So, I decided to start writing blog on SDN. If I could tag this blog, I would tag it with “SAP Business One”. Yup, this blog is goanna be ALL about SAP Business One. If you are a frequent blog reader, you shall know that blog is a pretty much personal thing – people are sharing what they are experiencing and what they are thinking about. That’s why I come here to share some of my personal experiences/thoughts on SAP Business One, which I wouldn’t to talk about during my official SAP working-hours.
Why do I pick Copy Express as my first topic? I know this is not new: as one of the standard SAP add-ons, Copy Express debuted when Business One 2005 was released. Surprisingly, when I was talking with partners, Copy Express didn’t show up in their “My Favorite” add-on list – some partners only played it a little bit, some were even not aware of it. My ideal goal of blogging this topic is to share my own thoughts of this tool and to hear your voices in the end. What I would like to see most is, if you are a Business One consultant, and you’re struggling with copying configuration data from a test system to a live one, after reading this blog, you yell to yourself “A-ah! This is what I am looking for! Let’s give it a try!”
The basic function of Copy Express is to facilitate copying configuration and Master Data from one company database over to another. Even though I’m not the person who has created this tool, I could infer that the ultimate goal of developing this tool is to save time for implementation consultants! How do we save it? Check it out:
Scenario 1 – Simplify the copy process of configuration and Master Data between SAP Business One databases (Testing to Live)
During the prototyping phase, consultants try every piece of Business One functionalities to make sure it can handle customer’s business processes and requirements. Necessarily, customizations (user-defined fields, formatted searches, user queries, PLD templates, etc) are made. Normally, this is a Trial and Error process. To avoid damaging live database, consultants are working on testing databases. After prototype is validated, consultants want to continue leveraging the configurations they tested in the live database. Directly using the testing database as a live one won’t help, because testing database also contains many trash data. While with Copy Express, consultants are able to selectively copy what they need from testing database to the live one.
Note this approach could also be used after system go-live: in case customer has some requirement changes to be implemented, without power-off the live system, consultants can implement the new requirement in a backup system. After testing and being accepted by customer, the newly implemented configuration could be copied to the live system with Copy Express in a row.
Scenario 2 – Allow reuse of work from one project to another
If you are running ERP projects in a certain industry, you might always find user requirements are somehow similar across companies in the same field. Continue with our first scenario, the consultants have created a lot of customization stuff, e.g.: user-defined fields, formatted searches, user queries and PLD report templates. Considering these customizations are the most valuable of the accomplished project, consultants want to keep them and reuse them in the future projects. Memorizing and documenting are time-consuming and error-prone. Could there be a faster way? Right, you can use Copy Express.
Keep the early-implemented customer database and copy its customizations to another project? Well, you can go this way as described in our first scenario, but I have an even better solution – copying the configuration data to a simple XML files with Copy Express. This is what I love most of Copy Express. Without bothering to take a big database backup file with me, I could copy all I need into a plain XML file and run to my next client. With Copy Express, I could use either a connected Business One database or an XML file (exported with Copy Express) as the data source, and copy the data inside over to another Business One database. Life is getting much easier, huh?
Scenario 3 – Create a repository of best practices configurations based on Industry
Projects share similarities, they also have differentiations. Without doubt, consultants are always facing new business scenarios and customer requirements every time they run into a new project, even though customers are from same industry. The conception here is, with Copy Express, and from each project you have implemented, you can copy the reusable configuration things into XML files. As a matter of fact, by doing this, you’re accumulating a repository of your solutions. You may use this solution repository in the future projects, or you may share it with your counterpart colleagues and even with your partners.
Summary and outlook
Well, as you can see, given a tool as simple as Copy Express, depending on the way how you use it innovatively, you can go much further than you initially imagined. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not boasting about Copy Express. We all know this is a tool yet to be perfect. But it’s still worthwhile to give a try, isn’t it?
Regarding the future of this tool, I talked with colleagues from Production Definition team, what I learnt is that the next generation of Copy Express might be focusing on following aspects:
Supporting more objects
Better user interface, simplified copying procedure (1 click to go?)
Improved copying performance
Supporting add-on configuration/master data copying
SAP industry solution repository
Even though these are not finalized yet, let us keep a close eye on how Copy Express evolves. Overall, Copy Express is a pretty cool tool, which delivers several concepts that could accelerate Business One implementation progress. I would like to wrap up my first SDN blog entry with some useful links of Copy Express, hope you enjoy it:
Copy Express landing page on SAP Channel Partner Portal (access restricted to SAP Business One Partners)
Add-on landing page on SAP Channel Partner Portal (access restricted to SAP Business One Partners)
Business One forums on SDN