Welcome! Before diving into this blog, I want to let you know that it's part of an SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition – cloud extensibility series. To get the most out of this post, I highly recommend reading the series overview first. This will give you a better understanding of the context and background information for the topics and examples I'll be discussing. The series overview will also provide you with a roadmap for the rest of the blogs in the series. So, if you haven't already, please take a moment to read the overview before continuing with this post.
SAP BTP provides the ability to create decoupled extensions (side-by-side) of the core system using lifecycle compliant methods (using only allowed APIs which ensure an upgrade safe method). My recommendation is that you make yourself familiar with SAP BTP and the main services that are included, as the possibility that you have to differentiate and extend the system highly increases the ability to cover the last mile requirements that provide the key differentiation.
SAP Discovery Center
Let me provide you with some examples which our team has been working on together with some of our customers.
Side-by-side extension using SAP Build Process Automation
The following example was provided and drafted by har1234, a Product Expert in our S/4HANA Cloud, public edition, organization.
SAP customers are looking to be more proactive in understanding possible areas of innovation opportunities to help them to bring even more business value. If we look at intelligent processes, SAP wants business users to be enabled to operate at their best by leveraging the Intelligent Technologies to assist, adapt and to automate some of their current repetitive tasks so that they can focus their attention on additional value creation and activities that impact the bottom line.
A Professional Services company specializing in managed service provider / vendor management staffing solutions experienced tremendous global growth through expansion into a number of additional countries and multiple project locations. This growth brings challenges in managing disparate project time recordings /journal entries with limited self-service tools, which require manual data entry in multiple systems and interactions with employees and external contingent workforce to track time recording status for holistic project reporting and financial postings during month end close.
Operating in multiple countries while undergoing rapid growth demanded a modern Cloud ERP solution which allowed seamless integration into other business applications. The company benefited greatly from standardization applying SAP’s fit-to standard implementation approach for their SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition, implementation which allowed them to deploy the solution in a very short span of time.
The organization required to seamlessly update the project time entries for their employees and external workforce in SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition. At times, the project time entries of employees or contractors cannot be recorded directly in the system due to the employee or Project Manager working in a remote location without access to the system or due to constraints accessing the system., As a result it required a Project Manager to enter the time in the system on behalf of a contractor or employee. With a high volume of time entries involved, manual entry of time records can be very time consuming and an error prone process.
To succeed in a complex and highly competitive market with multiple products, regulations, and staffing, the company needed to increase process efficiency, scale their business, and improve the overall employee experience with a seamless time entry process for commercial projects which was key to their transformational success. SAP was able to meet the company's requirements for an efficient process automation solution on time entry and automatic posting of journal entries for their commercial projects. SAP Build Process Automation allowed the company to free up employees’ time by achieving process improvements in their business operations.
SAP Build Process Automation can be used by a Business Expert Key User as it is considered a low-code/no-code approach within SAP BTP.
SAP Build Process Automation in the SAP Discovery Center
Mass Upload of Timesheet Entries for Commercial Projects using SAP Build Process Automation
Set up Trigger for Bot
Execute and monitor Bot in action
Side-by-side Extensibility using SAP Business Technology platform services:
The following example was dispositioned and planned together with sampath.ramanujam, a Product Expert in our S/4HANA Cloud, public edition, organization.
One of our customers had a business requirement around revenue recognition. In summary, the customer wanted to execute a different process than the predelivered event-based revenue recognition for some specific service contracts (not all service contracts should follow this special process). The customer requirement entailed that at the time of the contract creation for a particular material, all contract value to be accumulated in a specific journal entry account outside of the normal event-based revenue recognition accounting postings.
To help our customer with this business process requirement, our team decided to use the SAP Business Technology platform. On SAP BTP our team used two BTP services: SAP Event Mesh and the Cloud Foundry Runtime.
Event Mesh Service in the SAP Discovery Center
Cloud Foundry Runtime Service in the SAP Discovery Center
It is important to point out that this side-by-side extensibility does require a user (usually a developer) with Java, Node.js, etc. knowledge to help drive and implement this extensibility technique.
This side-by-side extension was designed in a very simple way using the power of SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition, and SAP Business Technology Platform interacting via allowed APIs.
When a service contract is created, SAP S/4HANA Cloud triggers an event to the SAP Event Mesh in BTP. To enable this event, we created an event upon service contract creation using the Enterprise Event Enablement – Configure Channel Binding app” in S/4HANA Cloud.
Configure event in SAP S/4HANA Cloud
The event is then triggered due to the enablement of the communication arrangement for the Enterprise event mesh integration into SAP BTP.
Configuration of the communication arrangement to integrate with SAP BTP – Event Mesh
In SAP BTP, the event mesh notifies a custom app of the receipt of a new service contract. The BTP custom app was developed in Java and its main task is to read the service contract using the contract number received via the event to trigger an allowed API read to retrieve the information of the service contract., The custom app then takes the accumulated value of the service contract and posts the amount in a particular journal entry using the Journal entry API.
Please see figure below to get an overview of the side-by-side extension.
Final side-by-side extensibility diagram
There are many other ways you can apply side-by-side extensibility. I invite you to try some of the samples scenarios included in the SAP Extensibility Explorer.
I hope you found the examples informative and engaging. If you're interested in learning more about Key User extensibility and Developer extensibility examples, I encourage you to continue reading the other two parts of the series.