Document Management in SAP S/4HANA Cloud
In today’s world, “Intelligent ERP” is the core of digital transformation for most of the organizations. In this context, “Enterprise Content Management”(ECM) can be defined as an intelligent suite of offerings for efficient management of information or content for an organization.
An ECM solution is expected to provide tools and functionalities to capture, manage, store, preserve and deliver the content generated by the organization.
SAP Document Management System (DMS) for SAP S/4HANA Cloud and On Premise is a strong offering under the ECM umbrella. It is a cross application component that provides robust document, and content management capabilities. It provides sophisticated tools and functionalities that avoid data redundancy, maintain data consistency, provide easy accessibility via the rich search functionality, easy versioning and automatic classification.
As part of the SAP S/4HANA Cloud solution, SAP also provides a repository to store the content, that resides on the SAP Cloud platform.
This blog covers the current DMS solution mainly from SAP S/4HANA Cloud perspective though some information has been provided from the on-premise perspective too. Nevertheless, the on-premise and the cloud versions are almost similar in terms of functionality.
Customers create different types of content along the entire life cycle of their products in phases like research, supply chain, manufacturing, sales, procurement etc. In order to efficiently share the information created in different phases and to access it from different areas, it is necessary to have a rich solution that incorporates strong document management features.
The use cases may vary from a service technician who needs maintenance manuals as reference for servicing the equipment, to a design engineer in a R&D organization who is responsible for creating design and drawings of a new component and storing them appropriately.
SAP S/4HANA Cloud has 2 main offerings here – the “Manage Documents” application and the “Attachment Service” reuse component.
Manage Documents Fiori application
The “Manage Documents” is a standard Fiori application in the SAP S/4HANA Cloud that supports versioning, search capabilities, status handling, attributes & classification, description in different languages, object Links, file handling etc. In this context, a document is defined as a carrier of information. This information is either needed for the user/person responsible or for an exchange between systems. A document contains information that can be stored, and it can take many different forms (such as technical drawings, graphics, programs, or text). When complete, this information gives a full description of an object. We use the term document info record (DIR) to refer to the master record in the SAP System that stores all the business information for a document. While the document info record contains the metadata for a document (such as classification properties, status, object link etc. ), the original file (for example, the design drawing) contains the actual information in the document.
The ‘Manage Documents’ Fiori app also has a Machine Learning based automation for classifying the document. This reduces lot of manual effort.
Currently, Material (Technical Object: MARA) and Document Info Record (Technical Object: DRAW) can be linked as part of object linking.
Features like search based on classification, full-text search, change record integration, representation of further object links, harmonized document handling are planned for future releases.
Currently, the business role “Design Engineer” is used to create and manage the life cycle of a Document Info Record. A SSCUI (self-service configuration UI) is available to configure the Document Types (as an optional step).
Attachment Service is a UI component that allows attachment of documents to a business object at header and item level. All leading applications (business objects) mandatorily consume this component to enable file attachments in order to ensure similar functionality and user experience across all the Fiori applications.
The capabilities include uploading individual files as well as URL as attachments, saving attachments in draft before confirming, upload/download attachments without ActiveX Plugins and many more. Any number of files can be attached – at the header and the item level of a business object. Files that are individually up to 100 MB can be uploaded using the Attachment Service. Additionally, it also offers capabilities to assign / unassign an existing attachment from a different business object. Users can also specify the Document Type while creating attachments. This is only possible with the DMS type of attachments and not for GOS. There is also a navigation capability to the DIR in the Manage Documents app.
Internally, applications in SAP S/4HANA Cloud that use Attachment Service rely on Document Management System (DMS) or Generic Object Services (GOS) for processing attachments. This decision is internal, technical and dependent on the requirement of the leading business object. Based on this, the attachments can be managed via the “Manage Documents” app (if the leading business object is relying on DMS ).
Several file types are supported, and the extensions can be maintained as part of configuration in the transaction DC30. This together with the Virus Scanner component allow or restrict the usage of a particular file type.
As part of SAP S/4HANA Enterprise Content Management strategy, managing documents must be via CMIS in SAP S/4HANA Cloud (ArchiveLink is not supported). Content Management Interoperability Services [CMIS] is an open standard that allows different content management systems to inter-operate over the internet. Specifically, CMIS defines an abstraction layer for controlling document management systems and repositories using web protocols. The Open Interface (CMIS) allows SAP applications, partner solutions and customers to connect to SAP S/4HANA Cloud and the SAP Cloud Platform (SCP).
For a SAP S/4HANA Cloud customer, SCP-Document Service is provided as a default repository with a defined storage capacity. Connection to other external repositories (connectivity via content bridge) is an upcoming feature.
For SAP S/4HANA On-Premise, SAP Content Server will be supported via ArchiveLink interface only and external repository (Ex:OpenText) can be supported via ArchiveLink/CMIS interfaces. The default setting is SAP DB for on-premise but for a large volume of documents, SAP DB would not be a viable option hence nstead SAP recommends to use an external storage. Technically, KPro is the internal framework that allows SAP S/4HANA systems to communicate with content repositories
Public APIs in DMS
APIs have been published in the SAP API Hub to enable external consumption. Many CDS views have also been made available (normally prefixed with ‘Document Info Record’). They can be viewed in the SAP API Hub. The available APIs are :
- Document Info record – Create, Read, Update (This service enables creation, read and update of the Document Info Records(DIR) along with object Links)
- Attachment – Create, Read, Rename, Delete (This service enables managing the attachments based on Document Management (DMS), and Generic Object Services (GOS) – functionalities as creating, reading, renaming, and deleting attachments)
SAP and OpenText are establishing a stronger partnership so as to combine respective strengths of the two market leaders to further extend SAP’s unified business data platform with unstructured content for the Intelligent Enterprise on SAP Cloud Platform. The main objective is to improve the flow of information through the end to end business processes that may extend across solutions. This will help in achieving highly efficient cross system document sharing and better collaboration between applications such as SAP S/4HANA Cloud, SAP C/4HANA Cloud, SAP SuccessFactors etc.
Stay tuned to for the next blog in this series.
For more information on SAP S/4HANA Cloud, check out the following links:
- SAP S/4HANA cloud release information: http://www.sap.com/s4-cloudrelease