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As we're headed into the final weeks of this year, I'd like to reflect on some of the highlights around Situation Handling in SAP S/4HANA Cloud in 2021. Because: A lot has happened!

  • Our product management and engineering teams have engaged even more closely and personally with customers through customer engagement initiatives and user research. Thank you for your overwhelming interest and thank you to those of you who have shared their feedback with us!

  • Together with our peers in Finance, Sales, Procurement, etc., we have released about 30 new situation templates; there are now more than 100 situation templates available out of the box that our customers can benefit from.

  • And, we have built the foundation for increased automation, once a situation is triggered, through Intelligent Situation Automation.

With SAP S/4HANA Cloud 2111, we are now taking the next step towards SAP's vision of SAP S/4HANA Cloud as the "Intelligent ERP". If you are new to Situation Handling, jump to the section in this post What is Situation Handling?

New with SAP S/4HANA Cloud 2111: Situation types activated out of the box

SAP wants to help every customer maximize the value of their subscription to SAP S/4HANA Cloud. Intelligence and innovation are the cornerstone of providing an intelligent business process. To realize instant value, SAP now pre-configures and automatically activates the first situation templates with SAP S/4HANA Cloud 2111. For customers using the application in scope (e.g., Sales Quotation), the corresponding situation notification will be displayed to a user, once the criteria defined for this situation are met (e.g., sales quotation is close to expiring and has a low conversion rate).

Area App name Situation template Object name
Sales Sales Quotation Sales Quotation Is Close to Expiring SD_EXPIRING_QUOTATION
Responsibility Management Manage Teams and Responsibilities Unavailable Team Member in Resp. Mgmt CA_RM_UNAVAILABLE_TEAM_MEMBER
Data Migration Data Migration Status Data Migration Is Completed CA_DATA_MIGRATION_STEP_COMPLETED

Automatically activated situation templates in SAP S/4HANA Cloud 2111

The Situation Handling framework has been available in SAP S/4HANA Cloud for more than three years, since release 1802. Over the past 16 quarterly releases of SAP S/4HANA Cloud, SAP has delivered more than 100 situation templates (see More information). To date, configuring and activating these situation templates depends upon customers to do this manually. When a customer activates a situation template in their SAP S/4HANA Cloud system, a copy of this template is created and can be configured further; SAP refers to this copy as situation type. As part of the automatic activation of situation templates in SAP S/4HANA Cloud, these activation steps are executed automatically using a pre-defined configuration for each situation template.

Please note: SAP will only activate situation types automatically if the situation template in scope has not been configured in a customer's system, yet.

So how does SAP pre-configure these situation templates? And how can you configure them, too?

Defining recipients for notifications

SAP provides two options for defining the recipients of situation notifications in SAP S/4HANA Cloud:

  1. Assign Responsibility by Teams via the teams and users that are maintained in Responsibility Management (scope item 1NJ) in SAP S/4HANA Cloud. The exact naming of teams will likely be unique to your business and reflect the team names used in real life.

  2. Define Responsibility Rules in a situation type based on user roles. The names of user roles (e.g. CREATOR) are identical between customers and make pre-activation of situation types repeatable and reliable.

Let’s take the example of the automatically activated situation type Sales Quotation Is Close to Expiring.
To follow these steps, you will need to use the Fiori-based application in your system that corresponds to the situation template (e.g., Sales Quotation) and you need to have the role of a Business Process Configuration Expert (SAP_BR_ BPC_EXPERT) assigned to your user.

To review the configuration in SAP S/4HANA Cloud, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Manage Situation Types Fiori application in your SAP S/4HANA Cloud system

  2. Search for Sales Quotation Is Close to Expiring

  3. Select the situation type from the filtered list

  4. Open it by clicking on > (at the end of the row)

Overview of available situation types (activated templates) in Fiori application “Manage Situation Types”

Once you have opened the configuration of this situation type, navigate to the Recipients page. Here, you can see the roles that will be notified if the situation type's criteria are met. To ensure that this configuration is applicable to any customer of SAP S/4HANA Cloud irrespective of individual naming conventions in your business, SAP uses responsibility rules to assign the applicable user roles:

  • Quotation creator (CREATOR)

  • Responsible employee (RESPEMPLOYEE)

  • Sales employee (SALESEMPLOYEE)

If required, you can further edit a situation type and make additional changes to it or its list of recipients.

Choose from “Responsibility Rules” in Fiori application “Situation Type”

Once the conditions defined in the situation type are met, the users will receive the notification in SAP S/4HANA Cloud, for example for sales quotations that are close to expiring.

Notification for business users in SAP S/4HANA Cloud (enlarged)

Through the automatic activation of these situation templates, SAP intends to inspire customers and partners to further explore the Situation Handling framework as a core aspect of intelligent business processes, supported by SAP S/4HANA Cloud. SAP encourages IT and domain experts alike to learn more about the available, pre-built situation templates, and to try them out in their environment.


What is Situation Handling?

When it comes to adding intelligence into business processes, one analogy that resonates well is that of a car. For several decades, we have now been used to driver assistance features – be it anti-lock brakes, park distance control, or most recently brake assistants and collision warning systems. And most recently, these technologies are helping prevent accidents before they occur.

In the world of ERP, SAP has been natively embedding the equivalents of collision warning and brake assistants for businesses in SAP S/4HANA Cloud. The framework to accomplish all this is called Situation Handling and it is included in a customer’s subscription for SAP S/4HANA Cloud (or included in a customer's license for SAP S/4HANA release 1809 and newer).

Take the example of a business situation in procurement in which a supplier is unable to deliver the quantity you (as a customer) have ordered. In the days of legacy ERP systems, you would typically lack visibility and notifications about this situation and would most likely find out about the supplier delivery deficit when the shipment arrives and you look at the packing list – depending upon the impact on your production, that can have the impact of a fender bender or, worst case, mean you’re totaled.

Using Situation Handling in SAP S/4HANA Cloud, you can now configure more than 100 pre-built situation templates that aim to make business users aware of business situation before the impact on your business compounds. You can find the complete list of available use cases here. Configuring a situation type usually only takes about 30-45 minutes, making this literally a quick win for your business.

Whether you are new to Situation Handling or are looking to get even more value out of your existing situation types in SAP S/4HANA Cloud — be sure to learn more about it to accelerate your automation journey even further! We love getting your questions and feedback! Please leave a comment below.


More information:

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Andreas Welsch is VP & Head of Intelligent Processes, SAP S/4HANA Product Management at SAP