The Dictionary: Central Object Repository


After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Use the Dictionary to manage and re-use central business objects

The Dictionary: Central Object Repository

The Dictionary

Untraceable process information or inconsistent data creates effort when capturing and documenting business processes. Inconsistent naming conventions, various detail levels of information, or redundancies are common challenges of many data-related systems. In the SAP Signavio Process Manager, the Dictionary enables a central and consistent management of recurring process information.

The Dictionary is the central object management repository of SAP Signavio Process Manager. A dictionary entry represents an object that’s relevant for one or more of your processes. It allows you to manage and reuse specific modeling elements and their attributes.

The benefits:

  • Manage and reuse centrally governed modeling elements to achieve consistent process content, such as uniformed terms and labels.
  • Centrally maintain element changes and adjustments for all linked diagrams.
  • List of diagrams a dictionary entry was used in.

The individual dictionary categories contain objects that usually represent:

  • Responsibilities (Pool, Lanes, extra process participants, customers).
  • IT systems and applications.
  • Documents.
  • Risks and Controls.
  • Others.

Every user in the SAP Signavio Process Manager can access the Dictionary to get an overview of its content and existing entries. To change individual entries further access rights are required.

Creating and editing entries can be done in different ways. See the following options.

Workspace users with a corresponding "write" permission for particular dictionary categories can add new objects directly from the Editor or directly in the Dictionary. All entries can be moved to a related dictionary category of the corresponding element type at any time.

The Dictionary only notifies you if the name of the new entry is already assigned to an existing entry. It is not recommended to have multiple items with identical names, even if it's technically possible to add these entries. 

Editing existing entries applies the changes to all linked models.

Dictionary Items and Entries

If an element has already been linked with a dictionary entry, a book icon appears when you select the element. Once you choose the icon, the dictionary details, and any processes that are linked, appear.

How to Link Dictionary Entries

You can link documents and files to your dictionary entries. Once you select New Dictionary Entry, you can Attach New Documents to that entry.

Reusing Entries in the Editor or QuickModel

The Dictionary appears in various places in the system. Process modelers can look up and access entries from the Editor or QuickModel during the modeling process. 

When you type in the label field of an element, you get suggestions for existing dictionary entries related to the corresponding element type, for example, IT systems.

Once the entry is linked to the model, a small book symbol in the lower left corner of your item appears. 

On the left side of the Editor, you see a list of frequently used dictionary items from all users in the system. Either search or directly drag 'n' drop a listed item onto the canvas. Notice in the image below, you see the frequently used dictionary items and can use them for your model.

Depending on your workspace settings, custom attributes on diagram- level or element-level can be linked to one or multiple Dictionary entries. Compared to the other options, this method saves space within the process diagram and creates a clean impression. Attributes with a linked Dictionary item also enrich the process with more consistent data that can't be edited locally in your file but only centrally in the Dictionary itself. 

The workspace administrator can configure new custom attributes in the Setup.

Custom Attributes for Dictionary Links (Editor)

You can create your own custom attributes. In the image below, you can see that ER can be created as IT Systems.

Look for consistent data in the QuickModel too. The spreadsheet can be extended with your own dictionary attributes via the settings button.

Start typing words to see if there’s an existing Dictionary item.

In the image below, you see that by typing ER a dropdown option of ERP-System appears. By searching for a word, you can see if an existing Dictionary item already exists.

Overview of the Dictionary

Watch the video to learn how the Dictionary works.

Dictionary Best Practices

The Dictionary is the core of the entire SAP Signavio Process Manager workspace and provides reusable terms for all process models. Many organizations have an extensive collection of business terms, which is often reflected in numerous Dictionary items. In practice, there are useful tips and tricks for categorization, maintenance, or methods to keep the Dictionary structured and clear. Here are some examples:

Custom Dictionary Categories

In addition to the standard workspace categories, such as Organization, IT-System, Documents, and Others, you can add custom main categories. You can also use your own subcategories to further break down your main categories. A division into subcategories is useful if these subcategories are evaluated separately or fitted with individual attributes.

Only the administrator of the workspace can create new categories and subcategories for the Dictionary.

The following section provides an overview of common subcategories that companies use. Within a parent category, SAP Signavio supports a maximum of one level of subcategories.

Structure Through Categories

Organizational Units can be diverse and complex. To a certain extent, the organizational unit categories represent the organizational structure and can contain various stakeholders or responsibilities related to the business processes.

IT Systems. Depending on the IT infrastructure of an organization you can assign several types of applications and systems to customized subcategories. For example, a division into internal and external systems is possible.

Risks and controls. To maintain process risks and controls, you can create your own Dictionary categories to document this process information in a sustainable and manageable way.

DIN EN ISO 001:2015. To find relevant documents quickly, a comprehensible structure is required. This is also helpful for the Dictionary. Sometimes business processes are tied to quality requirements, internal regulation, or laws. For example, to get the relevant information, a particular certification becomes even more relevant when it’s pending.

Documents must not be uploaded or linked directly in the process model, but rather in a Dictionary item of the same name, which contains the link to the actual document.

Assign Roles for Maintenance and Quality Assurance

To avoid redundancies and wrong named terms, it's recommended to define clear responsibilities for the care and maintenance of the Dictionary. Dedicated editing permissions can be limited to individual users or to a small group of users.

The roles of a Dictionary officer or master user are available. Their job is to track the content and adjust existing entries, or add new entries as needed. Furthermore, consider giving the dictionary officer admin rights as well. Admin rights allow the dictionary officer to change Dictionary settings, such as Categories and Attributes, depending on the overall user demand. 

Any modeler can still read and reuse all existing items continuously while modeling. There’s no option to restrict reading access. However, there's a way to give creative freedom back to the modelers. 

The next Best Practice topic of so-called "Sandbox categories" is connected to the concept of Dictionary roles. 

Sandbox Categories to Submit Suggestions

To ensure the quality of the Dictionary terms and also of the process models, the so-called "Sandboxing principle" can be applied. You can use custom sandbox categories to further ensure a clean database and you can also collect and evaluate proposals for extra Dictionary entries. An appropriate access concept is a basic requirement for implementing the structure of suggestion categories.

First, an administrator of your workspace must set up new subcategories for each individual sandbox section. For example, underneath Organizational Units, Documents, or IT Systems. 

By allowing modelers to submit new elements only to sandbox categories, all missing information and elements are channeled to dedicated locations. This keeps a clean data set and minimizes the risk of redundancies and incorrect entries in the productive environment.

After a certain amount of time, for example, one month, a dictionary administrator must evaluate these suggestions and, if necessary, move them to the productive categories.

Since the unapproved terms from the sandbox categories are also immediately available in the modeling features, we recommended using colors. This makes it easier to communicate issues. For example, all "grey terms" haven't yet been approved.

How to Edit Entries in Sandbox Categories

In the following image you see the category Sandbox Documents. By selecting Edit, you can individually move an item to the corresponding category.

How to Move Entries in Sandbox Categories

In the following image, you now see an entry that you want to move. Expand the category section and select the corresponding category. By saving this entry, it’s already moved.

We recommend merging duplicated dictionary entries. Find more information in the product documentation,

Merging Entries

Bulk Import for Creating and Updating Dictionary Content

Have you wondered how to quickly create large amounts of content in the Dictionary? With the help of a bulk import/export function, you can add new entries or update existing ones from a Microsoft Excel file (XLS or XLSX).

Follow these steps:

  1. Use the export function to export a selected category, selected items, or the entire Dictionary as an XLS or XLSX file.
  2. To create new entries or update current items, edit your data within the XLS/XLSX file.
  3. Import your result back to the Dictionary and follow the required mapping steps.

Bulk Import for Creating and Updating Dictionary Content

Step 1: Import to the Dictionary

To upload individual items or the entire Dictionary, select Import/Export.

Step 2: To upload your data, select an option.

Choose an import or export method and enter your data within the XLS/XLSX.

Step 3: Import to the Dictionary

Configure the upload by choosing a mode of import. Select the right Excel sheet to map it to the corresponding Dictionary category. Map the attributes the same way.

Key Takeaways - The Dictionary

In summary, to set up your sandbox structure, a workspace administrator must perform the following steps.

The right to read Dictionary entries always exists for all users of a workspace and can't be restricted.

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