Article written by Pierre Namroud, EDI Integration Specialist & Business Consultant
During my professional career as an integrator and EDI expert, I had the opportunity to work on several major integration projects. Some of them were in an Oracle environment while others had to do with integrating with SAP/R3. Other projects included integrations with different types of systems such as Salesforce, Shopify, Microsoft suites, etc.
In today’s EDI2XML post, I will share my experience as an ‘Integrator’ to lay down the basis of a successful integration project of EDI and SAP/R3. Please note, however, that I am not an SAP expert and during these integration projects I worked closely with SAP professionals and credit them for all of their efforts in completing the SAP portions of this type of project.
What is SAP/R3?
SAP/R3 is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software solution produced by the well-known German company, SAP. This specific version,“R3”, has been renamed to ECC (ERP Central Component). SAP Business One is also a sub-set ERP software from the same Software Provider and it is designed for Small Businesses.
SAP ERP Solutions are widely present in corporate enterprises in North America, Europe and all around the world. It is one of the most popular corporate ERP software solutions.
Does SAP support EDI Integration?
SAP ECC (or R3), out of the box, does in fact support EDI integration. The EDI format that is currently supported by SAP is called iDoc. Simply put, iDoc format files or messages are proprietary to SAP and they are similar to, and based on, EDIFACT messages.
In essence, if an iDoc file is provided to SAP, it will get processed using some specific BAPI and it will turn the iDoc into an order, in SAP.
EDI Transformation for SAP Integration
Most integration projects that I have worked on involved integrating EDI X12 formats within the SAP system, in both directions (incoming and outgoing messages). Since X12 EDI format is far from the iDoc format, our team was tasked with handling the transformation and EDI translation from X12 EDI to iDoc format.
Checklist for a Successful EDI Integration Project with SAP
Now that the basics are defined, I will share my recommendations, in a checklist format, to help guide you through a successful integration project for SAP and EDI.
- Make sure you know how to work with SAP backend. If you are not highly knowledgeable or an expert in SAP, make sure to most definitely include someone who is, as part of your team. This is a must.
- Make sure you work in a Development SAP environment, rather than a Production environment when doing the work.
- Make sure to use the appropriate SAP BAPIs or RFC, well identified for each point you plan to integrate with SAP. This is very important and it is crucial to be identified. Your SAP expert can take the lead in this area.
- Make sure to equip yourself and your integration team with an efficient integration framework. The completion timeline and success rate of this project will definitely be better if you equip your integration team with an efficient integration tool.
- To avoid getting into an unknown space, outsource the translation of the EDI X12 or EDIFACT (or any other protocol) to a reliable, knowledgeable Service Provider. By teaming up with an EDI partner, you’ll quickly notice the real value they will bring to the table since they will handle all of the complexities that an EDI project can bring. Their task will be to do the EDI transformations and create one single iDoc format of EDI for your integration flows to SAP.
I sure hope that I was able to expose some of the challenges and complexities surrounding a typical SAP integration project, with the above checklist, and properly explained my recommendations, from my own personal experiences.
If you are interested to learn more about this topic or any other issue related to EDI integration projects, please click on the image below and I will be more than happy to contact you for a FREE consultation.