How to Become a Master Data Hero – Part Three: Designing

By Eric Moore on July 9, 2014

In parts one and two on How to Become a Master Data Hero, we explored the personas and their unique use cases for proposed solutions. When I mention a “solution,” I am referring to a web-based form. It is not unlike what you would experience when purchase something online; whether it’s travel or clothing, the buying experience is very similar. With a Winshuttle solution, you are able to put forth a web-based form to create a better user experience when interacting with SAP.

To initiate the design phase, we need to identify and define the constituents and artifacts that make up a successful Winshuttle solution.

The design phase can be summarized in seven steps. If you are a visual learner you can watch this 45 second video for an introduction:

1. RECORD: To record a transaction, you will use Winshuttle Transaction, which empowers you to rapidly automate SAP processes without sacrificing security—no coding required. The key attribute to this product is the ability to record interactions with SAP in a repeatable manner. By recording these interactions, known as scripts, you can establish the basis of your web-based form solution.

2. CONVERT: While using Winshuttle Transaction, you can convert your newly created script into XML. This conversion provides the “behind-the-scenes” structure for your web-based form and allows for remote calls to SAP using web-services.

3. MAP: Now you map the XML code to a web-based form. Using Winshuttle Designer and Microsoft’s InfoPath, you can create direct mappings to graphical elements in a form. This means you can easily automate form-driven business processes, such as maintenance requests, purchase requests, expense reimbursement requests and internal requisitions.

4. WORKFLOW: In addition to mapping, Winshuttle Designer gives you the ability to design simple to complex workflows. Using a swim lane paradigm, you can assign unique personas specific roles in the workflow processes.

5. PUBLISH: In simple terms, publishing is merely uploading your form and workflow. In an expanded description, you can publish your form, script and workflow to a number of locations or environments. With Winshuttle Designer, you can manage your information lifecycle by publishing to a test, development and/or production environment.

6: USAGE:  When your form is published you must determine how it will be used. As mentioned in step 5, you can publish to a testing environment for testing purposes. We recommend that you always test for quality assurance.

7. SAP: The last step is not so much a step as it is your intended result: submitting your data into SAP. Prior to uploading your data, publishing and proper testing must be considered, as well as which SAP system you are interacting with.

For a web-based form solution, these seven steps can help you outline what you must prepare to use on the desktop side. However, there is a server-side component to this process as well. While the server-side does not generally require design work, your final solution and its usage will determine how large of a server footprint your project requires. In the following section, I’ll cover an overview of our best practices surrounding the Winshuttle Foundation product line.

Design for Architecture

The notion of designing for architecture is not a simple one. However, there are three key Winshuttle components you need to be aware for the architectural design phase. These include Winshuttle Central, Winshuttle SAP Integration Server and Winshuttle Workflow. We will explore each of these briefly and outline the physical architecture in a diagram.

This article won’t be able to cover all aspects of best practices for the constituent third-party software like Microsoft and SAP. However, we will provide a recommended approach for solutions used in non-production and production environments. This is not intended to be a prescription for specific performance issues.

Winshuttle Central provides two key elements for your solution. First, Central serves as a document repository for all of your scripts. It does so through the Microsoft SharePoint platform. Second, Central provides sound governance and security for your users and scripts. This, too, leverages the SharePoint platform, as well as SQL Server. Companies are able to share files and best practices across business units while addressing specific requirements for controls and audit trails to meet SOX and corporate governance policies.

Winshuttle Workflow also provides two key elements for your solution. The first is a presentation layer for your web-based forms, through the Microsoft SharePoint platform. In addition, Workflow provides the engine to run your web-based forms through a business process. This also leverages SQL Server. Our customers love that Workflow enables them to eliminate bottlenecks and effectively analyze the performance of established processes and workflows.

Winshuttle SAP Integration Server provides three key components for your solution:

  • The manager component provides a way to receive requests to SAP from the web-based form.
  • The queue provides a mechanism to manage the requests in the order they were received.
  • The worker takes from the queue the requests and makes a connection with SAP. This component does the majority of the work; hence the name.

The Winshuttle SAP Integration Server resides on a Microsoft IIS server and a Microsoft SQL Server.

Let’s take a look at the entire architecture in the following diagrams. Each diagram represents a minimum deployment for a non-production and a production environment.

Non- Production: Minimal Deployment

Production: Minimal Deployment

non-prod prod

You can find more details on our deployment models and requirements in our Winshuttle Foundation Help Center.

Design and architecture summary

The design phase includes two distinct approaches: one from the desktop and the other from the server side. For the desktop approach, we identified seven steps for solution creation. For the server portion, we identified three key components required for hosting your solution.

In my next post, I will cover the usage phase in your information lifecycle management processes.

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