Portuguese translation to follow.
Since last June 22nd, SAP has released under General Availability (GA) the latest version for its NF-e (Brazilian electronic invoicing) solution: SAP NFE 10.0. It had been in Ramp-up since December 13th, 2010, and since the successful go-live of the first of its ramp-up projects, it has been made generally available.
But what has changed in this newer version? Well, first of all, the version itself. 🙂 Lots of people have asked why the number went all the way from 1.0 up to 10.0! The answer is rather simple though, it has nothing to do with the (real) fact that the solution has improved 1000% (hehe) – the point is that, as part of the SAP Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) Suite, SAP NFE was also part of the GRC Suite Harmonization project, under which all GRC products were redesigned & relabeled as 10.0. That’s why we have Access Control 10.0, Process Control 10.0 and so on…
Secondly, the product name has changed altogether. The first version used to be called, in its full name, SAP GRC Nota Fiscal Eletronica 1.0, or SAP NFE 1.0 for shorts. Now, also under the GRC harmonization, its official full name has been changed to SAP BusinessObjects Electronic Invoicing for Brazil 10.0. Pretty fancy, ain’t it?? The short version remains rather the same, SAP NFE 10.0. Folks down here in Brazil, who have been used to call the product just as “GRC”, will have to get used to the new name… or not. Power to the people!
But what has really changed underneath?? Is it the same thing with a new name? Not at all!!!
In simple terms, the first version of the product (covered in SAP GRC NFE 1.0 – New Solution Introduction & Implemention Best Practices) was aimed at meeting with the requirements of the issuing of electronic invoices by the companies selling (or returning, importing etc.) goods. For any scenario that demanded an invoice (or Nota Fiscal, in Brazilian terms) to be issued, it needed to be converted into the electronic format defined by the government and processed through a predefined set of steps in order to comply with the legal requirements. Only after getting the online approval from the government for that particular invoice, the company would be allowed to ship the goods.
This was well achieved by the SAP NFE 1.0 solution. It revolutionized the way the Brazilian SAP customers were managing electronic invoices, in terms of integration to the SAP ERP as well as the stability & scability that only a solution based on the SAP NetWeaver platform could offer. Being the best of breed solution in its niche, SAP NFE is now present in more than 1/3 of the SAP installed base in Brazil, even though it was released later than most of the competitive solutions.
However, the experience that SAP gathered with the NF-e projects allied to the business insight that only SAP has, made it possible for our engineers & consultants to perceive a couple of bottlenecks that were happening in the process.
While the outgoing part of the process (i.e. selling the goods) was considerably efficient, the adoption of electronic invoicing brought serious drawbacks to the other side of the supply chain: the companies pruchasing the goods were having a much harder time processing these incoming electronic invoices, due to new legal requirements which were specific to the NF-es.
The new Incoming piece
So, with the experience gathered in SAP’s 300+ implementations of SAP NFE among the Brazilian customers, our development engineers & architects were able to come up with a solution that would make the life of the companies purchasing the goods much easier. Instead of having a bigger burden because of the electronic document, the solution SAP has come up with is able to actually take advantage of the fact that the process is based on such electronic documents and reduce the overall average time spent in the fiscal validation of these incoming invoices by 7/8!
So, now, the SAP NFE solution is comprised of two pieces, or “modules”:
- SAP NFE, Outbound: the classic feature of SAP NFE, best of breed NF-e issuing system for SAP ERP customers in the market;
- SAP NFE, Incoming: leveraging the NF-e capabilities in order to improve the procurement & logisitc process for the Brazilian customers.
Much different from the SAP NFE Outbound piece, though, the Inbound piece is not just a mere transactional message handler anymore. It is tightly integrated to the SAP ERP invoice verification & material movement processes, leveraging the actual Business Users to migrate from the old-fashioned transactions into modern web-based mashed-up interfaces, which integrate in a single workplace all the information the users need to do their jobs.
More specific details about the new SAP NFE Incoming Automation process will be explored further in a future blog.
What’s new for the Outbound process
While the main feature of the new version is indeed the Incoming process, the Oubtound process has not been neglected by the developers and it has been remodeled and improved since SAP NFE 1.0.
There were 3 major enhancements, besides several other minor improvements (some of which have been downported to the 1.0 codeline):
- Simplification of the architecture, with the complete removal of the SLL-NFE-JWS Java component: now, the XML digital signature is fully handled by the SLL-NFE ABAP component (leveraging new features of the 7.02 NetWeaver platform), what has reduced the complexity & TCO of the solution, as well as increased the overall message throughput by 30+%;
- New Mass Download UI: an old recurring request of existing customers, now it’s possible to download a set of XML files (filtered by date, for example) in a single step;
- Standardized look & feel of the UIs: the UIs have been aligned with the more classical web dynpro look & feel of other SAP applications. They were also modified to make use of the POWL (Personal Object Worklist) Web Dynpro framework, leveraging the use of NW Business Client as an alternative frontend option.
All in all, it continues to be the best of breed solution for SAP ERP customers to issue Brazilian electronic invoices, yet more powerful. It will continue to grow both in terms of robustness and functionalities, along with the Incoming piece.
One important message to all SAP NFE 1.0 customers out there: the SAP NFE 1.0 licenses you’ve acquired are equivalent to the SAP NFE Outbound piece, no matter what the version. So, if you want to leverage the new goodies of the Oubound process that come in 10.0, it doesn’t require any additional licensing. It’s possible to migrate your existing NFE 1.0 installation to NFE 10.0 – Outbound. The Inbound piece, on the other hand, does need to be licensed additionally, since it covers an entirely new business process that was never addressed in 1.0.
In short, starting from version 10.0, SAP NFE now comprises two business processes (or “modules”) within the same product: the Outbound part, for issuing NF-es, and the Inbound part, for receiving NF-es.
We at SAP are pretty sure that, with these latest additions, SAP has put NFE even more into the leadership position of a governance & compliance solution for NF-e in Brazil, helping our customers to meet the legal requirements and, at the same time, to improve the procure-to-pay business process at these companies.