The undisputed goal of workflow is to allow a process to be automated,
ensuring that the company rules are followed without the users having to lift
a finger to find out how. For example, when a purchase requisition is created,
it is automatically dispatched to the approver's inbox. The notification of approval
- or, heaven forbid, notification of rejection - is sent automatically to the
The workflow log is useful when your notification
does not arrive and you start to get worried that the approver has gone
on vacation without arranging for a substitute. In its simplest form,
the log allows you to see how far the process has advanced and who is
sitting on your requisition.
In more complicated scenarios, you can
use the log to look back at the previous steps (or forward to steps that
have not yet started) so that you can contact the person involved directly.
SAP Business Workflow automatically maintains a variety of logs.
This article provides an overview of the different logs available.
The Chronological Log
The Chronological log is the primary view
that satisfies most users' needs in one go. For example, in Figure
1 you can see that two steps have been executed in the workflow, and
by clicking on one of the steps, you can see the detail at the bottom
of the screen.
In this example, I (Alan) am working on
the Customer Call and I have just added an ad hoc note.
The User Log
To view the log from a user perspective,
press on the "Workflow Agents" tab strip, and you can see at a glance
a list of everyone involved in the process. By clicking on one of the
agents in the list, you drill down to see exactly how this person contributed
to the complete workflow.
In Figure 2, you can see that I
(Alan) reserved the work item at 11:02 and added an attachment. By clicking
on the office document, the administrator can read the attachment that
I added. Clicking on the user's name brings up the user's telephone number
and mail address.
The Object Log
Figure 3 shows the business object
view. This is particularly useful for process chains where one business
object is created from another. In this example, you can see that Jerry
processed the customer inquiry.
The Graphical Log
The log is at its most sophisticated when
displayed in graphical form, as shown in Figure 4. This allows
you to visualize the process exactly as it was designed. Loops and parallel
branches can be interpreted immediately. Most important, the log shows
you what steps have not yet started and allows you to see exactly where
you are within the complete process.
The Workflow Summary
Last, but by no means least, is the simple
workflow summary, which can either be displayed in your workflow outbox
or via the system menu when you are viewing the business object itself.
For example, when viewing an engineering change request you can navigate
directly to the summary view shown in Figure 5 to see who made
what decision, and when.
If this is not enough, there are simple
mechanisms for creating your own view of the process. For example, B2B
provides its own Java applet for the visualization of the standard B2B
Although most consultants realize that
the workflow log serves as an auditing tool, they often neglect how useful
it is to the operational user. Used properly, it is a key factor ensuring
that the company's business processes run through as smoothly and quickly
as possible. (Note that the basic workflow log has been available since
Release 3.0. Most of the functionality described above has been available
since Release 4.0.)
When you activate a standard SAP workflow
template or implement one of your own, make sure that enough time is reserved
for the operational users' training so that they can make full use of
this powerful functionality!
Alan Rickayzen has been with
SAP since 1992 and in data processing since 1988. In 1995 he joined the
SAP Business Workflow group, performing development work as well as consulting
for various major US customers, and as a result amassed a good deal of
technical knowledge about the product. In 1998 he moved to the area of
workflow product management.