Discovering SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition Innovations: Situation Handling

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Introduce Situation Handling
  • Understand the Key Concepts and Features in Situation Handling

Situation Handling Introduction

Pain Points in Business Situations

As business users go about their daily tasks, there may be certain recurring issues that go unnoticed if they do not recall or manually search information across transactions and applications. Having recurring undiscovered issues such as upcoming deadlines, expiring contracts, pending confirmations or approvals, and approaching thresholds can affect your business. Acting on these situations too late can lead to penalties, whether that means additional costs, frustrated staff, or even loss of customers.

How can we bring these issues to the attention of the right users and avoid negative consequences? Situation Handling supports you effectively handling all kinds of issues in your business. You can select from a wide range of standard use cases both in SAP S/4HANA and SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition with no additional license required.

What is Situation Handling?

Situation Handling is a framework within SAP S/4HANA that increases the quality and efficiency of your business processes by detecting exceptional circumstances automatically and informing specific groups of users depending on the defined teams and responsibilities. By bringing these issues to the attention of the right users, we allow them to immediately take follow-up actions, speeding up the resolution of critical business events.

A "situation" captures a current business event, its circumstances, and results. Situation Handling supports the following two kinds of situations:

  • Object-based situations: Situations for a specific business object, such as a contract, a service order, an invoice, or a material. You can create the conditions that specify when a situation is created, for example, when the status of an object changes or when a threshold is surpassed.
  • Message-based situations: Situations that refer to warning and error messages occurring in system runs or reports. Instead of defining conditions, you select system messages that create situations.

When to Use Situation Handling

Situation Handling focuses on automatically identifying exceptions, providing related context information, and suggesting follow up actions. If the answer to one or more of the following questions is YES, then Situation Handling could be the right choice:

  • Do you have specific issues with a significant frequency?
  • Do you want to proactively notify responsible users about urgent issues?
  • Do you want to actively confirm when a task is completed successfully?
  • Do you want to get insights into how issues are handled?
  • Are there certain scenarios that are not part of a workflow?
  • Do you need structured business data for automation and machine learning purposes?

Situation Handling Versus Workflows

Workflows are well-defined, end-to-end business processes. They involve user actions such as approvals, which trigger the next process step. Workflows are especially important for compliance matters, progress overviews, and ensuring processes are executed as intended.

Situation Handling focuses on business process snippets, mainly exceptional circumstances like process delays and deviations.

Situation Handling Versus Business Event Handling

Business Event Handling is a basic technology that signals status transitions of business objects through events, for instance, a new object instance created, an object instance updated, or a PO created from PR. Based on the publish-subscribe pattern, the central event handling component can receive events from multiple senders that can be consumed by receivers who have subscribed to them.

Situation Handling uses business events as one trigger type to evaluate if a new situation occurred. The Situation Handling framework evaluates the data against a condition and notifies the responsible users that situation instances are created. The situation is indicated in corresponding apps in combination with related information and actions. In the background, the lifecycle and data context of situation instances is tracked which can be used for further analysis.

Key Concepts and Features in Situation Handling

With Situation Handling, we deliver a wide range of standard situation templates across lines of business. A situation template predefines a business situation that you want to bring to the attention of specific members in your organization by using the Situation Handling framework. Standard situation templates are preconfigured by SAP and are intended for specific use cases. See a list of all available use cases for SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition.

Situation templates serve as a blueprint to create situation types. A situation type defines how a situation instance is triggered, who is informed about it, and what actions can be performed to solve it. When creating a situation type based on a template, you can change and redefine many of the preconfigured settings, including the texts that are shown to the end users when a situation occurs. However, the underlying data structure on which a standard template is based cannot be changed. The integration with Responsibility Management allows you to define the recipients for situation types based on teams or responsibility rules, depending on the use case.

Situation instances of an enabled situation type are generated according to the situation type settings:

  • For object-based situations: Whenever the conditions defined for the situation type are fulfilled.
  • For message-based situations: Depends on the run type settings for scheduled application jobs.

When a situation instance occurs, the specified end users can be informed by texts that are displayed through the following various channels:

  • A list entry in the My Situations and My Situations - Message-Based apps.
  • A situation message in the corresponding business apps.
  • An automatic notification in the SAP Fiori launchpad.
  • Optional email notifications that the end user can opt to receive in the SAP Fiori launchpad's settings.

The last three features are only available for object-based situations.

Over time, situations can be monitored, including the occurrence and the lifecycle of situation instances with respect to their status and related business objects. Situation Handling allows you to track and collect comprehensive analytical data on business situations and how they are handled, which helps you monitor and continuously improve your business processes.

Object-Based Situations

Key users can define object-based situations in the Manage Situation Types app based on standard situation templates.

How to Create Situation Templates

  • Create a situation type as a copy of a situation template, for example, Procurement use case Contract is Ready as Source of Supply.
  • Maintain admin information such as ID, Name, and Display Sequence. If there are several situation types enabled for the same business object, you can define the sequence in which you want to display the situation instances in the situation message.
  • Define the conditions based on which situation instances are created, and for which notifications are sent. These can be configured by adding filter values and further conditions or by deleting predefined conditions. By checking Send Notification, you are enabling notifications to be displayed in the SAP Fiori launchpad (and optionally as an email notification) when a condition is met.
  • Personalize the in-app text that is displayed in the consuming app.
  • Adjust the notification texts for situations that are displayed in the SAP Fiori launchpad when a situation occurs. Additionally, you can decide if you want to send notifications for each individual situation instance or just one aggregated notification, as well as whether you want to resend notifications whenever open situation instances are updated.
  • Define who is responsible for situations, who can see them in the My Situations app, and who receives notifications. Under Responsibility by Teams, you can view which teams are enabled for the situation type. Create Team directly opens the object page for creating a new team in the Manage Teams and Responsibilities app. Under Responsibility Rules, the rule name is directly displayed if there is a rule defined for the template, or you can choose ADD rule. Responsibility rules are preconfigured by SAP but can be enhanced through custom business logic.
  • Define whether you want to monitor the occurrence and status updates of situation instances by flagging Monitor Instances.

Monitor Situations

Key users can also get insights into the occurrence of situation instances and their lifecycle with the Monitor Situations app, an analytical list page. This includes monitoring capabilities indicating if a user navigated to a situation from a notification or by opening an app directly, as well as providing information about how a situation was resolved. In addition, context data can be extracted with the whitelisted API Business Situation - Read. This can be processed further on any platform, for example, for machine learning purposes. These features are not yet available for message-based situations.

Launchpad Notifications

Once the situation type is enabled, Situation Handling uses notifications in the SAP Fiori launchpad to automatically inform specific end users about object-based situations that they need to be aware of and handle as soon as possible. Depending on the use case, the end user can directly navigate from the notification to the app where the business situation is displayed together with related information and related actions to resolve it.

Email Notifications

End users can choose to get additional email notifications if needed. From the email notification, the user can either navigate to the launchpad notification or directly to the app that displays the business situation, depending on the implementation. To receive email notifications for object-based situations, you can go to the Settings (in the profile icon), select Notifications from the panel on the left, and check the E-mail option for the required Notification Type. The email address considered is the one defined in the user profile. The email option is only available in the settings after the first notification is received in the SAP Fiori launchpad.

Launchpad and email notifications can be disabled by end users for the selected notification type in the settings. When re-enabling a notification type, the user will only see new notifications received from that time onwards.

My Situations App

Finally, all the open situations can also be displayed in the My Situations app. Similarly to the notification in the SAP Fiori launchpad, you can also navigate to the corresponding business apps where the situation details are displayed and from where you can solve the situations.

Message-Based Situations

Key users can define message-based situations in the Manage Situation Types - Message-Based app as a blueprint for business use cases. In this case, you can create a new situation type or situation template. When creating a new situation template, you must select the predefined situation scenario that you want to base it on. When creating a new situation type, you have to select either the SAP situation template or the custom situation template that you want to base it on. The responsible users for message-based situations are also defined via integrated Responsibility Management in the same manner as object-based situations.

Additionally, key users can monitor the occurrence of warning and error messages in the system through the Collect Statistics option, which is available in the list view of the Manage Situation Types - Message-Based app.

End users can display all message-based situations in their area of responsibility in the My Situations - Message-Based app. From the overview table, you can navigate to the situation detail pages where related actions help you solve those situations.

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