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How to make a moderen EDI landscape with SAP S/4 HANA

I had a great talk with an old colleague this Friday. The topic was how to build a new EDI platform.  They did not have any EDI yet on the SAP platform since they used an old platform for it. So they had to start over with SAP as the backend.

I have been doing EDIFACT and X12 implement since I started with SAP XI using the Seeburger tool and lately seen on how to use the B2B Add-on from SAP to handle the EDI part on SAP PO. The tool has a difference in structure and how they work, but they work the same way. The can take some XML and convert it to the EDIFACT/X12 files and the other way. SAPs platform has been focused on how to make it native in SAP PI/PO, where SeeBurger was a new way of the building the platform.

I have created a video that shows some of my questions concerns on the topic of creating EDI with S/4 Hana.

I was starting to talk about the different IDOCs and which EDIFACT documents they referred to. Then we got a talk about they were doing a new S/4 HANA on-premise implementation. S/4 HANA cloud,  which is the premier SAP product, is where all development is going on. There is only a few whitelisted IDOC’s for some scearnios like syncronize data with your existing SAP ERP system and some warehouse. The EDI IDOCs is supposedly not available, so you cannot use them.

Since all development in on S/4 Cloud and the on-premise version will get the updates after a few months/years, there is not going to be any development going on the EDI Idocs. There has probably not been developed much on them over the last 10-15 years. SAP would like to move their customers to the cloud version to make it faster for them, and customers cannot live with out their flexibility. So we will have to see where it will end.

An option was to use the Enterprise Services (E-SOA) that also worked on the process. I have hear about a few organization using it, but it requires a strong leadership and some skills to go use them. Since Enterprise Services is a dead topic now, i guess it does not make sense to focus on it. It seems as it has been inpsiring the new SOAP APIs from SAP so it is not in vain, and you probalby have an easier option to migrate them.

API is a big focus area for SAP for some reasons.

  • In S/4 Cloud you cannot develop so you have to use APIs to extract and use data
  • It is easier to explain APIs to non SAP developers, because they have a common form of documenting
  • You can expose them online and secure them

All the APIs SAP has created is on api.sap.com, which is SAPs API portal.  On the portal, you can find all SAP apis on the different systems and you can easy try them out there. I did find an SOAP service for sending Purchase Orders from S4, but is currently not able to find it. One of the document you can find is the Scope Item 2EJ, which is covering the purchasing process on how to configure it and steps involved in configuration. So it is fairly easy to get started with.

So it is possible to use the APIs to expose the purchase process for EDI.

EDI from the new APIs

So it is possible to create an EDI solution based on the new APIs. Then what does it require.

A good place to start would be to use the Integration Content Advisor, which is SAP way to make the B2B Mapping faster based on Machine Learning. I have not seen or use the tool yet, but it the idea is pretty cool. It could speed up the mapping of data with the EDI formats. It requires you have the Enterprise Edition of SAP Cloud Platform Integration. You can though run the flow on your local PI. The alternative approve is to use the normal EDI Mapping on SAP PI/PO and use the B2B Add-on in connection with the Trading Partner Management (TPM).  If the Content Advisor works it is probably the fasts way to deal with things.

It still brings up the question about is the new APIs strong enough to be able to handle the processing. And how will the errors be resolved since they cannot be handled in BD87.  S/4 will come with AIF (SAP Application Interface Framework) for some scenarios, which is a tool that enable different kinds of error handling and mapping. It may be suited to some of the normal EDI error that you will see like customer try to send an invalid material number or delivery data. It will require some training to enable users to use it. AIF is more powerful soluction then BD87 since it allow you to add rules and validations.

My recommendation would be to give the new interfaces an attempt to get the process working on it. It would give freedom to upgrade to S4 Cloud and just have one interface for the integration process. I would also imagine that the new interfaces is easier to extent or you can make lookups to get information that is missing.

Have you tried the new S4 way of integration and does it work?

IRT feature: Monitor SAP Cloud Platform Integration Content (CPI)

A few weeks ago we added an option to monitor your SAP PI/PO repository content, so you could see what was changed in any objects. And based on the changes you registered you could test the scenarios.

We have also enabled users to test SAP Cloud Integration so it made a lot of sense also to monitor the content so we could support full cycle development. So we can now monitor all changes to the content. So you can see what was changed in a script and what areas were changed in an iflow. The output may be a little technical but it will allow you to see that something was changed.

We also have the ticket content that allows you to register the changes that you are doing and ensuring that you are testing all of the changes that you are making. It is a way to ensure that enables you to document the changes in a better way than using Word documents for the information. You can then link your existing ticket/helpdesk system to the IRT tickets as an extra data source.

You can see a short demo here.

 

There is some features that we will improve in the comparison, so you can see the message mappings content and see the part that was changed. And also improve the comparison of scripts. It will come in a future release.

If you have other wishes to future development do let us know.

First I recommed you to try to install IRT and try it out. You can get started within 30 minutes. Watch the Cloud Platform Integration installation and configuration guide video .

 

Update to testing on SAP Cloud Platform Integration (CPI)

We just released IRT 2.3. That had two big additions. One was our ability to monitor your full SAP PI/PO/CPI development process. In this post, I’ll share the other which is much better support for cloud integration.

In 2.2 we add the first option to run cloud integration tests. We were able to use the new trace functionality for cloud integration to get messages at all stages. This made our test easy to perform without any changes to the setup.

In this, we have added some more functionality

  • We can run regression test for both HTTP and now SOAP adapter. This means that it will use your existing iflow to process the test message in.
  • If you use other adapters or scheduled tasks IRT is able to create a new flow that looks like the original one, except it starts with an HTTP adapter. IRT can record the message from the existing flow.

We have an oss note with SAP that the latest release meant we were getting some problem when setting an iflow into Trace mode.

You can watch the demo video here.

It is pretty simple to setup. Just signup at http://figaf.com/irt then login with the password you will get. Here you can also find the manual. Download the jar file, start it. In the configuration enter your host url, Suser and password, then you can synchronize the list of iflows and start setting up test cases.

 

 

Latest Figaf IRT tool and Roadmap

Updated 2018-06-03

With the newest release of Figaf IRT tool, we have been adding a lot of new functionality.

In this presentation, you will see how to test SAP PI/PO and SAP Cloud Integration.

  • The testing of SAP PI/PO is stable for collecting and getting test messages. It is fast to record messages for testing and running them is also fast.
  • Testing SAP Cloud Platform Integration is possible
  • Development Supporting is now in the system that allows you to create tickets and assign any object version to it.
  • Change Tracking now have a deep comparison of Repository Objects so you can see what is changed with a message mapping and contains a link so you can see the affected ICO, that should be tested.
  • Support tool to monitor errors in the SAP PI CMBA and setup triggers for it.

In the current roadmap, we have the ability to fetch test data on SAP PI/PO without installing a module. And to perform object change and the support on Cloud Integration.

Everything has been build into one application that allows users to develop faster and have better tracking of what will happen.

You can start a free trial of the IRT tool by going to https://figaf.com/irt

If you have any questions please reach out to us.

 

 

How to start from scratch for using SAP PI/PO

If you just purchased SAP PI/PO there is a lot of things to consider. This post will help you in the process of figuring out what is interesting.

The thing is you don’t know too much but it will have the greatest impact on what is set up. So it would be a good idea to have an architecture workshop where you will get all the insight into how you can create a solution that matches what you want to achieve. So it is an ideal time to get help.

I have created a mindmap video where I cover some of the most important things about the process. Watch the video below.

Architeture

A big thing is to get the architecture to match what you want in your organization. There a lot of things to consider like naming conventions and how to create interfaces. This should you would hopefully get a few sample interfaces that show how the things would look and how to monitor them. You should also consider how to make documents required for it both mapping documents if required and documentation.

It may be a good idea to have a secondary consultant to help you in the process that is on your side because you don’t know as much about what you can expect.

 

Testing

Testing is one of the important things in the process. If you “just” replace middle where you have the ability to get input and output document. If you use the Figaf IRT for SAP PI/PO testing then you will be able to perform the tests to verify that messages look identical. This way you can save some time for testing the application together with business experts.

If are doing a greenfield implementation of SAP S/4 ERP then you will have to change the interfaces on both sides. You will still have to setup testing so you can ensure that the process works correctly even when you have to apply support packs.

Migration

A good place to start is also my migration guide. It is much the same things, except that you have more free hands with what you want to do and the changes that you must make.

There are some of the things here that can be applied to the list of attributes to collect from each interface. You can find it in the slides. If you can get the information it may be a lot easier for a partner to do a good estimation of the project. You may add data like a number of fields in each interface to give better information about required mapping size maybe group it in to bucket like 1-20 , 20-100, 100+ fields that need to be mapped.

Cloud world

In this blog, we have not been covering any of the SAP platforms that may be interesting and save some time on integration. There is the SAP Cloud Platform Integration (CPI aka HCI) which is a solution that is quite simply to PI but cloud-based and more flexible. It contains a lot of prebuild content that will speed up and integration, so it may be used in some scenarios. You may also be able to run this type of interfaces on your new SAP PO system. For some integrations, it may be beneficial to use because of the flexibility and the availability of adapters.

Other advice:

I ask the question what people would like to have known before they started on the SAP PI/PO project a long time ago and I did get some interesting answers that may be quite in line with what you are looking for. There was a lot of ideas about making better guides for what should be implemented. You can read all suggestion here.

 

Good luck on your new platform. I promise it will be an adventure.