The word “document” is used in many contexts within the SAP environment and can sometimes lead to confusion about what SAP Document Management (DMS) is all about. In the context of central application functions, it is the linking of files, called originals, to SAP objects.
The original files can be just about any electronic file, including spreadsheets, word processing files, bitmaps, CAD files, scanned documents, or even specialized programs files like shop flow control programs (PLC’s). The only pre-requisite is that the computer that is being used to access the original has some sort of application that can change or display the original. This can include network applications if properly configured.
Via the use of the Document Information Record, many SAP objects can access the linked originals. For example the SAP object could be master data like:
- Material master
- Functional location or equipment
- Vendor master
- Employee master
- Classification and characteristics
Configuration allows not only for the attachment to master data but also to transactional data where master data is used such as:
- Production orders
- Plant Maintenance orders
- WBS elements
- Bills of lading
- Purchase Orders
- Inspection Lots
Should the “originals” exist in other document management systems, interfaces are available from many SAP business partners making access of the originals seamless between SAP and the repository of the originals.
Speaking of a repository, because of the potential for very large files, the repository is usually not in the SAP database but is often a separate landscape. This could be in the form of network servers commonly known as “g:” (general) drives or in the form of secured vaults where access is gained via security credentials or specialized drives such as cad repositories or as mentioned third party DMS systems.
Every once-in-awhile, I run into a question about Document Services. You should not confuse the use of DMS and Document Services. Document Services is the linking of a file or URL via a transaction header. Note that this linking is singular and is NOT controlled to the same degree as using DMS. In addition, it does NOT transfer the link from a master record to any associated transactions (ie: equipment master to plant maintenance order for equipment). DMS allows for checking in, checking out, version control and security authorizations as well as linking multiple originals to multiple SAP objects simultaneously. SAP Document Management is also the only method for interfacing to third party DMS systems.
And finally, let’s say a word about Easy DMS. Easy DMS is a front end that can be downloaded to the local computer and basically has the same functionality as the Document Info Record (DIR) transaction. The “lite” version of the DIR is mainly for the casual user of SAP that only needs to create, change, or display DIR’s and the originals linked to them. For example someone at the receiving dock that may be responsible for scanning receiving documents and attaching them to the SAP purchase order. The person responsible would scan the document then launch window file explorer from which the scan file can be selected and a DIR created and linked to the purchase order using the Easy DMS interface.
Additional information about the functionality and configuration of Document Management and Easy DMS is contained in SAP training class PLM120. The course is offered as a public class in both classroom and virtual environments. If you just want to learn about the Easy DMS add-in, try our online learning class, OEDM71.