SAP PI/PO support, why not learn from the errors

Some of the common problems with SAP PI/PO support is the following:

If you are doing SAP PI/PO support have you been woken up in 3 am. by an SAP PI/PO interface not working. You have known there may be a document that describes possible error situation so you can either try to find it or just start to find the solution to the problem self.

Or

You have outsourced your SAP PI support and always get the same ticket back, with the information they cannot find a description of the solution.

Or

You have a full mailbox of SAP PI/PO, and don’t know which of them you need to solve.

I have been doing all the above in my time at different clients. It is something that I hate doing, but it is an important part of the delivery. 

There are two kinds of errors in an SAP PI/PO context.

  1. Errors that repeat and solvable by actions like restart the message, refresh of the cache or send a mail to the business user in charge.
  2. Errors that occur because a coding error that will be fixed and never occur again (hopefully).

If it is a common error then it should be automatic to solve it, if possible like resent or cancel if you cannot do anything with he messages anyway. Otherwise, there should be a description of how to solve the problem. It is not useful if it is saved in some word document that describes the scenario but possible not updated. 

There should be an easy way to learn from your previous errors and add the solution to them, so the next person doesn’t have to rediscover the reason.

I wanted to create a tool that could help identify the errors that were occurring and help customers solve them fast. Some years ago I created a simple support tool that works by downloading all alerts form the SAP PI/PO system, convert it to XML with the payload. This allows you to set up rules using Xpath really fast to set up new rules.

Then when new errors come it will simply find the first rule where an XPath matches and process the operation as it has set up. A rule includes an option to send a message to an email and to cancel or reprocess a message. This will make a lof the troubleshooting easier. 

So you can notify the business that there is an order missing master data, then they can fix it without involving you.

 

 

You can download the tool free on Figaf.com/SOT and start using it in your organization. You can have upto 5 rules for free. If you want more you can get it for just 5000 EUR a year.

It is really fast to implement the solution and get it up and run. It will probably take 15 minutes to get it running on your system.

And did I mention it is integrated with our SAP PI lifecycle tool to track all your development and the testing solution we have? They are all packed into the same solution.

 

Catch 22 for testing now fixed. Supporting test on all SAP PI/PO systems 7.31+

We got trapped in a Catch 22

We need a feature released 1½ year ago to be able to test SAP PI/PO system, without installing our modules. To upgrade customers need to test their system, but they will have to do the test manually. It would save them a lot of time to use our tool.

We can test the systems if they install one of our components, but it is not something all customers that can install non-SAP components on their PI system. That was the reason we were looking for alternatives. And to make it a lot easier to get to use our tool.

We found the web service was able to give us the payloads of the logs. We got the solution working on our development. When we tried to test it on the older PI system the web service method we wanted was not there. After some digging, we found the solution was released with a patch 1½ years ago. So we could not assist in upgrading without them having to install our component. 

I want to help the customers to use our tool, especially if they have not patched for 1½ year, so they can test better. Then it makes even more sense to test.

This is the screen we web scraping to get message payload

So now we have made an option to use a WebDynpro agent that is able to connect to the screen users are seen and downloading the messages. It will use this if the web service method for downloading content is not available. It is by no means the best solution but it is a way to solve a pressing issue.

The way we did it was to use the Chrome Developer tool to see the different request required to select the correct line, switch the tabs to the payload page and then download the message. Then find the output message and download it. There is a number of requests to view each different page, and we even had to scroll table of payload to view it all.

Check out the video on the topic.

 

If you want to try it out on your own system check http://figaf.com/irt . We even have free version so you can use it to test your systems from your laptop.

Other features added

We have been moving some functionality making the application run faster when you activate new recordings of test cases. So it should start a lot faster.

We have also been improving the functionality to recording/testing or bridges async/sync and sync/async for the Figaf IRT modules. We are also adding the function later to use the SAP logging module.

How to get paid more for your SAP PI/PO/Cloud Integration Projects

I started my IT profession in one of the big five accounting companies in 2001. One of the things I got really impressed by was how they were able to create nice looking models of how to approach all kinds of challenges.  It is a lot easier to sell something to a customer if you had a model then you had a superior product. If you have the matching powerpoint that you can show it becomes even easier. The model did have some good ways of approaching the situation from a business perspective, but it relied heavily on the experience of the consultants.

Example of a model, probably not the best. It does have nice colors

I was writing my master thises around one of the models for security testing. My focus was on how we could improve the testing with an automated tool. This way we would be able to test more with the same resources. The tool we build worked ok thought it was not the easiest to use. I did manage to get the project approved and got my masters degree.

I did learn that you need a good framework to show you are different and can command higher rates.

I wrote a blog on the importance of having a great quality and how difficult it is for customers to judge. Customer score price and quality as separate parameters, and score them in some way. If you are able to prove your score in quality you may be able to command a higher price. The way you can document your quality is with:

  • ISO, ITIL or other certifications
  • Have customer references
  • Having a model that shows what you will do
  • Have a tool that automates the processor model

How are using Models or Frameworks

SAP Activate (credit: SAP)

SAP has SAP Activate which assists companies to implement S/4 HANA faster. It is using a methodology, a set of templates for best practices and the solution manager tool. It should all be making it a lot faster to implement S/4 for customers and enable them to faster take the leap of faith and start the implementation. Earlier they also had the ASAP (Accelerated SAP) implementation method. They have updated the model to be more agile focused suitable to newer approaches. 

In some cases, you may have your own methodology for delivery. Either a project management or from a service delivery point of view. You can present in a slide deck of about 105 slides. That covers all the situations and explain how the business will get all the benefits and no risk for the implementation project.

For SAP PI/PO projects you can follow any form of a waterfall or agile methods. From what I have seen there is a lot of exploration in the process to get users to understand what is going on. There has not been that many tools allow you to increase your performance and reduce the risk.

At Figaf we are working to improve the development process making it a lot faster to do developments. This will support your projects making it a lot faster for you to do the implementation and will lower the risk for you. The same thing is true for SAP PI/PO project the better framework you have for prove that you will deliver quality the better.

And if you can show this is not just paperwork but something that has an IT system behind will improve the quality even more. Enabling you to get bigger projects. 

What tools will help SAP PI/PO or Cloud Integration

We have the following offer things that could be in your next bid, to ensure that you can prove your work and what you are doing.

  • SAP PI/PO/Cloud Integration lifecycle tool. This will allow tracking of what objects are changed, show you the difference between each version and show and test the objects in question for any project.
  • SAP PI Support tool that will allow you to handle errors faster and ensure you document how to solve the issues.
  • SAP PI Test tool that allows you to set up test cases for all scenarios fast and runs them. You can use it for
    • Migration project to ensure there is no impact on the output messages
    • Upgrade project where you just want to upgrade the SAP PI/PO system to latest support pack and do not want to test too much
    • Everyday development of interface where you want to be able to do regression testing.
  • Seebuger to B2B Add-on Migration tool that allows you to speed up the conversion of the old mappings to use the new formats for X12 and EDIFACT. In this we would also recommend the test tool, so you can ensure that everything is covered and there are no surprises. 

(The first 3 tools is grouped into just one application that you can run standalone making it easy to deploy and use on projects)

You can try out the products for free on the website or simply just register below.

Why will a tool help your projects

As a consultancy, you are often billing for a number of hours so the more hours you work the better. If you can lower the number of hours you work and get a higher rate for your works it will give you bigger revenue. Some of the reasons are: 

  • A lower number of hours worked, so you can command higher rates for the hours or have fixed price projects
  • Reduce the risk of your project
  • Improve the quality of your documentation
  • Better employee satisfaction because they are not going to spend as much time on the creation of boooring documents
  • Better business satisfaction with your services, so you will be able to work long-term with the customer

At the moment I don’t have any SAP service partners at the moment, but some are looking at it.

We can also get a price for your project that accounts for project duration and number of developers, so it can match your project scope.

New B2B Monitor for SAP PI/PO to handle EDI Files

EDI monitoring and archiving is an important part of your operations for EDIFACT/X12 and the corresponding XML documents. It should be fast to retrieve the documents by searching for partner, order number, and also to find all related documents. I’m looking for customers that want to help develop the product with me, so we can build it so it suits your requirements.

Many years ago I was creating a B2B Arching tool to make it easier to archive messages in a smart way. I ended up coding quite a bit of it my self, and was not able to sell it. Now it is time to try again because so much is changing in the integration world and I got a developer team that has built the Figaf IRT tool to test SAP PI/PO

I have been talking with some SAP customers and they are looking for a way to make it easier to archive their EDI (EDIFACT/X12) messages and use it as a tool to monitor what has been sent and received. The cool thing about EDI is that it is fairly simple to build a parser that allows you to parse the links and references between documents. That way you don’t need to make into a configuration for each mapping or scenario.

On the PI system the only thing you need to add is the SAP Archive Module and then the application can handle the rest. Then you can filter the documents based on partners or other information.

Short demo video of the User interface and how easy it is to browse the relations between documents.

 

Check out the full presentation of the project.

What is the best way to deploy this and where should the payload be saved. In a cloud system or some on a content server. I do have a lot of ideas on how to improve but think you will also have some ideas.

There is the part of the retention of data, how do we ensure that orders are saved 3 months in one country and invoices are saved 7 years in another country. We will need some configuration to specify how it will work and how to get data.

I’m looking for customers that would be interested in a solution and can help us with getting the correct requirements for it. We expect to be able to deliver a solution in 2-3 months depending on the requirements.

If you are interested send an email to info@figaf.com and let’s have a talk on your requirements. 

Which Enterprise software is easy to learn but also has the complexity?

For my tool to SAP PI/PO testing system, I was asked how much training you need. My thought was one hour, a client said 4 hours. That is a big difference than learning SAP PI/PO that will take days/months.

With all tools, there is the trade-off to make something simple that can do one thing VS something that can do everything. The simple is a Stopwatch app. A complex is a Java framework like Spring that allows you to do everything. And then you have everything in between.

But it got me thinking about how we learn software. You can view the video here

Please share below if you have found any good tools that we can learn from. 

So a good example of a software that is good to use from the gaming world is the simulation games. Here you get information that now clicks this icon, then do this and now you can build a farm. It is a bit frustrating because you cannot explore the application. If they do not have this guide it will be difficult to have users figuring out how to use the system.

I have not seen that strong guides for anything in the Enterprise world. Our installation is taking longer than installing an App from your favorite app store. And probably there are too many steps involved to just discard a project the moment you first run into a problem.

In the SAP world it is also difficult you have SAP ERP and creating a Purchase Order takes some time to learn. I know there are Screen Personas ( or what current name may be) and Fiori that may simplify some of the normal POs created. But it still a different approach and will allow a limited functionality. If users should do something more or create a more complicated PO it cannot be done without a lot of custom development.

Our current approaches to simplify the user experience is:

  • Add a free video course that covers the different scenarios that you would have. So a way to get the user started.
  • We are also working on embedding the documentation tighter into the application.
  • We have tried to make it as simple as possible to set up the test case with the tool.

I’m not sure if we could make some guides that helped people selecting a good interface to start testing with. But there could be some pointers what people should be looking at and for.

Please share if any good ideas to look for ways to get people using complex enterprise software.