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Today there was an ASUG-sponsored webcast - and we were lucky to be able to open it up to anyone who registered - whether they are ASUG members or not.  I think the registration was well over 200 people.  The subject of the webcast was 'Worldwide Ways of Workflow' and I had a small part in it, but Tammy Powlas and Eduardo Chiocconi had the lead parts.

Are you wondering why *I* would blog about an ASUG webcast?  Specifically one about SAP Business Workflow?  Silly you.

But here's the thing.  This webcast is really the culmination of over a year's worth of work plus some serendipity - and you helped!

Last March, ASUG sponsored the Worldwide Workflow Survey.  The response was pretty strong - about 180 people from around the world filled out that lenghty survey.  At the same time, Martijn Wever of Avelon (who represents the SAP Workflow folks at VNSG) and Stephane Haeltermann (who founded the LinkedIn group 'SAP Business Workflow') also started to gather information about the main pain points we SAP Workflow Architects (OK, developers) suffer.

Martijn (left) and Stephane (R)

There was a ton of feedback!  It was a lot of information from many sources and it was also really important.  (Note: If you are filling out a survey about something you care about, use the 'write-in' sections.  That's where the most meat is.)  The survey tool was able to generate some nice pie charts and bar charts.  The key was that so many people had so many of the same pain-points.   And then the question became "Wow, now that we have this information, what the heck are we going to do with it?"

Enter serendipity.

Tammy and I (besides being ASUG volunteers) also happen to be fortunate to be called SAPMentors.  And Ginger Gatling was - up until the recent past - our main point of contact in SAP for all things Workflow.  In talking with Ginger, and in talking in various Mentor chats, it became clear that:

a) Some of the people most skilled in SAP Business Workflow were feeling left out in the cold, forced to work with the BOR editor (also known as sticks and dirt) while the bleeding edge folks could work in SE24

b) We needed to represent - not just the America's - but the global community - since so much of the feedback came from so many geographies

c) We needed someone at SAP to listen to us

A covert group was formed, calling ourselves the Workflow Influence Team.  You may have heard whisperings about us.  We have the twitter handle @sap_wit.  We consist of: Ginger Gatling, Thorsten Franz, Matt Harding, Mike Pokraka, Tammy Powlas and myself.  We had some great material to work with, and we thought we knew what we wanted. So here we are, below, no more hiding!

 

Ginger Gatling led the charge by connecting us with people at SAP Education - one of the top 'wishes' was for the Workflow Certification course to be offered.  It has not been offered since 2006, and we expect it will be offered this year.

Meanwhile, Peter McNulty was forging ahead, trying to identify a point-of-contact for us.  After a couple of tries, we found Eduardo Chiocconi, SAP Product Manager for Netweaver BPM. 

And, I truly believe that somewhere in the vast SAP Mothership in Walldorf, some as-yet-unnamed person was secretly planning - planning the demise of the dreaded BOR editor.

More than that?  There was also a group of folks in the Human Capital Management area who were developing a 'Lean' inbox - which doesn't require Portals.  Hmmmm.

Even better?  Performance analysts (again, back at the SAP Mothership) were also working on alleviating system loads due to the performance of key background jobs, without which no SAP Workflow system can run.

Meanwhile, Tammy Powlas was populating the newly-formed E-Learning category on SAP Community Network with answers to the most frequently asked questions.  Check our her excellent tips and tricks here.

Thorsten Franz and Jon Reed had a blast with their 'The Utter Sexiness of Workflow' podcast - available for your listening pleasure here.

Matt Harding was putting together a Streamwork activity called 'The Search for Atlantis' which has been a headliner on SAP Community Network for weeks.  You can get to his blog The specified item was not found.

And what has this all to do with you?  Today at the webcast Eduardo showed some surprising developments.   An SE24-like editor for the BOR.  A 'Lean Inbox'.  Performance enhancements.  Tigher integration with BRFPlus.  Workflow Certification!!!

I am absolutely not claiming that the SAP Mentors who make up SAP_WIT are responsible for these long-awaited changes.  But I strongly believe that we put forward a strong business case, and SAP heard our passion.  And since we had the numbers to back it up (ASUG Survey, VNSG data, LinkedIn Group data) I think SAP realized that people are really using SAP Workflow, and Eduardo was allowed to go public with these enhancements.

Would SAP have shown us what's coming in 7.3.1 - related to SAP Business Workflow and BRF and BPM?  Sure.  But I don't know when, and I do think that ASUG, VNSG, and SAP Mentors helped get the message OUT.  So you can see what is coming down the pike, so we can (maybe?) hope for these to be backportable to the releases we are still on, so we can look into using BPM and BRFPlus moving forward.

Maybe this was all serendipity, and maybe it was the SAP Community (all of you) and the SAPMentors banding together to try to make something happen. 


Maybe SAP does listen and respond.

As for the back-portability of these improvements, I think SAP needs to hear from YOU, the customers and partners, about how important they are, and what release you are on.  I hereby challenge you to be bold - write a comment to this blog - let's see where that gets us!

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