Advantages of new output management capabilities in SAP S/4HANA
In my role as product expert as part of the SAP S/4HANA Customer and Regional Implementation Group, I have been advising customers about our new output management capabilities for SAP S/4HANA and would like to share with you what advantages they bring and how you can benefit from them.
There are multiple output solutions available from SAP like SD Output Control (NAST), FI Correspondence, FI-CA Print Workbench, CRM Post-Processing (PPF), etc., and those are used widely by customers for their respective business areas.
In SAP S/4HANA projects customers must learn, set up and maintain these frameworks in order to perform an output action. This creates high TCO and very different user experiences across our product.
Therefore, SAP decided to re-innovate our output framework to overcome these challenges. This is what we call the new SAP S/4HANA output management.
For more information, generic concepts and clarifications on SAP S/4HANA output management, please refer to the following very comprehensive blog:
1. How does it work?
SAP S/4AHANA output management includes the reusable service for output control, which is used for many complex output scenarios.
Basically, two situations need to be considered:
- The business application was available before SAP S/4HANA (and therefore has an existing output solution from the past).
- The business application is (newly) implemented with SAP S/4HANA (and has no existing output solution).
The following tables illustrate the available options for both cases:
2. How do find out whether the application was available before or is new?
An easy method to find it out is to make use of transaction SM30 and open the view APOC_I_OBJ_TYPEV which showed the Manage Application Object Type Activation.
In the transaction navigate to menu “Table View” and select “Export Spreadsheet” -> “Contents”
(Alternative approaches are described in SAP Notes: 3097507 – Output Management in SAP S/4HANA On-Premise – SAP ONE Support Launchpad and 2248229 – SAP S/4HANA output management – BRFplus files for output parameter determination – SAP ONE Support Launchpad).
When you download the Application Object Type Activation configuration table, you will see the mapping matrix with the digital values for fields Activation Mode and Default, and you will see the Value for OC Framework as well, please also see all values for these fields.
|Legacy OC:||Own Implementation (No Legacy Output Framework)|
|Activation Mode:||Activation on Application Object Type Level|
|Inference:||The object ARGENTINA_ELECTRONIC_INVOICE uses a standalone output solution. It is possible to switch to SAP S/4HANA Output Control via the central customizing activity.|
|Legacy OC:||Not applicable|
|Activation Mode:||Always active|
|Inference:||The object BANK_ACCOUNT uses SAP S/4HANA Output Control as its only output solution.|
|Application Object:||CUSTOMER_SETTLEMENT (No show in previous picture)|
|Legacy OC:||Message Control (Condition Based)|
|Activation Mode:||Activation on Application Object Type Level|
|Inference:||The object CUSTOMER_SETTLEMENT uses NAST as its default output solution. It is possible to switch to SAP S/4HANA Output Control via the central customizing activity.|
|Application Object:||EWM_HANDLING_UNIT (No show in previous picture)|
|Legacy OC:||Own Implementation (No Legacy Output Framework)|
|Activation Mode:||Activation on Application Level (Appl. specific switch)|
|Inference:||The object EWM_HANDLING_UNIT uses a standalone output solution. It only allows switching to SAP S/4HANA Output Control by following an application specific note or documentation.|
3. What are some advantages of our new output management?
In general, Output Management in SAP S/4HANA is not a product or a framework. It’s a generic term, grouping various features for the output of documents. The new output solution with SAP S/4HANA is called SAP S/4HANA output management and contains the SAP S/4HANA output control reuse service, which is used for many complex output scenarios. It provides many basic output features, adds additional functionality on top and is part of SAP S/4HANA standard and does not require any additional purchase or license.
You can get find more information in Output Management in SAP S/4HANA | SAP Blogs.
The main characteristics of SAP S/4HANA output control are:
- Offers a unified solution for all output-related tasks across the product (Apply to SAP S/4HANA Output Management).
- Can be natively integrated into SAP Fiori apps (and SAPGUI apps).
- Provides a new option for form templates (separation of static layout & content).
- Supports ready-to-use output scenarios (pre-delivered configuration) (Apply to SAP S/4HANA Output Management).
- Supports standard extensibility for configuration & documents (form & email templates) (Apply to SAP S/4HANA Output Management).
- Provides central monitoring tools (Apply to SAP S/4HANA Output Management).
- Runs in a cloud or on-premise (Apply to SAP S/4HANA Output Management).
For a more complete feature list you can refer to SAP Note 2228611 – Output Management in SAP S/4HANA – SAP ONE Support Launchpad.
Now let me explain more about the advantages in the following sections.
3.1 Supported Output
We support communication channels like printing, e-mailing, and electronic data interchange (EDI) for communication with others.
3.1.1 Printer: via “Print Queue (cloud)” and Spool (on-premise)
Printing in the cloud and on-premise are possible. However, the technical solution for printing is different in each case. It can be divided into the print queue solution in SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition, and the spool solution in SAP S/4HANA (on-premise) and SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition.
220.127.116.11 PRINT Queue – Cloud
In general, there are two ways for printing from the cloud with output control. It includes the creation of a document (based on the assigned form template) and the creation of a print queue item to an assigned print queue. The print queue item holds the documents to be printed.
a. First option – via web browser
When printing via the web browser, the print queue item is not relevant. In this scenario usually the print queue DEFAULT is used. It is per default available in each SAP S/4HANA system but does not allow any actual printout and acts therefore as a dummy printer. It also includes an automatic cleanup mechanism, which deletes unused print requests (print queue items) after seven days.
The technology used for this scenario is based on creating and printing PDF files (as this is the format of the print queue DEFAULT).
b. Second option – via SAP S/4HANA backend
When printing via the SAP S/4HANA backend, the print queue item will wait for a printing client to retrieve the documents to be printed. By default, SAP delivers the SAP Cloud Print Manager (CPM) as part of SAP S/4HANA. The users can monitor the printing status with the app “Maintain Print Queues“.
In this scenario you can choose different output formats (Postscripts, PCL, ZPL, IPL, TPCL, DPL, PDF, CAB etc.).
18.104.22.168 Spool – On-premise
The SAP spool system is the standard way to print in on-premise (transaction code: SPAD).
Note: All these device types in SPAD which map to one of the following page description languages (Postscripts, PCL, ZPL, IPL, TPCL, DPL, PDF, CAB etc) are currently only supported when using gateway-based Adobe Forms since those are running on SAP Interactive Forms by Adobe or SAP Forms service by Adobe to render your output forms. When using legacy form technologies only device types PDF1 and PDFUC are supported. The device types are also limited to PDF1 and PDFUC when using any lower release than SAP S/4HANA 2021.
Output Control only supports access methods (C,E,L,S,U) which represent printing (C,L,S,U) as well as access method “E” for external output management systems.
|C||Direct operating system call|
|E||External output management system|
|L||Print locally using LP/LPR|
|S||Print using SAP protocol|
|U||Print using Berkeley protocol|
3.1.2 Email: Supporting lots of recipients and email templates
The new capabilities include more flexible configuration for email communication, for instance, supporting multiple recipients (to, CC, BCC) for the output request and delivering more flexible email templates to work with.
The following output request item model has been chosen to be able to send emails with Output Control.
- SENDER_EMAIL_URI Email address of the sender
The email address is either set via the application callback class or via BRF+ (Determination: Email Settings). Settings in BRF+ have the highest priority.
- BRF+: an application programming interface (API) and user interface for defining and processing business rule.
- EMAIL_TEMPLATE_ID Email Template ID
The ID of the application specific email template, which is set either manually or via BRF+.
- EMAIL_SUBJECT Email Subject
Could be used to define a (different) email subject.
- EMAIL_BODY Email Body
Could be used to define a (different) email body.
- EMAIL_ROLE Email Role
Defines the role of the email recipient (TO, CC, BCC) as multiple recipients to support.
- EMAIL_URI E-Mail Address
The email address of the recipient. It is either set via the application callback class or via BRF+ (Determination: Email Receiver). Settings in BRF+ have the highest priority.
22.214.171.124 Email templates
We provide pre-delivered email templates, which are based on CDS Views to provide data and can be used for the variable part of the template (through bindings). By using email templates, you can achieve below:
a. You can define the email template via SE80
b. In your application you can use the email template API to fill in CDS data
Email templates are based on one or multiple CDS Views, which define the structure of the available data. The application is responsible for determining the template to be used. The application then uses the API to fill the subject, html and text body. To identify the CDS data to be used, the application must provide key information for the data. Afterwards the application can add further information to the email (e.g. recipient, etc.) and finally send the email.
c. You can use the SAP Fiori app F1306 Email Template
This app helps with creating new email templates and/or adapting them.
3.1.3 EDI: Supporting XML, IDOC and others
We support the EDI channel in the cloud and on-premise as shown in the diagram below.
Only outbound messages to business partners are covered and system integration uses Communication Arrangement.
Communication Arrangement is part of the Cloud solution or SAP BTP service for communications between Cloud-Cloud or Cloud-On-premise. Below is an example of communication arrangement inside SAP S/4HANA Cloud.
SAP S/4HANA Output Control is not designed for system integration scenarios and will not cover such scenarios in the future either. In this sense it will not fully replace NAST EDI functionality and it is up to the business applications to review existing system integration scenarios.
The supported technical message types are: Idocs, existing and new SOA messages from SAP S/4HANA Cloud communication scenarios (WE20, WE21, SOA manager, BADI, etc.)
3.2 Supported form technology, master form templates and determination of master form templates
We support lots of form technologies, master form templates, definitions and determinations. You can define the master pages of application forms referencing the master form template. A master form template is a separate form template (XDP file) defining the master pages of application forms.
Technically this means making use of fragments. Application forms link to the corresponding fragment and automatically get the master pages included.
Once done, the master pages are read-only in the application form.
· Supported form technology
In SAP S/4HANA Cloud (public cloud), all existing form technologies like SAPScript, Smart Forms and classic Adobe Forms (Interactive Forms by Adobe) are not permitted, as they contain ABAP artefacts which require backend access. Customers cannot view, maintain or transport these forms. The only technology for SAP S/4HANA Cloud are gateway-based Adobe Forms (running on the SAP Adobe Forms service by Adobe).
· Master form templates
A master form template defines a universally valid layout and features reusable parts of a form, such as header, footer, or logo (only available for PDF-based print forms with fragments). This allows you to maintain general content and application-specific content separately. If you make changes in the general content (master form), the application forms will be updated accordingly.
Customers need to define required layouts for master form and content variants, configure the layout definitions and assign content to the configured layout definition. For more details, see SAP Note 2292681 – SAP S/4HANA output control – master form templates – SAP ONE Support Launchpad
· Determination of master form templates
Master form templates can be determined based on preconfigured parameters, such as company, org unit types, channel, etc. This makes it easy to define separate logos or footer texts per company.
3.3 Output parameter determination via BRF+
BRF+ allows sending multiple messages to multiple recipients using multiple channels at the same time and has a flexible definition of business rules (pre-configured contents via XML files). It is also easily extensible with SAP standard and custom fields.
The output determination itself consists of four decision tables which are processed sequentially in the following order:
Output Type -> Business Receiver -> Output Channel -> Form Template
SAP Note 2248229 – SAP S/4HANA output management – BRFplus files for output parameter determination – SAP ONE Support Launchpad provides more details on available BRF+ applications for all SAP S/4HANA releases and versions.
3.4 Central output monitoring and central configuration
The SAP Fiori App ” Manage Output Items” enables central output monitoring and one central place to route to different configurations.
3.4.1 Central output monitoring
This SAP Fiori app F2279 – Manage Output Items provides a central overview of outputs sent via various channels and their status. It lets you view and process multiple outputs at the same time, for example for error analysis and correction.
3.4.2 Central technical setup and configurations
There are well-structured guides for technical setup, configurations and working with customized forms. Please check below pictures regarding required steps for using our new output management.
You can gain more details additionally from the respective SAP notes below:
3.5 Attachments Supported
Output Control supports sending attachments for channels PRINT, EMAIL and EDI (cloud-only). By default, attachments are not enabled. The consuming application needs to explicitly enable receiving attachments.
3.5.1 Attachments in SAP S/4HANA Cloud
When an attachment is uploaded through an app in SAP S/4HANA Cloud, the unstructured content of the file is stored in a Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) | SAP Help Portal .
Structured contents like metadata of the file (for example filename, MIME type, creator, date, file size, file extension) are all stored in SAP HANA DB tables.
3.5.2 Attachments in SAP S/4HANA (on-premise)
Attachments are offered in SAP S/4HANA (on-premise), too. If an application consumes the attachment service, it can be run in both cloud and on-premise without additional configuration efforts.
Even in on-premise unstructured contents are stored in an external repository which is owned by the customer. However, in SAP S/4HANA, the attachment service supports both Archivelink (communication protocol), CMIS and DMS.
3.6 CDS View for extraction of output data
SAP introduced the CDS view C_OutputRequestItemDEX which provides output request item data for data extraction and output-related data like application object type, status of the output request item, document type, output channel is used, dispatch time, etc.
To help you decide which CDS view to use for your purposes, SAP has introduced the annotation ObjectModel.supportedCapabilities, which indicates the most appropriate use cases for each CDS view. To find out what use cases are best supported by the CDS View, check the specific CDS View in the SAP Fiori View Browser app and find the values for the annotation under the Annotation tab. For more information, see Supported Capabilities for CDS Views | SAP Help Portal.
3.7 Used Framework/Services
- BOPF – Business Object Processing Framework | SAP Community
- BRFplus – Business Rule Framework plus (BRFplus) | SAP Help Portal
- KPro – Knowledge Provider (BC-SRV-KPR) | SAP Help Portal
- Gateway Services – SAP Gateway | SAP Help Portal
- SAP Fiori – SAP Fiori | User Experience and Apps
- Web Dynpro
- SAP GUI
4. Which limitations exist?
SAP S/4HANA Output management is not designed to completely replace NAST which comes with transmission media listed below :Transmission Media | SAP Help Portal
- 8 Special functions
- 9 Events (SAP Business Workflow)
- A Distribution (ALE)
- T Tasks (SAP Business Workflow)
It will only cover the output part of NAST (print, email, partly EDI). Other features like system integration, workflow or special function are not (and will not be) part of the SAP S/4HANA Output Control scope.
Business applications need to cover these parts differently, but nearly no application has completely adapted all available output configuration right now.
Customers will lose all NAST features when switching on SAP S/4HANA output control. Using S/4HANA Output Control for applications previously using NAST only make senses in exceptional cases.
Only once you have verified that the current functionality of SAP S/4HANA output control matches your requirements, you should enable it for production usage.
Note that “Country specific settings for output” in generally works for form technology “Output forms (gateway-based)”. All other legacy form technologies are not supported. This is especially important to consider in SAP S/4HANA and SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition.
For more details see the below links:
5. More references
If you like to learn more about the explained topics, you can check the links below:
Product Information (search for “SAP S/4HANA output control”):
- SAP Note 2228611 Output Management in SAP S/4HANA
Setup and configurations:
- SAP Note 2292571 SAP S/4HANA output control – technical setup
- SAP Note 2292539 SAP S/4HANA output control – configuration
- SAP Note 2292646 SAP S/4HANA output control – form templates with fragments
- SAP Note 2292681 SAP S/4 HANA output control – form master templates
- SAP Note 2294198 SAP S/4 HANA output control – customized forms
- SAP Note 2248229 SAP S/4HANA On-Premise Output Management BRF+ Files
- SAP Note 2470711 – S4TWL – OUTPUT MANAGEMENT
- SAP Note 3097507 – Output Management in SAP S/4HANA On-Premise
- SAP Note 2791338 – FAQ: SAP S/4HANA output management
Brought to you by the SAP S/4HANA Customer Care and Regional Implementation Group