Which Workflow Engine(s) for which workflow solution?
Here is an update on a blog post published in 2019 by Alan Rickayzen about which of SAP’s workflow engines is the choice for which workflow project. Thanks to all colleagues who gave input and reviewed my text/changes. I will differentiate new workflows from existing ones, also process monitoring requirements, migration of workflows to SAP S/4HANA, and the inbox topic.
SAP’s strategic Workflow Engine for approvals and process execution is SAP Build Process Automation on SAP Business Technology Platform and part of SAP Build.
Here you can get a detailed overview of all product capabilities. Also, explore more on the community page for SAP Build Process Automation. New functionality is added on a weekly basis (e.g. modeling option for sub-flows). Check also the roadmap explorer to get the latest information on upcoming features/capabilities.
SAP Build Process Automation has been introduced for SAP customers and SAP Solutions to provide a citizen developer workflow environment to automate faster. It uses an easy-to-use process designer in which you can integrate RPA functionality with full process visibility on top. Keep your eyes open for further enhancements, including in SAP S/4HANA, to further simplify and enhance standard workflows.
SAP BTP is the platform to consider when a central strategy demands one single environment for workflow & API management, especially taking into account the broader capabilities that SAP Integration Suite & SAP Build Process Automation offer. For a more holistic enterprise automation approach in combination with SAP Signavio new capabilities are available.
There are some cases where certain individual requirements can be handled differently as described in the subsequent paragraphs.
New Workflow Project
|Enterprise automation approach||Involving Cloud or On-Premise||For a holistic process management approach from process insights to improvements use SAP Build Process Automation, SAP Integration Suite, and SAP Signavio; Look at SAP Business Accelerator Hub for Workflow Content Packages to jumpstart your project.|
|Workflows with RPA / AI requirements||Cloud or On-Premise||
SAP Build Process Automation combines the offerings from SAP Workflow Management and iRPA for Citizen Developers
Recommendations (actual ML recommended positive outcome) and out-of-the-box machine learning capabilities in SAP Build Process Automation user decisions are planned innovations already on the roadmap.
On-Premise over Extensions as planned innovations (see below).
|Single Cross-system (orchestration) processes||Where on-premise deployment of the workflow is essential||
If legal requirements forbid the use of Cloud services for process automation then use SAP Business Process Management for cross-system processes, including environments where third-party systems need to be integrated in the process.
This software has proven itself as a robust, flexible, and powerful tool available as part of SAP Process Orchestration. Also, take a look at the upcoming hybrid deployment option of the SAP Integration Suite.
|Standard local processes such as an approval||Cloud products, including SAP S/4HANA Cloud||
Use the workflow tooling embedded in the Cloud solution, be it SAP S/4HANA Cloud, SAP Ariba, SAP SuccessFactors, or others to automate simple standard processes. This is usually tightly coupled with the application and offers design and control of the business processes without a learning curve.
Stay alert from the beginning to detect signs of a non-standardized process or the need to break out and extract or propagate information from other software. That is a sure sign that your process requires extensibility offered by SAP BTP / SAP Build Process Automation.
|Single customer-specific local processes||SAP S/4HANA and SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition||
In SAP S/4HANA On-Premise you have the choice between developing classic SAP Business Workflows or adding more flexibility with scenarios using flexible workflows. Here we recommend using the Add-On flexible workflow for empowering your business process experts. This is the workflow tool selected by the embedded applications in SAP S/4HANA, such as procurement or sales. Only resort to the classic workflows if the capabilities that flexible workflow provides are not sufficient/required – but keep an eye on the release updates, particularly the Cloud releases, which are an indication of what will be available in the next On-Premise release. Here you find the actual documentation.
Stay alert from the beginning to detect signs of a need to break out and extract or propagate information from other software or cloud services. That is a sure sign that your process requires extensibility via the Integration to SAP BTP / SAP Build Process Automation.
If you plan to move to the Cloud in general, consider using SAP BTP from the start.
Extensions of existing workflow solutions
|Standard local processes such as an approval||SAP S/4HANA||
In-App Extensions via BAdIs are available for Custom conditions, custom agent rules available in the Responsibility Management framework, Scenario Specific Extension (e.g. Procurement)
Side-by-side extensions with SAP Workflow Management / SAP Build Process Automation via extension steps for Standard Scenarios are planned innovations.
|Single customer-specific local processes||SAP ECC / SAP S/4HANA||Beneath the APAB Platform capabilities to enhance and build custom solutions, you can extend existing workflows with cloud services using Side-by-Side Extensibility for Custom Classical and Flexible Workflows for User Decision Steps (Outcome Driven Extension Steps) and/or also for context-driven background steps (Context Driven Extension Steps) with SAP Workflow Management. For SAP Build Process Automation this is a planned innovation.|
|Single Cross-system (orchestration) processes||SAP BPM||You can extend existing workflows with cloud services using Side-by-Side Extensibility with SAP Workflow Management in SAP BPM (See here the documentation).|
Availability of BTP Workflow Extensions with SAP Workflow Management
The actual availability of extensions for ERP solutions you see here:
Process Monitoring Requirements
Use the Process Visibility Capability of SAP Workflow Management to monitor and control your running process instances. This is available for Flexible Workflow and Business Workflow and is a planned innovation for SAP Business Process Management. See here the actual availability for S/4HANA and ECC.
SAP Workflow Management retirement and transition to SAP Build Process Automation
Here you find the path forward for SAP Workflow Management customers and in this Blog how to transition to SAP Build Process Automation. BTP workflow Extensions for SAP S/4HANA with SAP Build Process Automation including Process Visibility are planned innovations.
Migration project of existing workflows to SAP S/4HANA
For Migration projects to SAP S/4HANA please use the following decision tree to decide for each of the existing workflow scenarios you have in SAP ECC / SAP BPM / SAP Business Suite in place.
Generic Approval Inbox
You should choose SAP Task Center as the newest available approval Inbox – a SaaS-Product running on SAP BTP [Check here for the actually available task providers and more information] – or MyInbox in SAP S/4HANA / SAP ECC (in case you need a deep dive look at this training).