Running a complex, global enterprise from one large suite of seamlessly integrated applications is a powerful vision, and SAP has done well to implement this vision. However, organizations that are reliant on supply chain management software from an ERP vendor can find themselves perpetually stalled, never actually achieving the functionality and visibility required for seamless supply chain planning to enable increased service levels, minimized inventory, fact-based decision-making, better handling of demand uncertainty and supply volatility, and product lifecycle management for maximum profitability. It’s important to know the dangers behind SCM-to-SAP integration, and how to avoid them.
SAP ERP-to-SAP SCM Standard Integration
Standard SAP ERP-to-SAP SCM integration provides a complex technological starting point for SAP SCM integration. The integration provides near-real-time transfer of data between ERP and SCM, tightly coupled with the SAP ERP data model. The integration is typically implemented over eight to 24 months using standard SAP project methodology and tools by a team of SAP ERP, SAP SCM and SAP integration and ABAP coding professionals.
The dangers behind SCM-to-SAP integration are many and varied; some are obvious, while others may remain hidden, then suddenly emerge to put the solution, and associated budget, at risk.
Cost and efficiency
Integration with non-SAP data sources typically requires significant customization; as supply chains become increasingly complex and interconnected, a one-data-source integration approach could undermine the solution’s long-term value. As your business processes evolve, there will undoubtedly be the need to integrate and support non-SAP databases. Underestimating the total cost of ownership can result in dramatic budget overruns.
Scalability and speed
While SAP ERP-to-SAP SCM integration offers net-change capability (starts with a large initial load, then switches to recognize and send only that data which has changed), the capability does not extend to data sources and targets outside SAP ERP. Additionally, when the integration encounters production volume data for the first time, it will fail as all integration components are run on the same servers that host the ERP and SCM applications.
SAP provides a path for standard integration software upgrades but does not include enhancements or connections for non-SAP ERP integration points. Upgrading functions can put a heavy burden on your business, particularly if effective documentation is lacking or the project has changed hands over time. Successive waves of developers creating their own integration processes over time can result in convoluted ‘spaghetti code’ as there is no best-practice way of doing things outside the standard integration scope.
While data mapping flexibility exists in the standard SAP approach, there is no corresponding data model flexibility to transform data as needed. Added to this, your integration project needs to support collaboration with supply chain partners. The standard SAP ERP-to-SAP SCM integration is virtually ineffective for inter-enterprise integration, and non-ERP data integration leads to increased custom development.
Custom Integration without the Custom Effort – the Logility Best-of-Breed Approach
Logility’s templated integration solution delivers custom ERP integrations without the custom effort for best-of-breed supply chain planning and optimization solutions. Rules-based application combines standardized connectors with high-performance, rules-based data transformations and powerful solution management capabilities.
Logility’s modular integration technology saves time, cost and complexity for customers. Pre-built integration templates deliver better performance, simplified support and reduced cost of ownership, cutting implementation effort by as much as 90% for typical integration projects, and delivering results in 30 to 60 days in most cases.
It is important not to let an “all-SAP” vision stand in the way of achieving supply chain excellence through SCM software, which should be implemented and reconfigured as quickly as the supply chain evolves. Logility delivers high-performance SAP ERP-to-Logility integrations in less time, at lower cost, and provides long-term value by continually upgrading software components to maintain currency with data model updates over time.
Senior Vice President
Scott Abbate is a senior vice president with Logility, with more than two decades of experience diagnosing supply chain planning shortcomings and prescribing solutions. Scott has helped over 150 enterprises document the positive financial impact of attaining high P&L and Balance Sheet maturity in business cases for supply chain digital transformation.