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SAP Brazil Nota Fiscal (SAP NFe) - Production Support Is Where Costs of In-house Solutions can Sky Rocket

by Steve Sprague, Vice President of Product Strategy, Invoiceware International

February 28, 2013

Over the last year, many companies have been re-evaluating their strategy for managing Brazil Nota Fiscal and Latin America eInvoicing in general.  These changes are due to Production Support issues and costs of in-house solutions. Many companies don't fully understand the issues with purely in-house software, so in this blog we are covering some of the most common issues and negative business affects. If you are running an in-house solution make sure you understand the true cost of operating that solution.

Common support issues:

  • Inability to print the DANFe because there is no monitoring of the printers at offsite locations. This causes delays in shipping and potential lost revenue from customers
  • Too many monitors cause issues in resolving the problems as they arise.  This is a huge issue for solutions that have too many software components.  For example, many companies are running a process that has
  1. SAP NFe extensions to the ERP system
  2. Monitor for EAI - SAP PI to connect the ERP to the NFe box which is a separate install
  3. Application Server for the production of a digital signature and signing component
  4. A secondary monitor for SAP PI to the SEFAZ

With four distinct monitors for an end-to-end process, how is your organization dealing with small errors, let alone process errors such as the coordination of cancelling a Nota Fiscal.  These issues cause shipping delays, fire drills at the SAP COE, and in some cases shutting down a plant and customer deliveries.  Can your organization really afford to have your plant shut down, what is the cost of this to your operations? 

  • Changes from the government also cause chaos for in-house solutions. A common complaint we hear all the time is: what is my 22% maintenance fee really covering when the updates are delivered at the last minute and I still have to have internal resources or an SI install these patches in my customized ERP environment.  This problem is compounded when you are running multiple in-house solutions in many countries.  See the diagram below:

     Common Problems with InHouse Software                    

  Common Problems

  • Multiple Solutions
  • Multiple Monitors
  • Support
    • Who do you call when there is an issue?
    • Is Spanish, Portuguese and English support available?
    • Is support responsive to an SLA?
  • Change Management
    • Who is responsible for keeping system compliant?
    • Who manages the ERP configuration?
    • Who coordinates all the pieces and testing?

In summary, make sure you understand your Nota Fiscal solution beyond just functional check boxes. The real issues and costs are in the implementation, monitoring, and maintenance of the solution. Look for solution providers that solve all three issues including production support and ongoing change management.  Many Fortune 500 companies are turning to hybrid offerings that place the burden of production support and change management on the provider.  The elimination of multiple NFe hardware boxes, middleware instances, constant ERP configurations, day to day monitoring and fixes, and reallocation of staff to growing the business can have a huge ROI.  With the new 2013 changes and forced licensing for new inbound processes, let alone the implementation costs -- it is time to re-evaluate your Latin America compliance strategy, especially Brazil Nota Fiscal.

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