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Monitoring Changes: Reporting or Workflow?

by Jacob Crane

June 8, 2010

So, you’re implementing Employee Self-Service and realize that maybe someone needs to know about the changes employees make to their data.  Maybe Benefits wants to know if someone changes the state they live in so they are aware of possible changes to eligibility.  Maybe Payroll wants to know if someone disabled their withholding.  There are a wide variety of reasons why someone may need to know and there are different ways to let them know about it.  Two of the most common ways are reporting and workflow.  Unfortunately, it is sometimes hard to decide which solution to pursue.

Reporting can be used to allow users to get a list of all the changes that have been made and allows the user to choose when to get them.  Reports have the advantage of being able to be used by anyone with access to execute them.  The difficulty of using reporting to monitor ESS changes is that it often requires the use of the infotype change log.  This can result in a burden on the system and necessitate additional storage capacity.  There is also management involved in allowing users to access these reports.

Workflow has the advantage of allowing for instant email notification when something happens.  However, there is often more administrative and sometimes development effort required to implement workflow.  Additionally, the recipients of notifications are pre-defined so the ability of others to monitor changes is restricted. 

Here are a few decision points for deciding whether to pursue reporting or workflow to handle these types of requirements:

  • How soon do you need to kn ow about a change?
    • If the notification needs to happen ASAP workflow is a better solution.
  • How often does a change that needs to be monitored occur?
    • If the frequency is high reporting is a good solution.  Running a daily or weekly report would provide a nice list.  Workflow may be a less attractive solution if the frequency is high because it could result in users being bombarded with many notifications.
    • If the frequency is low workflow may be a better solution.  Reporting would not be very efficient if it requires someone to regularly monitor a report that often shows  no results.
  • Who needs to know about a change?
    • If information is needed by a specific person or group workflow is a viable option.
    • If the information could be needed by a variety of users who may not always be the same person or group a report would be a more flexible solution.

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