What is SAP Workflow?

SAP Workflow is a tool used to automate complex business processes that require tasks to be performed by multiple people. It ensures that the right work is sent to the right person at the right time.

Each step of a business transaction can be easily monitored as processes are completed from beginning to end. Workflow allows process owners to keep an eye on deadlines, provides statistics on the length of time to complete work processes, determine the workload with regard to individual employees, and save processing time. Since Workflow can deliver work items to employees automatically via email, they do not have to wait or inquire about the status of a particular process.

Benefits of SAP Workflow

The quality of the process is assured by pushing the relevant information together with links to related transactions directly to the user. Managers don’t have the time to search for information so give them what they need to reach the correct decision.

Cycle time is reduced by pushing the process directly to the users. The users receive notification of a task immediately and can even be prioritized by the system.

The tasks are performed consistently and diligently by the users. The workflow system pushes all the necessary information needed to perform a task, including a clear description of what has to be done, how to do it and the impact this task has on the business process for your company. At any time, the user can check the list of tasks pending and determine at a glance which are the important tasks, and which tasks can be completed the next day without any negative impact.

The process instance is transparent. Any user can check at any time how far the process has progressed and which stage the process has reached. For example the call centre can immediately see the status of a purchase order, an employee requisitioning a purchase would see at a glance if a colleague has been sitting on it for too long, the ad hoc notes made when approving an engineering change request are visible long after the request has gone into production.

The process is flexible, allowing it to be changed on the fly without retraining everyone involved. The description accompanying the change takes care of on-the-fly process improvements.

Deadline handing ensures that users perform the tasks within the time planned. Escalation measures ensure that the failure to meet a deadline can be corrected by other means.

Intelligent reporting highlights the weaknesses of a process. Often there is a simple cure to such weaknesses such as reeducating the users involved in the bottleneck or providing additional information (automatically). The difficulty of a non-automated process is identifying such bottlenecks.

The process definition is transparent. You can see at a glance how the process works and who will be selected to perform the different tasks. Think of the workflow as the process book. If you can spot the pattern and define the process without headaches, you can create a workflow definition effortlessly. However, don’t forget that if a company has business processes that are erratic and lack a consistent pattern, the company is very likely to be losing a lot of money in terms of lost contracts, labour intensive administration and low customer confidence. It is my personal opinion that automating exactly this type of process will yield the best returns, but only if you limit yourself to automating the basic skeleton of the process first. Don’t get bogged down in the detailed exception handling. That can be done in the next phase once you’ve checked the process statistics and determined which exceptions are worth tackling.


As with most software, the reasons for automating business processes are primarily to increase the competitive edge of your company and to cut costs. Competitive edge is gained by radically reducing process times and human errors.

Cost savings due to implementing SAP workflow are thus measured by comparing the current error-prone manual process againsts a more robust automated process.

Reference: SAP Business Workflow