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Collaboration boost with Google Drive

The overall message at first:

With Feature Pack 4.0 Business ByDesign now integrates with Google Drive.

But before we go into the details of how how the integration looks like let me quickly introduce Google Drive.

What is Google Drive?

On a very high level Google Drive is an online storage that allows you to store your documents and access them from anywhere using a browser or one of their mobile apps.

Google Drive was only announced recently. Before that Google already had a similar product called Google Docs which now emerged into Google Drive.

So you might ask what’s the difference between Google Docs and Google Drive. Well, let me start with Google Docs.

Google Docs already allowed you to do several things:

  1. Create documents such as text documents, spreadsheets or presentations
  2. Upload other documents such as pictures or pdf files.
  3. Share documents with other users – either within your own enterprise but also across the company boarders with customers, suppliers or any other business partner.
  4. Collaborate on these documents with others in real-time. Every change is automatically saved in a new document version.

With Google Drive applications can now allow to save their proprietary file formats into Google Drive as well and associate a standard file editor with it. This sounds trivial but it is extremely useful for the user:

  • I can just use my Google account to log on and in to other applications such as
  • I have all of my documents in one place. There’s no need to manually sync them or move them to a specific folder as I have to do it with, for example.
  • I can share all of my documents in the same way than I share Google Docs.

See the following screenshots:


Third-party files in Google Drive


Example of third-party file opened from Google Drive in their website with automatic log-on using the Google account

How does ByDesign integrate with Google Drive?

In the past you were already able to upload files into ByDesign and attach it to most of the business documents such as a customer, a supplier, a sales order or a purchase order. You were also able to just link other documents such as websites.

Now you can directly access your Google account and with that all of your documents on Google Drive directly from any Attachments screen in ByDesign. This allows you to

  1. Create new documents on Google Drive directly from ByDesign
  2. Search for existing documents on your Google Drive directly from ByDesign
  3. Link existing documents from your Google Drive to business documents in ByDesign
  4. Copy existing documents from your Google Drive to business documents in ByDesign by taking a snapshot of these documents and directly saving them into ByDesign
  5. Copy already linked documents from Google Drive to ByDesign

See the following two screenshots:


Creating a new Google document from ByDesign


Adding existing documents from Google Drive to ByDesign

You can also watch a video I took last year of the prototype of this integration here on YouTube. You will recognize that the search feature wasn’t available yet in this early prototype.


The configuration consists of two major steps.

Admin configuration

First the administrator of ByDesign has to add the Google Docs integration to the scope of the ByDesign system.

After that he needs to set up a OAuth client ID on the Google domain. If the company is using Google apps for their enterprise he can register it for their own domain. This can be done on the website

The client ID and its client secret have to be saved in the fine tuning activity for Google Documents Attachments in ByDesign.


Client registration of Google in ByDesign

End user configuration

Now that ByDesign in general knows that it’s allowed to access Google, each end user has to link their ByDesign account with their Google account. This can’t be done by an administrator because only each end-user has access to both of his accounts.

For that there’s a self-service in the Home work center called Edit Access Permissions for Web Services which will guide the end-user to his Google account to grant his ByDesign user access to the documents on his Google Drive.


Granting ByDesign access to my documents on Google Drive


Google Drive is a great real-time document collaboration tool. Even though several other tools exist in the market this is in my opinion one of the best tools. Especially because companies start using Google Apps such as Gmail, Calendar and Google Drive for their enterprise now and replace on-premise solutions with this complete cloud based solution.

The integration of ByDesign with Google Drive is a great step forward to bring the ERP system very close together with real-time document collaboration. The ability to be able to copy files and keep a snapshot of it also for later reference is an additional plus.

Using Google Drive for document collaboration also allows you to work together closely with your customers, suppliers and other business partners, and at the same time having a holistic view on the related business documents in your ERP solution.

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  • You rightly pointed out the differences to Dropbox and to Google Docs. I see Google Drive as part of the Chromebook strategy. The very concept of local resources is abandoned. But actually ByD still doesn’t make much use of the new features of drive. Wouldn’t it be worth to exploit the document character of many of the ByD business objects, and allow to store and edit them on Drive? Leads, Opportunities, Specifications, even Sales Orders and Invoices? Provide the required editors on drive and open-up APIs to these documents for partners. This would enable completely new business models.

    • Hi Gregor, I know the capabilities of Google Drive of course. As you know when we started with this project Google Drive wasn’t available yet and we got to know about it too late.
      I think the idea of being able to save and edit ByDesign documents on Google Drive is pretty cool, but: I don’t see a real use case for it yet. To be able to access your Google Drive you need to be online. If you are online then you can also use your browser to access your ByDesign system directly. On your mobile phone you have ByDesign apps. Yes, you could share a document very easily and collaborate around it, but we are building out our own social collaboration framework at SAP, too. Therefore: Unless customers are asking for this I wouldn’t recommend to invest resources in it.
      What do you think? Why do you think this would be useful?

      • Well, whether or not there is an immediate demand from customers, I do not know. But I’m really interested to understand Google’s suggested paradigm switch from an application centric to a document centric business IT and its consequences. Documents fit much better to social networks then applications do. You create and exchange them, collaboratively modify them, link them to activities and so on. Also, as Google points out, this can massively support the sales of your app. People would ask for your app, when they get involved in working with new types of documents. But, you are right, this is not a picture of integrating ByD with Drive, but rather a completely new way of dealing with business objects.

        Let’s have a coffee and discuss the possibilities when you are in Germany the next time.

  • Hi Christian, Having read your article and realising the possibilities it presents I have set-up the Google drive Integration with ByD the set up is not straight forward. When I request Authorization via ByD “Allow access” (in ByD Web Service access permission) Google link opens up with the client Id but There is an error  “Invalid parameter value for scope: Empty space separated value:”

    I have filled Scope via settings in Google Console API for Drive SDK but with no luck. Have searched everywhere but with no luck.

    Looking for guidance in the right direction. Many thanks.

      • Hi Christian,

        I have followed the instructions as per your presentation -including Julian’s comment- but I get the same error message as Nakul does (see below) when I try to allow Access to an account.

        Perhaps you can share more details on the “Allow Access” step.

        Thanks in advance and Best Regards,


        Invalid parameter value for scope: Empty space separated value:  
        Request details:
        • scope= 
        • response_type=code
        • redirect_uri=urn:ietf:wg:oauth:2.0:oob
        • access_type=offline
        • client_id= <client id appears here, I deleted it>
        • Hi Marcos,

          I tried this again myself now and it works all right for me.

          The only thing that I did differently was that I didn’t launch the “Web Service Access Permissions” screen from the self-service area but from any “attachment” tab of a document such as a sales order. Afterwards everything works fine.

          If you are still facing this issue, please open an incident.

          Thanks, Christian

  • Excellent tutorial – ByD-Google Drive integration works like a charm 🙂

    Just a quick hint, because it took me a while to figure it out:

    When you register at make sure that you

    – activate “Drive API” below “services”

    – select client type “Client ID for installed applications”

  • Hello,

    Google Drive is working fine with ByD.

    In my case the issue was with ByD 4.0 which SAP fixed, they confirmed the issue does not exist in the 1302. Since the upgrade last month I have done the integration on the new 1302 client as well with no issues at all.

    So anyone here trying to integrate with 4.0 may want to raise an incident.

    Also to add to the steps above is to ensure your e-mail domain is registered with Google.

    • Hi Nakul,

      It should still work even if you don’t have your email domain registered with Google but if you are just using a normal Gmail-email-address.

    • Hi Nakul,

      Thanks for your reply, the problem came up under FP 4.0, I raised an incident. In the meantime we received the Test tenant for the upgrade to Rel. 1302, tested there and I found no problem there

  • Has anybody got a hint on how to make ByDesign Outlook Plugin and Google Apps Sync Outlook plugin work together? SAP documentation says, they don’t – but maybe there is a trick or workaround?

    See: “The synchronization between Microsoft Outlook® and SAP Business ByDesign does not work when Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook® (a download from Google®) is configured.

    I just can’t imagine how to work without a seamless groupware integration of both cloud products.