Wednesday, March 24, 2010

EDI Problems and SAP Upgrades

I read two interesting numbers from AMR research today on EDI and EDI projects.
  1. AMR research confirms that 84% of manufacturers experience a delay in ERP projects due to B2B integration issues. These ERP project delays can cost multi-billion dollar companies an average of $50,000 per day.
  2. A recent AMR study confirms that over one-third of all data in ERP applications originates from external trading partners: customers, suppliers, third-party logistics providers and financial institutions.

Both of these numbers simply point to the importance of electronic data exchanges. Since one-third of the data coming into an ERP is commonly coming in via electronic data exchanges from trading partners, then any break in this system can cause massive problems. One common break point is an ERP upgrade.

SAP upgrades often break the legacy customized integration scripts that have been programmed over the past few decades. If the time to rebuild these integration scripts was not factored into the project plan, you are bound to suffer delays.

One of the solutions now available is using the SAP Information Interchange (SII) to process all of your EDI and B2B needs. The SII (a hosted EDI/B2B exchange) is SAP's solution for processing all EDI/B2B needs for the SAP user community. One of the benefits is that integration between the SII hub and the SAP ERP is simply a standardized one time set-up for each business process. Not dozens of different custom integration scripts for all the various formats of a purchase order or other B2B message. Since the SII hub also uses NetWeaver, many SAP users can simply plug-in using a NetWeaver-to-NetWeaver integration scenario. For those not using NetWeaver, simple IDoc or tRFC connections are easily implemented.

The bottom line is that you can abstract the EDI system from the ERP and integrate them with standardized integrations that are pre-defined and painless. As a result, any future upgrades to your ERP will not break thousands of custom integration scripts. The process would simply involve testing one standardized integration per business process. Since this is a quick and simple process no delays in future upgrades are anticipated as a result of your EDI/B2B environment.

If you are interested in the subject of SAP EDI/B2B and SAP's new SAP Information Interchange, then please consider joining the Linkedin Group called SAP EDI and SAP Information Interchange.

Author: Kevin Benedict
Principal Consultant/Founder
SAP EDI, Mobile Enterprise Computing and Web 2.0 Marketing Consultant
Netcentric Strategies LLC
***Full Disclosure: I am an independent consultant that has worked with and for many of the companies mentioned.

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