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This is the first in a new blog series to unveil "SAP's best kept secret..." Event Management provides functionality that all companies need yet most companies do not have... Why is that the case? I'm not sure as to the exact reason but I'm going to do my best to "unveil the secret....". All the content in this series are snippets from the, soon to be published, 2nd edition of my book on SAP EM. So let's get started....

SAP EM (EM) manages, tracks and monitors events (initial and ongoing), providing real-time visibility to the status of a business process.  The capability exists to alert all stakeholders of the content of these messages, thus providing the status of the process. SAP EM bridges the gap between 'The Plan' and 'The Execution of the Plan', providing visibility to any discrepancies between the two.

The ability to monitor events, in real time and in their relationship to 'The Plan', enables the management of processes by exception.  Thus, an organization can manage only those processes that are not behaving according to 'The Plan' and let the remaining 'standard' processes proceed with no active involvement.  The 'perfect' process could be described as one where no intervention is needed to correct any bottlenecks because it meets the customer’s needs and company’s expectations.

Exceptions can be either good or bad.  For example, if a sales order is being tracked at the line item level, and there is a spike in the ordering of a product that is above the norm, an alert can be sent to the marketing team to solicit more sales of the product.  Opportunities, as well as exceptions, are easily uncovered by an SAP EM solution during the monitoring of a business process.

What it is…

  • SAP EM tracks real time, actual events and matches them against predefined planned or expected events.  Unexpected events, or those not predefined in the system, will also be captured in SAP EM.  The tracking of an actual event provides visibility to the detailed activities of an overall process enabling more effective process management.
  • Both expected and unexpected events can initiate a change in the 'status' of the tracked process.  This status is searchable in the system.  For those with authority or the correct role, the visibility of the status for a business process is available at the time the event occurs.
  • SAP EM allows proactive monitoring of the statuses and, when the process is misaligned, immediately set corrective action in motion.  There is no need to wait for manual intervention to know there is a problem ...  “React immediately to issues and resolve them while they are manageable.”
    • Time to Insight: The time between when an issue occurs and when the realization of the issue is made. i.e. How long does it take to discover an issue? Standard SAP EM functionality is used to collapse the time to insight.
  • SAP EM improves efficiency in the supply chain by reducing the reaction time to fix bottlenecks and leverage opportunities.  The module accomplishes this through tight integration with SAP Business Workflow and the SAP Alert Framework.
    • Time to Action: Once an issue is discovered, what is the time taken between realizing there is an issue and launching the appropriate corrective action to address it? Standard SAP EM integration with SAP Business Workflow and the Alert Framework is used to collapse the time to action.
  • SAP EM provides the ability to analyze processes with performance metrics and compliance requirements through its integration with SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse (BW). When running SAP EM on top of SAP HANA then you can leverage the power of HANA analytics to show real-time analytics of what’s going on in your business processes.
  • In order to reduce the implementation effort for SAP EM, a set of pre-configured scenarios, called visibility processes, are delivered. Leverage these standard pieces of configuration and code to jumpstart any SAP EM implementation.
  • SAP EM is the system of record for business events, i.e., it is the Business Process Event Repository, whether they be events related to a sales order, delivery, purchase order, production order, service notification, etc. This is critical to understand and key to the value of SAP EM within an organization…  An event that occurs within one process can correlate to one or more other processes. This event could affect the status of it’s associated processes, thereby providing both visibility and exception management to those processes as well. This, in turn, provides improved time to insight and action for all the associated processes and not just the one in which the issue occurred.
  • SAP EM forms the backbone of the SAP Object Event Repository, which is the EPCIS (Electronic Product Code Information System) compliant event repository for serialized items.
  • SAP EM has become the de facto place for capturing, storing and reporting ‘Track and Trace’ data.  Products shipped with a unique transportation tracking number can be traced by SAP EM, as this is where the information is stored.  The tracking information can then be related to other business processes that need this data.  For example, to learn the status of an outbound FedEx® delivery, the tracking number assigned by the carrier can be used by SAP EM as the identifier for capturing movements of the package as it reaches its final destination.  SAP EM can then be used to determine whether the product is going to be delivered on time or not. A short definition of what Track and Trace means:
    • “Track” refers to the “Present” tense in terms of status. Where is my product or process now? Who has it? In what condition is it in? When am I expected to get it?
    • “Trace” refers to the “Past” tense in terms of status. Where has my product or process been? Who has had it? Was it always in good condition? Did the person get their product on time? “It allows companies to manage by exception rather than monitoring processes that are running smoothly, to be able to recognize and react to unplanned events in the supply chain, to provide a single point of access for collaborative processes, and finally to measure business partners’ performance. In addition, managing supply chain risks require taking a specific perspective on the supply chain and the involved business partners, locations and dependencies on different levels of the supply chain.”  (Diessner & Rosemann, 2008)

What it is not…

  • SAP EM is not an operational system to capture transactions or maintain master data, although it does take events from transactional systems, such as SAP ERP, as input.  The only data it can capture is that of a manual event; SAP EM can be used to capture those events in order to maintain end-to-end visibility to your process. From a master data perspective, it only allows for maintaining master data for locations of events and partners to events.
  • It is not a planning system or tool such as SAP APO (Advanced Planning & Optimization) - although it constantly monitors processes and evaluates them against 'The Plan'.
  • It is not a data warehouse such as SAP BW (Business Warehouse), although it does ultimately provide data to SAP BW or SAP HANA analytics for analytical reporting. On its own, SAP EM is merely a repository for information.  The true value of the system lies in what it can do with the data fed into it.  SAP EM has the ability to evaluate events from transactional systems, whether they be SAP systems or not, and make highly intelligent determinations that add value to a business process.

In the next blog we will describe where exactly SAP EM fits in the SAP solution landscape.

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