In an earlier blog I have introduced the Contact Template of the SAP NetWeaver Gateway Productivity Accelerator for Microsoft (GWPAM). Now I cover the Workflow Template that generates an Outlook Add-in specifically dealing with SAP workflows.
With SAP NetWeaver Gateway, you can expose workflow tasks from the SAP Business Workflow through an OData service, more specifically the User Decision steps and Activity steps of a workflow. Typically these are steps where an information worker needs to take a decision, e.g. an approval of a leave request.
These workflow tasks closely resemble Microsoft Outlook Tasks, where the information worker could take a decision directly from Microsoft Outlook. In this blog I will explore how GWPAM can generate an Outlook Add-in that exactly addresses this need.
Workflow for SAP NetWeaver Gateway
Before you can use the Workflow Template of GWPAM, you have to configure SAP NetWeaver Gateway for workflow processing. If you haven’t done so already, then please take a look at these resources that will help you in setting it up:
- How To Enable Business Workflow for SAP NetWeaver Gateway 2.0
- Customizing SAP NetWeaver Gateway Workflow
- How To...Expose SAP Business Workflow with SAP NetWeaver Gateway - Dialog Activities
Once the workflow configuration is in place, you should have a properly working service WFSERVICE (or WFHUBSERVICE) provided by your Gateway system. This service is required by GWPAM.
GWPAM Workflow Template
With the help of the Workflow Template of GWPAM, you can generate coding for an Outlook Add-in that will turn the workflow items into Outlook Tasks. A wizard guides you through related steps. You will notice that, compared to the Contact Template, there are next to no choices you have to make. This is because the Workflow Template has been tailored to service WFSERVICE.
Here a sample screenshot of the wizard:
Note: Even though the wizard lets you chose the New Item Name, it will be ignored as the WFSERVICE does not offer to create new workflows. It strictly only lets you act on a workflow item, e.g. take a decision, reserve, release or forward it. Here you can learn more about this service.
GWPAM generates an Outlook 2010 Add-in project with C# coding that will offer functionality like:
- Triggering the Query operation leveraging different authentication methods (Basic, SAML, X.509)
- Each workflow item contained in the Query result will be turned into a new Outlook Task. (If a Task already exists for this particular workflow item then it will be updated.)
- Each Outlook Task has an additional menu and ribbon that provides additional features for actions like applying the decision, forwarding or reserving.
Example of a workflow item as Outlook Task:
Please see this video for a short demonstration on how to use the GWPAM Workflow Template.
Take it further
In an easy and quick manner, GWPAM creates a prototype for you. It is a fully functional Outlook Add-in that allows you to act on a workflow item. If it doesn’t address all your needs, then you can take the generated coding and adjust it to your requirements.
One area that you might want to enhance: The generated coding does not provide any contextual information about the workflow item. Here you could use the Extensibility Elements and the provided user exits (more information here) to enhance the workflow item with additional information for the decision maker. In the C# coding you would then query the Extensibility Elements and add them to the Outlook Task (e.g. in the body of the Task). But this will have to wait for another blog.
I am looking forward to hearing about your experience and thoughts about the GWPAM Workflow Template in the comments below.