert (Innovation Manager, SAP Cross-Company Workflow)

 

 

 

[1]  https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-3-030-49418-6_6

[2]  https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/0-306-47009-8_11

[3]  https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1063293X07084640

[4]  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.knosys.2013.08.022

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      2 Comments
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      Author's profile photo Gregory Misiorek
      Gregory Misiorek

      Hi Fabio,

      do you know by any chance if the Workflow service that is available in the trial BTP accounts is sufficient for running your cross-company business process? the current available plans that i see are: 'light' for service and 'saas-application' for application.

      FWIW, i'm looking for ways to find a new home for my expiring HL fabric application.

      Thank you and good luck with your initiative,

      greg

      Author's profile photo Fabio Westphal
      Fabio Westphal
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Greg,

      thanks for reaching out. Since our innovation is not yet a product, it is not available in the trial account. If you are interested to get your hands on it, please contact Jose or Benjamin (see above).

      Thanks,
      Fabio