SAP Workflow, as the name suggests, is responsible to ensure that Work in the SAP System Flows in a consistent, systematic and timely manner.
Every business process consists of doable actions (Work) that has to be completed. For example: Approving Employee Time-sheet, Checking if a new hire form is filled completely, Checking/ Approving Purchase Requisition etc. All these are doable actions.
Some of this work can be done in the background without any manual intervention where as other kind of work needs active participation by an actual person/user ( also known as agent ) .
For example : If we take leave approval for instance, then the actual approving of the leave cannot be done automatically. As per the business process a manager needs to approve an employee’s leave request. However some activities like updating the available leave balance of the employee when the leave is approved does not need manual intervention and can be done in the background.
Background activities are usually done instantaneously by a system user id WF_BATCH. However activities which need to be done by a user like a manager etc usually have to be done in the foreground.
Some of these activities or actions are non critical activities and hence usually need not be completed on an urgent basis. For example approval of employee performance appraisals.
However other activities like a sales order approval, timesheet approval etc are time critical activities that have to be completed within a stipulated time period.
For such cases SAP gives us a functionality to apply Deadlines and Escalations to our workflow tasks.
So, if you are designing a workflow and the requirement is that a particular Task, for example approval of employee’s leave request should be completed by the manager within a given time frame then we can set a deadline for the task. Once the deadline is reached, we can then apply further logic using escalation functionality in order to escalate the approval task(work) to their superior manager or any other agent/user as required by the process.
Deadlines are of 4 types :
- Requested Start
- Latest Start
- Requested End
- Latest End
Requested Start : This is Earliest point in time at which the work item can be executed.
Example : Even if the employee submits their travel request to the manager, the company policy requires that a 2 days waiting period is required before the manager can actually approve the request.
A dialog work item (approver task) appears in the Business Workplace of the manager when the requested start is reached if the work item is already available for processing. If the dialog work item is not created until after the requested start, it appears immediately in the Business Workplaces of its recipients.
With background work items, execution starts when the requested start is reached at the earliest.
Latest Start : Deadline by which one of the recipients of a work item must have started to process it.
Example : If the employee submits their performance appraisal then it is required that the manager should START reviewing the appraisal document within a certain period of time.
Requested End : Deadline by which the processing of a work item should be terminated.
Example : In the above case of performance appraisal, the appraisal approval by manager should complete within a given time period.
Latest End : Latest point in time for the processing of a work item to end.
As I have noticed – in all practical cases Requested End and Latest End behave the same way, just that if a user opens a work item ( Reserves the work item ) then the Requested End date deadline will not kick in. Only the Latest End date will be valid. Hence usually its is advisable to set Latest End greater than Requested End.
Example : In the above case of performance appraisal, the appraisal approval by manager should completed within a given time period greater that requested end otherwise the appraisal will escalate to higher manager.
The processing of a work item ends when it assumes either the status logically deleted or the status completed.
In the next part of the blog we will see an implementation of deadline monitoring in a workflow.
Click Here for Part 2 – Live Training Video