Having recently worked on a CRM 7.0 implementation that utilised the ECC Lean Order Interface (LORD API), I wanted to share a few insights and lessons that may help you plan your implementation.
But before that a quick explanation and background for those that need it…
What is LORD?
The LORD API allows access to all the logic within the ECC Sales Order process, without the effort of having to re-define processes, logic and configuration within other applications.
So theoretically you can hook up any external application to ECC for order entry, however SAP does provide “out of the box” solutions. In ECC they provide a WebDynpro application within the ECC Portal; and in CRM they have provided order entry scenarios via the CRM WebClient and Webshop.
In this blog I am going to be talking about the CRM WebClient application.
LORD in CRM
SAP has built these CRM solutions to try and leverage the investments that their customers have already made or will make in ERP order management deployments. But this does assume that it is easier to implement than previous CRM order scenarios. Well it is. And very much works out of the box with minimal effort on the CRM side. In fact the benefits of implementing compared to the CRM Order scenario are pretty compelling:
- No need to re-implement ECC Order logic and functionality in CRM
- Light CRM-side configuration
- Re-use of ECC pricing (No IPC!!)
- Global ATP solution (gATP) called from ECC
- Less reliance on CRM middleware (although customer and material replication is still required)
- Integration with CRM functionality, such as Marketing and Pre-Sales functions, is retained
- One view of customer in CRM
Lessons from the LORD
So there is real benefit, let’s do it!
Well before planning this, just be aware of a few things…
Firstly, it is called the Lean Order interface for a reason. The CRM solution does not offer all the functionality of order entry in ECC. These limitations are highlighted in various OSS notes; however some can be surmounted via creative design as required.
Good news is that some of the gaps in functionality have been addressed as part of SAP CRM 7.0 Enhancement Pack 1 (EhP1). And we have found that SAP to date have been pretty responsive in dealing with many of the issues we have raised via OSS – something that is not always evident. I guess that this could mean it is still deemed as work in progress, but also that SAP is taking this offering seriously.
The speed of implementation on the CRM side is much improved if the ECC sales order application and processes are already in place, or at least mostly in place. It then becomes a relatively easy task to lay the CRM application over the top with minimal changes.
However allow extra time if the ECC process relies on complex bespoke developments. These can behave very differently when called via the LORD API and therefore can take time to integrate.
It can become difficult to manage project skill sets and responsibilities. The order processes are very much the domain of the ECC system and therefore so are many of the technical developments. However there is still the need to configure and develop in CRM as well – including development of the CRM Web UI which in itself is a highly specialised niche.
Your ideal team member would therefore need a wide variety of different skills, which is unlikely. So in reality it requires a lot of teamwork across technologies.
Technically the solution offers many challenges. The solution is built on a number of RFC calls from CRM to ECC and becomes difficult to trace when things aren’t behaving. SAP has provided some tools to assist you with this. However the analysis and resolution of technical issues in the API itself requires pretty competent and curious technical resource, especially as the technical documentation from SAP is difficult to find. In fact I’m still looking!
So in summary the Lean Order Interface does provide the leverage that SAP are aiming for, however in order to maximise the efficiency of the implementation it helps to have an understanding of the limits and nuances of the technology.