December 17, 2009, 2:07 PM — 1. REDUCE SAP OPERATIONAL COSTS
Enabling the effective use of Microsoft Excel as a front-end to create new master and transactional data in SAP leads to tremendous business efficiencies. Normally, this data is entered manually or a custom program is written to automatically process the data – both expensive methods. With very little training and the right tools, Excel users can create single or multiple records, affecting a single SAP transaction or a chain of transactions. Excel sheets can be readily customized by business users to create easy-to-use, sophisticated data entry forms.
Data entry automation typically results in cost savings across many departments, such as in HR for new hire actions, in Procurement for new purchase orders or contracts, in Supply Chain for new materials and new sales orders, and in Finance for journal entries.
2. EXTEND DATA-DRIVEN BUSINESS PROCESSES TO INCLUDE YOUR BUSINESS PARTNERS
Many business processes are driven by transactional data, such as invoices, sales orders or reconciliation statements that need to be exchanged between the company’s SAP system and its customers’, suppliers’ and service providers’ systems. In nearly every case, companies can derive significant cost, time and accuracy savings by automatically passing data between these disparate systems. While there are a variety of software choices available for real-time data integration between multiple systems, these software packages are typically complex, have large footprints, and are difficult to install and use for business users.
One way to address this issue is via easy-to-use SAP data management software. Excel spreadsheets or Access databases can become the common data interchange mechanism. Data is extracted or received from external systems in spreadsheet formats and can then be easily loaded into SAP using “mappings” defined in the data loading software.
3. SHORTEN “TIME-TO-VALUE” FOR SAP IMPLEMENTATIONS AND UPGRADES
Data migration processes including data extraction, transformation and loading - are core activities essential to every new SAP implementation or upgrade. Depending on the data, Excel spreadsheets or Access databases can be the ideal staging platform for the data being migrated. Data is extracted from legacy systems into Excel or Access for cleanup and transformations. After the changes have been applied, the master data or transactional data then is loaded into the SAP system.
Allowing business users to carry out much of the data migration process themselves will lead to better quality data and significant cost and time savings while complying with all of the critical SAP governance and security standards.
4. MAKE BETTER BUSINESS DECISIONS
While many SAP customers have implemented sophisticated and valuable data warehouses and business intelligence (BI) systems, there is a still common need within the business user community for on-demand, real-time data to support certain business processes. Examples of this requirement might include creating a list of all materials movements in the past week, pulling a report of all accounts receivables documents over 120 days old, or compiling a list of all orders received this week with line item details.
Winshuttle’s data extraction tool, querySHUTTLE, addresses both the needs of the business users and the security concerns of the IT. querySHUTTLE enables business users and technical users to download live SAP data into Excel, Access, and other common formats for immediate analysis and action. They can then use Excel’s powerful business intelligence features like pivot tables, interactive charting and reporting dashboards to assist in driving key business decisions. And it does this while preserving both the table-level security in SAP and the organizational-level security in a user’s standard SAP security profile. Enabling business users to create ad-hoc reports to address specific operational problems can greatly reduce the cost of handling on-demand query requests and help companies make better decisions.
5. REDUCE SAP TRAINING COSTS
Knowledge workers in every enterprise use Excel as a tool to collect and analyze data. By allowing them to interact with SAP without leaving Excel, you can shorten cycle times for important transactions. Additionally, these knowledge workers do not need extensive SAP training – if they know Excel, they already “know” SAP. Through the use of a simple toolbar in their Excel spreadsheets, users can upload or download data to and from SAP, without ever interacting directly with the SAP user interface.
6. IMPROVE DATA QUALITY
Once an organization has defined an optimal business process, it can be very costly and counterproductive when employees deviate from that process or forget to perform critical steps. A significant issue with the quality of data and thus data integrity arises if users deviate from approved business processes.
Winshuttle’s software allows SAP customers to automate data-driven business processes by creating data loading or downloading templates in Excel that are customized to each business process. Once these templates have been defined they can be published to Excel in a “run-only” format which allows users to perform the data loading or downloading task as defined by the business process designer. This ensures the user cannot alter the business process. Thus, the process preserves data in a high quality format and ultimately ensures data integrity.
7. FOCUS IT PROGRAMMING RESOURCES ON THE HIGHEST VALUE INITIATIVES
Anyone who has been part of a major IT initiative will agree that one of the biggest threats to the on-time completion of a successful IT project is the constant flow of “interrupts” that draw time and attention away from the primary goal. Within most SAP customer environments, ABAP and LSMW programming resources are limited, and when these resources have to stop work on major projects to respond to ad hoc data loading and downloading requests from the user community two things normally result: 1) the core IT projects are delayed, and 2) the business user has to stop, define the request and then wait for the response from IT.
By providing business users with easy, secure tools that let them address the majority of their data loading and extraction needs without programming, IT can focus on their highest value initiatives, and business users can avoid delays to critical processes.
8. LOWER SAP APPLICATION SUPPORT COSTS
The SAP application support team is the central point of contact between business users of SAP and the IT organization. According to a recent customer presentation at ASUG (Americas’ SAP Users’ Group), 80% of their SAP help desk tickets were data related. Using easy-to-use data entry and data download software within the SAP support team can allow support analysts to rapidly handle these requests, saving significant time and expense.
Additionally, by distributing these tools back into the business organization, the support team can delegate data-centric tasks back to the business users, without compromising on data security and governance. This can have a two-fold effect: 1) it will reduce demand and therefore costs on the SAP support team, and 2) it will eliminate delays to business operations and increase accountability within the business user community.
9. HELP ENSURE COMPLIANCE WITH SECURITY AND GOVERNANCE STANDARDS
Powerful tools require the use of proper controls, security and workflows. Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) best practices demand complete traceability of SAP data entry into and data downloading from SAP. A common deployment and collaboration framework can make an enterprise-wide deployment of these tools much easier to manage.
10. ENABLE M&A SUCCESS
As the economy strives for a recovery, many IT managers are anxious about an increase in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity and the attendant data management challenges that accompany these events. Winshuttle provides global enterprises with the necessary data management tools and best practices (business process workflow, data query, data migration, data integration, data maintenance and data entry) on both a transactional level and a mass data management level to effectively standardize on a single ‘system of record’, a critical objective of any M&A activity.