Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Our proposition on SAP + SharePoint integrated HPW

I've written a leaflet on combining the strengths of SAP and SharePoint for a seamless integrated High Performance Workplace. This leaflet is published on our company website. For convenience I also include it here.

Unlock the value of SAP business processes within a SharePoint based HPW

For your enterprise/organization, the SAP environment is part of the company’s most important and valuable assets. However the business processes and functionality within this SAP environment are often not widespread distributed to the employees. This hinders the adoption and application of Self Service processes. By unlocking the structural SAP business processing within the familiar workplace of nowadays information workers, the application and operation of such functionalities appears familiar even for the casual user. More and more, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 is the platform underlying the enterprise portal.
Since the start of TopForce in 1999, we have come across numerous SAP installments at diverse customers. Mostly large enterprises and government organizations, but also mid-range sized companies. In this period, we have gained a lot of experience and insights on the strengths of the SAP products and environment: SAP ERP, CRM, XI/PI, ESS, MSS, Enterprise Portal, NetWeaver platform. As a portal consultancy organization, we also have knowledge and hands-on experience with the potentials of the Microsoft SharePoint platform. Since the introduction of the 2007 version it has rapidly become the rising star as platform of choice for deploying enterprise portals. The combination of these two puts TopForce in an excellent position to foresee the issues to deal with when unlocking SAP business processing within a SharePoint front-end. In 2007 SAP appointed TopForce as Special Expertise Partner Duet™. In the Netherlands we are the only licensee to implement Duet™ on top of SAP business processing for incorporation within the Microsoft Office end-user environment.

Our vision

Our well-established 5-layer architecture forms the basis for any service oriented architecture in which TopForce is involved. The strength of this architecture is that it completely decouples the presentation aspects
of any application, from the business processing and responsibilities. Exactly what is also needed to deliver a robust and future proof integration between SAP business processes at the back-end within the visual scope of your enterprise portal.
For the specific business situation of unlocking SAP business processing to your enterprise portal, we have expanded the 5-layer architecture into our conceptual integration architecture. Inputs for this integration architecture are the HPW concepts, and guiding principles on both business and IT level to delimitate the solution space.

Our approach

The driving force behind any IT project is the business gains one wants to achieve. For TopForce this is the starting point also on projects to unlock the SAP business functionalities by including them within the enterprise HPW. Which business processes are most viable to unlock via the enterprise portal to the employees? What kind of user interaction and design should best be applied to facilitate the requested User eXperience, even for the casual user? Also part of this initial analysis phase is to examine the current IT landscape, and the active or available integration mechanisms. The next step is to design the outline of the solution, and map this on our defined integration architecture. Hereby keeping a strong eye on the current IT environment and the medium-time IT roadmap of the enterprise. This design is then implemented within the IT landscape, typically involving configuration and development activities at both the SAP side to expose its processes, as within the SharePoint/portal side to incorporate the user interaction. A best practice here is to follow small steps, delivering in quick results and wins.

Our building blocks

The most significant parts here are the TopForce 5-layer architecture for realizing the HPW, and the detailing of this into our referential integration architecture. Also we have ready-to-employ technical building blocks for realizing a loosely-connected integration between the structural SAP business back-end, and the SharePoint based enterprise portal as the information worker’s familiar HPW.
Tags: SAP NetWeaver Microsoft SharePoint integration interoperability HPW

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