SAP HCM forms creation has changed dramatically with the release of SAP ERP 6.0 EHP6, HR Renewal 1.0, and the new Floor Plan Manager (FPM).
How can you prepare for the latest options for forms development and workflow with HCM Processes and Forms?
Brandon Toombs and Justin Morgalis, authors of the SAP PRESS book SAP ERP HCM Processes and Forms answered questions posted by our members on March 20 in the HR Forum discussion thread. M.S. Hein, editor of SAPexperts’ HR Hub, moderated the discussion.
Review the full thread in the HR Forum, or read our edited transcript here:
M.S. Hein: Welcome to today’s HR Forum on HCM Processes & Forms.
I’m pleased to be joined today by Justin Morgalis and Brandon Toombs, authors of the SAP PRESS book SAP ERP HCM Processes and Forms – and Brandon is also recently back from our HR 2013 event in Las Vegas.
Today, they will review the discussion thread for the next hour and posting answers to your P&F questions. They will post their answers directly in the Forum thread.
Welcome, Justin and Brandon, and congratulations on your latest book!
I see you have a number of questions waiting already, and more to come, I’m sure, so I’ll let you get started.
Justin Morgalis: Good afternoon, everyone. I am here and slightly terrified. But I am also excited, so let's do this!
Brandon Toombs: Thanks for having us! Justin and I really looking forward to the chat. Hope our typing keeps up!
KiranjotHoonjan: Question: How does SAP ERP HCM Processes and Forms compare to Adobe Interactive Forms and when would you use one over the other?
Brandon Toombs: I will state up front that I am biased toward the new FPM forms.
I went over this in the book, but the short of it is that that using the web UI is a cleaner user experience, is more aligned with user expectations, eliminates support issues, and also removes licensing issues.
Unless your company is just in love with the Adobe Interactive front end, I'd say go with FPM. While SAP is stating they'll support the Adobe approach, it's clear that they're only investing in the FPM UI at this point (other than for printing, as we'll talk about later.)
Justin Morgalis: To add to what Brandon said, a lot depends on your level of investment in the Adobe Interactive technology.
Given that there is a licensing cost for each Adobe Interactive form, and the FPM forms are free, it is hard to justify that expenditure. However, that is not to say that the FPM forms are without flaw.
The Adobe forms have a much higher degree of client-side control via scripting. However, this is another language that needs to be learned. The FPM forms are all WDA, and your organizations skill level with that is likely a lot higher than with the Adobe scripting.
Monica Borden-Ooley: Can you recommend a best-business practice for how to deal with retroactively dated changes via forms? Thanks!
The best approach is typically to prevent all past-dated forms, by managing the effective date of the forms.
However, this is not always practical. I am dealing with this issue at my current client and it is often a big cultural issue, especially when turning over control to managers.
If you cannot prevent past-dated forms, it often helps to mitigate the impact of those retro changes to put in a check for any future dated changes that might be wiped out by the current process and, if there is such a change, stop the process, and/or forward it to HR to resolve.
Monica Borden-Ooley: Makes sense. Thanks Justin!
sheaMatt: Hi Justin and Brandon,
How will the new options impact multilingual forms?
Brandon: Here's some good news with FPM. If you use the SAP standard data elements the multi lingual support is built right in: the labels and value helps will appear translated by default. Especially on the labels front, this did not happen in the Adobe approach.
This is not to say that everything will automatically translate. If you create your own text views, there will be some work there either by logging in to the other environment or by using SE61. We do have a chapter on multilingual that touches on this in the book.
JohnHolland: Do these changes/enhancements impact the choice of Smartforms, especially as they are used in E-Recruiting?
Brandon Toombs: Thanks for the question John. Hope all is well in upstate SC!
This is a good question because it allows us to talk about the distinction between smartforms, which render in PDF and adobe interactive forms which also render in PDF.
Smartforms don't really require adobe interactive forms or the rendering engine the Adobe Document Services (ADS). So therefore smartforms are not impacted by either approach you take to SAP forms.
Monica Borden-Ooley: Can completed and approved forms be turned into a .pdf document? Also, are the documents and attachments treated the same with regard to security access?
What is the security around documents? It is possible to see the "approval" on a completed form?
Where are documents and attachments stored? Thank you!
Brandon Toombs: Good question! I actually did an SCN blog on the subject which I posted yesterday. I won't go into the details too much here except to say that SAP has decided to use Adobe to handle the print support.
I understand why as it's a way to meet a need that a lot of customers will have without a whole lot of extra development necessitated by the internal team. Still, would have preferred an automatic generation of this as I note in the comments.
Monica Borden-Ooley: Okay, I'll check out your blog. Thanks Brandon!
Sorin Caraiani: Hi,
1. Is there any equivalent of the Java/Adobe script in the FPM form?
2. I have HR Renewal 1.0 installed, but I see no example FPM forms. Do they come as an OSS note or is it something wrong with our installation?
1. There is no client side scripting available with the FPM forms.
There is a nice blog out by Raja Sekhar Kuncham called FPM Forms Scripting that takes you through how to do some similar tasks in the FPM forms.
2. I would recommend installing up to HR Renewal SP05, and then checking with the Reconcile Processes button in Design Time (HRASR_DT).
If they are not there in your client 000, there is a problem with your installation.
KiranjotHoonjan: FPM form option is only available with HR Renewal and that is an Add-on for SAP - correct?
Justin Morgalis: Yes. That is correct.
Jeremy Masters: Hi guys,
Just wanted to say a quick hello and "Thank You" for the great book you authored together. For anyone that does not have it, you should buy it on the SAP PRESS website.
Also, for those that are on Twitter, I follow both Justin and Brandon.
I have no questions at this time
Kir Chern: Hi Justin and Brandon,
1. I intend to develop a custom HCM P&F with the FPM Form option. How do I then make the form accessible online (ESS/MSS)? Can I park or launch it from Report Launchpad (txn : LPD_CUST) ?
2. For service SAP_PA, the infotype must be in the decoupled infotype framework. That means the switch CCURE:PC_UI = X and the infotypes used have to be defined with the settings permitted in certain/all circumstances. Is this correct and are there any other settings that one should pay attention to?
3. For the services SAP_PD and SAP_PT, do I have to activate the new PD/PT infotype framework like the ones for SAP_PA -- and if yes, where is the IMG for it?
Justin Morgalis: Great questions. Almost too great .
The answer is the Launchpad for both ESS and MSS. You will add the application as a WDA app in your launchpad entries and provide it with a series of parameters, including initiator role and process name.
As for the decoupled framework, I believe that is correct. I can't think of any more settings of the top of my head that you would need.
Jay Bangalore: How do the HR process forms fit into the mobile space from a usability perspective is it easy to use on mobile devices (iPad, Android, etc.)?
Brandon Toombs: This is a good question and one I think that a lot of people will be asking.
My understanding from talking with the solutions team on this is that there are currently no plans for SAP to develop this in house. Since this is a HUGE need that a lot of customers are starting to have, third-party applications are working to plug this gap. I know Worklogix, Roc, and Aragon are working on this -- just to name a few.
Having started some of these conversations with a customer of mine, I can tell you that if you want to head down the custom path I would recommend you consider not just the UI but other critical issues such as deployment, version management, connection pooling, and authentication.
Jeremy Masters: Thanks for the shout-out Brandon. Yes, Worklogix is one of the certified vendors within the SAP eco-system to provide mobile solutions for the Forms solution. You can check out some information about that here.
Brandon Toombs: As a plug for Jeremy, Worklogix has a good track record with customers I've worked with. They have worked with SAP technology for a while and are responsive to customers. Pretty sure someone other than Jeremy writes the software though as he's a full time author (6 books now)?
MarkMichel: Is there an easy way to migrate existing customers who currently use the Adobe form interface for HCM Processes and Forms to the web dynpro interface available in HR Renewal?
Brandon Toombs: Mark-
There is no official migration tool for this but the good news is that all of the backend work should function in the new UI with only minor modifications. Of course, any work that has gone into scripting your application logic into the front end will need to be evaluated.
To build your front end, Robert Moeller, the head of the HR Renewal Solutions team said in his session at HR2013 that they recommend this approach:
1. Copy your process that you're looking to port and change the scenario to FPM
2. Copy the component configuration for an example FPM form and assign it to your new form
It's also important to note that you can mix the forms--have some older ones on Adobe and new ones on FPM while you're making the transition. Does not have to be all or nothing.
MarkMichel: Great. Thank you!
imbegin: Hi - question in regards to "user events" on the forms.
When defining a user event on the form (simple validation for example), upon refresh, it triggers the PA service and does a complete "check and send" which checks all fields, instead of the ones that are defined as part of the user event. Is there any way to prevent this from happening?
Justin Morgalis: User events have always been a pain. There is a great blog by Christopher Solomon breaking down how User Events work (and quite frankly, don't work). I would recommend reading his very thorough material on this topic.
The intention of SAP seems to be to use Field Groups within the User Events to limit what service operations are being called, but it does not always work intuitively. Read Chris' blogs on this, because it is a lengthy topic.
I will add this though; see if you can utilize a service's INITIALIZE method to your advantage if you are just trying to refresh certain data points.
Cyndi Garza: Can you update both OM and PA with FPM in one process (ex: Modify position and then place a person in that same position)?
Does FPM utilize previously built dynamic actions?
Justin Morgalis: Cyndi,
These are very common questions when starting any HCMP&F implementation.
At this point, HCMP&F does not utilize any dynamic actions. HCMP&F uses the decoupled infotype framework to access infotype logic. Also, at this point, a fair amount of custom coding would be needed in order to do a combined OM/PA process, due to each type of process using a fundamentally different delivered service (SAP_PA vs SAP_PD).
Under the current framework, you would have to choose a starting point, likely the OM side of it, and then add in a custom WF step calling a custom helper class called after the background save step to accomplish the PA part.
There is the hope of good news around the bend though. According to Robert Moeller at HR2013, both of these items are on the SAP wish list and you may see dynamic action support sooner rather than later.
avadh: Justin: I read before that SAP was working on 'dynamic actions' like functionality in Forms.
Is this functionality available in latest release?
Brandon Toombs: You are hearing correctly that SAP is working on adding dynamic action support into the HCMP&F framework, but that support is not yet available in the current release.
avadh: Thanks for confirmation!
Jay Bangalore: How easy/difficult is it to build workflow based processess using FPM Forms?
Brandon Toombs: Jay,
I'll answer this one from 2 perspectives:
1. If you've never worked with HCMPF workflow before: I would say that, compared to workfows in the rest of HR, HCMPF workflows are much easier and more modular. There are a lot of building blocks such as tasks, rules, etc. that you can often just plug in.
I got to write this chapter in the book, and so I got to dive even deeper than I had with clients; I can say that I think it's underappreciated how powerful these are.
2. If you have HCMPF workflows already for Adobe: If you have already implemented in Adobe with workflows, then the effort is not automatic. There are new tasks that are used to launch dialogue work items so plan on a little effort here.
Monica Borden-Ooley: Do existing user exits have to be re-written or re-done in HCM P&F? Thanks!
Justin Morgalis: Any logic built into the decoupled infotype framework will be called by HCMP&F. If these user exits exist outside that framework, they would need to be re-created.
Where you might do this depends on the type of logic that you are talking about. Some might be handled via the decoupled infotype framework and some might belong as process configuration.
ManojGowravaram: We are using FPM forms from HR Renewal 1.0.
Is there a way to have a Template for a process, instead of filling in all the details every time we invoke the process?
There seems to be a template feature in Adobe interactive forms but we could not find it for WDA forms.
Justin Morgalis: I have not seen anything like for the FPM forms. Saving a draft is still available, but I do not think that is what you are talking about.
Sorin Caraiani: At a first glance, FPM provides a nice tool to do simple things but I don't see much flexibility.
I was imagining the capability to include standard component (same employee info in all forms) or call a WD app from the form, but I don't see any of that.
Did I no look in the right place or does this not exist?
Justin Morgalis: A sort of reusable header? I really like that idea, but have not seen support for it yet. Given how new this product is, though, it is quite possible that it is something that gets support moving forward.
Good feature to request, though, from SAP.
uday: Can you please explain how the MSS in linked to HCM P&F? What essential objects should we concentrate on when designing a form which flows from E-recruitment to ERP HCM or any similar solution? Does this have any say in Success Factors at all!
Brandon Toombs: Uday –
That's several questions! And good ones too...
>> Can you please explain how the MSS in linked to HCM P&F.
...It depends! Regardless, you need to add the config role 'HRASRB' as capable of launching the form.
If you want to enable in MSS using the new MSS UI, you'll also need to add to the launchpad using LPD_CUST
>> What essential objects should we concentrate on when designing a form which flows from E-recruitment to ERP HCM or any similar solution? Does this have any say in SuccessFactors at all?
I'm going to answer this by putting my SAP/SFSF integration hat on for the moment. The inbound new hiring scenario does not utilize the HCMPF for new hiring. Instead the data goes to a PA48-like staging table to enable PA40 processing.
I'm complaining about this and I hope they change the approach for this in later releases of the Integration.
>> EREC to HR uses HCM PF: This officially requires XI as well although there are ways around this.
KiranjotHoonjan: Can you use FPM forms without using HR Process configuration? e.g. to generate Applause letters etc.?
Brandon Toombs: Yes, you can use FPM forms without HCMPF.
FPM forms are a generic SAP new web development front end UI technology.
KiranjotHoonjan: Thank you, Brandon and Justin, for answering my questions.
imbegin: Does SAP have any future direction to incorporate the forms "start applicaiton" with the new HR Renewal screens?
We have a current enhancement that we're working on to allow for Mgrs and HR to kick off forms directly from the nice Org Structure view that is now offered.
Based on the object you select in the structure, you would see the forms that apply. Much like they would use the current HR Renewal to kick of direct infotype updates.
Justin Morgalis: In MSS, as of EHP5 with the MSS Add On or EHP6, there is standard support for what you are talking about.
For HR Administrators, the answer is not as obvious. The future direction of SAP for the HR Administrator seems to be HR Professional, within the NWBC.
The new content for this is delivered via PFCG role. With NetWeaver 7.3, you can import PFCG roles into portal roles.
If you want to build your own role, you can access HRPAO_PAOM_MASTERDATA, a WDA app, intended to be used within HR Professional. It allows processes to be launched on employees or org units and positions and utilizes the launchpad menus similar to MSS.
Kir Chern: For the services SAP_PD and SAP_PT, do I have to activate the new PD/PT infotype framework like the ones for SAP_PA, and if yes, where is the IMG for it?
Justin Morgalis: The new OM framework is a very new development so I do not know if you have to activate it.
I think what you are referring to though is found in the IMG under Personnel Management --> Personnel & Organization --> Infotypes. This IMG node gets activated when you turn on business function HCM_PAO_CI_1.
KiranjotHoonjan: If you could list any limitations of FPM forms compare to Adobe interactive forms that will be great.
My $.02 is that it's well worth this tradeoff given the improvements in maintainability, supportability and licensing.
Monica Borden-Ooley: How are existing user exits handled?
By the way, thank you for answering our questions and thanks for the great book on HCM P&F! It is very helpful and I am enjoying it. Best Regards!
Justin Morgalis: If you are referring to user exits on infotype logic, they will not be accessed as a part of the HCMP&F processing. Only infotype logic built into the decoupled framework will get run.
If I am not answering your question, please keep at it. I want to make sure I answer this for you.
Brandon Toombs: Thanks all for attending! Great questions. Looking forward to see what great forums this group will be developing over time.
A few plugs:
1. Check out our book on SAP-Press on HCM P&F
2. Follow us on twitter at @brandontoombs @sap_jmorgalis
3. Feel free to email us directly: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
M.S. Hein: Thanks to all who posted questions and followed the discussion! And thanks again to Justin and Brandon for all of the great information and taking the time to answer these questions today.
A full summary of all the questions and answers will be available here in the HR Forum later this week. If there are any questions remaining that Brandon or Justin did not get a chance to answer during the hour, don’t fret. They will answer all the questions posted, so check back again to see their answers.
For more about Justin and Brandon’s new book, be sure to get all the details at the SAP PRESS Bookstore.
You can also check out these articles on SAPexperts on the same topic: SAP process and forms.