SAP, which stands for Systems Applications and Products in Data Processing, is a suite of business software that is utilized by a number of significant industries around the world. There are many benefits associated with implanting this software at your business, including increased productivity, consistent operations, and significant cost savings. However, if you are to realize all of these benefits, you need to make sure that this software is integrated correctly. With that being said, continue reading to discover everything you need to know about the different elements that need to be considered when it comes to SAP integration.
The first factor that needs to be considered is what sort of applications you are going to integrate. SAP provides a wide range of applications, all of which can be tweaked and adapted to meet the needs and wants of almost every company. Because of this, though, the first question needs to be what SAP applications you are going to integrate into your business and how they can work alongside the other systems you have in place at present. The answer to this question will usually be dependent on the version you are running, as well as how it was originally implemented and the underlying technology.
Some of the different versions you can run include SAP ECC, the R/ series, SAP BusinessOne, SAP All-in-One, MySAP, or one of the most specialized offerings. A lot of the older versions are based on the proprietary ABAP language, whereas this standard has been moved away from for the newer versions. This is just one of the examples regarding how the SAP landscape is changing. More and more of the applications are turning into more of Software as a Service (SaaS). S/4 HANA, for example, is provided as a hybrid, cloud, and on-premise version, and BusinessOne resides on the cloud.
Selecting SAP integration tools
Once you have decided on what SAP you are going to integrate, you then need to look into the integration tools. Over the years, SAP has changed the way it has built software. Therefore, the version of SAP your business is running will play a huge role when determining the integration route you are going to go down.
IDOC – Intermediate Documents is one of the most common integration tools that is utilized with SAP. There are more than 600 IDOCs to choose from, and they are responsible for sending messages between your different systems, querying for data and information. SAP NetWeaver is another common tool a lot of businesses use if they are implementing SAP ECC. This is a preferred choice for triggering choices and moving data between the third-party software and SAP modules. You then have BAPI’s, which stands for Business Application Programming Interfaces, which are essentially APIs that have been written and supported by SAP so that SAP modules can be integrated between third-party applications and SAP.
Another popular tool is RFC – Remote Function Calls. These are hooks for programming that are in ABAP interfaces, which enable calls to external applications. What is ABAP? Well, ABAP applications enable people to write their own custom interface. This is the most direct option for integrating older SAP versions. However, one hurdle is that they are not supported by SAP, and so when the time comes to upgrade, you could face some difficulties.
Developing an SAP Integration plan
The third part of the puzzle is to put a plan together. You now understand the different factors that are going to impact your SAP integration and the tools that are available. You now need to gather all of this information so you can put together a step-by-step process. Often, conducting a survey is one of the most effective ways to gather the data you need.
When working with a professional company for this, they will survey all of their clients to establish EDI requirements. No matter whether you do this or not, to put a plan together correctly, you need to ask yourself some key questions. This includes the following…
- What are your long-term plans? Do you have any plans to upgrade in the future? How could these plans impact your choice of interface?
- What should the integration enable you to do? You need to consider your business needs at this point. You may even need to consider the needs of your business partners.
- Will any modifications that have been made have an impact on your integration plan?
- Do you need the interface to be supported by SAP? Does your software provider offer SAP interface support? Do you have the IT expertise to support your own interface? Consider everything with regards to your support requirements here.
- What sort of interface are you able to use with your existing SAP system?
- What sort of SAP applications do you have at the moment? What version do you run? Are they ABAP based?
- What other sort of applications does your business run? How can they be integrated?
Once you have all of this information, the implementation plan can then be mapped out.
Why it makes sense to work with a professional for SAP integration
When it comes to integrating any sort of technology at your business, it is always a good idea to work with a professional in the industry. IT outsourcing for SMEs has become more and more popular in recent times. This is because technology is becoming increasingly integral to the success of businesses, and so companies are recognizing that they need experts who can help them leverage technology effectively at their business so that they can take their company to the next level.
When you are looking for a company to help you with SAP integration, this will ensure that you have integrated the software in the correct manner and in a way that is suitable for your business and your business needs. It will also mean that employees will be able to get on board with the solution as quickly as possible. If you were to handle everything yourself without the required experience or knowledge, it could take a lot of time for the software to be installed, and then an even greater amount of time for your employees to be introduced to it properly. This is why it makes sense to assess the options that are available to you in terms of outsourcing.
With so many different IT service providers on the market, it is certainly worth taking your time to find the best solution for you. Make sure you assess everything carefully, from their experience and their knowledge to the sort of companies that they have worked with in the past. The Internet has made it easier than ever before for us to get information about businesses and their reputations. Take the time to check out the independent review platforms and read comments that have been left by past customers. Independent review websites are always better because you know that the comments are 100 per cent genuine. You know that the company has not had influence over any of the comments posted. After all, no business would purposefully post negative or mediocre comments from customers on their website, would they?
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of SAP integration and why it is so important, as well as the different factors you need to consider when introducing this type of software at your business. It is always worth looking for outside help if this is something you’re struggling with.