Studio v.11: A Look into SAP Application Data Transformation
By Clinton Jones on February 3, 2016
It’s no secret that SAP systems are the target of data sourced from other systems. Oftentimes data from those other systems needs to be tweaked before it can be properly handled in SAP. We see exactly the same scenario with Salesforce systems. Data extracted from SAP for customers for example, is not totally and wholly relevant for Salesforce.
Mapping the data during the analysis stage of what and how to push and pull from various systems is an essential step in the process. One of the easiest places to do this, is in Microsoft Excel. Excel is probably one of the most common staging environments because of its flexibility and ease of use. Sure, Excel has limitations, but it is also one of the most robust prototyping tools and most generally available for all types of business and technology users. With the launch of Studio v11, it makes sense to highlight some of the aspects of transformation and data validation that Studio v11 brings to play.
Winshuttle doesn’t position as an ETL software vendor
I’ll preface this post by saying we don’t position Studio v11 as an ETL tool, but we do state that Studio v11 is an excellent platform for general SAP application data management. This is very well understood by existing customers but new customers and prospects need to know that Winshuttle Studio v11 is a tool that you get to use for whichever application data management process you choose to apply it to.
Over the years we have provided a variety of templates and artifacts to try to help customers accelerate their deployment and adoption, but in the end we have found that every customer is a little nuanced when compared with every other customer. Building scripts is so quick and so easy, why should you bother with a template, when you can have something that’s uniquely your own and you fully understand?
I’ve had the good fortune of engaging with several customers and partners over the past few months on Studio v11’s specific relevance for ETL activities. Partners in particular are one of the best examples of people who consider using template based approaches to execute certain tasks with customers. These cover everything from upgrades to conversions, rolling out additional functionality, or simply fixing stuff.
Studio v11: a consulting partner’s perspective
One partner in particular – Configurable Management has been very successful in building a strong consulting services practice around providing services that lean heavily on using tools like Winshuttle Studio v11, and I thought I would share some of their insights. In their eyes, there is a strong use case for Studio v11 having solid transformation (or mapping/conversion) rules. The strongest use case being for new SAP implementations and M&A events (mergers/acquisitions). In both cases, massive amounts of master, transactional, and in some cases historical data will be moved from legacy system(s) to SAP.
During the mapping of data, conversion rules will often be needed (e.g., legacy payment term A maps to payment term B, common legacy vendor ABC maps to vendor XYZ). Analysts will often have many Excel VLOOKUP functions in their data to convert legacy values to new values. The newly mapped file would then be provided for loading to SAP via Winshuttle Studio. This approach is OK if the load is just done once; however, based on experience, there are many practice loads prior to cut-over to production (three or four is hardly unusual). This means that legacy data mapping has to be done as many times as the conversions are executed; i.e., get legacy data, run VLOOKUPs on data that has conversion rules, prepare load file, etc. Being able to store the conversion rules via transform functions in Studio has the potential to be a huge time saver (and would reduce opportunity for human error). With this capability, raw legacy data could be provided as the load file to Studio, and the transformation formulas would take care of the mapping.
Studio 11’s play
Studio v11 provides the first foray into the realm of data transformation for Winshuttle Studio’s Transaction module, and as we travel this journey more aspects will be improved and enhanced. If you’re an existing Transaction user, I would like to encourage you to take a look at the transformation features of Studio v11 and consider where they might have a place in your application management activities.
About the author
Clinton Jones is a Director for Finance Solutions Management at Winshuttle where he has worked since 2009. He is internationally experienced having worked on finance technologies and business process with a particular focus on integrated business solutions in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and North America. Clinton serves as a technical consultant on technology and quality management as it relates to data and process management and governance for finance organizations globally. Prior to Winshuttle he served as a Technical Quality Manager at SAP and with Microsoft in their Global Foundation Services group.
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