Category: General

SAP Customers have been in search of clarity with respect to the contractual agreement and user licensing terms since the “indirect access” concept was introduced post the million-dollar lawsuit in the UK. Many SAP customers with ambitious road-maps of cloud, mobile and HANA migrations did not invest enough in the subject matter expertise, processes and tools required to remain compliant. This coupled with legal and contractual ambiguity on SAP contracts with many contracts dated as old as two decades did not spell out clearly on indirect access licensing. The primary motive of this article is to bring clarity on this subject and break some technology myths.

Diageo, a UK based beverage company was hit with a $60 million bill following a lawsuit by SAP on its indirect usage of data from SAP ERP system. Diageo’s situation in this licensing brouhaha can be termed as “unfortunate” and “startled”. Unfortunate, because, given the advent of technology, cross vendor platforms and cloud there would be many SAP customers in a similar situation as Diageo was, but the latter took the first hit. They were caught off-guard and did not see this coming. It is hard to say if this situation could have been avoided. SAP and Industry experts would advocate on conscious decisions with roadmap of technology advancement and license quota in mind. Diageo and many other customers in similar situation would on the other hand, request a benefit of doubt given a lack of clarity on “Indirect access” on the SAP contract papers. With the debate still on and many questions still unanswered, the High court ruling was in SAP’s favor. Diageo was penalized heavily for “breaking” the contractual agreement signed between the two in 2004 because it exceeded the number of users “using” the SAP ERP system than the agreed “named” users. It is important for existing SAP customers to understand Diageo’s case and bring awareness in their IT teams to address similar situations before SAP knocks their doors.

To understand this better, let us take a look at the Diageo’s situation. Diageo signed contract with SAP in 2004 and purchased mySAP Business suite license. The Business suite license incorporates below components:

i) mySAP Enterprise Resource Planning (mySAP ERP);

ii) mySAP Customer Relationship Management (mySAP CRM);

iii) mySAP Supply Chain Management (mySAP SCM);

iv) mySAP Supplier Relationship Management (mySAP SRM);

v) mySAP Product Lifecycle Management (mySAP PLM)

Diageo’s case is concerned with mySAP ERP software. The mySAP ERP software comprises of a centralized database, together with an application layer which runs on a customer’s server, providing functionality for the operation, financial management and human capital management of a business. In addition, the mySAP ERP software provides a master data store, which is updated and internally coordinated to reflect new data entries, and which is capable of interacting with and being re-used across multiple business processes.

Diageo landscape had mySAP Business suite with named license users as shown in Figure 1. All the users including the call center reps who took orders on phone calls were also assigned a category of license in SAP. Any external systems and interfacing was done via the middleware conduit SAP XI system (now called SAP PI). The situation in Fig-1 was compliant with the contract signed in 2004

In 2011/2012 Diageo introduced salesforce application for its CRM operations. It introduced two software called Gen2 and Connect (refer Fig-2). The system, called Gen2, uses Salesforce to allow Diageo sales representatives to collate relevant data to assist with the management and tracking of sales, primarily at outlets for sales. Connect on the other hand, enables customers and distributors to place orders for products directly using an online portal, rather than having to order via the Diageo call center. The Gen2 and Connect interact with the SAP ERP using the middleware SAP PI system. The customers and distributors could now login on salesforce interface and place the order for products directly rather than having to order via the Diageo call center. The login process triggers a connection with mySAP ERP via SAP PI. Each stage of the order process requires the customer to initiate the transmission of a message from Connect to mySAP ERP and a corresponding response to be received from mySAP ERP. A customer’s order cannot be completed in Connect, submission of the order initiates transmission of the same to mySAP ERP, where the final processing and completion is carried out. At each stage of the order process, the customer is accessing or using mySAP ERP indirectly through SAP PI. These customer user IDs which indirectly connect to SAP ERP are not licensed in SAP system. Diageo took the very reasonable position that since it paid SAP license fees to use its software and since it paid SAP a license fee to use the SAP PI integrator program it assumed it was covered.

The assumption was not totally flawed given that SAP Contract did not cover mobile and cloud based user types in the licensing literature back in 2004. High court judgement was based on benefit of doubt. It invested significant effort in interpreting Diageo’s commercial agreement with SAP, specifically Named User based pricing, concluding the agreement did not contain an appropriate user type related to customer use. The court appeared to be sympathetic to SAP indicating that “in 2004, the effective date of the agreement, such usage through cloud-based portals was not generally available and therefore unsurprisingly, it is not explicitly called out in the schedule.” The ruling could have been in favor of Diageo too, given the fact that the contract literature did not mention or define a separate user type for mobile/cloud based users. Given this, it is clear that the situation would be assessed case by case basis and it’s not a one size fits all prophecy. The key to understand here is that if customers in similar situation are well prepared and can justify the indirect usage, they could be in a much better position.

More than “Direct” or “Indirect” the important word to pay attention is “access”. If a user is accessing SAP software regardless directly or indirectly, it comes under the scrutiny of license Audit. User license is measured by number and type of users. The type of license could vary from developer users, professional users, limited professional users to light ESS users. The price varies with the type of user category. So a “direct access” essentially is an access by a named/licensed user in the SAP system done directly by a GUI logon or an indirect logon via portal or an interface. An “indirect access” on the other hand is an access to SAP system by a non-named user or user with no license in SAP system, attempting to gain access via non-billable interface connections and creating a business value for the customer. In a blog post titled “Modern Pricing for Modern Times”, SAP for the first time made a statement on the issue of Indirect Access litigation. In summary, changes have been made to three scenarios, namely Procure-to-Pay, Order-to-Cash, and Indirect Static Read. Procure-to-Pay and Order-to-Cash scenarios will be licensing based on volume while Indirect Static Read access simply makes official that read-only indirect access will be free of license scrutiny. Note that the indirect dynamic access, like the real-time data processing still comes under indirect licensing scrutiny

What about me?

The SAP-Diageo’s case clearly shows that the latter took the hit due to either negligence or ignorance together with lack of preparation to handle the case and answers in the court. This could be a lesson for the existing SAP customers. It is time that SAP customers should go through checks and balances and do some internal reviews and house cleaning in the landscape. It is also important to debunk some notions and rumors.

Myth: SAP PI/PO/Middleware system creates Indirect access

Fact: This is not correct. SAP PI/PO system being a middleware is just a conduit for all messages and communication going out or coming in from SAP to external world. Middleware facilitates the communication between two different vendors, systems and technologies but does not create indirect access by itself. The situation should be assessed by looking into what data is being pushed/pulled from SAP and in turn what is the outcome. If the data is just for display/view purpose, it may not fall under scrutiny. But if the data is used to create a business outcome, it may come under scrutiny. A detailed evaluation and classification of access based on read vs non-read is required. Moreover, if it is a non-read, what are the volumes of order or Business outcomes generated.

Myth: SAP Licensing will be “Outcome/Volume based” only and not named user base

Fact: In the new indirect access policy, employees of the licensed company are still considered named users and will still be evaluated based on license categories like Professional, limited professional, employee etc. with SLAW and USMM measurements process. What changed with the new indirect access policy or “outcome-based” pricing is employees of business partners are now charged on orders only, similar to consumers. Orders placed by automated systems, devices and robots will also be priced based on orders. See figure-3 (Source: SAP White paper)

Myth: As SAP BW and other analytics package does a “read-only” data from transactional systems, it will come under Indirect Static read scenario

Fact: In Indirect static read scenario, SAP has put some criteria’s which help qualify a indirect read scenario:

  • Was created by an individual licensed to use the SAP system from which the information is being exported
  • Runs automatically on a scheduled basis
  • This information which is exported should not result in any updates or trigger any processing capabilities of the SAP System

SAP has excluded these SAP analytics package from this criteria: SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise; SAP BusinessObjects Lumira; SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Analytics; SAP Business Warehouse. This would mean a customer has to buy separate named user licenses for these capabilities

Do you fully understand your organizations financial risk from its usage of your SAP system?

As SAP continue to focus on audits which include analysis of Indirect Access, and with court rulings like Diageo, understanding your exposure and being prepared with hard facts is the key to minimizing financial risk

Nine out of ten posts on LinkedIn talk about Digital transformation and Cloud innovations today. While there is a lot of focus on digital transformation initiatives and products, majority of organisations are still lacking the foundation for taking the giant leap into embracing the big change.

Many SAP customers have started or yet to start their arduous journeys towards S/4 HANA transformation. While S/4 HANA is natural evolution to the good old ECC considering SAP’s strategy and roadmap, significant efforts and focus should be put on the “Road to S/4 HANA” evaluation than the actual conversion/upgrade. There is still a significant path to be traversed by a typical SAP customer considering their heavy investment since the R/3 days, legacy custom codes, home-grown applications, security roles, GRC and controls implementation etc.

In this article, I want to emphasize on how important it is to evaluate and transform Application security in the new S/4 HANA environment, considering added security administration, complexity and vulnerability in S/4 HANA landscape owing to enhanced financial core processes, direct access to HANA database views/tables and associated Fiori app access opening up the world on mobile. S/4 HANA Security transformation considerations and evaluations can be summarized with a set of some basic questions and pointers:

  • Is GRC upgrade and enhancement part of the S/4 HANA implementation roadmap?
  • How will the existing roles and authorization objects change based on new Tcodes and table structures in S/4 HANA? What is the overall effort?
  • Are there new access risks or changes to the existing access risks?
  • S/4HANA setup needs inherent access to associated Fiori apps and HANA database views/tables. How will these additional systems be provisioned “in-tandem” to ensure complete and consistent provisioning?
  • How will elevated access be managed in S/4HANA, HANA database and Fiori systems?
  • Will roles exist as a system specific composite or single role (as they used to be) or templatized in a role group with roles spawning in S/4 application, Fiori and HANA database in tandem

Moving to S/4 HANA means that the new architecture will have to be integrated into the company’s existing GRC and Access control environment. The existing GRC access control needs to be enabled for user provisioning and risk analysis in HANA database and Fiori gateway system. SAP has enabled GRC 10.1 and later versions with ability to perform risk analysis and user provision in HANA database. With Fiori and HANA coming into picture with the application core, end users will need additional security roles in these systems. Enabling provisioning functionality to these systems is imperative to ensure consistent end-user experience. The GRC workflows and configuration needs to include additional systems in the automated user provisioning.

A real-life example can be quoted here. A “Buyer” (Purchaser) in a supply chain setup is a critical position and may require access to many business functions like sourcing, contracts, maintain/create catalogs etc. He may also have reporting access to certain reports and dashboards. The access map for a Buyer in an SAP S/4 HANA environment may look like below:

The user who performs Buyer role gets access to front end Fiori apps. The associated backend application roles need to be assigned in the S/4 HANA system to this user ID. As he may also need access to reporting/factsheet apps, he will require access to specific tables and views in the HANA database. The same user ID needs access to relevant roles in Fiori, core application and HANA database at the same time for the access to work seamlessly.

With the S/4 HANA transformation, the existing GRC needs to be upgraded to 10.1 version and following needs to be considered:

  1. New systems namely Gateway (hosts Fiori) and HANA Database/s needs to be added as a managed system in GRC
  2. Configuration to add these systems in MSMP/BRF+ workflows to enable auto role provisioning
  3. Ruleset to be considered for upgrade with new Tcodes and Authorization objects
  4. Roles re-design to accommodate changes to Business processes owing to change in S/4 tcode and table structures

One of the key design decisions when choosing to migrate to S/4 HANA, is whether to keep the existing role design and incorporate the necessary Fiori content or start again – thereby creating a new set of roles. Whichever path is chosen, there will be a unique set of advantages and disadvantages to be considered. Keeping the existing role design may be advantageous if a lot of effort has been invested in ensuring roles are audit compliant and risk free. However, this will require obsolete transactions to be identified and replaced and extensive analysis to be performed to map in the service authorisations required to use Fiori. Start from scratch means Fiori Catalogs can be used to pull through the authorisations required for each app to work. This will save effort but will require familiarity with the Fiori launchpad designer to customise Catalogs – and the new roles will need to be reassessed to ensure that they are free of Segregation of Duties risks.

S/4 HANA emphasizes simplicity by introducing simple data model, consolidated business processes and straightforward architecture. While the end goal is to achieve simplification, better user experience and increased performance, the “Road to S/4 HANA” analysis should lay clear emphasis on existing SAP landscape, past investments on security design and GRC systems, customizations and Z tcodes, home-grown applications, integration points etc. The plan for migration should be a well though process and decision than a simple upgrade or a “lift & shift”.

With growing human needs, the demand for utility has reached an all-time high. According to the 2014 Global Utility Evolution Benchmarking Study on utility trends, the worldwide demand for electricity will increase by more than two-thirds and gas by almost half between 2011 and 2035.

Amidst the increased requirement, the influx of digital and new-age technologies has brought in a significant shift in the traditional businesses. With machine learning (ML), big data, predictive analysis, artificial intelligence (AI), IoT and many cutting-edge technologies, the long-established industries are expected to meet the growing demands of a global population.

As per a recent report, the world’s publicly listed utilities have employed close to 3.7 million people and brought in US $2.2 trillion revenue in 2017. Slowly and steadily, the utility companies which largely covers electricity, natural gas, water, sewage, telephone, and transportation are experiencing an unprecedented disruption. The energy providers are envisioning newer possibilities for their businesses.

In 2016, MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) released a study called ‘Utility of the Future: An MIT Energy Initiative Response to an Industry in Transition.’ As per the analysis, “A range of more distributed technologies – including flexible demand, distributed generation, energy storage, and advanced power electronics and control devices – is creating new options for the provision and consumption of electricity services. In many cases, these novel resources are enabled by increasingly affordable and ubiquitous information and communication technologies and by the growing digitalization of power systems.”

At Incture Technologies, we believe in transforming people, processes and businesses. Paying heed to the requirement of customers, electricity transmission has been one such public utility sector which has revolutionized our lifestyles. Enhancing the lifecycle of wooden poles used across North America to support electric lines, Incture Technologies have developed an AI based algorithm.

Due to the high strength per unit weight, low installation, maintenance costs and excellent durability, these utility poles are widely used. However, unfavorable weather conditions, result in the deterioration of these utility poles due to biotic and abiotic factors.

Our algorithm has helped in predicting the lifecycle of these utility poles and reduced the wooden pole failure from almost 8 percent to below 3 percent. It has also helped to eradicate the potential risk of decay and has maintained a continuous power supply.With the AI based algorithm, an automated inspection plan is generated which would classify the survey. This model is aimed to provide an insight into the value of the comprehensive inspection verses a streamlined inspection and what circumstances warrant each inspection type renders.

Largely, a predictive maintenance program for utility poles encompasses pole age, wooden species, length, circumference, location, soil type, moisture, pole movement, temperature and many other scenarios which affects the pole.

As a result, for the enterprises working in the energy supply and transportation domain it is important to calculate the lifecycle of these poles. Addressing this concern, Incture technologies, developed an application for one of the largest energy supplier in the US which would help them to predict and prevent the deterioration.

Be a part of our journey and if you believe in transforming businesses, reach out to us at marketing@incture.com for a free demo!

Technology is advancing exponentially with each passing hour. Any company that wants to be at the forefront of the market absolutely has to equip itself with the latest tools and technology. Otherwise, there is a high chance that one or more of their competitors will overtake them by utilizing a cutting-edge feature or a powerful tool that improved operational efficiency and boosted.

A similar thought process should also be applied to a company’s middleware. An overhaul of middleware is sometimes seen more as a luxury rather than a necessity, which is why we are here to tell you that it really couldn’t be any more urgent!

SAP PI is one of the preferred integration platforms out there today. We at Incture Technologies have helped implement it in several companies that were earlier using multiple middleware. While it’s definitely an upgrade in those terms, the time has come to recognize that migration to PO is the smart decision in today’s corporate universe.

The addition of SAP Business Process Management and SAP Business Rules Management, as well as components such as Composite Application Framework and Enterprise Content Management, has made it a significant upgrade on SAP PI. SAP PO boasts of a simplified IT landscape, modern user experience and is much easier to develop, configure, monitor, and tune.

Today, SAP PO is being used by the top companies in industries such as oil and gas, manufacturing, consumer packaged goods, FMCG and many more. A stable interface built on PO can improve governance, increase reusability and significantly reduce support tickets.

One of the most striking examples of Incture’s work in this field is our partnership withone of the biggest global capital equipment companies.It is in the top 1500 of the Forbes 2000 list, with manufacturing facilities in USA, Germany, Belgium, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Israel.

We helped them migrate 20 existing interface scenarios to PO. The project recently went live and has already begun to make a major impact on how the company works. It has helped reduce costs of maintaining multiple platforms, cut down on excess hardware, and made it easier to manage different skill sets.

After the implementation of PO, the company managed to achieve a net profit margin of 39.5% in the second quarter of 2018, a figure that is higher than its competitors in the same industry.

This is just one of the numerous success stories that Incture has helped write. We have provided world-class integration services to businesses based in Asia-Pacific, North America, Europe, and the Gulf. Our services ensure that any company, in any sector, anywhere in the world can successfully migrate to a fully functional SAP PO structure.

To know more about what we can do, reach out to us at marketing@incture.com.

How does it feel if you don’t receive a welcome mail from your manager on the very first day of your joining? A recent survey of employees claimed that more than 70% of new hires decide whether to continue with a company within the first six months of being hired and that one in four usually left.

Successful on-boarding is the foundation of any future-thinking organisation. Sometimes new hires may not be facilitated with the training and networking that they need to become productive employees. But an efficient on-boarding process can increase an employee’s discretionary effort by more than 20% and enhances their performance by almost 15%. In fact, committed employees work 57% harder and are nine times less likely to make an exit.

Leveraging the power of technology, Incture Technologies have developed Cherrywork Onboarding application, that helps organisations to create a great first impression for their new joiners. With a focus to increase the retention of new joinees, our application ensures that the investment made by the organisation during recruitment will serve them well in the long term.

As an SAP extension, Cherrywork Onboarding application completely automates the cumbersome employee detail forms and improves processes such as background verification, medical screening, travel, accommodation and even uploading documents like past salary slips, provident fund (PF), gratuity details and many others.

Cherrywork’s Onboarding Process Flow

Seamless integration with LMS tool, SAP FI and even SAP JAM facilitates the operations and amplifies collaboration within peer. The complete application can be deployed on SAP cloud platform (SCP) and on-premise as a part of SAP HCM extension. Developed on SAP UI5 and Fiori the native application provides custom workflows with an intuitive mobile interface.

Incture Technologies provides the solution in hybrid, responsive and native packaging depending on the requirement of the customer. We have successfully implemented the solution in one of the largest food company which recruits more than 100 employees every month. Ramping up their recruiting process, the application has given a plug-n-play experience to the customer. With defined SLAs and complete visibility of all processes, the on-boarding application is providing customers with a delightful experience.

“Improve your employees lives… so they can improve customers lives”

Looking to bring about a positive shift in your business? Be a part of our journey and reach out to us at marketing@incture.com for a free demo!

Bidding adieu to a departing employee is one of the most difficult situations for any employer. It gets even worse if the termination procedures are handledby manual processes via emails, phone calls or private conversations.

The fact is employees leave organizations and ensuring an efficient transition is a tedious task if the processes are not automated. Unfortunately, majority of enterprises still manage employee offboarding through error-prone physical processes which might raise security concerns and result into a negative off-boarding closing the communication with the X-employee.

An automatedoffboarding process gives employer a reliable, centralized platform for processing and storing all termination-related information, including reasons for separation, dates of employment, returning of laptop, uniform, ID card, equipmentand other data pertaining to the terminated employee.

According to Bonusly:

  • More than ¼ of employeesare on a high-retention-risk category and many of them are top performers with critical skills.
  • 44% of employeessay they would consider taking a job with a different company for a raise of 20% or less.
  • More than 70%of high-retention-risk employees say to advance their careers they need to leave their company.
  • Employees who are ‘highly engaged and thriving’ are 59% less likelyto look for a job with a different organization in the next year.

As per a report on the international State Of Employee Engagement, data reveals that15% of employees do not see themselves working at their company one year from now. According to Gallup, 51% of workers are looking to leave their current jobs.

Amidst such a high attrition rate, its necessary that the organizations should ensure a well-defined employee separation process. At InctureTechnologies, we have tried to capture every aspect of the exit process and it’s imperative that the solution should comply to the rules and regulations of the organization, enabling a smooth transition.

Incture Offboarding solution facilitates an efficient management of the quitting process which results in reducing the risk of losing knowledgeor property while maintaining transparency with the employee. It helps organizations to streamline their employee separation process. Meeting the various business needs, it includes management of employee separation due to resignations, layoffs, retirements, long-term leaves, international transfers and many others that embark an effective HR toolkit.

The application seamlessly integrates with SAP SuccessFactors, SAP HCM and third-party tools to make the exit process just a click-away. It can be deployed on SAP cloud platform (SCP) and on-premise as a part of SAP HCM extension.

OFF-BOARDING FLOW

Features:

  • Each stakeholder can process their tasks related to offboarding
  • Well-defined off-boarding business processes
  • Seamless integration with SAP SF, SAP HCM and third-party tools.
  • Integrating SAP SuccessFactors Offboarding with SAP ERP HCM allows for easier and more automated transfer of employee data
  • Integration of Offboarding via middleware increases efficiency and reduces errors when updating employee master data in SAP ERP HCM

Benefits:

  1. Improves collaboration, increases compliance and apt SLAs during the exit process
  2. Uses a configurable exit interview questionnaire and analytics to gain insights on attrition.
  3. Initiates a process workflow to keep all the stakeholders in loop.
  4. Manage the entire process from anywhere, at any time, with mobile
  5. Offboarding provides organizations with the ability to offboard their employees in one standardized process supported through workflow

Bringing-in a positive shift in your business, be a part of our journey and if you believe in transforming businesses, reach out to us at marketing@incture.com for a free demo!

Delivery systems have become the lifeblood of modern business. Think of the biggest companies in the world today and odds are that two of the first names that come to your mind will be Amazon and Alibaba. These are two companies whose core operations are based on flawless delivery systems, and together boast of a valuation of  over 1.1 trillion dollars.

There were multiple factors that contributed to their overwhelming success, but one of the major selling points from the perspective of a customer was ease of mind over the entire delivery process. They were constantly aware of the delivery status of the package, and the delivery time was in most cases impeccably punctual.

This helped Amazon and Alibaba set themselves apart and emerge as frontrunners in a highly competitive sector. There are about 750,000 ecommerce sites in the world today. In order to even make a dent in such a market, it is absolutely essential to ensure that a key operation such as delivery ishighly streamlined.

The importance of delivery systems is not something that’s restricted only to the e-retail sector, it’s just that these two global giants are head and shoulders above the rest. The increasing relevance of an efficient delivery system can be plainly seen in a variety of other sectors as well. It is a key operation for companies dealing with products as diverse as food and beverages, IT products, groceries, furniture and even pharmaceuticals.

Product quality is of course the primary factor behind customer attraction and retention, therefore the primary question that faces any business is ‘What is my product?’ In today’s highly connected world though, there is a strong case that the next most important question should be, ‘How do I deliver my product?’

Incture Technologies is eager to play a major role in the digital transformation of the delivery process. We have worked with clients across the globe to help them digitize their delivery systems, thus helping them cut down on time taken per delivery, boost customer satisfaction and ensure efficient utilization of delivery resources.

One of the prominent clients who have been using this solution is SynnexMetrodata. It is one of the biggest Information and Communication (ICT) product distributors in South East Asia. It caters to various customer segments in over 123 cities and offers a one-stop shopping experience for a wide range of ICT offerings, from hardware, software, and telecommunication products, both for consumer and a total ICT infrastructure solution for commercialpurposes.​

Due to the scale at which they operated, they needed a reliable and effective delivery system that could minimize potential logistics errors and maximize customer satisfaction. They realized that a reliance on manual information exchange would not be efficient enough, so decided to opt for a technology solution that could help them smoothen out the whole operation.​

This is where Incture stepped up to provide a comprehensive solution. Our Point of Delivery (POD) application provided them with 100% visibility, which helped monitor delivery agent’s locations. It also provided real-time delivery notifications, order details on the go and offline capabilities. These features helped to significantly simplify and optimize the task of effectively managing a delivery fleet.

To know more about how we can elevate your delivery process, reach out to us at marketing@incture.com.

 

How intelligent is your process to understand the payment invoices and receipts? One of the biggest challenges for the accounts payable section of any organization is the tracking and maintenance of numerous bills.As businesses struggle with issues like invoice processing delays, processing errors and late payment fees, it’s imperative that accounting automation tool is the ultimate set-up.

Enterprises are increasingly aware that paper and people-based processes lead to high AP transaction costs and missed business opportunities. In a recent survey, 42% of the organizations stated that they were experiencing delays in receiving invoices and/or difficulties in information matching. Researches show that automation is the ultimate way forward for cost savings and improved efficiency.

In fact, companies with best-in-class automation ‘are 89% more likely to view AP as either exceptionally or very valuable from a strategic perspective’. Taking a cue, Incture technologies have built Cherrywork’s Accounts Payable Automation (AP automation) application, with basic Artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm, predictive analysis and distinctive 2-way and 3-way matching process.

Successful implementation of this tool is reducing the invoice-processing time by over 50%. This tool reads the invoices in various formats (paper, email, PDF, XML, EDI, etc) from every possible source. The Optical Character Recognition (OCR) scans the invoice headers and line item data and converts it into a readable data. From OCR, the data is then uploaded in the SAP landscape. Hence reducing the time-limit invested on reading the invoice by almost 200 percent.

PROCESS FLOW

It is a complete, integrated solution that addresses full range of functions across the accounts payable process. It includes invoice capture, single point of entry, scanning, data validation, extraction and integration with SAP, electronic routing for approvals and other workflow (exception handling), Two Way Match, Three Way Match, Planned Cost, Unplanned Cost Details, PO / Non PO based invoices with all process variants.

One of the world’s largest online grocery store has been successfully auto-posting almost 500 invoices every day. It even routes the invoice/bills to the accounting clerks and has made the system paperless. Unique functionality of 2-way and 3-way matchinghelps to segregate the line-items of the invoices

Benefits

  • Reduces the cost of operations
  • Speeds up the Invoice processing
  • Paperless format to add more value
  • Suppliers/vendors get payment on time
  • Processes purchase-order (PO), non-PO and recurring invoices
  • Lessens the operational complexity
  • Increases profitability

Be a part of our journey and if you believe in transforming businesses, reach out to us at marketing@incture.com for a free demo!

The roadmap of many oil and gas companies today stands on the cusp of digitization. While other similarly sized industries such as aeronautics, renewable energy and manufacturing have successfully adopted technology to help boost business and processes, oil and gas still loses money due to a lack of efficiency in operations.According to Deloitte, this loss stands at a whopping $35 billion reported by listed upstream, oilfield services, and integrated companies worldwide in 2016.

The same report also states that even an increase of 1% in capital productivity is enough to write off this cumulative net loss. The empirical data seems to clearly indicate that the oil and gas industry is primed for a digital transformation.

The easy availability of connected devices, combined with smart apps that can streamline all aspects of the production process by utilizing the latest cutting-edge technology, makes the choice to go digital a no-brainer.

We at Incture Technologies are actively working towards aiding this digital transformation. Our apps and solutions have helped transform operations and processes across multiple industries, and quite a few of our marquee clients are working in the oil and gas sector.

One of the prime examples is an ongoing project with a leading multi-national oil and gas company. The company works with thousands of resources taking care of day-to-day operations, repair, maintenance and many other such tasks.

The staff provided data on pen and paper, which resulted in very low visibility for the company’s admin team, as well as process inefficiency and an inability to accurately predict costs of operations. They wanted to improve operational efficiency, reduce manual paperwork and digitize the entire process.

This is where Incture stepped in to provide two solutions in the form of the Digital Field Ticket (DFT) and Integrated Operations Platform (IOP) apps.

DFT is used for tasks where third party vendors are involved. Earlier the whole process of invoice creation and verification would take weeks, due to geographical difficulties. But with DFT, the vendor staff can upload data from any location, even while offline!

The company now requires less than 8 hours to create a digital ticket, seek approval and document in the service center sheet.

DFT has been adopted for 40 vendors so far and plans are in place to implement the solution for the company’s operations with more than 400 vendors.

The IOP app, on the other hand, is a one-stop solution to monitor all aspects of the production process. Earlier there was no system in place to effectively monitor requirements, task assignments and task completion. The data about operations was also scattered across multiple systems, making data anlytics a difficult task.

IOP helped the company communicate more effectively, assign tasks to the best suited teams, achieve real-time visibility and capture data across the board. This helped them reduce turnaround time by as much as 40% in some cases.

The apps were also integrated with multiple process points; thus adding transparency, accuracy and predictability to all invoicing functions undertaken by all stakeholders.

This just one example of how our technology is helping industries adapt to a brave new world and boost profitability while they’re at it. If you want to see what kind of value we can create for your organization, reach out to us at marketing@incture.com for a free demo!

I would like to begin this article by first introducing the CIO Guide that was published by SAP, documenting SAP’s vision around integrating SAP applications in both a cloud and hybrid landscape. I personally think that the guide is a great starting point to deal with one of the evolving architecture decision point around integration especially when organisations move towards adopting cloud applications.

While SAP treats the enterprise in a ‘SAPcentric’ way (this is SAP’s own disillusioned ‘Geocentric’ model of the enterprise world), most enterprises are heterogeneous (no surprises there) and the EA needs to be considerate of that fact. In this article, I would like to bring together all components and develop a single consolidated view of this portfolio, share an independent view around the SAP integration technology portfolio and the positioning of these different platforms/technologies in the enterprise.

Not many may realize, but SAP has a massive portfolio around integration (this is inclusive of the wider context of integration i.e. process optimization, DQ, Edge integration etc). A quick snapshot of this portfolio is below;

Note: The one in blue are the on-premise solutions and the others are cloud offerings, part of the SAP Cloud Platform.

There is already a good blog that introduces the cloud solutions that should provide you with a decent understanding of the capabilities and help with a choice of what to use when.

Below are extracts on the onpremise solutions;

Process Orchestration – SAP’s strategic onpremise integration solution for enterprise A2A and B2B integration along with Business Process Management and Business Rules Management.

Fitment: Enterprise landscape integration, business process optimization and automation, rules management.

Operational Process Intelligence (OpInt) – This is a solution in my view SAP’s Advanced BAM. OpInt promises Process transparency, Limitless scenario transparency and Insight to action around business processes with the key USP being the real time data context aspect.

Fitment: Real time insight to action for operations (linked to critical business processes)

Process Mining – A data based process discovery tool that promises to help enterprises gain complete transparency into how processes are executed, increase process efficiency by identifying process deviations and weaknesses, improve compliance by detecting non-compliant processes and drive profitability.

Fitment: Process discovery and a foundation for business transformation

SAP Data Services (BODS) – This is SAP’s technology encapsulating data integrator and data quality. BODS is one of the most popular solutions when it comes to data provisioning and ETL, used widely in data migration and DQ led initiatives.

Fitment: Data integration and Data quality initiatives

Gateway – SAP Gateway is an open standards-based framework that developers can use to more easily connect non-SAP applications to SAP applications. It is also used to connect to and access SAP applications from mobile devices. As a result, it is a chief enabler of some of SAP’s newest and most prominent technologies, including the SAP Mobile Platform and SAP Fiori.

Fitment: UI/UX transformation for the SAP landscape

You would notice that most of the technologies have an overlap in terms of capabilities (functional and technical) and it tends to create a natural confusion for any enterprise architect team to provide a guidance on tool fitment.

I would assume that a company like SAP would have consolidated their portfolio around these technologies but apparently it is either it has been a slow process at their end or that their internal strategy once again is so SAPcentric that they seem to spawn parallel products with overlapping capabilities.

A closer look might reveal that at times these products are very scenario specific, catering to distinct use cases. Say for example Gateway – I have often wondered, wouldn’t it have been better that the capability of exposing SAP business data as ODATA services be a part of the Process Orchestration (SAP PO) suite, driving consolidation? But for two reasons, Gateway now has a strong fitment in the landscape, one being the fact that not all ERP customers would have a SAP PO licence and the other being that specific use case Gateway looks to target that is enabling business data as lightweight APIs (ODATA) for the consumption of primarily UIs.

Again, from a consolidation perspective, I would have wanted to see the consolidation of distinct platforms like SAP Process Integration, SAP BRM and SAP BPM into SAP PO happening sooner. While SAP PO is now a very stable platform and is one of the leaders in this space, a further consolidation could position SAP stronger at the enterprise level. An example for this would be the API management solution. As of today, API management is a separate technology component both on the cloud and onpremise. Most technology vendors have already consolidated this capability onto their ESB or integration-PaaS solutions making their platforms much more comprehensive for the new enterprise’s (read the advent of cloud, mobility and UX) integration needs.

But having said the above, SAP comes out very strongly with their portfolio and the set of technology tools provides one with an exhaustive capability list spanning most needs of enterprise integration.

On the cloud, SAP seems to be investing significantly and innovations are being rolled out for general availability very frequently. One such example would be SCP-Integration. SCP-I started out with being a cloud integration solution for mainly SAP to SAP applications (onpremise to cloud or cloud to cloud). Over the last 15 months, it has positioned itself in the iPaaS category with major capability additions around connectivity to varied systems, support for multiple protocols and the recent addition of B2B/EDI capabilities. SCP-I is a challenger in many ways, but it still serves a limited scenarios coverage. In comparison to its onpremise counterpart i.e. SAP PO, SCP-I has its shortcomings. While customers should look at taking advantage of the packaged integration content that is one of the key USP of SCP-I, two specific capability areas that deserves attention from a roadmap perspective are around the connectivity (adapters) and B2B integration.

Note: This blog documents the existing gaps around EDI/B2B capability on the iPaaS solution.

The recent addition of SCP-Workflow and Rules packs a lot of power into the cloud offering, opening up a lot of possibilities around innovation and application development. Other individual components like the IoT services, SDI, SDS, API-M etc put together makes it one of the most competitive iPaaS currently that customers can possibly adopt.

So it comes down to one question and that is how does one make a choice around what technology to adopt? While the above can guide you to possible fitments, at a EA capability level, many decision makers are forced to concern themselves with the choice of onpremise vs cloud solution stack.

In my many discussions with CIOs and IT stakeholders, there is an urge to go onto cloud. I sense that though on most occasions this is driven by the long term strategy of cloud adoption, at times is also misplaced in many ways.

I would want to choose my words carefully here but what is a point of view if not for its genuineness. Most IT decision makers are being swayed into the technology bandwagon that is cloud esp. around integration. Keeping aside an immediate benefit say via the attractive licence models and a possible reduction in your OPEX, lets not forget that each tool has its own fitment. So when it comes to investing in an onpremise solution vs an iPaaS to manage the enterprise integration needs, I believe the decision has to be predominantly driven based on the answers to the below questions;

  • Is the enterprise landscape predominantly onpremise or cloud?
  • Does you immediate roadmap include multiple cloud applications?
  • What are the various integration points and the protocols in your landscape?
  • How much B2B/EDI heavy are you as an organisation?
  • Is connected devices part of your IT strategy?
  • Do you manage data on the cloud (read analytics, reporting etc)?
  • Do you have a microservices architecture planned?
  • Do you have an imminent need to govern and monetize your APIs?

Asking these questions will help strengthen your decision making. A simple rule of thumb I believe works well is that if more than 80% of enterprise applications are onpremise, then investing in an onpremise solution to manage integration is ideal. If it is that 80% of you applications are on the cloud, iPaaS is the way to go. But you will find that most companies are in a process of transition and hence the importance of an hybrid architecture where both the onpremise solution and the iPaaS become complementary. Even in this case, one is forced to answer the question of what to use where. Here we need to scrutinize the capability of platforms (keeping a close track on their roadmap).

A good example would be say the EDI integration. Many large organisations depend on the EDI solution to run most of their business. Hence EDI becomes mission critical. Imagine you are a customer with your core ERP solution onpremise, using a legacy EDI solution running a large set of interfaces with a large set of trading partners and are looking to modernize. If you are faced with a decision to use SAP PO vs SCP-I, at this point in time, I would be inclined to use SAP PO due to the stable core and the rich capability the platform provides around EDI/B2B. On the other hand, if you had a relatively smaller EDI landscape, one would chose to onboard trading partners onto SCP-I because the trade off can be managed. Do note that these decisions are time frame driven. In say 6 months from today, SAP decides to close all gaps around the capabilities/functionalities in this space, one will lean towards using an iPaaS solution for doing EDI.

Also is the fact that of having a consolidated landscape. If you are an enterprise heavily invested on onpremise applications, will it make sense that you use an iPaaS solutions for your B2B and also your A2A? Why would you want to integrate two onpremise applications via an iPaaS solution? The answer always lies in your enterprise strategy around cloud adoption. This is also where the hybrid landscape gets reinforced. If you are heavily onpremise in the application space with that estate continued to be retained onpremise in the long term, I would place my bets on an onpremise solution for integration and for the scenario that is vice versa on an iPaaS solution. But most cases when you are embarking on a cloud journey, hybrid integration would find its fitment. The idea is to be aware of the capabilities of the platforms and base your decision along with your business needs.

I personally feel that for the next 5 years, the relevance of hybrid landscape will become more and more prominent. IT decision makers and Enterprise architects will have to define decision points and enforce the right usage of platforms, primarily driven through use case fitments.

We look forward to meeting you at the SAP Sapphire and ASUG Annual Conference 2018, 05-07 Jun, Orlando, FL. We are at Booth-1089C.
To see Session Catalog: Click here

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is the computer-to-computer exchange of business documents in a standard electronic format between business partners. There are several EDI standards in use today, including ANSI, EDIFACT, TRADACOMS, ODETTE, VDA etc. And, for each standard there are many different versions.

When two businesses decide to exchange EDI documents, they must agree on the specific EDI standard and version. Businesses typically use an EDI translator; either as in-house software or via an EDI service provider – to translate the EDI format so the data can be used by their business applications and thus enabling the processing of transacting documents.

Many large enterprises have invested heavily into EDI solutions, typically in an internal EDI translation system or middleware. Most such enterprises today are looking at modernizing this landscape due to the typical IT needs around consolidation, licence expiry, end of support and reduction of TCO.

To embark on an EDI modernization journey – It is a path not easy to traverse. There are many challenges that customers must factor in as part of their migration planning. This article will look to discuss them, with possible solutions that can be embedded into the planning process.

Challenge 1 : Lack of legacy knowledge

Usually one of the most common and the crucial of all challenges is when there is little or no expertise around the legacy EDI estate. While the customer has an operations team (in most cases a very lean one keeping the lights on), over the course of time has lost most of the knowledge of the finer technical details. Lack of documentation or updated specifications (functional or technical) adds more fuel to the fire. This is typically a result of ‘stabilized’ environment over long period of operation. The challenge thus becomes that during the modernization exercise, the migration team will have little support in de-compiling mapping specifications which are the crux of any EDI migration exercise.

While some legacy platforms provide the configuration and mapping implementation as exportable files (csv mostly), there are aspects that has to be documented, for example the use of lookup tables or cross references, routing logic based on rules etc that will be at the risk of being missed.

Solution: Any EDI modernization program should factor in sufficient time in form of analysis. The legacy team should be deeply embedded into the program along with the migration team. This can not only help facilitate a meaningful analysis phase but also help identify technical challenges and other risks up ahead in the project life cycle.

This partnership between the legacy team and the migration team should continue through out the project. Where possible, the EDI migration team can also take forward the knowledge thru this engagement to help de-compile the legacy EDI solution. This is a possibility over the course of the project and helps accelerate the migration.

A pilot release/early release with a contained/minimal/low impact scope should be planned before the larger scope of the project is fully initiated. This will help the project team fine tune the approach and also for the wider stakeholders to appreciate the challenges of migration upfront.

And remember, document everything from day one!

 

Challenge 2 : Heavy Customization

This is typical of almost all legacy landscapes where over the years customized code has engulfed the EDI landscape. Custom maps, custom EDI types, flat structures and in-house developed structures would have been constantly creeping into the EDI estate. More the customization, more complex the migration.

Solution : The modernization project should be wary of this and not look at doing a one to one migration. Most times, simplification could be the answer to address such situations. As part of the analyse and design phases, the project should look for opportunities;

  • To rationalize and consolidate
  • Adopt Standard EDI messages
  • Design with re-usability as the core principle

Challenge 3 : Poor Governance

Due to poor governance structures and processes, legacy landscapes are usually plagued with multiple versions of code, duplicated efforts, inefficient exception handling and longer RCA time.

Solution : Like any integration landscape, establishing a governance model is important. The modernization initiative should not only look at migrating off from the legacy platform to the latest technology platform but also put in place a process around governing the landscape as part of the ongoing operations. SOA principles around governance can be tweaked to help establish best practices in the modernized landscape.

 

Challenge 4 : Long cycle times around trading partner on-boarding

A spill over of the challenges around points 2 & 3, on-boarding a trading partner is usually seen as a cumbersome activity. This is usually due to the multiple rounds of conversations to get to a mutual agreement around message exchanges, transfer protocols, transformation logic and business rules.

Solution : Enforce standards as much as possible. While appreciating that there  will be customization, it is important that where possible standard messages sets are leveraged. Where customizations are needed, extend the standard set rather than creating a completely new custom structure.

Trading partner management (TPM) functionalities as part of the EDI platforms are also highly recommend to be leveraged. TPM provides flexible configuration driven framework to quickly provision an EDI flow for trading partners. TPM helps create template based implementation which is an important accelerator.

Once again, designing with re-usability and agility (standards adoption, re-usable libraries, configuration framework, BRMS etc) becomes the key mantra.

 

Challenge 5 : Disruptive Migration

Most stakeholders are concerned about disruption to business during the cutover to the new EDI platform. This is a major challenge as some EDI platforms are responsible for almost 70-80% of the business transactions of an enterprise. Long cutover or prolonged downtime can be prove fatal despite a strong business continuity plan. Post go live, multiple defects or bugs can hamper the platform adoption and the confidence of IT/business.

Solution : During the planning of the project, there are multiple aspects that need to considered. Involvement of trading partners for UAT, a strong SIT/Quality testing prior to UAT using production files, setting a benchmark/matrices around testing, possible automation of test suites are the very basic to a successful migration.

Most project fail or the migration run into long timelines due to crunched testing or rather the poor quality of testing. Make the availability of production files/data for testing mandatory. The more the test data, better your chances of catching defects early on.

Also equally important is the execution of the cutover plan. Keeping all stakeholders like the legacy , infra, network/security teams along with the trading partners and the internal business contacts constantly informed is crucial. Do cutover plan walkthroughs and identify clear owners before the D-Day.

It is also recommended that deployments are done in a staggered manner. This helps manage risks and the post go live defects (if any) much efficiently.

We look forward to meeting you at the SAP Sapphire and ASUG Annual Conference 2018, 05-07 Jun, Orlando, FL. We are at Booth-1089C.
To make an appointment with us: Click here
To see Session Catalog: Click here

Developing and launching a new product (NPDI or New Product Development and Introduction Process) has been an area of both opportunity and weakness for companies in the Consumer Packed Goods or CPG sector. New successful products often translate into millions of dollars in sales but a long launch period or delay could mean heavy losses due to missed opportunity cost and potential loss of market share.

Velocity of NPD (New Product Development) process is hence critical and directly impacts the top line of the organisation

The Challenge

NPD is a heavily customised process and very specific to organisational or industry needs. This process traverses across multiple departments and roles. It touches many people in the ecosystem – a few hundred across various countries in case of large organisations, extending to external vendors and suppliers. Typical divisions that come into play in the process are R&D, Marketing, Supply chain, Finance, Brand management and Master data. It is in this context that the need for an enhanced collaborative and integrated Smartapp becomes more pronounced.

Tools like Product Lifecycle Management Systems, Supply Chain Systems, ERPs or other enterprise systems have been in existence for a while to address these challenges. However, a large part of them fail to cover end-to-end lifecycle of new product development.

The Solution

Smartapps built on top of a platform such as Process Orchestration from SAP comes to the rescue. These apps improve velocity of the process by bringing together various people and system components as well as through increased automation and integration. A new technology implementation or development of a new app is also an opportunity to streamline and optimise the ‘as-is’ process. As technology alone is not a silver bullet in the run in the faster product introduction lifecycle

Proof that this works

We embarked on a Smartapps initiative for one of our large CPG customers with presence in 100+ countries. Through our Smartapp solutions, this customer of ours managed to reduce the number of steps involved from 300 to 142 and brought down the NDPI cycle from 6 months to 2 weeks.

This was achieved by building a Smartapp that aggregated multiple process steps into one, eliminated non-value-adding human touch points in the system and converged UIs across systems into a single user interface. This created a layer of abstraction that shielded the users from differences and changes in the underlying systems. For the user, this meant a common User Interface (UI) that resulted in a highly simplified User Experience (Ux). This resulted in an overall reduction of 70% in the think time i.e. time spent on the application screen.

It is vital to collaborate complex processes, especially in a large organisation where product data is spread across divisions and multiple people donning multiple roles.

Smartapps give an advantage through a combination of an intelligent user interface, increased collaboration, automated substitution, workload based routing and improved visibility.