SAP Workflow allows companies to execute business processes in a roles-based manner across many SAP enterprise functions. Companies often turn to third-party workflow applications to add functionality that SAP does not provide out of the box. This way, companies avoid issues that could arise with custom code, such as the code breaking when they upgrade their SAP systems.
The introduction of imaging techniques, including digital signature capability, has opened the door to third-party add-on applications to SAP Workflow. These SAP add-ons are designed to provide efficiency gains and reduce paper consumption, for example. Third-party applications offer features such as integration with email, allowing approvers to receive SAP Workflow request in their regular email application.
Examples of SAP Workflow add-ons
Some SAP add-ons for SAP Workflow let users include documents to review. By using a third-party application in this situation, users can review the workflow in their native application environment, such as a financial or engineering applications, instead of within the SAP system.
Organizations can also use SAP add-ons for SAP Workflow to specify which roles have access to different areas of the SAP system. Managers can configure roles to match the same access inside SAP ERP without having to use the SAP system directly. For example, an engineer working on a drawing package that integrates with SAP ERP can use the same role identified in both applications to access drawings, files or specifications.
The same goes for sales professionals accessing the SAP Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system using a third-party application. Managers can create roles to align to permissions found in similar roles inside SAP CRM.
Companies can also use third-party workflow applications to help manage the workflow between non-SAP CRM applications and SAP sales and distribution (SD). For example, a third-party application handles the sales and order origination process in the native workflow, and then sends the information to SD to create a sales order. Once the sales order is created in SD, the third-party application has access to that sales order as part of the customer’s order history.
SAP Workflow add-ons for SAP mobile
The emergence of mobile platforms for workflow offer additional options to extending the capabilities of SAP Workflow processes. Some companies use third-party mobile add-ons for SAP Workflow reporting. For example, for financial approval and CRM activities, companies can use mobile SAP add-ons to view the SAP workflow processes on mobile dashboards. These dashboards can provide real-time sales levels, budget forecasts and other key metrics, allowing the sales team to make real-time decisions in the field.
Some companies create SAP mobile applications with workflow-like properties using the Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP) Server. With SUP, companies can create a sophisticated workflow application that allows users to retrieve information from the SUP Server and display it in SAP Workflow as a step where a recipient needs to make a decision. A more complex mobile workflow application could involve an application that uses online request menu items to invoke various create, update or delete operations all in the same flow.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
William Newman is managing principal of Newport Consulting Group, an independent management and technology consulting firm based in Clarkston, Mich. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org follow him on Twitter (@william_newman).
This was first published in June 2012