“Not much, what’s SAP’nin’ with you?” That’s just a little “inside joke” when we’re working with customers who use our SAP interface with EXTOL products. And yes, EXTOL does have an interface that enables EXTOL products to work with the SAP application.
But, what actually is SAP and why is it necessary to have an EXTOL interface?
SAP is a German-based company named: “Systeme, Aanwendugen und Programme inder Datenverarbetung” (“Systems, Applications and Products in Data Processing”). Product versions of SAP were originally branded R/(version), where “R” meant “Real-time”. The current product version is branded “Central Component” (ECC). Therefore, instead of SAP R/3, it is now (at the present time) ECC 6.0. SAP runs on a fourth generation programming language called Advance Business Application Programming (ABAP). It has many advanced features of other modern programming languages such as C, Visual Basic, and Power Builder. SAP uses a graphical user interface (SAPGUI) which runs on Windows / NT, UNIX, and System i (AS/400).
SAP is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software product capable of integrating multiple business applications, each representing a specific business area. These applications update and process transactions in real-time mode. SAP is configurable to meet business requirements. SAP is categorized into three core functional areas: Logistics, Financial, and Human Resources.
SAP moves data through the system by the use of an Intermediary Document (IDoc). The IDoc has a “flat-file” structure and represents a common business document. For example, in support of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), SAP has an IDoc for common EDI transactions such as 850-Purchase, 810-Invoice, and many others. This will focus on the relationships between EDI data and SAP IDoc interfacing.
IDocs sit between the EDI and SAP applications. For data moved from SAP to an outside EDI process or application, SAP produces the IDoc-formatted data. For data moved from an outside EDI process or application, the outside process or application must produce the IDoc-formatted data.
An IDoc contains three record types: Control Record, Data Record(s), and Status Record. The IDoc record types most generally used are Control and Data Records. These record types make up the business document. The Control Record contains information identifying the type of IDoc, partner information, type of EDI document, SAP version that produced the IDoc, etc. Data Records consist of a header format, which identifies the IDoc type, EDI sequential segment number, EDI segment type description, and fields containing the actual data of the EDI segment. The Status Record contains information identifying process stages already performed, and process stages (of the IDoc) yet to be performed. There is one Status Record for each IDoc type.
For compliance with SAP and their IDoc formats, an interface program may be necessary to provide adjustments to the IDoc data passed between the SAP and EDI applications (and in either direction).
Should you intend to implement the SAP application and also have EDI requirements, it is recommended that you inquire whether your current EDI (or other) applications will support the necessary integration for SAP IDocs.