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santossh
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In market, we have numerous solutions for Business Address search and validation like QAS (Quick Address Systems by Experian), SAP DQM (Data Quality Management). These are the few listed ones which I came across.

This time the Customer wanted to implement a SAP based solution for the Address validation (for Great Britain) and we couldn’t think other than SAP DQM. This is where challenges started falling in place.

Customer system was a third party e-commerce system that is SAP Hybris where it wanted to validate and provide Address suggestions to the customers.

Challenge was – SAP DQM has its support for SAP CRM, ECC and MDG environments and achieving same for third party was a real trouble.

This document discusses about the challenges that we faced during the implementation of this functionality and the shortcomings out of it.


Implementation:


The implementation involved challenges like:

  1. How DQM functionality can be used by the Third party system?
  2. Address suggestion input parameters
  3. Address suggestions as output
  4. Issues
  5. Helpful threads on SCN

1. How DQM functionality can be used by the Third party system?

DQM provides set of web services for Data de-duplication, data cleansing, and address validation. We decided to deploy a custom address validation functionality using a web service, which would be consumed by the Third party system.

However the only thing required in place is the appropriate Address directory to be installed at the desired location.

2. Address suggestion input parameters –

Address suggestions would be provided based on the parameters like Postcode, Street, City, Region and many more. Be careful while deciding the parameters for address suggestions. Selecting wrong set of parameters can result in n number of address suggestions irrelevant to our search and even in some cases the directory won’t return any results.

That’s not the end, the real work of Address suggestions in DQM is done by the GAC (Global address cleanse) and the GSL (Global suggestion list transform). Choosing one of them is entirely requirement specific. GAC works as the address assignment engine whereas GSL works like a query tool. Each one of them has different set of input parameters, option level configurations and output fields.

Note: Before proceeding with the implementation have a detail look at the functioning of DQM transforms in SAP Data services reference guide.

3. Address suggestions as output –

Crucial step. How are you delivering the output?

If you are deploying using the web service xml/json data exchange format is going to come in play. SAP provides the SUGGESTION_LIST field which is a nested XML structure where all the suggestions related to the input parameters will be staged at run-time and you need to consume these results at other end.

4. Limitations of DQM functionality

  • GAC returns results on a fuzzy search basis and if you want the result on exact search basis, it’s not possible as of now. Have raised the same concern on SAP IDEA Place. Refer here.
  • In some cases GSL may return results on exact search basis but, it has lesser number of output fields.
  • It is extremely difficult to return all related addresses to a specific postcode in a single go.
  • Again, the SUGGESTION_LIST field has its size limitation.
  • You cannot modify the processing logic of GAC or GSL transforms.

5. Issues:

     5.1 XML Parsing error:

A major issue which consumed too much of our time in analysis. Posted about the same issue on SCN and got it resolved.

It was the issue with the size limitation of the SUGGESTION_LIST field.

     5.2 Testing the Web service on SOAP UI.

Also faced an issue while testing. Refer here.

6. Helpful threads on SCN

SCN has always been helpful in resolving the issues and people voluntarily help to solve the issue.

Some threads –

    6.1 https://wiki.scn.sap.com/wiki/display/EIM/Global+Address+Cleanse+Transform

         Refer main and child pages for better understanding about how the GAC transform works.

    6.2 https://wiki.scn.sap.com/wiki/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=272795473

         Very helpful thread. Helped to understand how the directory logic works and also helped to define the approach for our requirement.

      

    Special thanks to Virginia Hagen for helping us out through the troublesome situations.


Closing note:

SAP DQM is meant for CRM, ECC and MDG type environments as of now and delivering the same functionality over a web-service is a challenge in itself. One more thing, SAP updates the processing logic of the address suggestions with every new version update and if you are continuing with a custom functionality like this then, you’ll have to be cautious before the system upgrade. It all began here and I would ask you to go through some thoughtful inputs from experts which would help you in taking a good business decision.

Recent update from SAP - http://bit.ly/2adhd7A

It says DQM, microservices on cloud with Address Validation, Geocoding and reverse-geocoding support. 

I’ll be happy to accept any suggestions and corrections on this…

Thanks – Santosh G.

Talk less. Work Smart!

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