SAP PI: The Importance of Monitoring One’s Business

SAP professionals as well as business consultants have a great role in building a formidable business. While SAP professionals like developers works on the technical side of a business,  there are times where the problem can never be solved by the SAP developer. The requirements may not be clear which is sent to the developer or the software was not tested properly.

Nevertheless, there are two challenges in checking of SAP to one’s business. The technical error and the business error. When we speak of the technical error, it involves about mapping and configuration settings of PI. If these two fails this can also result to failure of communication. For instance, we would like to send a message to a vendor say, “Mr. Smith”.(I’m referring to the data input) and is not appearing on the configuration and mapping settings, tendency is an error message will appear and the message won’t be sent.

For PI, there are also business errors that result to failure of business communication. It can be a communication barrier between the SAP Developers and Business Consultants. Direct communication on both parties are important to meet the standards for PI in a business perspective. In monitoring PI, business consultants and SAP developers should work hand in hand to ensure that the configuration and mapping are in set especially when testing software is being conducted.

For SAP developers and business consultants, SAP PI has a long way to go.

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GSIG for SAP PI Survey for 2012

As a member of the Global Special Interest Groups (GSIG) for SAP PI. We are now working on new SAP products that will help you on your SAP PI Landscape. We are now conducting two surveys. The first one is almost completed and the other survey is on the process of completion. The purpose of two surveys is to gather information to help us build better products for SAP PI.

General survey: http://svy.mk/LYLOmA with focus on near Zero Downtime (Closing End of June). This survey is about what the current status about SAP PI.

PI Requirements Prioritization: http://bit.ly/JpUbBc (Closing soon). This survey is about a prioritization of a large list of requirements. Hopefully you will be able to get your ideas for improvement in the release.

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SAP PI How To Gather Requirements For SAP PI

There are certain situations where a client and contractor may encounter a failed work. As a SAP freelancer, thorough communication and gathering important details for a SAP Project is very crucial so that the end result would be a win-win for both parties. I just remembered a story wherein I was working a project for a client and I misunderstood the requirements that they wanted to achieved.

And so I had to go back to my work and discuss details to them and I found it is not what they are looking. I began to clarify and asked them what they really wanted for their site. It was a search functionality that they were after and the more I probe. They had additional specifications.

Now I learned that working for a SAP client, you need to ask every question you need to ask for you and the client to be on the same page. Normally, asking the nature of their business and processes what they want to implement. Like for example if they want search capability for their site. I could have easily looked on my site at piarchitecture.com for what they have needed since I created some templates and documentations.

Again it is very important to gather and understand information. Critical thinking is a must when it comes to SAP PI projects. As I go along the way of my journey, I will carry this experience and improve my approach in terms of working to client’s specification for future SAP projects.

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How do you let the business show what should be mapped?

I have been working on several different functional specifications in the course of the project I have been involved with. I even made my own templates to try to optimize how people are doing functional specifications for SAP PI, which is different from ABAP.

One of the questions I am often asked in that regard is how mappings are defined. I have found that it is easier to explain the business to fill in a table in word. Much of what is going on are business definitions and rules, so it makes a lot of sense that it is the business that defines the rules.

Sometimes, when nobody was able to give any mapping, I was able to guess. Based on my knowledge on the subject and what looked like compared fields. This often resulted in some extra work with the testing by the business to make sure that everything is working as expected. It was the best we could do with the data that we had.

I have seen this both with Application-to-Application (A2A) integration as well as with Business-to-Business (B2B) integration. Mostly, it is because the consultants in one system do not know how that can translate to the other system.

For A2A integration there is something about catching both the consultant, who knows something about the different system, and bringing them into the same room and make them agree on the mapping. This is often the way that makes it easiest to solve the issues and make sure that all values work. Before this meeting, I found that it is a good idea to have some of the mapping done. This helps you to make sure you know what the challenge is. It also allows you to ask more intelligent and often irritating questions.

For B2B it is communication with one or more standards like EDIFACT. Here the SAP ERP functional consultant or better an EDI consultant is the person to ask. They do not always know the formats they want to integrate with. In some case they can give a good mapping specification, which will make it much easier to implement the mapping. It they have not been working with the document then it will take some time to get everything in order.

Tools

Everything is much easier if you have the right tool or template to support the process. I have, until now, not seen any good tools that made it easy for the business to perform the mapping. The tools that I have seen are the following.

There is a tool, like EDIFIX / GEFEG, which makes it a bit easier to see the mapping of EDIFACT and X12 documents. It is a tool that is targeted to the Edi consultant and shows how the mappings should be performed. If I remember correctly, this is a very expensive product to use.

There is, of course, my SAP PI mapping documentation. This converts a message mapping into an Excel document. This tool only works after mapping has been performed.

You can use Excel documents or Word tables (as I do in my functional templates). This is the normal old school way to make mappings. It is easy to use but it is not structured enough to help the business come to a good solution. The structure is a table with three columns, Source, mapping rules and Target.

Do you have any better solutions that will enable the business to easily make mappings and still capture as much information as necessary to perform the mapping afterwards in PI? I would love to hear your trick on how to get the business involved. Thanks in advance for your help and have a great day!

 

 

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