SAP self-service for ERP

By Jim O'Farrell on April 25, 2011

When self-service solutions and SAP are mentioned together, many SAP people think of human resources or SAP HCM ESS/MSS solutions. However, many scenarios beyond HR find employees and corporate partners having a reliance on SAP power users in order to complete their work tasks. Rather than having to go through these power users, couldn’t tasks (including and beyond HR) be completed more efficiently by empowering employees, suppliers and partners with access to SAP via self-service applications?

In the early 2000’s there was a big information technology initiative entitled “Business to Employee – B2E” that attempted to address this broad-base approach to self-service applications. By definition, B2E is an e-business model in which an organization delivers services, information, or products to its employees. It enables management to reach out to employees electronically as they streamline time and labor intensive organizational processes.

One of the reasons B2E Self-Service really didn’t catch on in the early 2000’s was the lack of readily available technology to simplify the development of said applications and the fact that many organizations were still getting their ERP implementations effectively up and running. Now with ERP systems like SAP implemented in tens of thousands of companies worldwide and the evolution of technology designed to enhance ERP usability, could it be that we are on the verge of a true revolution in ERP usage by way of self service applications for all employees and SAP modules?

And what about the development of SAP self-service functionality?

One of the key challenges for widespread B2E self-service application development and deployment is IT resource requirements. Typically, SAP self-service (ESS / MSS) application development requires skilled SAP Interactive Forms by Adobe developers, ABAP Workbench, NetWeaver Portal, and general Java development skill expertise. These resources are typically hard to find and expensive.

A Better Way?

Solutions such as Microsoft Duet Enterprise and Winshuttle’s ERP Usability Platform are beginning to address these resource requirements by combining the best features of platforms like Microsoft SharePoint, Visual Studio, and Winshuttle Studio, Server and Central. These solutions allow organizations to rapidly deliver self-service capabilities such as employee actions (HR), service notifications (PM), and procurement processes (MM) along with a myriad of other SAP B2E self-service transactions.

Self-service B2E for everyone! It’s a cool trend and one worth watching (and participating in) over these next couple of years.

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