Next-generation SAP S/4HANA workflow solutions
Management of construction changes
Engineering change management with change records
Overview of SAP workflow technology
With the appearance of SAP S/4HANA, several next-generation workflow technologies have become available for organizations using the SAP system. In the SAP R/3 version, creating the classic SAP business workflow solution was usually possible through consulting and development expertise.
The next-generation toolset available in S/4HANA systems provides a solution to this problem. The so-called “flexible workflow” has been introduced as part of the SAP Business workflow framework. This allows key users of a company to create and maintain simpler workflow scenarios without developer skills.
Each year with the release of the new S/4HANA versions, these solutions have become available in more and more lines of business. Now workflow scenarios, aligned with predefined business processes and customizable by key users, are available among other areas for finance, procurement, HR, production and sales as well.
Use of a change record during the life cycle of a product in the S/4HANA system
This article describes an SAP workflow solution that is available for manufacturing. A product can undergo several and different types of events during its lifecycle, such as listing, modification, or delisting. It is recommended to use a change record in the S/4HANA system for structured tracking of these events.
To track master data maintenance processes, the S/4HANA system provides a so-called “Engineering Change Management with Change Records” workflow scenario.
Using the change records allows companies to:
- Monitor change management processes step-by-step, from the appearance of the request for change to the effective implementation of the change.
- Involve a team of experts in the workflow, ensuring that only approved master data changes are included in the actual manufacturing process.
- To assign all affected master data (such as product, BOM, routing, document) to an object that is related to a specific change requirement.
- To create workflow templates, or even to create a series of steps that can be flexibly adapted to the specific process.
- Assign various approval strategies to the process steps.
- Analyze various metrics and charts using the Engineering Cockpit tool.
1. figure: Main functions of the change record
Workflow management features
Several different functions are available for the users to manage and customize workflows, such as:
- Creating change templates: top-level grouping, for which workflow templates, possible process steps, and actors can be assigned later.
- Design workflow templates:
- predefined task steps,
- defining responsibility groups assignments,
- determining approval strategy assignments,
- Status management settings (workflow head level status control).
- Managing individually defined user groups and responsibilities, for example creating technology groups with dedicated users.
- Generate and close an automatic change record by defining trigger events.
- Impact analysis of the upcoming change – listing the objects related to the changed master data: BOMs, routing, active production orders.
2. figure: Change record Fiori solutions (SAP, 2021)
3. figure: SAP Engineering Cockpit (SAP, 2021)
Presentation of a sample process
A sample process with a BOM change is shown below. Using the available toolset from the time receiving the change request to implementing the necessary changes in the productive system:
4. figure: BOM change template workflow
|Process step||Business role||Workflow function|
|Business event indicating a change in master data||Related business area (e.g., construction, sales, manufacturing technology)||N/A (start of a workflow indicated by a business event)|
|Initiate a change request||Change Coordinator (BOM Expert)||Detailed description of change request;|
Workflow template selection (based on this, automatically determine the responsible persons for the approval strategy / steps);
|Approve change request||Technology manager||Approval process (acceptance, return for further information);|
Automatic change record generation;
|Identification of master data affected by the change request and preparation of a change proposal||Bill of materials expert||Listing affected master data objects;|
Change impact analysis function (a tool for listing related master data);
Change record maintenance;
|Approval of proposed change||Technology manager||Approval process (acceptance, return for further changes);|
|Modification of the technical documentation||Design Engineer||Adding attachments|
|Modification of the master data in the productive system||Bill of materials expert||Activating changes related to a change record in the productive system (expiration date adjustable by date)|
5. figure: Creating a workflow template
In summary of the above, the change record management with flexible workflow support that is part of S/4HANA provides appropriate tools for representing master data maintenance processes related to simpler manufacturing activities.
The tools listed in this article can be integrated with other products, such as SAP PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) or SAP ECTR (Engineering Control Center), to cover more complex processes.
Do you have any questions regarding the next-generation SAP S/4HANA workflow solutions? Send it to us and our experts will contact you!
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