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.

Main functions of change records

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.

Change record Fiori solutions

2. figure: Change record Fiori solutions (SAP, 2021)

SAP engineering cockpit

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 stepBusiness roleWorkflow function
Business event indicating a change in master dataRelated business area (e.g., construction, sales, manufacturing technology)N/A (start of a workflow indicated by a business event)
Initiate a change requestChange Coordinator (BOM Expert)Detailed description of change request;
Adding attachments;
Deadline management;
Workflow template selection (based on this, automatically determine the responsible persons for the approval strategy / steps);
Approve change requestTechnology managerApproval process (acceptance, return for further information);
Automatic change record generation;
Identification of master data affected by the change request and preparation of a change proposalBill of materials expertListing affected master data objects;
Change impact analysis function (a tool for listing related master data);
Change record maintenance;
Approval of proposed changeTechnology managerApproval process (acceptance, return for further changes);
Modification of the technical documentationDesign EngineerAdding attachments
Modification of the master data in the productive systemBill of materials expertActivating changes related to a change record in the productive system (expiration date adjustable by date)

SAP workflow template

5. figure: Creating a workflow template

Summary

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!

References

SAP SE (2021). Source: https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/static.wm3.se/sites/572/media/563964_pdf_fra_plm_-_sbn_webinar_plm_changerecord_02.pdf?1615562389

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Next-generation SAP S/4HANA workflow solutions

Author: Zoltán Kutschi

SAP Inbound and Production Logistics Competence Centre

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