SAP challenges that can be addressed by SharePoint integration
By Vikram Chalana on April 21, 2011
Companies that have implemented SAP face a few a common challenges that can be alleviated by a tight integration of SharePoint and SAP. This article gives some examples of such scenarios.
Complex user interfaces
Business processes supported by SAP require entering data into transactions that are generally quite complex and show a lot more fields and screens than are needed in the process.
This problem can be solved to a large degree by exposing a simplified version of an SAP transaction on a SharePoint screen. This simplified page can contain all of the data fields required on one simple screen that the user interacts with on their browser.
One example of this is the material master creation screen in SAP which has dozens of screens and hundreds of fields, many of which aren’t used. Such a screen can be easily simplified by creating a simple SharePoint screen allowing you to create different types of materials. Other example processes here are: journal entries, purchase requests, purchase orders, sales quotations, sales orders, and new hire actions.
Employee and Remote Personnel Enablement
Most companies that have implemented SAP ERP have rolled it out only to about 15-20% of their workforce – those are usually licensed as professional users of SAP ERP. Other employees typically participate in business processes through that limited population of professional users.
If Employee Self Service (ESS) or Manager Self-Service (MSS) functionality is not implemented, collecting data from all employees for simple things like current addresses, dependents, and purchase requests, becomes a very arduous task consisting of paper forms or Excel spreadsheets, etc. Even when the ESS or MSS is implemented, exposing custom infotypes or processes outside the scope to ESS or MSS to the general employee population remains a challenge.
A related challenge is exposing SAP functionality to remote personnel such as field workers or small remote office facilities.
This is yet another area where integrating SAP processes with SharePoint can be very useful. Since SharePoint is already rolled out all users within the company as their Intranet portal, it would be very beneficial to expose ESS or MSS functionality through SharePoint.
Most companies need to exchange data with their business partners. There are variety of mechanisms already available in the industry, ranging from supplier and customer self-service portals to electronic data interchange (EDI). Even with these wide varieties of options, a lot of data with business partners is still exchanged in paper formats or Excel spreadsheets leading to increased costs and delays in the order-to-cash or procure-to-pay processes among others.
This is another area where exposing key SAP partner-related processes via SharePoint can have tremendous benefit. Allowing partners to change their contact information or banking information via a SharePoint portal is an ideal use of this integration, especially since many companies have already deployed SharePoint as an extranet Portal.
About the author
Vikram is a co-founder and the current Chief Technology Officer of Winshuttle. He is passionate about technology that empowers people to improve their lives and the way they run their businesses. He focused on making ERP systems which make it easier for end-users to access, upload, and modify. Outside of work Vikram likes to spend time outdoors: running, hiking, kayaking, and skiing.
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