SAP Integration and Process
Optimization

 

SAP Integration and Process Optimization

It is well known that SAP can be difficult to work with. While SAP has strong transactional capabilities and is good at tracking and storing data, it has relatively poor process management capabilities, forcing users to tailor their businesses to the "SAP way of doing things" rather than moulding the software processes around business requirements.
Fiorano makes it possible to mould SAP to business needs rather than the other way around.

The SAP Integration Problem


Most SAP implementations, particularly SAP R/3 implementations, suffer from the following general problems:

  • Core processes designed for "Separation of Duty":
    • Unnecessarily complex and inefficient in an environment where one person executes several steps in a business process.
  • Changes to default templates are time-consuming:
    • Significant ABAP programming required.
  • Difficult to integrate with third party applications:
    • SAP integration projects are expensive and time-consuming. Existing integration tools, including SAP Netweaver, do not provide the productivity required to rapidly respond to changing business requirements.

The Fiorano Solution

Fiorano makes it easy to connect to SAP and to implement flexible business processes to augment and complement existing SAP processes. While all the enterprise data remains with the core SAP system, Fiorano frees the business to customize the implementation as required based on business needs rather than based on the SAP mandate. In other words, a business does not have to always "work around SAP". Instead, a business can use the benefits of SAP's strong transactional capabilities while getting the flexibility required to rapidly change processes as and when needed, with minimal programming and IT effort.

The links below discuss how several SAP business processes are optimized, augmented and rendered more flexible by Fiorano. This is just a small sample of possible processes optimization possibilities and is not an exhaustive list. The techniques listed here apply to all business processes built around the data stored in the SAP system.

The Fiorano Solution : Invoicing and Dispatch

Default SAP methodology for Invoice Creation:
  • Five separate steps for each Invoice, nine SAP screens
  • Designed for generality where multiple people may be needed to execute separate steps
  • Time per invoice: 12 minutes on average
  • Significant SAP training needed for each person creating invoices
Fiorano Benefits:
  • For a company creates over 10000 invoices monthly, the savings are over 200 man-days per month which translates to over $1M/yr in savings on just one optimized process
  • Solution design/implementation time: 2 weeks
  • No (expensive, SAP-specific) training required at local or remote locations
  • Non-tech-savvy personnel in remote locations/factories can easily create dispatch requests and invoices
Fiorano-Optimized Invoice Creation:
  • Company personnel work off friendly HTML screens instead of proprietary SAP screens
  • Single step, two screens, no specific training required
  • 2 minutes per invoice: 600% efficiency improvement

The Fiorano Solution : Lifting Plans and Bulk Orders

  • Key Processes in any Sales Organization:
    • Lifting plan: an estimate of the sales that will possibly be made over the quarter/year/fixed-term
    • Bulk order: an estimate of what will be lifted in a larger order
    • Lifting Plan and Bulk Order concepts typically need to be incorporated into the invoicing and report-generation processes in any organization
  • Benefits:
    • Fully automated processes with the Lifting plan and Bulk Order concepts integrated with invoicing and report generation
    • Easy modification of processes without programming
  • The Solution:
    • For each salesperson, the Lifting plan and all Bulk Orders are compared against actual orders and final invoices generated via automated Fiorano flows
    • Fiorano flows track differences between actual invoiced orders and the Lifting plan / Bulk Orders for each salesperson, enabling closer monitoring and better tracking of sales and salesperson performance
  • The Problem:
    • The "Lifting plan" and "Bulk Order" concepts are not fully supported by SAP
    • SAP's concept of "Bulk Order" is tied to a single Unit/Plant. The functionality however is inflexible and cannot be easily customized to match the needs of a given business

The Fiorano Solution : Goods Received Notes: MEGO/MIRO

  • Goods Received Notes - The process:
    • When Suppliers send goods to a manufacturer, a GRN (Goods Received Note) is generated, recording all items received from a supplier
    • The GRN is compared against the original PO placed on the supplier; SAP then determines the MEGO (goods in) and MIRO (value in); at the end of the exercise, the Supplier account is debited and the Bank Account is credited (within SAP)
  • Issues with SAP "generic GRN" Process:
    • Interdependencies between screens: and end-user has to enter values into successive screens over and over again, which takes time and is error-prone

      For instance, a user has to manually pick up TAX data from one screen and re-enter it into a succeeding screen; tax data from one invoice has to be manually entered as a bill booking into the next unit (SAP does not have this functionality built-in, since the tax rules are local to each country)
  • The Solution - Fiorano flows automate GRN:
    • Custom Fiorano flows ensure that data does not have to be manually re-entered into successive screens
    • Processes easily and rapidly customized to match business requirements, without programming
    • E.g. Tax data is picked up from one invoice and entered as a bill booking item into relevant downstream units
  • Benefits:
    • Elimination of manual intervention ensures faster process execution and reduced error-rates
    • Rapid customization; processes easily changed to match evolving business requirements)

The Fiorano Solution : Logistics

  • The Problem: credit approval requests:
    • Company has hundreds of distributors across the country
    • Distributors send trucks to 45+ factories to pick up goods
    • Each Distributor has a credit limit; if the limit is exceeded, explicit approval is required from a Company manager to raise the credit limit
    • Situation complicated due to several issues
      • Distributor vehicles arrive at Company production facilities at night
      • Approvals delayed till the next day cause significant disruption
      • Company managers need to manually log on to SAP from home to approve additional credit; bad internet connectivity prevents access to IT systems from remote locations; plus, the SAP interface used (R3) is poor and difficult to learn
  • The Solution: credit approval requests on mobile phones:
    • Company uses Fiorano flows to perform the complete "approval request" transaction over mobile phones
      • Initial approval request processed by Fiorano and placed on a publically accessible portal
      • Fiorano generates an SMS that is sent to the GPRS-enabled mobile phone of the manager
      • Managers access the portal by clicking the link in the SMS and approve or reject the request in the portal
      • Fiorano updates SAP at the backend with the approved/rejected notice.
  • Benefits:
    • Managers no longer need to access SAP via cumbersome SAP client applications; all relevant information now available on their mobile phones
    • Lower learning curve; lower licensing costs (less SAP client licenses)
    • Significant cost and time-savings for distributors due to faster turnaround times for approval requests

The Fiorano Solution : Order Processing and Stock Allocation

  • The Problem:
    • SAP R/3 allocates stock immediately for any sales order
    • By the time one reaches the last order, one may have run out of stock
    • Priority orders cannot be processed because available stock has already been pre-allocated to previous orders
    • Rollback needs to be performed manually; not practical to enter all orders into SAP in a single shot
    • Orders not entered into the system until they are ready for dispatch; lack of prioritized allocation of stock a major hindrance
  • The Solution:
    • Fiorano flows manage Order Processing
    • Order Entry: All orders can be entered into the system as they are produced
    • Prioritization: Fiorano flows involved to prioritize orders; separation of stock allocation from order entry enables easier prioritization
    • Stock Allocation: Fiorano flow invoked to pick up an order, allocate stock to it "just in time" and send it for invoicing via the optimized 2-step invoicing process.
  • Benefits:
    • Highly flexible order processing tailored to enterprise needs
    • No manual rollbacks
    • Easy and flexible order prioritization
    • Just-in-time stock allocation