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Marry SAP's Knowledge Warehouse and the mySAP Workplace, and What Do You Get?

by Karsten Hohage | SAPinsider

January 1, 2001

by Karsten Hohage, SAP SAPinsider - 2001 (Volume 2), January (Issue 1)
 

The SAP Knowledge Warehouse (KW) is a critical part of mySAP Business Intelligence, since good business decisions are always made on the basis of structured as well as unstructured information. Data warehouses and analytical tools such as BW and SEM deliver the structured information, while Content Management tools such as SAP KW offer an effective way to accumulate, organize, and transfer unstructured business information. This article describes how you can extend the benefits of the KW simply by taking full advantage of its integration with the mySAP Workplace.

     While KW focuses on transferring information, the Workplace is based on the notion of personalizing that information. Give users access to the information, applications, and services they need to do their particular job — don’t clutter their workspace with irrelevant information — and you promote productivity, not to mention end user satisfaction. Through the Workplace, users can, in a targeted and efficient way, access key organizational knowledge, external news feeds, intranet and Internet content, interactive training programs, technical documentation, assessment tools, and content management tools.

     Marry these two solutions — KW and the Workplace — and you optimize knowledge transfer. Workplace users gain browser-based access to all relevant information.¹

Access to these KW-based assets can be achieved in any of the following ways:

  • The role menu in the mySAP Launchpad
  • KW’s navigation structure n A search engine
  • A Business Process

Specifics about each will be presented in this article.

Knowledge management solutions revolve around the notion of effectively generating, brokering, structuring, and transferring knowledge. The goal is to make information and intellectual assets reusable, searchable, and available to those who need them. Toward this end, SAP delivers:

  • mySAP Business Intelligence, including SAP Business Information Warehouse (BW) and SAP Knowledge Warehouse (KW), which provide the tools for amassing and analyzing structured and unstructured data from SAP and non-SAP systems alike to integrate information with transactions in the mySAP Workplace.

  • mySAP Strategic Enterprise Management (SEM), also part of mySAP Business Intelligence, which enables enterprises to gather, organize, and analyze data for the express purpose of strategic planning, and then present these findings to all groups (inside and outside the company) that have a stake in the viability of the enterprise.

  • mySAP Human Resources, which includes Personnel Development (skills, qualifications) and Training and Event Management designed to help manage the learning organization.

  • Learning components (Performance Assessment Workbench in KW 5.1), which provide the tools to easily conduct online tests and assessments to monitor and quantify the progress of employee qualifications and knowledge management efforts.

Access from a Role Menu in the mySAP Launchpad

Most of the information that comes across your desk is not meant for the general population of your company. Certainly, there is information that is meant for organization-wide consumption, but once you get beyond generalities, it’s clear that the purchasing, engineering, HR, and legal departments, to name a few, need access to very different types of information. To align knowledge transfer with these types of specific roles, the Workplace gives users direct access to SAP KW. Users are linked to documents that reside within KW from the Launchpad, which constitutes the “pull” portion of the mySAP Workplace (see Figure 1). Alternatively, documents that reside within KW can be actively pushed to users by utilizing MiniApps that reside in the “push” portion of the Workplace.

Figure 1 Access to SAP KW from the Workplace

     In Figure 1, you see a typical Workplace interface. The Launchpad (left frame) includes links to intranet addresses maintained in SAP KW and to the Knowledge Workbench. The “Who’s Who” MiniApp (top right frame) provides access to employee information in SAP HR (HR integration plays an important role in SAP’s comprehensive knowledge management solution). The Workflow Inbox (bottom right frame) contains Web content items to be edited or approved for release.

     If you already use the mySAP Workplace, you know that the Launchpad and/or Easy Access Menu can easily be configured for roles or single users by using transaction /pfcg. These areas of the Workplace may contain transactions, reports, external or internal URLs, as well as KW objects. The roles determined in the mySAP Workplace provide users with access to the targeted, specific data they need, without requiring them to perform a full-text search of the KW contents or to choose the correct systems for information access.

     Figure 2 shows the configuration of a specific role’s Launchpad in transaction /pfcg. The link to a relevant training course is being added to the mySAP Launchpad of a user role. After completion of this minor administrative task, all users who are assigned to this role will find the new link in their Launchpad. This ensures the delivery of the right information to the right users, and at the same time prevents information overload, since only selected users will view the new link. Since, in this case, the added link is a link to a KW info object, the user’s logon data will determine additional specifics of the document to be displayed. The link to a logical info object will, in combination with the user information, determine which physical info object should be displayed. In SAP’s Knowledge Management solution, various physical information objects, such as different content, language, and format versions of an object, are held together by logical information objects.

Figure 2 Editing Roles for KW Access from the Workplace

Access Through KW’s Navigation Structure

If users simply want to browse through the available information in a certain area of the Knowledge Warehouse, they can access the different navigation structures of the KW in the Workplace or independently — in their Web browser.

Access via a Search Engine

The SAP KW 5.0 has an open API that can be accessed by search engines. The Verity™ Search Module for R/3 (VMS), which is delivered with the KW, retrieves documents via full-text search. SAP KW 5.1 (which has been available as of November 2000) offers additional search features, such as "see also" functionality to find similar documents, feature extraction capabilities, and advanced attribute-based search methods.

     In the future, Knowledge Management with mySAP.com will continue to provide an open API to allow any search engine to access the KW content. In addition, SAP will implement new search and classification functionality, including automatic document classification, thesaurus generation, integration of external Web pages into the internal indexing system, and the search for subject matter experts via the automatic evaluation of documents and their authors.

Access from a Business Process

When purchasers create a purchase order, for example, they only need to click on a single link within that process to view information related to the transaction. This can be either the Application Help, delivered by SAP, or any other information you chose to link to that process.

     After you have maintained the respective remote function call (RFC) destinations (transaction /sm59), any SAP or non-SAP system can be accessed from the mySAP Workplace. This means transactions can connect directly to the KW system. It also means that your business processes - whether you use BW, SEM, CRM, or a non-SAP system - can be directly connected to your organization's KW system.

     To assign an information object to an R/3 transaction in any system in your system landscape, use the SAP GUI interface to the SAP KW. Here you select a specific info object and then choose Info Object -> Link -> Maintain. A list of all systems that you have entered as RFC destinations pops up, as shown in Figure 3. When you have picked a system and logged on, the dialog box for maintaining the link in that system appears. You can then assign the information object to a transaction, a program, or a development class. The assigned info object will be called by Application Help in the Help menu of the system you selected.

Figure 3 Linking KW Objects Directly to Your Transactions

Sharing Knowledge

Creating and Editing Information
Many of the KW's tools - such as those for editing any type of content - are available directly from your Web browser, as shown in Figure 4 (which shows the editing feature with Microsoft's DHTML Editing Control). Once a user is granted the proper authorization to access intranet pages maintained in the KW, the pages will display buttons to edit documents or maintain attributes directly in the Web browser.

Figure 4 An Example of SAP KW's Editing Features via a Web Browser

Classifying and Filtering Information
Knowledge brokers and/or suppliers can filter information in the KW by simply assigning objects to certain roles and/or navigation structures. Alternatively, SAP's classification and search functionality is able to automatically classify and group documents according to their content, which enables a targeted and intelligent retrieval.

Pushing Information
An example of info push into MiniApps is given back in Figure 1, in the form of the workflow inbox. The inbox displays all documents that have undergone a status change from "Editing" to "For Release." The documents for release now appear in the inbox of the manager, who either approves them or sets their status to "Resubmit," sending them back to the author's inbox. Editing and approval workflows are delivered with the KW. Additional workflows can be defined as standard SAP Workflows.

Providing Feedback
The most important factor in improving information available in your content management system is user feedback. The KW offers a standard functionality that enables users to send their comments directly to the author (or the person otherwise responsible) of an information object.

Distribution Issues
While you access SAP KW in a variety of ways, the Workplace has certain advantages over conventional HTML links:

  • Context-specific links from the Workplace to KW - depending on a user's logon data, different objects can be called by the same link.

  • Automatic update of the links in the mySAP Workplace - if KW objects are moved or renamed, they will still be found with the same link from the mySAP Workplace.

  • Centralized access to server address - if a KW system is moved, mirrored, etc., the address to be called must only be updated in a single place.

Conclusion

This article has focused on some examples for the integration of the KW with the mySAP Workplace. Other integration possibilities include:

  • Integration with the Training and Event Management module (TEM) of SAP HR.

  • Performance Assessment and automatic update of the Skills Database of SAP
  • HR.

  • Integration with the Document Management System available from Product Lifecycle Management, so that new information objects are added as you move through the product lifecycle.

  • Integration with any self-defined process built on APIs. KW objects are integrated in the standard ABAP development environment and can be assigned to development classes.

     The combination of the SAP KW, the mySAP Workplace, and other components of the mySAP solution ensure the seamless integration of any unstructured data with your business processes - a crucial competitive advantage in today's information-centered business world. For more on SAP Knowledge Management, see SAP's KM Web site at www.sap.com/km, or visit the SAP Service Marketplace at http://service.sap.com/km.


¹ Simple editor tasks can also be performed in the Web browser, while administrators or authors of large new areas will access those areas via the Knowledge Workbench or SAP GUI.

Karsten Hohage has been with Product Management of SAP Knowledge Warehouse since January 1999. He can be reached at karsten.hohage@sap.com. Figure 1 Access to SAP KW from the Workplace Figure 2 Editing Roles for KW Access from the Workplace Figure 3 Linking KW Objects Directly to Your Transactions.

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