Business Workflow innovations in SAP S/4 HANA

Currently, a worldwide technology-based business revolution takes place that seems to have no boundaries. At high speed and in very large numbers people and businesses are connected to each other in new, innovative and groundbreaking ways. This revolution is also called the Digital Transformation (DT). If we look at this fact from the SAP user perspective, we can translate this into the following:


This digital transformation has different demands on our IT infrastructure and thus to the SAP landscape. The introduction of SAP S/4 HANA makes many innovations possible. Important preconditions to success that play a role are flexibility and simplicity. SAP S/4 HANA is also the next generation business suite for the digital world. 


For many years, SAP Business Workflow has been the standard tool for automating processes and optimizing business processes within the SAP Business Suite. This also applies to S/4 HANA. The responsible team has made several changes to the workflow runtime and development environment to be able to better respond to the new needs. Innovations have been introduced in the design of processes, the execution of tasks and the workflow engine itself. Everything revolves around simplicity and flexibility.



The central location of the mobile SAP Fiori platform, where users e.g. can perform workflow related tasks, is Fiori Launchpad. The first SAP Fiori apps which were released were task based. This meant that a user had to choose from a variety of apps for different approvals. This approach is not optimal to get a complete picture of the outstanding work. Several applications had to be checked in order to carry out all the tasks.

Therefore, SAP has introduced the Fiori My Inbox app. This is a central, unified inbox where tasks from various systems (SAP and non-SAP) and various processes converge and where standard and customer-specific workflow tasks are clearly presented. 


Fiori My Inbox app


Important features of this new Fiori app :

  • choice between standard or expert list display
  • full-text search, grouping, sorting and filtering 
  • simple maintenance of planned and unplanned substitutions, across multiple systems
  • mass approval
  • supports Business Workflow and BPM
  • API to connect to non-SAP systems
  • fully responsive for all devices
  • works on Premise and in the Cloud;
  • possibility to add for company/process data to add to tasks
  • dynamic columns

Fiori My Inbox expert view



A new way to notify users about new tasks are workflow Push Notifications. These are sent from the Fiori 2.0 notification center. Without going to the My Inbox app, the user sees new tasks quickly. These tasks can even be handled directly without having to open them. It is a powerful solution that can be configured for each workflow. So you can choose to turn them on for all workflow processes or only for the time-critical ones. 


Push notifications Fiori My Inbox


Important features:

  • take action directly from the notification or open the notification / job to see more detailed information
  • just one click needed to open the task in the My Inbox app
  • configurable per workflow process
  • configurable text and buttons
  • SAP transaction: SWF_PUSH_NOTIF1



Designing workflow processes using SAP Business Workflow was due to the complexity of the tooling usually reserved for experienced developers. A common desire of companies and organizations was to allow the design of simple procedures by the users. The Fiori application "Manage Workflows" will support this.


Without any knowledge of a programming language, anyone can quickly set up a procedure with various activities in a user friendly Fiori environment. This environment also ensures that the risk of design errors is reduced, because a limited set of options is being offered. These options are however sufficient so that an entire procedure can be set up easily, quick and flexible.

Important features:

  • overview of available and active procedures 
  • possibility to activate and deactivate procedures
  • Setting up and changing starting conditions
  • add, change or delete process steps
  • creation of job assignments
  • catching exceptions



The workflow engine, which ensures that workflow procedures are launched and handled, is also tackled at several points. Most improvements are planned and at the time of writing not yet (fully) available.

Business processes are never static, an organization is never static. We also see that the procedures often change over time, and even have to change for ongoing procedures. It will be possible to change the current workflow procedures by adding and removing steps, enforcing comments or change the agent assignment. It is no longer necessary to stop the ongoing process and restart the new process from the beginning again. In addition, not every exception in the model needs to be designed. As an ongoing process can be modified at any time, this simplifies the maintainability of the underlying workflow model. This does not need to contain all the exceptions and scenarios: a substantial reduction in complexity. When archiving, not only the collected process data, but also the specific process definition is stored, so that afterwards everything can be easily analyzed.

Another addition is to configure mandatory steps through workflow rules. Thus, one can enforce that some steps must always be carried out in a procedure. This can be changed dynamically and easily without having any impact on the modeled process.



Also in the field of analysis, the necessary progress is being made. In line with the Fiori concept, tools will become available to monitor workflow procedures. Enabling users to quickly trace problems here and take relevant action.


For questions or additional information on this topic please contact Wouter Van Peteghem.