Managing Stalled Workflows

Hello Everyone,

In this fast-moving corporate culture, every business wants their internal processes should be fast and in motion. Any stoppage or stalled operation not only effects the efficiency of process but also hampers its employee proactivity.

Today I would express my experience on one of such hindrance in our HR process that our employees, especially manager faces due to their dynamic work responsibilities.

Problem Statement:

In a dynamic work environment, apart from people management a manager must perform various other activities in their domain. In some scenarios if they belong to sales or production department their most of the time goes in offline activities and they hardly login to their devices to perform HR operation related activities in SuccessFactors.

Due to this the number of stalled workflow numbers are getting increased in organization and HR’s need to manually track and push manager or HRIS to complete/approve these workflows.

Proposed Solution.

After getting this problem statement, I have investigated on the options and tried to find out if there is a way to cancel/decline a workflow if it is not approved until certain days. Unfortunately, SAP does not have this mechanism available for their customers. I have proposed this enhancement to SAP and if you feel it is a good idea then request you to please vote on the SAP’s Customer Influence site (Idea # 280632)

Coming back to problem statement, I have summarized here other available options through which we can manage the stalled workflow issues in our organization.

  1. Sending Reminder
  2. Auto Approving the workflow
  3. Escalating pending workflow to next level

Let’s discuss all these options in detail

Sending Reminder


With past release SuccessFactors has given option to send recurring reminders to the current approver if no action has been taken on the workflow till a certain day. Enabling this option will send recurring reminders to current approver on a specific interval defined on workflow or on schedule job until there is any action on the workflow by current approver. This action can be anything apart from approving the workflow – eg – just adding a comment.

Pic%201%3A%20Example%20of%20a%20workflow%20with%20Remind%20in%20Days%20Option

Pic 1: Example of a workflow with Remind in Days Option

Let’s understand this with an example –

Suppose for a leave of absence workflow you have set a reminder of 2 days by updating the field “Remind in days” as 2. Here, if there has been no action taken by the approver in last two days from initiating the workflow, SF will send an automated email to current approver to approve the workflow on day 2. Suppose the approver did not take any action & ignore the email, SF will send another reminder on Day 4 and so on Day 6, Day 8, Day 10….

Now assume approver on getting the first reminder instead of approving the request, just add a comment on workflow and close it in this case, system will wait for another 2 days from the date workflow has been modified to send fresh reminders to current approver.

How to Configure

To enable “Remind in Days” field, you need to enable hris-field “remind-indays” in the corporate data model.

Admin Center – > Import/Export Corporate Data Model.

Export the data model template, open it with a text editor & update template. Below is an example of code that can be updated.

</hris-field>

<hris-field id=”remind-indays” visibility=”both”>

<label>Remind In Days</label>

<label xml:lang=en-GB”>Remind In Days</label>

</hris-field>

If you don’t have access to corporate data model, please get in touch with your implementation partner to update the template.

Pic%202%3A%20Adding%20Remind%20in%20Days%20field%20in%20XML

Pic 2: Adding Remind in Days field in XML

Once Remind in Day field setup for your workflow is completed, you need to schedule a daily job (Job Type – Workflow Action Reminder) under provisioning to execute the reminder for the concern recipients.

Pic%203%3A%20Job%20needed%20to%20run%20Remind%20in%20Days%20notification

Pic 3: Job needed to run Remind in Days notification

Note: You have an option of setting the frequency of reminder both on workflow as well as on the Job and can be used based on your requirement as –

  • If you want to send reminder based on workflows, then you need to update “Remind in Days field” on workflow and keep “remind in days” field under job parameters blank
  • If you want to maintain standard reminder frequency for all kind of workflow, then you need to update” Remind in Days” field under job parameter and keep “Remind in days” field on workflow blank.
  • If “Remind in days” filed has been updated on both workflow and on Job parameter, system will prefer the value updated on the background job.

Auto Approving the workflow


Another solution SuccessFactors offer to its client is to auto approve a workflow if it has been stalled for a certain date. This can be achieved by adding “Days until Auto Approval” field on your workflow configuration page.

Pic%204%3A%20Example%20of%20workflow%20with%20Auto%20Approval%20Workflow%20option

Pic 4: Example of workflow with Auto Approval Workflow option

How to Configure

To enable “Days until Auto Approval” field, you need to enable “autoApproveInDay” in the corporate data model.

Admin Center – > Import/Export Corporate Data Model.

Export the data model template, open it with a text editor & update template. Below is an example of code that can be updated.

</hris-element id=”wfstepApprover”>

<hris-field id=”autoApproveInDay” visibility=”both”>

<label> Days until Auto Approval </label>

</hris-field>

Pic%205%3A%20Auto%20approval%20field%20in%20xml

Pic 5: Adding workflow auto approval field in XML

If you don’t have access to corporate data model, please get in touch with your implementation partner to update the template.

Once Days until Auto Approval is setup for your workflow is completed, you need to schedule a daily job (Job Type – Workflow Auto Approval) under provisioning to execute the auto approval feature for respective workflows.

Pic%206%3A%20Job%20needed%20for%20workflow%20auto%20approval%20notification

Pic 6: Job needed for workflow auto approval notification

Automatic Workflow Escalation


With the past release SAP has given option to automatically escalate the workflow to a specific user if that workflow has been stalled for the specific number of days. The escalation receiver then become the new approver and the workflow sit in his/her To-Do list. The new approver can work offline with original approver to approve the workflow.

If new approver wants it to get approved by original approver in that case new approver can decline or send back the escalation so that workflow start reflecting under original approver’s To-Do list.

You can create multistep escalation so that if first escalation approver does not take action to certain date, it can be escalated to next step/person.

How to Configure

To enable auto escalation, you need to first enable Escalation field on the workflow.

Admin Center – > Import/Export Corporate Data Model.

Export the data model template, open it with a text editor & update template. Below is an example of code that can be updated.

</hris-field>

<hris-field id=”escalation” visibility=”both”>

<label> Escalation</label>

</hris-field>

Pic%207%3A%20Adding%20Auto%20Escalation%20field%20in%20XML

Pic 7: Adding Auto Escalation field in XML

If you don’t have access to corporate data model, please get in touch with your implementation partner to update the template.

Once the field is enabled next step is to create an escalation path in EC.

Admin Center -> Manage Data -> Create New -> Escalation

Pic%209%3A%20Example%20of%20Auto%20Escalation%20Path

Pic 8: Example of Auto Escalation Path

Escalation step can be defined as follows –

escalationRouteForm – It’s the starting point of the escalation. It can be anyone of these –

  • Current Approver – with whom the workflow is currently pending for approval
  • Original Approver – the actual approver of the workflow
  • Subject Employee – Employee on whom workflow needs to be approved
  • Initiator – the workflow approver

Target Value – To whom workflow needs to be escalated. It can be manager, manager’s manager, or HR

Escalation After Days – No of days after which system trigger escalation notification if no action is taken on the workflow.

Add this escalation path to the “Escalation” field enabled on workflow configuration page.

Pic%2010%3A%20Example%20of%20Auto%20Escalation%20Workflow%20Setup

Pic 9: Example of Auto Escalation Workflow Setup

Once the workflow setup is completed navigate to Admin Center – > e-mail notification template setting and look for below three email templates. You need to open each template and save them by clicking “save changes”. This is an important step as these templates are automatically deployed and need to be saved for the first time to make it default template. If this step is missed notification will not get triggered.

  • Workflow Action Escalate Notification
  • Workflow Action Escalate Revoke Notification
  • Workflow Action Escalate Decline Notification

Pic%2010%3A%20Email%20notifications

Pic 10: Email notifications

Next Step needs to be created a background job (Job Type – Workflow Auto Escalation) under provisioning to execute escalation notifications.

Pic%2011%3A%20Job%20needed%20for%20auto%20escalation%20notification

Pic 11: Job needed for auto escalation notification

Note: Two reminders cannot be running togethers, make them dependent of it.

To Conclude:

These are very simple configuration which can help the organizations to manage their manager’s workload. With the help of these options, we have reduced significant number of stalled workflows in our organization and that is the reason I got motivated to share this experience with you all. Please do share your comment and feedback.

Please follow Rahul Pal for more contents on issues & topics related to SuccessFactors modules. You can also click here to post your questions on SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central and read other blogs on Employee Central by clicking here