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Getting the most from your SAP production reports Background Within each SAP module there are
Getting the most from your SAP production reports Background Within each SAP module there are

Getting the most from your SAP production reports

Background

Getting the most from your SAP production reports Background Within each SAP module there are hundreds
Getting the most from your SAP production reports Background Within each SAP module there are hundreds
Getting the most from your SAP production reports Background Within each SAP module there are hundreds

Within each SAP module there are hundreds of predefined production reports. Many of these are not used or under used because they are not available in the desired format, poorly formatted and cannot be easily broken into smaller reports and delivered to the appropriate users automatically. Converting them into the appropriate format based on user’s needs has traditionally required the time and skill of an ABAP or SapScript programmer. Consistently evolving requirements due to ongoing changes in corporate needs often creates a bottleneck within IT departments. Skilled IT resources tend to be scarce and report modification often gets overlooked.

By providing the IT team with an efficient solution to cope with various Reports, Lists, Forms and their distribution, user’s requests can be satisfied more efficiently, more frequently and with a smaller drain on resources. This white paper is a guideline for improving the rendering and efficiency of the complete SAP production reporting system. It will discuss how to leverage the value of your existing production reports, and how to deliver timely, properly formatted reports.

Getting the most from your SAP production reports

Employing an Output Management System

Output Management Systems (OMS) not only burst and route output files to selected printers based on criteria, they also offer multiples ways to leverage their content and enhance their presentation. Often you are better served delivering content electronically rather than printing it. In many cases an OMS allows you to replace printing with PDF, Excel or XML format, then use Email, SOAP or publishing/archiving for delivery.

End users technologies, such as SMS, the iPad, Office 2007, 2D BarCodes, etc. evolve faster than common business practices, such as purchase order procedures or customer balance reporting. Supporting these technologies from a centralized ERP structure that is not easily or often upgraded is a difficult, time consuming effort. Good external Output Management Solutions that can be easily and often upgraded are better suited to interact with these ever changing technologies and are often a better solution as long as they provide interoperability and traceability.

Enhancing Existing Production Reports VS Building New Ones

Most existing production reports, created real time by transaction or interactive menu, or by background jobs, contain a wealth of detailed and valuable information; most often they include all the data necessary to support their associated business function. It is their structure and format that makes them inefficient for direct utilization.

Sorting, reformatting, bursting, and automatically delivering their content are the missing ingredients. Even if you did spend the time and resources necessary to recreate them, you would still face the challenge of automation and adapting them to new technologies. Allocating ABAP or SapScript IT development resources to adapt to changing report requirements is often not be the most efficient approach. Before creating new OTF, SMART or LIST spool files from scratch, consider leveraging existing ones with new technologies. Advanced Output Management Systems are designed to handle these types of requests, and have proven to be an efficient way for an IT team to satisfy evolving end-user needs.

Delivering Reports without affecting SAP System Workload

A major concern when delivering expected IT services is to not overload the SAP system. Response times for inter-active users depend on this and might be affected by additional system workloads. When being asked to deliver production reports data in the right format, to the right place with the right media it is important to consider how this will affect system workload. Whether it’s formatting, emailing, faxing, or archiving, each step requires processing time. Each mechanism for processing these tasks affects workload in different ways.

Windows platforms hosting OMS solutions are better suited to handle output processing than centralized ERP systems, requiring significantly less CPU resources while providing better response times.

Off loading the main SAP system from external tasks such as report bursting or forms delivery requires a distributed architecture where these tasks are allocated to a separate window based OMS working hand in hand with the SAP system. The workload remaining on the SAP system will be exchanging raw spool data only.

Routing spools to specified printers is integrated into an OMS. Off loading SAP systems from printer drivers and routing table management is quite common in IT shops. When you take into consideration the increased spool processing time required to support user’s requirements, the benefits of using an OMS become even more apparent.

Getting the most from your SAP production reports

What to Look for in an Output Management Solution

Some production reports can be very large at 1000 characters width, or very long with over 10000 pages. They should be considered for reformatting by an OMS. Systems offering buffering techniques, or BC-XOM protocol, allow access to the SAP spool system and can handle the job.

The ability to analyze page content and address each Unicode character by line/column position provides the power and flexibility of the reformatting features of an OMS. For example, to burst a report into parts, it requires conditioned processes based on identified variables in the document.

Querying a database to add content to documents with missing information, such as an email address, is critical, especially during distribution. The ability to include external files, such as an RTF file with terms and conditions, gives you the flexibility to complete the terms and conditions on an invoice, even if those terms change based on items sold or customer sold to.

E.G. Production Report ME2L Purchase Orders by Vendor

to. E.G. Production Report ME2L Purchase Orders by Vendor Reformatted: Named Excel spreadsheet, with vendor name,

Reformatted: Named Excel spreadsheet, with vendor name, sorting orders and gathering on a single line information spread over multiple lines, while adding an intermediary calculated field

lines, while adding an intermediary calculated field Output Management Solution’s Architectural Considerations

Output Management Solution’s Architectural Considerations

SAP created the BC-XOM protocol to facilitate external communication with output management systems, a tacit acknowledgment that the SAP output management system can benefit from third party augmentation. Most vendors have based their solution on this protocol which is an industry standard, however some OMS solutions use Virtual Printers and others connect more directly to the Spool system. For example Symtrax, Inc. has chosen to offer three distinct protocols to communicate between a SAP system and their external OMS. Each one may be implemented independently from others, or may be combined to achieve specific goals.

Getting the most from your SAP production reports Enterprise Reporting Solutions External OMS implementation modes,

Getting the most from your SAP production reports

Enterprise Reporting

Solutions

External OMS implementation modes, Architecture & Benefits

OMS implementation modes, Architecture & Benefits “Active Method” benefits and features Uses an ABAP
OMS implementation modes, Architecture & Benefits “Active Method” benefits and features Uses an ABAP

“Active Method” benefits and features

Uses an ABAP package installed on the SAP server that communicates with the OMS, providing high security and efficiency.

Works directly within the spool system thereby compatible with all printer protocols. Has access to the complete list of Spool parameters & attributes. Provides advanced IT Spool Administration: Single access point to multiple SAP instances & systems. Handles centralized printing parameters. Provides a complete mapping of the existing output devices, no changes are required to the output device set up.

“BC-XOM Method” benefits and featuresno changes are required to the output device set up. Uses a standard SAP recommended protocol.

Uses a standard SAP recommended protocol. Has RFC Call Back communications providing true bidirectional information flow. Has enhanced communications allowing better visualization of the printing process from within the SAP environment. Status information is available for printers and print requests. Provides a comprehensive spool parameters list. Externalizes Printing Management simplifying the print process and allowing a reduced number of output device definitions. Has easy configuration through Extended Admin by defining ROMS & LOMS. Access Method “E”. Device Type SAPGOF.

ROMS & LOMS. Access Method “E”. Device Type SAPGOF. “Virtual Printer” Method benefits and features Uses

“Virtual Printer” Method benefits and features

Uses TCP/IP protocol. Extremely simple installation and rapidly available for use. Uses only access Method “U”. Device Type SAPGOF. Provides an incomplete parameter list. Print status returned to SAP are Waiting, Processing, and Completed.

May 2010 - Copyright - Michel Gaertner, Software Technologies Department at

June 2010 - Copyright - Michel Gaertner, Software Technologies Department at Symtrax Corporation

Symtrax Corporation

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Getting the most from your SAP production reports

BC-XOM Implementation modes

from your SAP production reports BC-XOM Implementation modes Advanced BC-XOM implementation Users are assigned an

Advanced BC-XOM implementationfrom your SAP production reports BC-XOM Implementation modes Users are assigned an External BC-XOM printer, no

Users are assigned an External BC-XOM printer, no driver installed on SAP system as systems use SAPGOF device type, no hard coded printer instead Aliases are used for defining the actual printers. OMS handles Print or ReFormat / Distribution using SAPGOF interpreters and Routing techniques. This provides high flexibility, efficient administration and ease of maintenance of the printer network. To some extent, all users may be assigned to a unique output device.

Regular BC-XOM implementationextent, all users may be assigned to a unique output device. Users are assigned types of

Users are assigned types of printers, drivers are installed on the SAP System, routing handled by OMS. One Output device is created for each model of printer.

OMS. One Output device is created for each model of printer. Standard SAP Printer Management: Printer

Standard SAP Printer Management: Printer definition and routing on SAP System

Users are assigned printers, drivers are installed on the SAP System, and each ABAP or SAPScript pgm refers to a printer address. As many output devices are created as there are physical printers.

All Events Logged in the External OMS are sent back to SAP to acknowledge Print/Reformat/Distribution processes using RFC Call Back. See details using SPAD---Events, Spool Request and Output Request. Printer management can be very tedious for the Basis Team. When an ABAP Pgm or SapScript mention a printer name, any printer changes affects those existing programs.

Getting the most from your SAP production reports Enterprise Reporting Solutions Major Benefits of Enhancing

Getting the most from your SAP production reports

Enterprise Reporting

Solutions

Major Benefits of Enhancing SAP Production Reports

For an example of the benefits of enhancing SAP production reporting with today’s latest technologies, let’s consider some MM purchasing department’s commonly requested needs:

• Purchase Order notification by SMS

• Secure PDF Purchase Order with Digital Signature

• Enhance existing PO’s with 2D Bar Code Labels

• Send PO’s in XML format and post them on a Vendor published Intranet with SOAP

• Archive Purchase Orders on Company’s intranet and send Publishing link to Vendor

• Have all Purchase Orders available through web to Tiers for easy follow-up

• Sort most recent orders for a specific vendor on a Procurement iPad

• Sort Year to Date Orders by PO number and item, burst them by Vendor and deliver in Excel

• Implement PO traceability with native properties.

• …/…

Existing MM production reports are candidates for such business improvements. These type of business functionalities can be implemented quite quickly using an External OMS without the need for ABAP or SAPScript resources and without adding to the SAP system’s workload. Allowing ABAP resources to focus on important projects.

Clearly the flexibility of a windows based OMS solution produces tangible benefits that far outweigh its cost.

The Importance of a Global Production Reporting Strategy to an SAP based Company

Think for a moment what it would mean to your business to have no more file format constraints, no more reader dependency, no more delivery support prerequisites, no more security and integrity concerns, no more late distribution, … all this is possible.

What if you could turn all production reports into XML format referring to DTD (Data Table Dictionary) for consistency & CSS (Cascade Style Sheet) for better presentation then make them available to any employee at anytime anywhere in the world?

The future of reporting is likely to be the XML format combined with CSS. It is the most flexible format currently available allowing you to control the report’s look and layout and is readable by both humans and machines.

May 2010 - Copyright - Michel Gaertner, Software Technologies Department at

June 2010 - Copyright - Michel Gaertner, Software Technologies Department at Symtrax Corporation

Symtrax Corporation

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Getting the most from your SAP production reports

These are but a few examples of how you can take advantage of new and emerging technologies to improve business performance.

and emerging technologies to improve business performance. Standard preview of existing Purchase Order OTF or Smart
and emerging technologies to improve business performance. Standard preview of existing Purchase Order OTF or Smart
and emerging technologies to improve business performance. Standard preview of existing Purchase Order OTF or Smart

Standard preview of existing Purchase Order OTF or Smart form on SAP.

Content of the Spool is transformed into XML format, including a digitalized signature, and sent to the Vendor by email or posted on their web server using SOAP protocol.

Simultaneously an identical document in a user friendly format is created and archived to be accessed and opened by any browser.

About the author Getting the most from your SAP production reports Michel Gaertner is the

About the author

Getting the most from your SAP production reports

Michel Gaertner is the Director of Symtrax Corporation’s Software Technologies Department and has over 15 years experience in software development. In recent years Michel’s primary focus has been the enhancement of electronic document distribution solutions for various system platforms including SAP, JDE, IBM’s iseries and Microsoft Windows. His responsibilities keep him in close touch with both software developers and end users, providing him with a comprehensive understanding of both business needs and development technologies.

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