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Functional Consultant roles and understanding on SAP Interfaces


The Purpose and objective  of this document is to give information on how the functional consultants can understand and give the inputs to technical team in terms of Data transfers from one system to other system with Proxies interfaces

Interface: Interface is connecting the two systems to transfer valuable business data from one system to other system(Source system to destination system or vice versa)

Types of Interfaces: Data can be exchanged between SAP and third-party applications through two types

  • IDOC

  • FILE




IDoc (intermediate document) is the standard data structure used in SAP application to transfer data between two systems .

IDOC may be transferred as inbound or outbound. Mode of sending/receiving data will be on below formats

  • IDOC to FILE

  • File to IDOC




IDOC Data can be transmitted in two different ways 


ALE: ALE (Application link Enabling)


EDI: Electronic Data Interchange


Note: IDOCS are sent to target systems only with considerable amount of data




Data transfer with SAP through file happens when huge data should be transferred/received from/to other integrated systems at once. Transfer through files can happen in below ways


  • Non-Proxy file transfer without PI Intervention

  • Non-Proxy file transfer with PI intervention

  • Proxy file transfer without PI Intervention

  • Proxy file transfer with PI Intervention


In this document we will concentrate more on FILE transfer of data through Proxy and non-Proxy interfaces


Modules involved


Technical (ABAP and PI) and Functional (Based on Requirement)

As I am SAP MM functional consultant, I am taking Purchase order data, Vendor data etc. as an example to explain the data transfer between two systems

Difference between Proxy and Non-Proxy file

Proxy: Field mappings, Translations and transformations are maintained in PI(Process Integration) as a structure

Non-Proxy: Mapping translations and transformations and generation of file will be maintained and  processed  in SAP S4


1.Non-Proxy file transfer without PI Intervention


Regular Business Requirement: Purchase orders should be updated from SAP S4 for every eight hours in the target system.

Based on the requirement, the functional team should coordinate with business to understand the requirement.

Functional Specification should be updated with below required details.

  • Format of the file to be transferred to the target system (XLS, Pipe Delimited, Comma Delimited)

  • Input selections should be updated while for custom program (batch job)

  • Timings and exceptions for running the batch job

  • Need to explain the technical aspects to ABAP with mapping sheet, transformations, and translations

  • Frequency and mode of transport needs to update to the technical team

  • mapping should be explained in detail

Mapping Example :Suppose SAP should send PO document type as NB and the customer server should receive the document type as some XX .SAP S4 will place the batch job custom program file. The require mapping of source fields, translations  (EX:NB=XX)will be processed by ABAP.  S4 will place the converted file in  AL11 Directory where customer can pick the converted file from S4 AL11 directory.

AL11:AL11 is the directory which will be created by basis team based on the requirement of the business as in-between folder to receive or to transmit the data through file.

Go-live: custom report/program will be built in SE38 by giving input selection screen and the  background job will be scheduled based on the functional requirements with trigger points. With this the file will be generated and sent out to the customer through AL11 or directly to the customer server.

Non-Proxy file transfer with PI intervention

In this case Mapping translations and transformations and generation of file will be maintained and processed  in SAP S4 (same as non-proxy file transfer)and the same file is placed in PI server to transfer to customer system  without any mapping rule.

Generally Non-Proxy file transfer with PI intervention is maintained for security and firewall restrictions where business will have access issues to communicate directly with SAP S4 system so that PI will act as path or middle ware to transmit the data from AL11 directory to customer server


    Proxy file transfer without PI Intervention

Proxy based interfaces will be Processed when technical language tools/Applications are used (Example: JAVA/ABAP)


Proxy file transfer with PI Intervention


Field mappings, Translations and transformations are maintained in PI not in S4

The fields which are mapped from source and target systems, those two mapped 1:1 field (source and target field) will be set up in PI (Proxy structure from SAP will be mapped by PI)

For Example:

1 to 10 are legacy fields

A to J are SAP fields

Here the translations A=1, B=2, C=3 will be mapped by PI through mapping rules and translations. With the mapping information PI  will create a proxy structure in which the mapping fields of source and target fields ,translations and transformations are placed.



Once the structure is created PI will communicate to S4 (ABAP)to generate the proxy structure in S4 . S4  ABAP can see all fields which are placed by PI team (Mapped fields) and on top of that ABAP will write the code (how to fetch the data from tables)based on the requirement.

Go live Approach 

custom report/program will be built in SE38 by giving input selection screen and by scheduling the background job. PI will get the data through a batch job or event-based trigger from S4 with related ABAP code. PI will place the S4 data in the Proxy structure for conversion. where relevant mappings, translations and transformations which was already built at the time of development.

The updated proxy file can place in the AL11 directory where customer can pick form it or the converted file can be directly transferred to  customer third party system through PI 

Advantages of Proxy:


  • File will be updated in quicker processing  in the target system If the file size is huge with limited set of records (approximately up to 4000 to 10000 records for one file)

  • It is mainly used to flow the data in a shorter time with limited amount of data for faster update based on data format.

  • Used for complex mappings and transformations

The transformations of data take place through two directions

Outbound interface: suppose SAP S4  should send the set of 100 POs at a time (batch job run) to the third-party system.to process this requirement SAP will map S4 POs to the outbound proxy structure which will be created by PI with required ABAP code in the structure.


Inbound: Suppose SAP S4 should receive the invoices from third party system for outbound PO’s, which needs to update for every two hours (background job in SAP)

In this SAP S4 will expect file from PI (PI Server will get the response from customer server immediately after running the batch job in S4)the required ABAP code for posting the invoices  will be updated in the proxy structure  at the level of interface development.

Note: some of the customer third part/integration systems will not use the PI interface to receive or sending the file.in this case the file will be placed in the AL11 directory with this customer will pick the file as per requirement .


Note: Some of the customer third part/integration systems will have the requirement  to place the S4 file in the customer server. In this case PI will act as exchange server to place the S4 file in the customer system due to Security and firewall restrictions. (With or without proxy structure).


As a functional consultant this document helps in understanding how the Data transfers happens from one system to other system using web services methods while providing inputs to technical consultants.


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