SAP EM Blog Series #3 – SAP EM as compared to Document Flow
In the 1st blog of the series we discussed what SAP EM is, and the 2nd showed where it fitted in to the SAP solution stack. In this blog we discuss the differences between document flow and SAP EM. I often get asked what the difference is or I hear the following “SAP EM is just glorified document flow”…
SAP EM is often utilized in conjunction with SAP Document Flow. Document flow shows the transactions related to the business document, as they are being created by the SAP system. A typical document flow for an order-to-cash scenario will progress as follows: Sales Order -> Delivery -> PGI -> Billing Document -> Accounting Document. Although SAP EM can easily provide the same view to the applicable business process using document flow, it allows for a few subtler, yet powerful differences.
Document flow only shows the transactions that have occurred and has no insight into what is about to happen, (i.e., ‘The Plan’), when it is going to happen, where it will happen, or who is responsible. SAP EM has the ability to show additional detail, the capability to monitor transactions that do not occur as intended and then react by launching corrective action. SAP EM also provides a customizable reporting interface into the process flow detail where Document Flow does not. This functionality is a very powerful feature of SAP EM and should be adopted as widely as possible in an SAP EM enabled solution.
Another powerful distinction is that SAP EM captures the verbiage from the event message for the event that occurred. The promptness of a supplier initiating Advanced Ship Notifications (ASN) to a customer can also be measured. The supplier would send an ASN to the customer that the product had shipped on time. A Service Level Agreement (SLA) exists between the supplier and the customer for the ASN to be sent within one hour after shipment. If the ASN was sent later than that, SAP EM would measure, not only the on-time performance for shipping the goods, but also the efficiency of sending the ASN on time. Ensuring that all supply chain partners perform timely communication is mandatory to keep the supply chain running smoothly. Document flow does not have the capability to handle messaging around events. SAP EM is SAP’s intended tool for this type of functionality.
Another key difference is the fact that document flow is stationary and reactive. A user has to physically call up document flow to see what has transpired against the order. With SAP EM in place, a user could be notified immediately on the receipt of an event that would have impacted document flow. In addition, the user could be notified immediately when an event is not reported when it should have. i.e. SAP EM is a truly proactive solution to monitoring your end-to-end supply chain process.
Lastly, SAP EM allows you to easily add events to your “document flow” that are not available in SAP ECC document flow. E.g. Sales Order is on CR block, Sales Order is incomplete.
These are the key differences and although they may seem subtle, their impact on allowing you to manage your Supply Chain by exception, in a proactive manner, is huge! It’s all about Time-to-Insight…
In the next blog I will dive in to the details of an event followed by the differences between an event and the message sending the event.