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March 29, 2012

Static or Dynamic Data Management.. SAP NetWeaver CE has the answer

Authors: Ranjeet Kumar Jha and Amit Gupta


SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment (CE) has capability to design dynamic user interfaces that can suit various business needs. The benefit of using the dynamic user interfaces is that they can provide an easily scalable solution without needing constant development to meet varying business requirements of interaction with data that differs based upon markets/ geographies/ product lines/ divisions in an organization.

Through our trilogy of blogs we would like to share our experience around the business case and solution approach involving dynamic user interfaces.

This piece of blog talks about the business needs and scenarios behind efficient data management through user interfaces and the choice of SAP NetWeaver CE.

Business Needs / Scenarios

Let us spare a thought for a few business scenarios mentioned below. These are just example scenarios and are true for any type of industry.
o An Oilfield services organization needs to capture well-site parameters related to Drilling/ Evaluation/ Logging/ Completions depending upon the business segment
o A CPG organization needs to manage various views of master data (SKUs, Customers etc) viz. accounting, logistics, sales, purchasing etc. across product lines
o A Retail company needs to manage its pricing i.e updating pricing records at various pricing levels across divisions/product lines

Been there.. seen that, isn't it? There might be many more similar scenarios. We would like to know from you.

Digging deeper into the business scenarios will help in understanding the key business requirements that are not so straightforward to meet using static user interfaces. These business requirements can leave the interface designers pondering for innovative solutions.
o Different markets/divisions in an organization need to work with separate sets of data elements that are still part of same data hierarchy/structure but differ based upon Markets/Geographies and/or Product Lines/Divisions.
o Need for a consistent solution (an excel/file based solution for capturing such data may seem to be out of place in a UI driven solution)
o Ability to define data elements and their labels/descriptions per different business needs
o Ability to render newly added data elements seamlessly without needing a lot of development
o Ability to deploy the solution to multiple markets/product lines quickly

Challenge to the solution team is to be able to simplify interface design such that it is scalable and deployable with minimal development irrespective of the variations in the business requirements as highlighted above.


SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment allows designing intuitive web interfaces while enabling collaboration and close integration of SAP as well as Third party apps, legacy systems and disparate databases. Numerous organizations across industry verticals have tried to take advantage of the NetWeaver platform in project areas varying from Master data management, Quote to cash applications, Enterprise workspaces, Workflow management etc. leading to harmonized processes, improvement in business performance and efficient user experience. The trick is to be able to use the framework that meets the business requirements and scenarios mentioned above in an innovative manner.

In the subsequent parts of the blog, we will discuss the Functional solution approach and eventually the Technical solution and architecture for designing a dynamic user interface that meets these business requirements. In the meanwhile let us know your valuable feedback on our thought process.

March 21, 2012

HANA fever - OLTAP

Most of us are showing interest to know about new SAP HANA. In simple words, it is another database. But if we consider the market(customers/clients/companies) demand, HANA has a great value in coming months/years.

I don't wish to go into more technical. But I wish to share my ideas with our colleagues(Infosys community).

In typical ERP, we have OLTP and OLAP systems. There is a lag between data processing and data availability for analytics.

HANA makes difference in reducing the time lag and help the upper management in changing the strategy in few hours/minutes.

I may be touching the know points on HANA, but I want to make this blog as more interactive as much as possible. Your comments/feedback is highly appreciated.

What are benefits of HANA database

1) We can combine the transactional and analytical processing of few critical/most important business areas.

2) We can avoid few technical bottle necks of other RDBMS.

3) We can take advantage of mobile interfaces along with HANA data.

4) Analysing and Identifying the most important KPIs of each business process and converting those KPI reports to HANA reports.

5) Dash boards are on Static historical data, HANA dash boards can be on realtime data.

I may be wrong in some information , but I welcome your comments/corrections.

March 20, 2012

How the Insurance Companies can leverage FSCD module?

By Shweta Tiwari and Ranjit Kumar Dhand

SAP has provided a comprehensive solution for collection and disbursement system of Insurance Industry. Processes like policy management, claim handling commissions are all calculating systems and they do not directly interact with the user. Collection and Disbursement is a settling system which has interaction with the end user. It is a kind of invoicing system.

If we try to see how CD makes the Insurance processes easier to manage, we can take a look at the data flow of the system. With CD present, all the calculating systems (Policy, Claims, Commissions, Reinsurance) interact with CD system and which is a sub ledger. From this sub ledger data is reconciled in to the main ledger with a single interface and less maintenance. In absence of the CD system, all the calculating system will have their separate sub ledgers and they all will send data to main ledger through different interfaces making the system complex.

The basic processes of CD system include

1- Posting and Documents  - This process is used to post the transactions to G/L accounts and identifying correct G/L accounts for the combination of transactions. For example, in case of premium payment, premium can be initial premium, renewal premium or one time premium.  For premium payment transaction, there are 3 sub transactions which 3 G/L accounts mapped to the combination of main and sub transaction.  When G/L determination is accurate, it eases the process of reconciling the data with Financial Accounting and effective reporting.

2- Clearing and Payment lots- When a customer pays a due premium to a company, the company assigns it against an open item receivable.  This receivable is balanced against the customer premium account which is credited. So the receivable is cleared and closed. This was a the scenario for a normal clearing, but FSCD provides us a flexibility in setting up the clearing norms for any account and customer, whether we want the partial clearing to be done or we want to prevent clearing all the documents or clearing should be done for documents for a specific currency. A payment lot contain the data about payments that have the same origin, or that are to be processed together.

3- Payment Program- For the payments initiated by the insurance company, CD uses payment program to clear off the open items for business partners and contract accounts. For example, for an insurance company, commissions are paid weekly and monthly depending upon the engagement level of brokers. The payment program can be scheduled to run weekly for one kind of brokers and another program can be scheduled monthly for another kind of brokers. The payment program gives the flexibility to make payments with different payment methods. If a customer wants to settle payment by a certain payment method or with a certain bank account, payment program provides the functionality to make these specifications in Automatic Payment Program.

4- Installment Plans- Sometime it happens that customer is not able to pay the premium in one go and hence in agreement with the customer an installment plan is prepared to pay the payable. FSCD provides the facility to prepare the installment plan and as the due date of the item reaches, executing the installment plan posts the open item.

5- Broker Collections- FSCD has a special functionality to process collections and manages commissions for brokers. Also as brokers can also be the policy holders themselves, so for the broker relationship, one commission contract is created and as a policy holder, insurance contract is created for the broker.

These are some major processes of FSCD. There are a lot smaller processes also which can help in better customer satisfaction providing companies an edge over the rest of the industry.

About the Authors:

Shweta is an Associate Consultant working with FSCD. She has a total work experience of 3 years in IT industry.  Ranjit is a FSCD Consultant and he has 3 .5 years of work experience with SAP.

March 2, 2012

Industry Perspective: Production supply with EWM execution - Part 2

By Yudhishthir Shrikant Joshi

In the last part, we discussed about the different unique requirements of warehousing for specialized industries like Aerospace. This industry also faces some unique challenges which stand apart from Auto or Retail industry in terma of its business lifecycle.

1. EWM offers multiple BADIs that are useful in transferring the order critical parameters from Production order to Warehousing documents. This information can be effectively used in planning the picking, and value added activities within warehouse.
2. EWM specific features like consolidation group and activity area definitions can be intelligently leveraged upon, during warehouse order creation rules (WOCR), to optimize the warehouse operations. This is an advantage over other WM solutions. 
3. When business wants to track the value adding activities within warehouse in detail, for efficient labor management, the VAS order process is an efficient way of doing this. 
4. The process oriented and layout oriented control helps us closely map the business processes in the system. Exception handling at every step can be configured to suit the business response for such situations.
5.  Stock identification during picking, would help us track the stock closely till it is issued. Batch/ Serial number management, with it's integration to picking logic gives us a huge flexibility for product tracking and damage control during quality issues at any stage.
6. The central warehouse monitor acts as a cockpit for supervisor to control each and every activity within warehouse. 
7. The post processing framework adds huge automation to the process, which also offers a unique power to handle the subsequent transactions with condition technique.

So what are the business benefits and how it is useful compared to other WM solution? 
This only proves the dynamic applications that EWM can handle effectively. Understanding of the Industry processes and effective utilization of standard offerings of EWM can result into huge business value addition. Business process mapping close to real life Industry scenarios makes EWM a user friendly solution.  EWM scores high on following points
1. Seamless integration with SAP Production process and production critical data in SAP.
2. Flexibility in mapping complex processes through off the shelf solution, reducing the cost of ownership.
3. Close integration with Labor management at process and task level, which enables the management to gather data at granular level. This gives a higher control on the labor efforts management.
4.  User friendly monitoring and alert system, with efficient exception handling, can save organization from overheads of additional labor for tracking. This also ensures that right stock with right quality is present at right time!
In conclusion, I feel that the EWM is equally effective for specialized industries with lesser inventory turnover, as compared to the Auto or retail Industry with huge order numbers. Large manufacturing firms can explore EWM as a suitable solution.

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