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B2B integration of ByDesign with external systems

I am currently helping out on a customer project where the ByDesign customer wants to send out purchase orders to a supplier.

In this blog post I want to share what I found out during this project of how you can directly connect ByDesign and a third-party application.

I am far away from being an expert in B2B connectivity, nor am I a developer. Therefore please bear with me in case the following information is not complete. I’m happy to hear any corrections or additional information.

I know that a Connectivity Guide is in the works and once finished I will add a link to it here later.

Overview

The connection between ByDesign and a third-party system such as a supplier or a customer is primarily defined in the so called Communication Arrangement.

Communication Arrangements can be defined in ByDesign in the Application and User Management work center.

To be able to do that though you need some basic prerequisites.

Prerequisites

Business Configuration/Scoping

In the Business Configuration of your system you need to select the business documents that you want to send or receive electronically to or form your business partners.

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Screenshot 1: Scoping of electronic exchange of Purchase Order and Purchase Order Acknowledgment

Unique identification numbers of business partners

You need to define unique identifiers to the outside for your business partner and your own company, such as a DUNS number or a Global Location Number

For your customers or suppliers you can define them in the master data:

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Screenshot 2: DUNS number or Global Location Number in supplier master

In addition you need to define your identification number at the business partner there:

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Screenshot 3: Customer ID at Supplier in supplier master

For your own company you have to edit your organizational structure in the Organizational Management work center:

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Screenshot 4: DUNS number and Global Location Number in org structure

Communication Arrangement

Depending on the xml-format you want to share with your business partners there are different ways of how you can set up communication arrangements.

SAP ESD format

To use the SAP ESD xml format create a new communication arrangement from the Communication Arrangements view in the Application and User Management work center.

Select Purchase Order Integration (B2B).

On step two select the business partner (and your own company) that you want to connect to.

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Screenshot 5: Business partner selection in communication arrangement

On step three of the guided activity define the host name you want to connect to or click Edit Advanced Settings to be able to even change things like the port number (default is 443). By default the authentification method is a client certificate but you can also change that to a username and password.

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Screenshot 6: Technical data of communication arrangement for SAP ESD format

SOAP/Idoc format

In case you want to send your purchase order in an idoc format you can start your communication arrangement definition directly from a supplier master by clickint the Maintain XML Settings button in the Collaboration view. Make sure you select the right business document in the table before you click the button.

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Screenshot 7: Where to maintain XML settings for Idoc xml files

Again maintain the technical data such as the host name in the communication arrangement

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Screenshot 8: Technical data definition in communication arrangement

Output of business document

Once a communication arrangement has been defined you are finally able to see and select the XML entry as an Output Channel in the supplier master.

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Screenshot 9: Output channel selection in supplier master

The next purchase order will automatically be sent via XML but you can always manually change the channel in each purchase order.

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Screenshot 10: Success message about sent purchase order

Error Handling

In the Business Communication Monitoring view in the Application and User Management work center you can always have a look at the business communication messages you sent and received. In case something went wrong with a message you can see the error message and also have a look at the xml-file directly by clicking Show Payload.

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Screenshot 10: Business Communication Monitoring view

Conclusion

Setting up a direct integration with a supplier or a customer is fairly easy in ByDesign. Even a non-developer like me can do that.

Nevertheless this can be a lot of work especialy if you have to communicate and coordinate with multiple business partners at once because nearly at each business partner a mapping between SAP ESD or Idoc and their own xml format needs to be done. This can take up to several weeks for each business partner. I therefore want to mention two more possibilities here:

  1. SAP also offers services for such an integration including the all new Information Interchange OnDemand solution. This solution already supports a mapping to a lot of business partner systems. You can find more information here: http://b2b.ondemand.com/
  2. SAP Business ByDesign partnered with Alligacom to offer our customers more choices to integrate via EDI. Alligacom is fully integrated with ByDesign and works out of the box. For more information check out the SAP Store here.
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