Optimizing the content management in SAP
SAP Business Processes and associated Documents —a brief overview
SAP is an object-oriented ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system, which integrates a variety of functional business areas, like Finance, Sales, Human Resources, Plant Maintenance, etc. Within each of these areas, there are thousands of transactional business objects (actions) that are chained together to construct complex business processes.
Considerations for optimizing the content management in SAP
SAP does not come out-of-the-box with an ECM system. Instead, it treats all documents as objects. SAP specifically links together the unstructured content (documents) with transactional structured data as an attachment object and stores everything in the same database.
SAP ArchiveLink (now HTTP Content Server) was later created as a standard integrated content service in the SAP Web Application Server. It provides a list of stored documents that can be displayed from a transaction screen and stored documents can be subsequently assigned to a business object.
Content Utilization in SAP
A major problem is that there are no associations or relationships between the content based on metadata, or the classification. There are no logically grouped sets of documents, as you would find in a standard ECM system, as all content is treated as being completely independent of any other content item. In fact, to reach a specific document, you must have the transaction code and specific transaction record to locate it. This makes it incredibly challenging to manage and use documents and content within the SAP system.
Another challenge is that SAP ArchiveLink assumes that all user interaction with the content will be conducted in the transaction SAPGUI screen. All relevant business data and transaction information is contained within their own separate transaction screens. This can result in the time-consuming task of users needing to navigate sometimes through more than 10 screens.
Our Solution – SEAL
SEAL Content Library Services for SAP brings together the extensive content management and information governance capabilities of SEAL and the transactional power of SAP. Like never before you can reduce your SAP footprint, cut costs, gain smarter utilization of IT resources and leaner systems while boosting SAP archive usage from a powerful yet simple interface that your line of business users will simply enjoy.
With SEAL, SAP users can:
- Archive SAP data files (ADK files) from any SAP business suite application;
- Archive SAP business documents and associated metadata (business objects attributes for each archived/linked document);
- Archive SAP print lists to reduce SAP footprint while cutting costs;
- Enable SAP users to easily access and display from SAP user interface documents that are now stored in SEAL repository, extending and boosting the value of standard SAP data archiving;
- Enable non-SAP users to access, view, and share documents directly from SEAL user interface for improved user experience.
Apart from efficiently connecting with SAP, offloading the content, and adding associated metadata, SEAL offers:
- Smart Navigation with SEAL Perspectives
- Efficiently browsing capabilities with unlimited hierarchical navigational views over the stored content with metadata-driven views of documents (perspectives), rather than strict taxonomy-based structures (no more fixed files and folder hierarchies). Business users can have personalized view (business user-defined, without IT involvement) based on the content metadata;
- Secured content sharing with SEAL Document Collections
- Ability to define a specific set of information based on specific needs (document collections) with advanced sharing capabilities (inside and outside the organization) while keeping information governance & control (the content doesn’t leave the repository). In terms of security SEAL provides more than just control lists (time-boxed security, dynamic security);
- Advanced Security with metadata-based Dynamic Security Rules
- Built-in user management or integration with LDAP authentication
- Security enforcement by multiple algorithms: access control lists, policies, security/classification levels;
- Dynamic Security – powerful and flexible security rules based on metadata;
- Content encryption using AES
- Long Term Preservation and e-Signatures
- Long-term archiving with integrated tools to sign, view, and use qualified certificates for e-signatures in order to build and manage a compliant electronic archive
Why SEAL is DIFFERENT?
- Best TCO (total cost of ownership) – competitive pricing (capacity based with unlimited number of users), fast implementation, rapid user adoption, low maintenance costs;
- Best user experience – designed for business / non-IT users, focused in simplicity and productivity;
- Metadata driven platform – expanded metadata management and metadata-based automation capabilities to automate ingesting, classifying, and managing content metadata;
- All-in-One – designed as a content services solution to address full content management needs, including document capture, OCR, workflow, records management, life cycle, and archiving;
- AI-powered Document Processing and Information Capturewith advanced options for document capture, classification, automatic metadata extraction, user-created or auto-generated content;
- Low-code Digital Process Automation – supporting smart workflows, automated task assignments following business rules, flexible routing, approvals, and case collaboration functionalities leveraging the power of metadata.
- Long Term Preservation and e-Signatures with integrated tools to sign, view, and use different types of e-signature to build and manage a compliant electronic archive;
- Advanced Security with metadata-based, dynamic security rules, content encryption, MFA;
- Consolidate the SAP content with other sources of valuable business content – integrate and connect capabilities with both on-premises and cloud applications through extensive APIs and interfaces and standard connectors/migrators (SAP, SharePoint, Salesforce, etc.);
- Strong mobile and cloud capabilities – native mobile clients for iOS and Android, CMIS for simple integration, designed for Cloud and SaaS providers with multi-tenancy capabilities;
Some final thoughts and recommendations – before choosing an external content management for SAP, you should start asking your potential providers some questions:
- Do you provide full content store capabilities or just an interface to the SAP content store?
- Is your solution ArchiveLink (HTTP Content Server) based?
- Does your solution allow an independent (and better) use of the document library from outside SAP?
- Does it add metadata (contextual business data) to the content for searching, navigation, and content organization and governance?
- Does it include a powerful document capture capability with scan, automatic ingestion of documents, and data capture through OCR?
- Does it provide management of the back-end storage system being used?
- Does it provide Advanced Records Management and Compliant Information Governance capabilities?
- Can information and documents be updated and seen by other users in real-time?
- Does it provide grouping and hierarchical views of content based on the business context (metadata) related content possible?
- Can document-related processes (workflows) be started and performed directly within the Content Management interface?
- Are you planning to move to SAP HANA and need to avoid paying for HANA hosted content storage?
- How specialized should be the information workers using the Content Management interface?
- How much you will pay for the external content server? Will you pay for each user (internal or external) or get an unlimited no. of users’ licenses?