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ActiveControl’s Rules Engine: Powerful, Customized SAP Approvals

Last week I ran a remote Webex session with my consulting peers to walk through the new features in ActiveControl 8.40.

Whilst I was presenting a simple configuration example to explain a new capability within the Rules Engine (the functionality that many of our customers use to create their approvals workflow in ActiveControl) – one of my colleagues interrupted me.

“Hey Ross …. But couldn’t you do it this way instead?”

And as my face turned red I was briefly glad we were all working from home and I didn’t have 10 or 20 pairs of eyes watching me as I stumbled through my response. My colleague was of course absolutely correct. There was more than one way to achieve the customer scenario I was trying to demonstrate with Rules Engine.

Fast forward a couple of hours and I was on another call – this time with one of my other colleagues. We were setting up the Rules Engine to achieve a requirement at a current implementation project, where his customer wanted certain critical Z objects to stop for an additional approval before deployment through the SAP landscape. It was something another colleague and I had set up only a few days earlier at one of Basis Technologies’ UK banking customers. But as I began to walk through the required configuration I heard some familiar words: “Hey Ross ….. couldn’t we do it this way instead?”

And guess what? The person asking was as correct as my other colleague had been earlier in the day! The scenario we were setting up could indeed be configured in the Rules Engine in several different ways.

As I came off my second call of the day with my cheeks burning and my ego in tatters I suddenly realized that these examples had actually reminded me of the power and flexibility of the Rules Engine – and indeed the reason Basis Technologies’ customers love it.

The Rules Engine was first released in ActiveControl 8.0, back in 2019. With it came the ability to configure approval workflows in ways that just weren’t possible before – or at least not without development of custom User Exit solutions, or compromises that resulted in the customer sometimes not getting exactly what they wanted.

It didn’t take long for ActiveControl users to realize how much power and flexibility the Rules Engine can provide, and many of them have started to use it to help them build more automated workflows that can manage change more efficiently. Here are a few real-life examples:

  • One of SAP’s biggest customers uses the Rules Engine to manage their complex “1-to-Many” ECC landscape (1 Dev system feeding 12 branched QA, Pre-production and Production systems). It allows them to have different approvers for each of 8 different change types in each of those 12 branches, creating an extremely tightly defined workflow. They are also using the Rules Engine alongside other ActiveControl capabilities to help them approve and deliver transports correctly in their complex S/4 migration.
  • One of the world’s largest wireless telecom organizations drives a peer review process with the Rules Engine, in which only certain people can review certain types of SAP change. Without confirmation of peer review by a recognized reviewer, changes cannot progress.
  • A large US insurance company uses the Rules Engine for a different kind of dynamic peer review process within their S/4HANA landscapes, whereby the developer chooses who will code-review their change before it goes to the team lead for a final approval prior to deployment to QA and Production.
  • Reducing risk by ensuring certain objects receive additional approvals before being deployed through the SAP landscape is another use of the Rules Engine. This one is employed by at least one of Basis Technologies’ numerous customers in the banking sector, and also by a major US industrial equipment supplier.
  • The Rules Engine lets a global network infrastructure provider make sure emergency changes obtain additional approvals, so that they can be sure the necessary process rigor has been followed even while delivering urgent change in a time-pressured manner.
  • A US construction company uses the Rules Engine to enable approvals at change level (ie Business Task) instead of transport (ie Transport Form) level, for a more streamlined process that helps make sure all changes related to a given business requirement progress together.
  • One of the world’s largest clothing brands – who indeed only started implementing ActiveControl in late 2020 across their large SAP estate – is already upgrading in order to benefit from more Rules Engine functionality. With the version 8.40 they will be able to link Rules Engine approvers back to SAP role assignments so that their Security team can take ownership of the assignment of approvers within their workflow.

Of course, these specific examples are all in addition to the standard out-of-the-box capabilities that allow ActiveControl users to force additional approvals for certain users (e.g. external contractors) or for transports over a certain age, or to restrict who can Peer Review certain objects, or… I could go on. The possibilities are just about endless!

If you are interested in finding out more about how ActiveControl and its powerful Rules Engine capability is helping SAP-run organizations large and small around the world deliver SAP change quickly and safely – please contact us to request a demo.

And if you are an existing customer and you’re not yet using the Rules Engine, I strongly recommend getting in touch to see how it could help you take your existing SAP change & release, agile and DevOps processes to the next level.

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