Streamlining the process of establishing business relationships between purchasers and buyers is becoming an increasing important strategy to gain a competitive advantage. This process becomes even more complicated when coupled with the globalization challenges created by cross-border businesses. Therefore, organizations are looking for solutions that foster the relationship between potential suppliers and purchasing organizations right from the beginning of the supplier relationship, and on to the evaluation and continuous monitoring phases.
SAP Supplier Lifecycle Management offers a number of capabilities to achieve this requirement, especially in the areas of supplier self-registration, qualification, evaluation, and master data maintenance. The SRMSMC software component (the component name for Supplier Lifecycle Management), is typically installed as an add-on for the SAP NetWeaver application server for ABAP system.
The work method for supplier registration (in SAP Supplier Lifecycle Management) is based on purchasers declaring their intent by completing an online supplier registration form that goes to the purchasing organization for approval. After approval of the registration form, the supplier is created in the system as a potential supplier and can subsequently create administrator and other employee accounts. Once in the system, the supplier can then be promoted to a full-fledged supplier with or without qualification. This capability is designed to make the registration process relatively stress free and can be done from the comfort of your office without having to be present in the buyer’s office, thereby saving time and resources.
Architecturally, the SAP Supplier Lifecycle Management system consists of the buy side and the sell side. The buy side normally resides behind the firewall. The sell side normally resides outside of the firewall. It offers the seller an environment to access the supplier lifecycle management system for registration purposes and data maintenance if the registration request is approved.
I discuss the concept of the online supplier registration process using SAP Supplier Lifecycle Management. I also discuss how a potential supplier can be created manually (without completing an offline form).
Technically, the SAP Supplier Lifecycle Management system can be deployed as a stand-alone solution or integrated with back-end systems (SAP ERP, SAP Supplier Relationship Management [SRM], or SAP Master Data Governance [MDG]). I focus on the stand-alone deployment option.
In the SAP Supplier Lifecycle Management system landscape, communication between the participating systems can be via a Remote Function Call (RFC), SAP Process Integration (PI), or point-to-point communication via Web Service Reliable Messaging Protocol. Communication between the buy and sell sides is via RFC, and the background supervisor destination facilitates registration data transfer and replication of supplier master data changes between the participating systems.
To use SAP Supplier Lifecycle Management, you must configure the system properly from a technical perspective. This configuration includes setting up the appropriate communication framework, maintaining the system landscape attributes of the participating systems, and activation (or maintenance) of SAP Internet Communication Framework (SICF) services.
Supplier Lifecycle Management is delivered via business functions that must be activated. The Supplier Registration business function and dependent business functions must be activated. To activate these functions, execute transaction code SWF5 and follow menu path SAP Customizing Implementation Guide > Activate Business Functions. In the screen that appears, you can change the status of the business functions that are displayed (Figure 1). Select the check boxes for the business functions relative to SAP Supplier Lifecycle Management as shown in Figure 1. To activate these functions, click the Activate Changes button.
Activate the SAP Supplier Lifecycle Management business functions
On the sell side, two business functions are of special interest for a supplier registration business scenario: SMC_SUPPL_REG_OFW_1 (SLC, Supplier Registration (Sell Side) (Reversible)) and SMC_SUPPL_SMNT_OFW_1 (SLC, Supplier Data Maintenance (Sell Side) (Reversible)). The activation of SMC_SUPPL_SMNT_OFW_1 is a prerequisite for the activation of all sell-side business functions.
On the buy side, these two business functions are of special interest for a supplier registration business scenario: SMC_SUPPL_REG_BFW_1 (SLC, Supplier Registration (Buy Side) (Reversible)) and SMC_SUPPL_DATA_MGT_1 (SLC, Supplier Portfolio Management (Reversible)). The activation of SMC_SUPPL_DATA_MGT_1 business function is a prerequisite for the activation of all buy-side business functions.
Maintain Customer Parameter Settings
A number of customer parameter settings influence the behavior of the supplier registration process. To maintain these customer settings on the sell side, execute transaction code SPRO and follow menu path SAP Customizing Implementation Guide > SAP Supplier Lifecycle Management > Sell Side > Supplier Registration > Maintain Customer Settings for Supplier Registration. This action opens the screen shown in Figure 2. In this screen click the New Entries button and enter data in the rows under the Key Field and Parameter Value columns.
Typical setting for a supplier registration customer setting
The following parameters can be maintained with appropriate values in this customizing activity:
- ADMIN_USER: This is the user on the sell side responsible for sending email messages. This user must exist in processes based on transaction code SU01.
- PORTAL_ACTIVE: This confirms if the portal environment is deployed as part of the system landscape. Put an X in the row under the Parameter Value column if a portal environment is used; otherwise, leave it blank.
- PRIVACY_STMNT_EXTERNAL_CB: This is used to define the text of the company's data privacy statement. This is not the data privacy statement itself. It is the text contained near the check box where the potential suppliers confirm that they have read the data privacy statement and accept the terms and conditions specified in it during registration.
- PRIVACY_STMNT_EXTERNAL_URL: This is used to define the link to access the company’s data privacy statement.
- PRODUCT_CATEGORIES_MANDATORY: This is used to confirm if the definition of product categories is compulsory (or not) when completing the supplier registration form. If you specify an X for this parameter, then it is mandatory for potential suppliers to choose at least one product category when they are completing the supplier registration form.
- REG_DOCOBJ_ACC: This is used to specify the text of the email? sent on successful supplier registration. The default value for this parameter is /SRMSMC/PARTNER_REQ_ACCEPTED. To access parameter REG_DOCOBJ_ACC, execute transaction code SE61 and follow menu path Tools > ABAP Workbench > Utilities > Documentation. The content of document REG_DOCOBJ_ACC is shown in Figure 3.
The breakpoint definition in registration request acceptance emails
Single-text content is used to define the two separate emails sent following the approval of the supplier registration request. The first email contains the initial user ID; the second email contains the password. In the text content &BREAK& separates the content of the different emails. All text above the break condition (&BREAK&) is contained in the email containing the user ID. All text below the break condition (&BREAK&) is contained in the email containing the password. However, each of these emails has a different subject whose values are maintained by the following parameter keys:
- REG_DOCOBJ_ACC_PWD_SUBJ: This is used to specify the text of the subject for the email sent with the password after a supplier’s registration request has been approved.
- REG_DOCOBJ_ACC_SUBJ: This is used to specify the text of the subject for the email about successful supplier registration.
- REG_DOCOBJ_QUAL: This is used to define the text of the email about the receipt of automatic qualification. This parameter value definition is relevant in the scenario in which the system is configured to send qualification documents automatically following the approval of a supplier’s registration request.
- REG_DOCOBJ_QUAL_SUBJ: This is used to define the subject of the email about automatic qualification. This parameter value definition is relevant in the scenario in which the system is configured to send qualification documents automatically following the approval of a supplier’s registration request.
- REG_DOCOBJ_REJ: This is used to define the email text for the rejection of a registration request.
- REG_DOCOBJ_REJ_SUBJ: This is used to define the subject for the email about rejection of a registration request.
- REG_LOGIN_URL: This is used to define the URL for an initial supplier registration. This URL typically is sent to the supplier via email or publicly available on the corporate web site of the buyer. The URL for the supplier registration form follows the convention: https://<Host Name>:<Port Number>:1443/<External Alias>. For example, https://ecac.sapken.com:1443/slc_selfreg.
To get information about the host name and port number, execute transaction code SMICM and follow menu path Goto > Services. The Internet Communication Manager (ICM) monitor service display screen lists data for host names and service names or ports (Figure 4).
Host name and port number information
The associated SICF service for the supplier self-registration external alias is /default_host/sap/bc/bsp/srmsmc/ros_ext. When an external alias is maintained, it should be appended to the URL instead of the path of the target ICF service. To maintain a supplier self-registration external alias, execute transaction code SICF and follow SAP Easy Access menu path SAP Menu > Tools > Administration > Administration > Network > HTTP Service Hierarchy Maintenance .
Figure 5 shows a typical setting for supplier self-registration external alias.
External alias for supplier self-registration
In Figure 5 notice that the external alias has logon data maintained against it. These user details are used to log on when the external alias of the associated SICF service is called. The following parameters can be maintained with appropriate values in this activity:
- REG_LOGIN_USER_VALIDITY_DAYS: This parameter is used to define the validity period (in days) of the initial administrator user created following the successful approval of a registration request.
- REGISTRATION_GTC_CB: This is used to define the text of the organization’s text for terms and conditions.
- REGISTRATION_GTC_URL: This is used to define the link to the organization’s terms and conditions text.
- REGISTRATION_GTC_USED: This is used to activate the display of the check box and text for the organization’s terms and conditions
- TEXT_REGISTRATION_INSTRUCTIONS: This is used to define the standard instruction text for supplier registration.
- TEXT_REGISTRATION_WELCOME: This is used to define the standard welcome text for supplier registration.
- URL_LSHAPE_S3Q: This is used to define the URL for supplier data maintenance.
Typically, you do not maintain the logon details for this SICF service as the user calling the URL has a username and password to provide to access the data maintenance page. Figure 6 shows the attributes of the s3q_ext SICF service. To access this screen, execute transaction code SICF and follow SAP Easy Access SAP Menu > Tools > Administration > Administration > Network > HTTP Service Hierarchy Maintenance.
An example of the value for this parameter is: https://ecac.sapken.com:1443/sap/bc/bsp/srmsmc/s3q_ext/default.htm?sap-client=200.
Supplier data maintenance SICF service attributes
The following parameters can be maintained with appropriate values in this activity:
- URL_LSHAPE_S3Q_PRT_L1: This is used to specify the portal logon URL for supplier data maintenance. This parameter must be explicitly defined if you use a portal in your system environment because there is no applicable failback for generating the portal URL.
- URL_LSHAPE_S3Q_PRT_L2: This is used to continue the portal logon URL definition for supplier data maintenance from the value in URL_LSHAPE_S3Q_PRT_L1 when the number of the character is more than 255.
Maintain Custom Document Object
For all the text-centric parameters (for example, REG_DOCOBJ*), you can decide not to use the standard text and maintain a custom version and, consequently, define the value in the supplier registration customer parameter settings. To maintain a custom text, execute transaction code SE61. In the screen that appears, select General text from the list of options in the Document Class field and the appropriate language in the Language field. In the Document section, enter a value in the Name field (for example, /SRMSMC/EXT_PRIV_STMNT_EX_CB) as shown in Figure 7.
Create a custom registration document
Click the copy icon (highlighted at the top of Figure 7). In the Copy Document dialog box that displays, enter a value in the Name field in the To section as shown in Figure 8.
Define a new document name
Click the copy icon. Figure 9 displays with a screen for package assignment.
Package assignment to document maintenance
Click the save icon. A status message appears in the next screen (Figure 10) indicating that the document was successfully copied. In the Document section, enter the new document name as shown in Figure 10. Click the Change button.
Status message confirming successful document copy activity
This action opens the screen in Figure 11 in which you edit the text of the document class as desired.
Edit the document text
Figure 12 shows an example of the edited text. Note that the link text is enclosed within brackets.
The edited text of the privacy statement
After you edit the text, click the activate icon. The refreshed screen displays the edited text of the message (Figure 13).
Message confirmation of document saved and active status
Translate Standard Texts
If you have a business requirement to use the standard texts of text type General Text in other languages than the languages delivered as standard by SAP (English, German, Spanish, French, and Japanese), you need to translate this text type. This also applies to custom versions of the texts of this text type. To translate text to non-standard languages, execute transaction code SE63. In the initial screen that displays (Figure 14), enter TX in the command field and click the enter icon (the green check mark).
The initial screen for text translation
Populate the Object Name (document name), Source Language, and Target Language fields in the next screen as shown in Figure 15. Click the Edit button.
Define the Object Name and Source Language or Target Language for text translation
In the screen that opens, enter the translation of the text in the lower section of the form as shown in Figure 16.
Text translations from source to target language
Click the Save Active button. Figure 17 displays with a status message.
Status message for saved and activated translated text
You need to maintain the language for which you want translations performed in report RSCPINST. To access this report, execute transaction code SE38. In the screen that opens, populate the fields as shown in the example in Figure 18. After you populate the fields in Figure 18, click the Activate button. Additionally, you must maintain the profile parameter zcsa/installed_languages. To access this parameter, execute transaction code RZ10. In the screen that appears (Figure 19) enter values for Parameter N and Parameter value.
Report RSCPINST showing the installed languages
Maintenance of the installed languages’ profile parameter
If these activities are not performed, the error message Incorrect Codepage appears in your screen (Figure 20) after you click the Edit button (Figure 15).
Error message displayed when target language is not properly maintained
Perform Supplier Self-Registration
To initiate self-registration by the supplier, the suppliers launch the appropriate URL sent to them by the purchasing organization or a publicly available URL on the organization’s web site. In the screen that opens, the potential supplier completes the form as shown in the form excerpts in Figures 21 and 22. Important information, such as company details (name and address) and contact details, must be provided in the mandatory fields denoted with a red asterisk.
Excerpt of completed supplier registration page (General Company Information)
Excerpt of completed supplier registration page (Contact Details)
You need to select the check boxes in the Data Privacy Terms and Conditions section for the Send button to be activated. Click the Send button after you have selected these check boxes (Figure 22). You receive a message confirming the sending of the completed registration form to the purchasing organization (Figure 23).
Status message confirming the submission of the supplier registration form
Following the submission of the supplier registration form, the appropriate person in the purchasing organization receives the workflow item to make a decision about the registration request. To act on the supplier registration form, log in as the buyer in the buy side and navigate to the inbox by executing transaction code NWBC, and following menu path Supplier Lifecycle Management > Inbox (Figure 24).
Work inbox of the approver in the buy side
Choose the workflow inbox item you want to approve (e.g., Supplier Registration: LynxG Computer Solutions). This action opens the screen in Figure 25 in which an excerpt of the supplier’s registration form is shown pending approval.
Excerpt of the supplier registration form waiting for approval
In Figure 25 you have the option to approve or reject the form. Additionally, you can make changes to the master data of the proposed supplier before approval by clicking the Change and Approve button. In this business example, I approve the supplier registration form by clicking the Approve button. Figure 26 displays with a status message confirming the approval.
Status message displayed following the approval of supplier registration form
The system generates a unique number for the supplier in the supplier portfolio as part of the supplier master data details.
Maintain Supplier Administrator Account
Following the approval of the supplier registration form, suppliers receive a notification in their email accounts to create an administrator account. This administrator account is used to log on to the sell-side system to create other employees and maintain supplier master data. Potential suppliers receive two email notifications sent from the sell side. One of the emails contains the username and logon URL and the other contains the password. The sending of these emails to same user is the default behavior.
To allow the system to send the emails to different recipients, you need to configure the method GET_RECEIVER_DATA (of /SRMSMC/BD_SUPPL_NOTIF enhancement Business Add-in [BAdI] BAdI and spot) [what is BAdI BAdI and spot?] to change this standard behavior and send the email containing the password to another recipient. To perform this activity execute transaction code SPRO and follow menu path SAP Customizing Implementation Guide > SAP Supplier Lifecycle Management > Sell Side > Supplier Registration > Business Add-Ins (BAdIs) > Change Default Recipients. For the purpose of this article, I use transaction code SOST to access the details of the two email messages sent to the potential supplier as shown in Figure 27.
Email messages sent to the supplier
Select both of the messages shown in Figure 27 and click the display icon (the glasses). Figures 28 and 29 display the user ID, log-on URL, and password, respectively.
User ID and log-on URL for supplier administrator account maintenance
Password for supplier registration
It is possible to change or replace the standard email parameters for approval or rejection of supplier registration requests by creating a different implementation for (/SRMSMC/BD_ROS_EMAIL_OUTB (BAdI Modify E-Mails Sent in Supplier Registration). The BAdI implementation for the registration request approval requires the filter value NOTIFY_ROS_ACCEPTED for the filter EMAIL_PROCESS_NAME. The BAdI implementation for the registration request rejection requires the filter value NOTIFY_ROS_REJECTED for the filter EMAIL_PROCESS_NAME. You can perform this customizing activity by executing transaction code SPRO, and following menu path SAP Customizing Implementation Guide > SAP Supplier Lifecycle Management > Sell Side > Supplier Registration > Business Add-Ins (BAdIs) > Modify E-Mails Sent in Supplier Registration.
Click the URL provided in Figure 28. In the screen that opens (not shown) enter the password shown in Figure 29 and click the Log on button. In the screen that appears (Figure 30), enter values for the fields under the Create Your Administrator Account section. In the Data Privacy Statement section, accept the terms by selecting the check box as shown.
Define an administrator account for the supplier
After you click the Create button, Figure 31 displays with a status message and a Login link with a notification to save the link for future use.
Confirmation of the creation of administrator account
Click the Login link to access the supplier master data screen (Figure 32).
The initial screen for supplier master data maintenance
In the initial screen for supplier master data maintenance, you can perform a number of activities, including reviewing the status of the qualification requested (New, In Process, Submitted, or To be Clarified), maintenance of employees’ data, and maintenance of a company’s data, as shown in Figures 33, 34, and 35, respectively.
List of qualifications with submitted status
List of the employee page showing employee details
Certificate link showing the certificate attributes and associated qualifications
Manual Creation of a Potential Supplier
It is also possible for the buyer to create a potential supplier directly as opposed to the functionality offered by the self-registration tool.
Instead of using the self-registration process, the buyer creates the potential supplier directly in the buy side. When you create the potential supplier, you need to maintain the details of the potential supplier and contact person in the mandatory fields (the fields marked with asterisk). To create a potential supplier directly in the buy side, execute transaction code NWBC and follow menu path SAP Supplier Lifecycle Management > Supplier Portfolio > Services > Create Potential Supplier. In the screen that opens, enter general details about the supplier as shown in Figures 36 and 37. Click the Save button to save your entries.
Maintenance of central data of potential supplier
Maintenance of central data (address details) of potential supplier
Click the Contacts tab (Figure 37) to populate the appropriate information (such as contact title and names) as shown in Figure 38. Click the Save button.
Maintenance of contact details of potential supplier
You can also maintain optional attributes by clicking the appropriate tab. For example, after you click the Classification tab, you can maintain settings as shown in Figure 39.
Maintain classification data
Click the Save button. This action opens the screen in Figure 40 that displays status messages confirming the creation of the contact person and the supplier with unique number assignment.
Status message confirming the creation of the contact person and supplier
Now if you click the Central Data tab, you see that a unique number has been auto-assigned to the potential supplier as shown in Figure 41.
Unique number assignment to supplier master data