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SAP NetWeaver — The Technology Platform for mySAP ERP

by Matthias Haendly | SAPinsider

April 1, 2004

by Matthias Haendly, Ralf Strassner, and Markus Hermann, SAP AG SAPinsider - 2004 (Volume 5), April (Issue 2)
 

mySAP ERP is powered by SAP NetWeaver, which brings SAP's open integration and application platform to your ERP business. But what exactly does this mean for your organization's goals? How does it give you better insight into your daily business? How can it improve business decision-making and help assure greater corporate governance? And finally, can it bring the kind of adaptability you need in your ERP systems to lower TCO while also bringing increased productivity for each user?

The most significant value in including SAP NetWeaver in mySAP ERP is in the power of its integration capabilities — this alone is a big step toward lowering TCO and increasing the flexibility needed for change, especially when you consider the costs of integration efforts when developing, running, and enhancing your business solutions. So along with offering an open standards-based platform for your applications, SAP NetWeaver offers an integrated set of technologies that minimizes the need for custom integration. This means you can focus on integrating your business rather than integrating technologies. There is no need to make your portal solution learn how to exploit your business intelligence solution, or to devote time and resources to establishing a common user management or monitoring environment. Because mySAP ERP includes SAP NetWeaver, these benefits are now fully available to your enterprise's backend operations.

SAP NetWeaver delivers out-of-the-box integration through predefined business content, ready-to-use business intelligence reports, user roles, interfaces, and process descriptions, giving you a head start in any integration project.

How Does mySAP ERP Benefit from SAP NetWeaver?

SAP NetWeaver provides mySAP ERP with SAP's next-generation technology platform to enhance openness, usability, business transparency, and process integration. It enables customers to easily integrate existing monolithic or legacy landscapes into a heterogeneous environment that includes non-SAP systems.

SAP NetWeaver provides mySAP ERP with an open integration and application platform that:

  • Comes integrated out of the box. In addition to SAP Web Application Server, you also have built-in integration with SAP BW, SAP Enterprise Portal, SAP Mobile Infrastructure, and SAP Exchange Infrastructure, among others.

  • Delivers the foundation that serves all your ERP applications and the newest mySAP Business Suite solutions. All future development of mySAP ERP will be based on SAP NetWeaver. SAP will continue to adapt and expand its offerings — including portal-based desktop offerings, self-services, and business content — so your landscape will be ready to embrace these enhancements down the road.

  • Is built to extend your mySAP ERP solution step by step. With the open integration approach of NetWeaver, you can incorporate SAP BW and SAP SEM for their immediate benefits while you begin planning to upgrade SAP R/3 further down the road.1

  • Integrates non-SAP solutions and systems into your business processes and solution landscape. Because of its open approach, you have a highly flexible foundation for adding and updating your ERP solutions. By redeploying the skills and hardware available when running mySAP ERP, you can accomplish third-party integration with the least possible effort.

SAP NetWeaver and mySAP ERP Working in Concert

Across all the functional areas of mySAP ERP, NetWeaver provides new features, as highlighted in Figure 1. While these are only a subset of all SAP NetWeaver capabilities that are adopted within mySAP ERP, they provide some examples of how SAP NetWeaver´s capabilities are leveraged within mySAP ERP.

Figure 1
SAP NetWeaver and the New Fuctions It Supports in mySAP ERP

Self-Services
There are significant gains in efficiency and effectiveness to be gained from simply making ERP systems more accessible to the right end-users across the company — especially when it frees up specialists and departments to concentrate on their most important tasks. Self-Services for mySAP ERP allow you to do just that. Self-Services provide capabilities that enable nonspecialist users to create, view, and modify data using various SAP NetWeaver technologies, including SAP Enterprise Portal, without requiring reporting efforts or assistance from expert users. Such easy access to information allows employees to manage tasks that were previously handled for them.

For example, adding the Employee Self-Service (ESS) desktop expedites updates for life and work changes (such as marriage or a new job), freeing HR resources to handle strategic initiatives. More than 80 ready-to-use ESS services are available in 28 languages that run in 32 countries. And through a manager portal, Self-Services enable managers to identify, retain, and reward top performers, recruit the right people, and make smarter decisions, without direct HR department involvement. It culls data from disparate sources, empowers managers to get the most from their staff, and supports efficient and proactive management of employees and budgets.

SAP NetWeaver's open approach also means that users are not tied to their desktop. Multiple interaction platform technologies, such as browser, voice, and mobile devices, can be used for easy and Web-based access to internal and external applications, business content, and services. SAP NetWeaver enables mySAP ERP to bring enterprise resource planning to every desktop within your company.

Analytics
Traditionally, ERP has focused on your internal financial and back-office operations. But today, when it comes to operational planning, most companies must take a more global view of their enterprise and will need the analytics to support that approach. The SAP Strategic Enterprise Management (SEM) component has been included in mySAP ERP to bring you those analytics and help you close the loop between operational planning and more global and strategic operations.

In addition, SEM Business Planning and Simulation provides tools for financial planning. It also supports a process to build a planning model, which integrates global strategic planning and specific operational planning problems with a strong focus on business processes throughout the enterprise. Business Planning and Simulation is closely integrated with SAP BW so that reports can be set up very easily. For greater accessibility, you can even set up Web-based interfaces in a WYSIWYG manner so that your planning applications can be accessed via intranets/Internets.

For the interpretation and visualization of key performance indicators (KPIs), SEM Strategy Management offers concepts such as the Balanced Scorecard with nonfinancial measures in enterprise performance management that go well beyond the scope of regular management reporting.

Credit Management
Using effective credit management, companies can reduce their balance of arrears (Days Sales Outstanding) and prevent the possibility of nonpayment for a delivery that has already been made. However, achieving a truly company-wide credit policy has traditionally involved a heavy and costly integration effort — the integration of credit management in all distribution channels — as well as support for automated real-time decisions and access to internal and external credit information.

With SAP NetWeaver at work, though, mySAP ERP's Credit Management feature does much of this for you. Due to the Integration Broker capabilities of SAP NetWeaver, minimal efforts are now required to connect SAP and non-SAP systems to a central credit management system in a heterogeneous environment, enabling a more robust and accurate credit management system.

Learning Solution
Training and information exchange is an opportunity to enhance your workforce, but it's becoming a more important tool in reaching partners and customers as well. To reduce the costs and effort in training, the Learning Solution lets you deliver knowledge to employees, business partners, and customers, as well as tailor learning paths to individual learning styles and needs. It also lets you structure, deliver, and track the distribution of information, e-learning (self-paced or synchronous), and classroom training.

Tightly integrated with SAP NetWeaver Knowledge Management, which supports access to unstructured information (slide shows, audio files) as well as integrated search, content management, and workflow capabilities, the Learning Solution enables knowledge transfer and collaborative learning to keep your workforce prepared for the future.

RFID/Auto-ID
With mandates coming from retailers like Wal-Mart and Metro AG, as well as the U.S. Department of Defense and others, RFID/auto-ID technology has a high impact on today´s supply chain processes and operational management. SAP enables companies to leverage the benefits of RFID and auto-ID technology now and in the future.2

To support RFID and auto-ID solutions, mySAP ERP capitalized on three of SAP NetWeaver´s components in the process: Master Data Management harmonizes product and business partner data, exchange of autoID information across systems is supported with the Information Broker, and role-based access to autoID information is achieved via the Enterprise Portal.

Mobile Asset Management
Mobile Asset Management comprises a broad range of business applications to be processed online or offline on a mobile device, such as recording counter readings or processing notifications and orders

You can use Mobile Asset Management to process complete maintenance-relevant business processes. The basis technology allows you to work locally, independently of the backend system. You need only log on to the backend system when you want to retrieve data or information from the SAP system or when you want to send data, such as material consumption or hours worked, to the SAP system. The Mobile Asset Management application is "platform-independent" so it works with practically all popular mobile end devices.

Travel Management
Travel Management is one of the corporate services offered with mySAP ERP. Travel Management enables travelers to record their working hours and travel expenses offline, based on SAP's time management (CATS) and travel management applications. Data is synchronized with the SAP systems using the SAP Mobile Engine. This function effectively integrates "mobile" employees with their main SAP systems — anytime, anywhere — to increase employee efficiency, improve data quality, and streamline business processes.

Conclusion

With SAP NetWeaver as the foundation for your mySAP ERP solution, you gain enhanced functionality for streamlining your operations, analytics for your strategic planning needs, and the technology to support more effective financial, HR, logistic, and other backend processes. But most importantly, SAP NetWeaver allows you to reduce your TCO by avoiding costly integration exercises for integrating your current ERP landscape.

SAP NetWeaver not only brings its integration capabilities to enterprise resource planning, but it also enables mySAP ERP's evolution into a service-oriented application — one that can move from traditional transactional services to enterprise-scale Web services or enterprise services, building on the concepts of the Enterprise Services Architecture.3 Both are big steps toward increasing the flexibility needed for change and lowering short- and long-term TCO.

With SAP NetWeaver, you have a platform that will be ready to embrace change as your business process needs grow and evolve, by elevating your IT infrastructure from an enabler of work to an enabler of change. mySAP ERP, powered by SAP NetWeaver, helps your ERP business evolve from real-time data processing to real-time business processing.

For more information about SAP NetWeaver and mySAP ERP, visit www.sap.com/SAPNetWeaver and www.sap.com/erp.


1 For more on your transition strategy, see the article by Ralf Strassner and Juergen Jakowski in this issue of SAP Insider (www.SAPinsider.com).

2 For more information on SAP's RFID strategy, see "RFID and the Adaptive Enterprise: What's Real Now? What's Next?" in this issue of SAP Insider (www.SAPinsider.com).

3 See "When Does a Web Service Become an Enterprise Service?" by Franz-Josef Fritz, in this issue of SAP Insider (www.SAPinsider.com).


Matthias Haendly is Head of Product Marketing for "powered by SAP NetWeaver." Joining SAP in 1992, he worked on topics ranging from application development (Warehouse Management, Employee Self-Service) to implementation tools (Accelerated Data Transfer and Best Practices/ Preconfigured Systems) in positions such as developer and manager at SAP's offices in Walldorf, Germany, and Palo Alto, California. Matthias holds a masters degree in Business Administration and Engineering from the Technical University of Karlsruhe in Germany.
Ralf Strassner is a member of the Global ERP Initiative, currently focusing on topics such as the transition to mySAP ERP and SAP NetWeaver within mySAP ERP. He joined SAP in 1998 as a consultant in the area of Financial Services. Before Ralf joined the Global ERP Initiative, he was responsible for the global Rollout and Ramp-Up of SAP R/3 Enterprise.
Markus Hermann is a member of the Global ERP Initiative. He currently focuses on topics such as mySAP ERP Demo Showcases, SAP NetWeaver Upsell Opportunities within mySAP ERP Sales Cycle and mySAP ERP Field Communications. He has been with SAP since 1998. Before joining the Global ERP Initiative, he was in charge of several cross-application and technology projects such as Unicode and Accessibility for SAP R/3 Enterprise.

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