With complex and ever evolving business requirements, and increasing demand for ease of use and efficiency, it is crucial that the right architecture/ solution is chosen to derive the maximum ROI and value add for the customer. Though this blog will focus on the various options (at a high level) that are available for a SAP Based ‘Order to Cash’ flow as an example, these options are applicable for other business processes as well. It would not be possible to single out a single option as the recommended approach as each solution has its pros and cons and the ‘best-fit’ solution would depend on a combination of factors including the customer’s existing landscape, scalability, requirements, scope and budget.

1. ECC Based Process – Standalone

In the good old days, an ECC implementation would have been sufficient for an ‘Order to Cash’ flow and for many of the other business processes – ECC was the ‘integrated suite’. However, ease of use and quick access to relevant information wasn’t one of its strong points. It is quite tedious and cumbersome to create a sales order via VA01 (for example) – resulting in increasing customer demand for user friendly applications.

It is important to keep in mind that SAP ECC integrated with other related SAP products would be a better fit if the following priorities are taken into consideration:

  • the rapidly evolving requirements for new business functionalities
  • ease of use features, information at ‘fingertips’ to improve efficiency
  • associated implementation costs
  • the drive to consolidate and optimise the system landscape

2. ECC Based Sales Orders via Lean Order Management

If the system landscape already contains a fully implemented SAP ECC System and if SAP CRM is to be implemented, then Lean Order Management could be considered for integrating the Sales Order process across both CRM and ECC.

ECC Sales Order process could be accessed via the CRM UI using the ‘out-of-the-box’ Lean Order (LORDs) Framework involving minimal configuration effort.

The key benefits of this approach are:

  • Re-use of the existing ECC Sales Order Functionality (including pricing) without having to re-invent the wheel
  • Improved user experience
  • ‘One CRM portal’ that nicely ties in with the marketing and pre-sales capabilities of CRM
  • Single view of customer information – A predecessor to the highly advanced Cloud based SAP 360 Customer
  • Can be further enhanced

3. CRM Based Sales Orders with Subsequent Processing in ECC

It is possible to design and implement the Sales Order and billing process in CRM and then integrate with ECC for the downstream process. The as-is design and complexities in the ECC system (if already implemented) have to be taken into consideration before proceeding with this option as it might be required to port certain existing order/billing related functionalities from ECC into CRM. The CRM Web UI will be relatively more user-friendly than the ‘traditional’ ECC Screens.

4. Cloud for Customer (Sales) – Standalone

C4C can be used as Line of Business applications. These are relatively light weight applications that can either exist standalone or be tightly integrated with an on premise SAP Solution. C4C is noted for its user friendly features to enable quicker processing, navigation and access to information. With SAP’s commitment to Cloud offerings and with the promise of constant improvements in functionality through quarterly release updates, we are entering a new era of SAP Architecture.

This also easily ties in with the CEI offering for a 360 degree view of the customer.

C4C is based on the SAP Business ByDesign architecture. SAP Cloud Applications Studio is the development environment for C4C enhancements. The SDK is based on MS Visual Studio and the development language is similar to Java and C#. There are mainly two scripting languages used here. BODL and ABSL, one for designing the BO and the other for Business Logic.

The use of HTML5 in SAP Cloud for Customer creates a plug-and-play that runs on multiple platforms including mobile-device platforms without having to install additional software on user’s machine.

5. Cloud for Customer (Sales) with On-Premise – Hybrid Approach

Even though C4C can be implemented as a standalone solution, it is primarily targeted at customers with an on premise SAP ECC / CRM system and looking to extend their existing solution with a cloud option that lowers cost and increases flexibility.

There are two options available:

  • On-Premise ECC Integration
  • On-Premise CRM Integration

Currently, Variant Configuration and complex pricing techniques are not available as part of the Cloud for Sales Offering. Integration with backend is required for complex pricing.

SAP offers pre-packaged content (iFlows) built on top of its Integration Technology that provides ‘out of the box’ integration (with minimal mapping and configuration). SAP Cloud for Customers can be integrated with SAP On-Premise Solutions using:

  • SAP PI or
  • SAP HANA Cloud Integration (HCI)

6. CRM Based Bespoke ‘Task Based’ UI Development (‘Wizards’) with RFC Based ERP Integration

Customers who are keen to have a better user experience, UI design and tight integration than what is currently available in CRM/ERP tend to make this decision. This would be a full-blown bespoke UI development with RFC or web service based backend integration. The end result will of course be a sleek looking and user friendly UI but the design, development, performance tuning and testing effort will be enormous and there is indeed an inherent risk of a substantial number of defects due to the high coding effort involved.

7. SAP CAF – Guided Procedures (SAP GP)

Guided Procedures run on BPM Runtime and can be used to design a sleek bespoke ‘Order to Cash’ workflow via Web Services based integration (SOA) with the backend ECC, CRM and legacy Systems. GP Development will be based on NWDS.

8. Fiori Based Applications – ECC / CRM

These are the next generation HTML5 based applications that bring together information from both ERP and CRM. SAP has currently provided 25 ‘out of the box ’ Fiori Applications (ECC 6.0 EHP 7/ CRM 7.0 EHP 3). New applications will be provided as part of further updates. SAP’s Fiori applications bundles the CRM and ERP transactions that a sales Personnel would need on a single user interface in a user friendly UI to improve efficiency. These applications can be accessed seamlessly across devices – desktop, notebook, tablet or smartphone and includes support for the SAP Mobile Platform by leveraging the inherent capabilities of HTML5.

This new UI technology and ‘out of the box’ applications from SAP will hopefully provide the much needed relief to customers and SAP consultants who are at the receiving end of the customer’s ire due to not being able to meet the high expectations of users for a “consumer grade” user experience that the traditional SAP UI technologies are unable to meet.

9. HANA Cloud Platform Based Applications with On-Premise Integration

HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) is SAP’s PaaS Offering. The applications can run in SAP HANA directly or in the JAVA Runtime Environment. SAP HANA Cloud Platform currently supports Java EE 6 Web Profile and a subset of the Java 7 SE specification.

This closely ties in with a Service Oriented Architecture. The marketplace will play a crucial part for rapid deployment of plug-in bespoke applications (developed and marketed by SAP Partners).

10. hybris with ECC Integration

Watch this space! Now that hybris is part of SAP, this is likely to be SAP’s strategic solution for the E-commerce platform. WCEM will be supported until the end of this decade for existing customers but there will be no further developments in the WCEM space.

The hybris platform is based on the Spring Framework. New functionalities can be added by plugging in Web Services (SOA Based).

Depending on the business scenario, there are three integration options:

  • Asynchronous integration
  • Synchronous integration
  • Hybrid integration (asynchronous with synchronous pricing)

These are truly exciting times for SAP Customers and Partners.

11. SAP Business By-Design

This is SAP’s initial foray into cloud based offerings ideally suited for SMEs and subsidiaries of large corporations – It is a complete, integrated suite across financials, human resources, sales, procurement, customer service, and supply chain. SAP Business ByDesign is managed, monitored, and maintained by SAP based on a SaaS model. However, Business ByDesign seems to have been put in the backburner and SAP’s focus has shifted to CoC and HCP.

SAP Cloud Applications Studio is the development environment for SAP Business ByDesign enhancements.

12. SAP Business All-in-One

Business All-in-One rapid-deployment solution (RDS) is based on SAP’s flagship ERP (ECC) Software that could be integrated with the rapid deployment solutions of the other components of the business suite (CRM, SCM etc.) Some of the complex functionalities and modules are suppressed in order to provide a ‘consumption ready’ solution through pre-configuration according to best practices for specific industry verticals.

NWBC (NetWeaver Business Client) based UI is available for Business All-in-One applications.

An online configurator is available to calculate the solution cost based on the scope!

13. SAP Business One

SAP Business One is designed specifically for small businesses or subsidiaries of large companies offering an affordable way to manage an entire business and is sold exclusively through SAP partners.

SAP Business One is not based on the ABAP Stack. Business One APIs (based on COM technology) can be enhanced to meet specific customer requirements using the SAP Business One Development Environment (B1DE).

‘SAP Business One On-Demand’ is the cloud based alternative to the On Premise SAP Business One.

14. SAP S/4 HANA

This is SAP’s recently launched next-generation business suite, and is widely hailed as a potential game changer in the space of business applications. It is a new product fully built on the in-memory platform SAP HANA – and modern design principles with the SAP Fiori user experience (UX).

SAP S/4HANA delivers massive simplifications (customer adoption, data model, user experience, decision making, business processes, and models) and innovations (Internet of Things, Big Data, business networks, and mobile-first) to help businesses run simple in a digital and networked economy.

Multiple deployment options are offered: on-premise, cloud (public and managed), and hybrid deployments to give real choice to customers.

Existing Business Suite customers are also offered clear roadmaps if they wish to migrate to SAP S/4 HANA with minimal disruption.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I would like to re-iterate that it would not be possible to single out ‘a preferred’ option as the recommended approach as each solution has its pros and cons and this is where the experience and expertise of Gauri’s Solution Architects can be leveraged to choose and validate the right strategic solution for your company.

Watch this space for follow-on blogs!

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