Having had close involvement with several S/4HANA projects recently, I am staggered that the mix of different output technologies still remains in the product.
Organisations have struggled to maintain SAP Output using SAPScript for years. SMARTFROMS was the first attempt at a replacement. SAP Interactive Forms by Adobe (‘Adobe forms’) was the second. But in the standard product we still see a mix of approaches, and it has got no easier to use any of these technologies. I think it’s fairly ridiculous that IT departments need to maintain expertise in all three.
My argument is that organisations should:
- Ty to reduce the number of output approaches, and abandon SAPScript and SMARTFORMS completely;
- Decide what output media should be used in what circumstances to reach their business communities;
- Settle on a single technology, where possible, to deliver the output.
Do you really need to print the output? Really? There are some scenarios, like the production of export documentation, that require a hard copy to move stock across particular borders. But, apart from exceptional cases, stop printing otherwise. It’s 2021.
There shouldn’t be a case for generating attachments to send by email internally. Externally your communication could be EDI, SMS or Email, unless you are able to use an app with your business community. When you use email to communicate, use the email, not a separate attachment.
Design your communication for the communication medium. You don’t need PDF attachments for order confirmations, purchase orders, customer statements, or even invoices in some cases. The email is a file that can be stored and printed if necessary.
Redefine Your Output Strategy
Define when you can send by EDI or SMS, when you need a physical print and when you absolutely need an email attachment. In all other cases your output content can go into the email body.
Define communication guidelines for the email. Include branding, imagery, social links, colours and legal texts.
Then you can determine your toolset for the design and maintenance of your output templates.
The SAP-standard toolkit is free, but has limitations. External tools are more flexible, but have limited integration with SAP data and apps. Our solution is Floe, which is an Add-on, providing the flexibility and the SAP integration. But you will need to determine the best approach for your organisation.
PDF Generation without SAPScript, SMARTFORMS or Adobe Forms
Floe enables the creation and management of SAP email templates for SAP Output, and it can also be used to design PDF attachments too. The rendering of the PDF document is handled by a low-cost cloud service, Renda.io.
This means that a single designer can be used for email output and PDF output, providing a viable option to replace legacy SAPScript, SMARTFORMS and Adobe forms. The first and most obvious benefit is the step-change in the quality of the SAP email communication. The second benefit is that the designer is much easier to use than the SAP-delivered technologies. The third benefit, which is possibly the most important for IT departments, is that there is a collapse in the required skillset for SAP output template maintenance.