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

A Single Source of Truth

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

The benefits:

  • Manage and re-use centrally governed modeling elements in order to achieve consistent process content (e.g. 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 which usually represent:

  • Responsibilities (Pool, Lanes, additional process participants, customers)
  • IT systems & applications
  • Documents
  • Risks & Controls
  • Others

Dictionary Structure and Design

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

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

Creating and Editing Entries

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 glossary category of the corresponding element type at any time.

The Dictionary will notify you if the name of the new entry is already assigned to an existing entry. It is not recommended having multiple items with identical names, even if this is technically possible to add these entries anyway. 

Editing existing entries will apply the changes to all linked models.

Dictionary Item and Entries

Re-using 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. 

Option 1

Option 1

Start typing in the label field of an element and you will get suggestions for existing dictionary entries related to the corresponding element type, e.g. IT systems.

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

Option 2

Option 2

On the left side the Editor shows a list of frequently used dictionary items of all users in the system. Either search or directly drag 'n' drop a listed item onto the canvas.

Option 3

Depending on your workspace settings, custom attributes on diagram- 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 additional 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! 

Option 4

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

Use of the Dictionary in a Nutshell

Check out the following short-clip to learn how the Dictionary works in practice!

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 categories  (Organization, IT-System, Documents, Others) of a workspace, there is the option add custom main categories or further breakdown of your main categories with own sub-categories. A division into subcategories is particularly useful if these are evaluated separately or fitted with individual attributes.

Structure Through Categories

Only the administrator of the workspace can create new categories / subcategories for the dictionary.

The following section provides an overview of common subcategories being used in practice by companies. Within a parent category SAP Signavio supports max. one level of a subcategory.

Structure Through Categories

Documents shouldn't 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.

Bulk Import for Creating and Updating Dictionary Content

You may have wondered how to quickly create large amounts of content in the Dictionary. By the help of a bulk import/export function you can easily add new entries or update existing once from a Microsoft Excel file (XLS or XLSX).

All you need to do is to follow these three steps.

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

Bulk Import for Creating and Updating Dictionary Content

Assign roles for maintenance and quality assurance!

In order to avoid redundancies and wrong named terms, it is 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.

This creates the role of a Dictionary officer or master user. Their job is to keep track of the content and make adjustments to existing or add new required entries as needed. Furthermore, it should be considered to give the dictionary officer admin rights as well. This allows them to make changes to Dictionary settings such as Categories and Attributes depending on the overall user demands. 

Any modeler can still read and re-use all existing items continuously while modeling. There is no option to restrict reading access.  However, there is a way to give creative freedom back to the modelers. 

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

Sandbox Categories to Submit Suggestions

In order to ensure the quality of the Dictionary terms and thus also of the process models, the so-called "Sandboxing principle" can be applied. Creating and having custom Sandbox categories is a brilliant method to further ensure a clean database and at the same time new proposals for additional Dictionary entries can be collected and evaluated. An appropriate access concept is the basic requirement to implement the structure of suggestion categories.

First an Administrator of your workspace needs to set up new sub-categories for each individual sandbox section, like 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 (e.g. monthly), a dictionary administrator can evaluate these suggestions and, if necessary, simply move them to the productive categories.

Since the unapproved terms from the sandbox categories are also immediately available in the modeling features, it is recommended to work with colors. This would make it easier to communicate, for example, that all "grey terms" have not yet been approved.

Sandbox Categories


In summary, the following steps must be performed by a workspace administrator to set up your sandbox structure. Select each step to find out more.

The right to read Dictionary entries exists at all times for all users of a workspace and cannot be restricted.

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