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SAP as Easy as Opening Email? Introducing Project Mendocino

by Dennis Moore | SAPinsider

January 1, 2006

Imagine: Without ever leaving your familiar Microsoft Outlook desktop environment, you can transparently tie in with backend SAP processes. This interoperability is now a reality with Project Mendocino. Garner the insights of SAP’s Dennis Moore as he sheds light on exactly what adopters of Project Mendocino stand to gain from this revolutionary new technology that integrates mySAP ERP business functions with Microsoft Office applications.
 

Dennis Moore
General Manager,
Emerging Solutions PTU,
SAP Labs, LLC

Picture yourself sitting at a desk working in Microsoft Outlook. Seamlessly, automatically, and whenever appropriate, your desktop activities link directly to your company's SAP processes. Imagine:

  • You are a manager who gets an email alert in your Outlook Inbox notifying you that your travel budget has exceeded 50% for the year. From that same email you can request to transfer budget funds from another line item to stave off a potential shortfall.

  • You are an employee who schedules a meeting with a customer, and your Outlook Calendar automatically asks you if the meeting is billable and presents you with a list of billing accounts to choose from.

  • You are a supervisor who writes an email congratulating an employee for making a tight deadline, and then from Outlook you place that email directly into the employee's personnel file.
Without ever leaving your familiar Outlook desktop environment, you are transparently tied in with applicable backend SAP workflows, financial transactions, and HR processes.

How is this possible? This interoperability is enabled by a new offering from SAP known as Project Mendocino. Project Mendocino links mySAP ERP business functions to Microsoft Office applications. Desktop applications trigger transactions in the ERP system.

In its first release, Project Mendocino supports four common business scenarios: time and billable meetings management, budget monitoring, organization management processes, and leave management requests (see Figure 1). Project Mendocino is a new paradigm in that it does not take a bunch of SAP user experiences and place them in a separate window that launches when you're running Outlook, requiring users to "alt-tab" between the two environments. Project Mendocino actually puts tasks that are part of the SAP platform into Outlook.

Business Scenario Business Functions
Time Management
Transferring information from an electronic personal calendar to a company time sheet or accounting form is one of the most cumbersome tasks. With Project Mendocino's Time Management capability, information collected in Outlook Calendar can be directly fed into mySAP ERP.
  • Users can employ their Outlook Calendar to record and track billable project time.

  • When planning meetings in Outlook Calendar, users are prompted as to whether the meeting is for a billable purpose and are presented with a list of billing accounts.

  • If workflow requires manager approval of a billable meeting, the manager is alerted in Outlook and can approve or reject the request in the very same email.

  • Users can see links to relevant statistics and company policies pertaining to time management.
Leave Management
Planning time off from work usually requires users to jump from one calendar to another, creating a paper chain that can leave calendars out of sync. With Project Mendocino's Leave Management capability, users can use their Outlook Calendar to schedule leave requests and the approval workflow can all be contained in Exchange
  • Employees using Outlook Calendar can file a leave request, and the system will automatically forward it to the appropriate approval authority for review.

  • Project Mendocino will provide context for leave policies and procedures. For example, an employee requesting leave will be able to click on links related to company policies regarding leaves for marriage, bereavement, birth, etc.

  • The workflow for review and approval will also be contained within Outlook for managers and other supervisors.
Budget Monitoring
Tracking budgets and acting upon changes in status is one of the most powerful features for managers in Project Mendocino. Users can configure Outlook using Project Mendocino to alert them of financial conditions affecting a budget, but instead of getting a text email with a link to another system, the user can get the context they need and access to the actual business processes that will enable them to act upon the alert in the email itself.
  • Office users can receive regularly scheduled reports, notifications, and alerts from mySAP ERP for specific budgets and cost centers.

  • Analytics, budgeting guidelines, and policies are available through Outlook.

  • Alerts can come with preconfigured reports to provide needed context from which the user can make decisions and also trigger follow-up activities (e.g., workflows and transactions).

  • Upon receipt of a report, the manager can initiate a budget transfer or other adjustment.

  • Administrators can make specific reports in mySAP ERP and make them available for distribution via Outlook to end users based on roles.
Team Management
Team Management, although not a replacement for SAP Manager Self-Service, will make many common HR tasks possible via Microsoft Outlook. Users can use Outlook Contacts to retrieve up-to-date information about employees, open positions, and organizational structures.
  • Outlook Contacts are connected with the mySAP ERP Human Capital Management (mySAP ERP HCM) system, and HCM information is available based on a user's role. The type of information can include compensation and lines of authority.

  • An Outlook user can access organizational charts and have access to other related mySAP ERP HCM data. Links to personnel files will also be visible, again based on the user's role.

  • Managers will be able to make personnel change requests through the Outlook interface.
Figure 1
Business Functions of Project Mendocino's Four Key Scenarios

 
Minimum system requirements:

  • Microsoft Office 2003 or later, with Active Directory 2000 or later
  • mySAP ERP 2004 or later

One of the key industry powerhouses that shaped the Mendocino initiative is SAP's Dennis Moore.

SAP for Everyone

For Moore, General Manager of Emerging Solutions at SAP, the implications of Project Mendocino are enormous. "There are 400 million people who already know how to use Microsoft Office," he says. "Each and every one of them now knows how to use Mendocino. That means every one of them can use SAP." No special interfaces. Minimal training. Office users do not even need to be aware that they are automatically linking to SAP processes.

This opens up the power of SAP to legions of workers who wouldn't otherwise be SAP users. Managers in any department, without ever having to be trained on the SAP interface, can have up-to-date and updateable-at-any-time information in their inbox — in Excel format — that they can manipulate. "It really opens up SAP to a large number of people who are comfortable with Office but never thought they'd be with SAP," says Moore.

In so doing, enterprise information becomes as accessible to managers as the information they store on their desktops. "This," says Moore, "empowers them to react more immediately to changes in the organization or to approvals that are waiting for them. Moreover, it contextualizes the work they're doing, adding vital information from SAP and direct links to additional SAP systems and processes such as SAP Manager Self-Service." With Project Mendocino, you can use Outlook Contacts to look up an employee, and in the related action area, you could have a link for creating a performance review for the employee or maybe offering them a bonus or raise. And it's all contextual — you can see information about their current pay and when they got their last raise, for example. The SAP process actually surfaces within and as part of Outlook.

Revolutionizing How You Do Business

Project Mendocino is designed to reduce inefficiency and increase employee productivity and compliance with company processes. In most businesses there are several areas for this type of improvement — in particular in situations where users need to toggle between Microsoft Outlook and the company's SAP enterprise systems. For example, imagine this mundane scenario: You set up several client meetings on your Outlook Calendar, but then weeks or months later you have to go back and try to match each meeting to the relevant billing or hourly expenses. Project Mendocino eliminates redundancy and opportunities for inaccuracy by automatically collecting the meeting time, duration, and date from your Outlook Calendar and feeding it into your SAP billing system. The information delivered is more accurate, more tied to the bottom line, and takes less employee time and effort to input.

The first product to ship with enterprise services, Project Mendocino is a formidable demonstration of the power of Enterprise Services Architecture (ESA).

Project Mendocino also allows true interaction between the structured and formal processes of an enterprise SAP system and the unstructured and informal environment of email. SAP budgets, reports, alerts, and leave requests can be delivered right into your Outlook Inbox, and they can be viewed and acted upon with a simple point and click. The Project Mendocino software bridges the experiential differences between the ERP system and the desktop productivity application.

The Project Mendocino Flight Plan

Project Mendocino demonstrates how real-world, valuable business processes can be run in Microsoft Office and produce a whole new proposition for SAP users around business value on the desktop.

The flight plan for the software is to expand the business processes and the user scenarios, and to deliver on the promise of providing SAP customers with the ability to create their own Mendocino-based scenarios. This is a new opportunity for both SAP and Microsoft developers.

Fostering a New Breed of Information Workers

"Project Mendocino empowers information workers to become enterprise information workers," says Moore. "It extends their reach by providing intuitive and familiar access to helpful data and business processes from their SAP systems, all within the everyday environment of their desktop applications. Project Mendocino expands an employee's business knowledge without compromising their comfort zone."

For more information on Project Mendocino, please visit www.sap.com/mendocino.

Top 10 Benefits of Project Mendocino

  1. Reduces redundancy and tedium for information workers — Project Mendocino removes the need for redundant tasks such as making leave requests, filling out time sheets for billing, and requesting or generating standard financial reports.
2. Improves compliance — By more closely integrating SAP with Microsoft Office applications, Project Mendocino improves audit traceability and transparency.
3. Reduces information inconsistency — Project Mendocino eliminates many different versions of the truth, in particular inconsistencies between desktop and enterprise applications that are the result of errors when rekeying information from one to the other.
4. Integrates smoothly — Project Mendocino is a separate product, promising easy integration for customers with mySAP ERP 2004 or later, Microsoft Office 2003 or later, and Microsoft Active Directory 2000 or later.
5. Speeds user acceptance and adoption — By employing Microsoft Office as a user interface, Project Mendocino improves business process automation across the organization and reduces reliance on power users, who because of their role can become workflow bottlenecks.
6. Achieves wider dissemination of better information — Analytics and other reports from SAP arrive in a manager's inbox in a best-practices template for easy consumption in Microsoft Excel. Information workers personalize, format, and subscribe to new reports from Outlook.
7. Enables offline use with invisible synchronization — All Project Mendocino functions can be performed offline and will automatically synchronize and update ERP databases when one returns to the network.
8.. Promotes customization and personalization — Project Mendocino recognizes Windows NT authorizations and maps them to SAP roles, giving information workers access to appropriate, secure transactional data and enabling them to modify data and report templates.
9. Provides information in its proper context — Project Mendocino can be configured to include links to information sources in other systems to provide information workers with the most up-to-date and, most importantly, consistent information required to make business decisions.
10. Increases the value of existing investments in both Microsoft Office and SAP — By initiating SAP business processes through the familiar Microsoft Office interface, a higher degree of business process automation occurs across the organization with less training.


Dennis Moore is General Manager, Emerging Solutions PTU, at SAP Labs in Palo Alto, California. His team is responsible for creating solutions for untapped markets. Dennis's team has pioneered many SAP firsts including xApps and composite applications, Project Mendocino for information worker productivity, model-based development, service-oriented architecture, and Guided Procedures and Work Centers for user productivity.

Dennis joined SAP in 2001 and has 20 years of experience in the enterprise software market. Before joining SAP, he spent four years working with numerous startups as a founder, key executive, and consultant. Previously, Dennis spent nearly eight years in a number of senior management positions in product development and marketing at Oracle.

Prior to joining Oracle, Dennis held a number of product development and management positions with Ingres Corp. (now Computer Associates), Dendrite International, and Procter & Gamble. Dennis graduated from Princeton University, earning a BSE in Chemical Engineering.

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