Understanding The Workflow Part II – 5W’s Of Workflow.

what is SAP Workflow?

As promised, We are here with our next articles on the workflow that is going to explain about 5W’s of SAP Workflow. Sorry to say that but this one is also going to be a theoretical post but believe me guys you are not going to get bored because we have created so many creative animations to explain our 5W’s of SAP Workflow concept because Learning through animation is always fun 😉  

Understanding The Workflow Part I

Hope you guys are now clear with workflow concept after reading our first articles that explains workflow concept in very creative way using animations But here is my simple question to you guys 😛

                        Can you start building a workflow now?


Just imagine, Your client comes to your office and tells you that bla bla bla is our business process of any business that needs to be automated with the help SAP workflow.

        If you haven’t understood the requirements then what will you do?

                                         Its Simple, You are going to ask questions! 😀 

                                                         But Which Questions 😐 ?

What Questions are going to help you to convert the client business process into a Workflow:?

                          Don’t Worry We have the answer – 5W’s of Workflow 😀

Yes, Guys, These are the first 5 questions you should be asking to convert the manual business process into a workflow one. Now Without Wasting our time lets go through each question one by one and let’s find out what answer these questions really want 😈

If someone asks you, Can you just draw your business process flow so that we can understand the whole flow of your business? What you always do is you take a piece of paper and pen and then you just draw the process in a sequential manner, explaining that this step will come first after this part will come etc.

                                                            Rough Sketch, Just like this 😀

When it comes to SAP Workflow, Defining the business process step by step in the system is called as “Workflow Definition”. The only difference is that we are drawing the business process via the transaction SWDD (pen) inside the SAP System(Notepad).

           Presenting you a simple Workflow Definition for Purchase Order approval business Process 😎        

A business process is the combination of small steps.Let’s take the example from our first workflow article, Purchase order approval business process that contains business steps.

This is how the steps are supposed to be in PO approval business process :

  • Creation of Purchase Order.
  • Reviewing the Order i.e Approving/Rejecting Purchase Order.
  • Notify Buyer about the review result.

But assume since you are now aware of the exact order of the PO approval process and You have designed the workflow definition for this purchase order approval business process like this 😛 

   You can not draw the workflow definition in wrong order otherwise everything is going to messed up 😮

So, guys, This is why the first  important question you should always be asking to someone “In What Order you, Your business process flow ?”

After understanding the correct order of the business process flow you should proceed further to draw the workflow definition of the business process. This is how the correct workflow definition will be drawn from our above purchase order approval business process. 


  • What Activity is being performed?
  • With What something is executed?    

Also Read: How to Consume Custom OData in SAPUI5 Application                                                                        

What Activity is being performed? What is Executed?

In our daily activities, we perform different activities(task) for example- reading books, eating, closing door etc. But when it comes to some business that is supported by SAP these activities(task) are different.

A task might be executing a report, Executing a transaction, update a spreadsheet or simply act as a reminder that something is to be carried out.

So the point here is, We need to ask the business guys that what activities/task you perform at each step so that we can assign those task/activities to our workflow task. If we don’t know what will be the next activities/task in the business flow I don’t think that we will be able to draw the workflow definition and assign the task to our workflow.  

For example in our mention purchase order approval workflow business processes, Reviewing a Purchase Order (Approve/Reject ) is a task, Sending notification to the user about the review result is also a task.

Task represents the steps in the business process, The process to be mapped must be divided into individual tasks during workflow definition. At workflow runtime, a task is represented by a work item.The work item appears in the recipient workflow inbox.

A task can be used as a mini workflow itself.

If a task is executed by a person, An agent must be assigned.


With What something is executed?    

Guys if someone gives me a task and tell me that your task is to eat .I am always ready to do that task because I love eating but wait, What do I need to eat ? you should tell me first 👿 I cannot eat Nov-veg because I am vegetarian.

Same in a business process if someone’s task is to perform some action for example – Reviewing a purchase order then the business should provide a purchase order number, Release level etc.

A workflow developer should be aware of the data that needs to be pass to the responsible agent of the task so that they can utilize that data and execute the manual process.

 In the end, workflow needs to pass the right data, at right time to the right people.

Right Data    ( With What Something is executed  Ex. PO)

Right people ( Who is going to execute the task Ex. Manager )

Right Time    ( When we need to pass the Work item to the Agent  Ex. When Material Master got changed in the system)


                                                          But How 😳 ?

           We will see that in our upcoming articles. Don’t worry We won’t miss that. 😉 

This one is the most important question you should be asking before starting developing workflow definition.

Remember as we told you earlier workflow is just automating the business flow, It is not automating the exact work for example- Workflow is not going to approve or reject a PO, This task will be manually done by some user.  So, It is very important that the right data should be delivered to the right person but who should be the right person/agent for some task.

Business people need to answer that if this is the task it should be delivered to X person or group of persons ❗


Who Will be the recipient of the TASK?

Those peoples who are going to receive the work items are called agents of the task.

The assignment of agents is required for a task .if everything is good, agent(user) receives the work item in their workflow inbox and belong to the recipient of the work item. once he/she double clicks on the work item they will be routed to the desired transaction with exact data that is needed to perform the task.

If a work item is routing to a position X then all the users(A, B, C) that are assigned to the position X will receive the work item.

Similar Example: If an Email is sent to DL then all people whose ID’s are present in the DL will receive the copy of the Email 💡

                   This is how Agent’s are displayed in the workflow log for a particular work item.


Last but not the least!

When you want your workflow to be started, There should be a specific time when the workflow will start and the work items related to workflow definition tasks will be delivered to the Agents 🙄

When Something is going to Executed is called EVENTS in SAP workflow Language.

Example of Events :

  • Park Document posted 
  • Purchase requisition released
  • Material master change
  • leave approved
  • customer created
  • purchase order deleted

Event informs the system that something has happened for example – Purchase order created. The workflow can react to an event if it is linked to the event.So Whenever PO will be created in the system that means material master gets change, Event-related to PO will be wake up the linked  Workflow to react and so on.

An outcome is the possible result of a task or step.Possible outcomes of the task “Approve Purchase Order ” may be approved, rejected.

We can utilize the possible outcome of a step/task as an event to end any workflow . for example – If a PO gets approved then end the workflow.

Putting the Pieces Together

  • Your business can be converted into a workflow
  • The workflow builder is the tool for building/editing workflows
  • A workflow step contains a task/Activity
  • Agents are assigned to every task
  • At runtime, The Agent determined to receive the work item in their inbox.
  • The Recipient who actually execute the work item the calls the function stored in the task.


  • The Right Work
  • At the right Time
  • For the right agent


  • Who Does
  • What ?
  • When ?
  • With What Object?
  • And in what Sequence?

Here comes the end of this article.Hope You Enjoyed this Creative Article that explains 5W’s of Workflow. If you have understood this post you must be able to understand that how important these 5 questions are for a workflow developer before He/She can start building workflow 🙂

See you soon guys!

Would you like to share any SAP Workflow Stories?

Please write your quick comment below and leave your feedback and share your learning experience.

Please browse our page for FioriSAPUI5ODataHANA-ABAPOOPsWorkflowWeb Dynpro etc tutorials.

Workflow Tutorial Series

Understanding The Workflow Part I
Understanding The Workflow Part II – 5W’s Of Workflow


  1. It’s very helpful to the people who are learning the workflow, like me.
    But the image about workflow’s UI in this article seems look like workflow in ERP rather than workflow in SAP Cloud Platform, which one do you guys mean?
    I’m strongly looking forward your update, pump it!

    • Hi slowside45 ,
      Thanks for your comment!
      To clear the picture for you, The concept of workflow remains the same in spite of the area we are talking about. It can be ERP, Cloud etc.The basics concept of workflow is not going to change and it will remain same in all the areas and to answer your question you can relate the basic concept of workflow describe in our posts in the ERP as well as SAP cloud platform but here we will be mostly concentrated on the ERP workflow first then we will move to SAP cloud workflow.

      Abhishek Walter

  2. Glad to see there is a wf tutorial here, I’m learning workflow on SAP Cloud Platform now, this is very necessary!
    But I got a problem: why the UI of workflow in this article doesn’t look like the UI in SCP?

    • Hi junyi,
      The snapshots are taken from the ERP Workflow that is the reason UI of workflow in this article doesn’t look like the UI in SCP. The basic concept of workflow will remain same whether we are talking about the ERP workflow or SAP Cloud Platform workflow.

      Abhishek Walter


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