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I was all excited to learn that SAP has been revamping the age old output management. The conventional output management is all we knew in the past years that needed to be setup differently for different documents. While the idea of all the outputs converging into one place excited me, it was a roller coaster ride throughout the process. In this blog series I would like to share our experience and what it took to practically implement the new output management.

Conceptual differences:

I will use the ECC output management for Sales and purchasing to support the comparison. Condition technique is used differently in both the approaches. Here are some of the salient points that I have observed in both the approaches

NAST Output management S4HANA output management
Leverages condition tables and communication structures Leverages BRF+ rules
Ability to create a number of custom condition tables and access sequences Supports building conditions using BRF+ using the fields supported by the application object
Flexibility to add ABAP code in output requirements for more fine-tuned control The application object is supported by one CDS view
Ability to extend communication structures and literally populate any value in the communication structure using the user exits. CDS view can be extended with CDS extensions but in a limited fashion
Requires Print programs and forms. Limited support to Legacy output forms Not a whole lot of possibilities to add custom code to handle complex logic
One output type can only trigger one output per document Requires Print programs and Adobe forms. Limited support to Legacy output forms
Supports multiple output mediums – Print, Fax, Telex, external send, EDI, Special functions, ALE  etc. One output type can trigger any number of outputs
Archive link is optional. But not very integrated with output management. You cannot view old outputs from archive link from output screen Supports multiple channels Print, Email, XML, IDOC. Documentation and SAP notes say Fax is not supported but can be made to work
Works for all of Sales and purchasing documents Does not support special functions explicitly but the same can be accomplished by adding code to any print program/channel
Configuration and approach is different for finance, WM, Production Supports multi tenancy and works with cloud solutions
Archive link is standard
Retains a copy of original output, very helpful to keep track of different versions sent to the customer
SAP's direction seems to be converging all the outputs into BRF+ approach. Underlying technology for BRF+ lends itself to be used with any document
Much cleaner email templates that can leverage a lot of context sensitive data that can be leveraged


Is S4HANA output management ready for the prime time?

In my personal opinion the new output management has still a long way to go to realize it’s true potential. However I have found that it has adequate features that are working that can be leveraged on the limited set of documents that it currently supports. Since SAP’s future strategy seems to be in the new output management direction, I think we will be doing better service to our clients by directing them towards the new output management.

In the next blog, I will explain step by step instructions on how to setup a new print output
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