SAP Workflow Terminology

Workflow in SAP

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Brief Overview of SAP Business Workflow Terminology

There are 9 primary terms that you should be aware of when learning SAP Business Workflow. This Workflow Tutorial will describe each of these in detail. These are by no means complete, but will give you a very basic idea on what most of the key terms used. We will discuss these terms in the light of the leave application example discussed earlier. We will call the Leave Application Form as “Notification of Absence” going forward.



An event represents an action in the system.

Workflow Event

For example, “Creating Absence Notification” is an ACTION. For this action the SAP Application creates an event. This even in turn triggers a workflow.


Workflow routes the document among different persons. Each person performs certain activities. Whatever goal the workflow is intended to achieve, can be put inside an object type. Consider an Object as a Structure ( Abstract Enclosure ) with certain data and some logic. For example, there is a standard object type called FORMABSENC in SAP. This is used for the notification of leave. It has certain data and some logic. If you are familiar with Object Oriented Programming then this concept will be pretty familiar and straight forward.

Workflow Object


  • KEY ( Absence Notification Number )
  • ATTRIBUTES (Created By , Entered on , Status etc )


  • METHODS ( Create, Approve etc )
  • EVENTS ( Created, Deleted etc )

An OBJECT is a specific instance of the OBJECT TYPE. So, if an user created a Leave Application Form Object of type FORMABSENC , an instance with a unique number ( say 100001 ) is created.

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An SAP workflow task represents an Activity. It serves a purpose here. Some examples of tasks are Revise Absence Notification, Approve Absence Notification etc. The task Approve Absence Notification performs a business function – Submits the relevant absence notification form to the manager and on approval , it changes the status of the form to Approved and so on.

Workflow Task

Now, how does it perform this function ? It follows the logic created inside the method of an object type. So , in simple terms, a workflow TASK refers to the method of an object type.

Business Workplace & Work Item

Business Workplace is a work area that an SAP user can use to carry out business Processes.

SAP Business Workplace and Work item

For example, the business workplace of an user could be his inbox. Let us take the example of the absence notification again. The employee submits the notification to his manager. The manager receives the request in his inbox to approve the absence notification. The manager opens it , checks the details and approves the same. The request that the manager receives in this inbox is called a WORK ITEM. In technical terms, a work item is a run time request of a task in real time. Inbox contains not just the work items – it may as well contain simple text message. Examples include Notification messages, that need not be acted upon and are just used to inform the owner.

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