Start your planning in GEF, fine-tune it in GIS and complete costing in SAP EAM
Update on SAP – GIS integrations
Since my previous blogs on the integration of GIS and SAP, things have accelerated quite a bit, and I am not in a single discussion on SAP and GIS with a customer, where we do not discuss also the GEF (Geographic Enablement Framework), HANA and how to include this in a proper GIS – SAP integration schema. Even more, many Esri-based customers are asking already now, if they cannot use HANA as a database for their Esri features. And yes, the beauty of course is that you can run then the complete decisional power of an in-memory database against both business and GIS data. To answer the last question already now: If you are an ArcMAP – based customer, you can access table data in a HANA database with e.g. ArcGIS query layers (details can be found here). If you are working with ArcGIS Pro v2.3, you may create or access directly a geodatabase within HANA. But rather than talking in theory about such integrations, I prefer again to go to concrete examples, so that the benefit of such an integration can be clearly visible.
We currently have customers who are interested in and implementing the GIS – SAP integration for the planning process. On the SAP EAM side, compatible units (CU) may be used. These are synced once – using the AED-SICAD UT Integrator – over to the GIS. Then the actual design or planning process could be modelled like this: In a step (1), the planning / design process is initiated in the GEF on the SAP EAM side: For example the construction measure will be created, which is describing the geographical extent of the planning areas, and the corresponding business data are captured in SAP. This construction measure is the master for all CU designs. Once this is saved, this construction measure is automatically synced with the GIS, using again the AED-SICAD UT Integrator. So, in Step (2), the GIS planning engineer can use all the beautiful possibilities of the GIS to create a spatial design / planning with all the planned lines, stations, service points etc. using the compatible units which were initially made available by the SAP. Within the UT for ArcGIS Pro vertical solution for utilities from AED-SICAD, the planning manager allows also for the creation of different designs for one planning project and the management of partial plannings (projects taking a long time may be finalized in parts). Once the GIS planning engineer is done, he may save these designs and send / sync these via the UT integrator back to the SAP EAM, where they will be stored as a group of compatible units, the CU-design. In Step (3), the costing for the different CU-designs can be created within the SAP – using the design work of the GIS planning engineers. And finally, in the GEF, using a reference layer, all the planning scenarios or designs can be displayed using simply the REST web map services from the GIS.
Often customers are asking if these GIS objects can then also be synced over to the GEF. Yes, the UT Integrator may sync GIS data with the GEF using the GEF feature services, creating a business layer. Thus the UT Integrator keeps the GEF up-to-date in real time with your GIS data. There are different pros and cons to storing the GIS data in the GEF or simply using reference layers in the GEF, which must be carefully evaluated based on the actual business processes and needs in place. And finally, although ODATA interface is probably the most modern and comprehensive interface to communicate with SAP, there is not only this interface which may be used by the UT Integrator. Others are e.g the SAP PO, SOAP / XML interface or even the more traditional business APIs such as RFC or even BAPI.
But I do not want to bore you, my dear reader, with technical details. I think it is important that you give careful consideration to your business processes, and define for yourself, where spatial data should play a more prominent role in your SAP-based processes. And once you have pinpointed these business processes, then do not hesitate to visit us at this years’ International SAP Conference for Utilities in Milano, Italy (April 2- 4, 2019), where we as an SAP Silver Partner will have a booth and are more than happy to discuss any GIS – SAP or GEF integration which you would like to undertake. And, last but not least: Do not miss in your planning for the conference the talk of our customer Mr. Olaf Nattenberg, Head of Network Documentation at Westnetz. Westnetz is with a ~ 190 000 km electricity network the largest electricity DSO in Germany. He will talk about “The Data Perspective: Added Value of Tight GIS – SAP Integration”.
Already penciled it down? See you in Milano!
My previous blogs to SAP – GIS integration:
SAP ERP Integration with GIS: Practical Examples
SAP and GIS Integration for field work (Mobile)
SAP ERP Integration with Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
Do I need a separate GIS System to use the SAP GEF (Geographic Enablement Framework) in SAP ERP or S/4 HANA?
Can the SAP Asset Intelligence Network be used as a GIS Provider?
Thank you for this very good question: Basically, it boils down to what type of functional requirements the end user has when creating the geographic design. Many of our customers really have already a GIS and happily use this environment because everything in terms of a detailed fast planning can be done. Imagine an electricity utility, which wants to plan an electricity station in one or two clicks. Therefore, the simple answer is: For a very simple (geographic) planning process, the GEF alone might be sufficient, however once it gets a bit more complex, the GIS will be needed. But for those customers, where it gets more complex, the GIS will be there anyways. You may contact me also at firstname.lastname@example.org for a more in-depth discussion.