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Author's profile photo Daniel Melchior

A Supplier Portal for SAP S/4HANA Cloud in No-Code with Integration to SAP BTP Event Mesh

 

 

In today’s fast-paced business landscape, efficiency is the name of the game. Every organization, regardless of its size or industry, strives for streamlined processes that reduce manual effort, minimize errors, and maximize productivity. One critical area where efficiency can make a significant impact is in the Procure-to-Pay (P2P) process.

Traditionally, P2P has been a complex and time-consuming journey, often involving manual data entry, cumbersome document handling, and the risk of errors. Recognizing the need for a game-changing solution, the APJ Architecture & Platform Advisory department embarked on a transformative project to develop a prototype that leverages cutting-edge technologies to revolutionize the P2P process. In this team, I had the opportunity to research about this topic and create my very own “Supplier Portal” with the low/no-code platform SAP Build Apps.

The Vision: A Supplier Portal Prototype

At the heart of this ambitious project lies the vision of a “Supplier Portal” prototype. The goal is to create a digital gateway that simplifies and automates the P2P process, making it faster, more accurate, and accessible to a wider audience. What sets this portal apart is its integration with two powerful technologies: SAP BTP Event Mesh and SAP S/4HANA Cloud. To show what is possible with integration of these technologies, a simple web frontend was built in SAP Build Apps. SAP Build Apps offers extremely fast developing of frontend with a minimum of development knowledge. For me, I could focus on integrating Event Mesh with S/4HANA Cloud and had minimum effort of developing the frontend.

SAP BTP Event Mesh: Bridging the Gap

One of the key challenges in modern business operations is the need for seamless integration across multiple systems. Here, SAP BTP Event Mesh steps in as a game-changer. This technology allows organizations to react to events in real-time, bridging the gap between different systems and enabling them to communicate effortlessly.

In the context of the Supplier Portal, SAP BTP Event Mesh enables the automatic transmission of critical data from documents into the system. This means that instead of manual data entry, time-consuming validations, and potential errors, the portal leverages events to update and transfer information accurately and efficiently. My temporary manager Gunter Albrecht, who was also a mentor for me in the past summer, wrote a amazing blog about the integration of SAP BTP Event Mesh with SAP S/4HANA Cloud. Please refer it here and leave a like, if you are interested in this topic: S/4HANA Cloud Events and SAP BTP Kyma

SAP S/4HANA Cloud: A Robust Foundation

To create a powerful P2P solution, a strong foundation is essential. SAP S/4HANA Cloud provides precisely that. This cloud-based ERP system offers a comprehensive suite of tools for financial management, procurement, and more. It serves as the backbone upon which the Supplier Portal prototype is built.

The integration with SAP S/4HANA Cloud ensures that the P2P process is not just efficient but also robust, compliant, and secure. Data flows seamlessly between the portal and the ERP system, maintaining data integrity and providing a single source of truth for all P2P activities.

 

Architecture%20of%20the%20Supplier%20Portal

Architecture of the Supplier Portal

Regarding the architecture of the Supplier Portal, you can see the connection of the different systems. SAP S/4HANA Cloud sends an event such as “Purchase Order Creation”. This will be send to the SAP BTP Event Mesh which has a subscription queue on this topic on SAP S/4HANA Cloud.¬† The subscription queue consumes every event coming from the SAP S/4HANA Cloud. I leverage S/4HANA Cloud Events like the creation of purchase orders as described in api.sap.com.

If a webhook is installed on the subscription queue, the event will be send to any endpoint. In case of the Supplier Portal prototype, it will be send to a pod running in SAP BTP Kyma.This pod can then do multiple things, such as saving the incoming data to a database and also providing the event to any Web-Client. In case of the Supplier Portal, it will be displayed in a simple created SAP Build Apps Web-App.

The json-data of the event coming from SAP S/4HANA Cloud looks like this:

Purchase%20Order%20Creation%20Event%20on%20SAP%20S/4HANA%20Cloud

Purchase Order Creation Event on SAP S/4HANA Cloud

As you can see the body is not filled with many information. We just know about the number of the purchase order which was created. In order to get more information, there has to be coding in the pod which gather more information of the purchase order. This information will then be delivered to the frontend.

Open%20Orders

Open Orders

That is a example of showing some data in frontend, in which the supplier can now interact with. The supplier can now confirm, deny or adjust the delivery of this order, and send the updated information back to the SAP S/4HANA Cloud.

Another scenario is the creation of inbound deliveries in SAP S/4HANA Cloud. In here the supplier sends the desired product to the customer and then an inbound delivery will be automatically created in SAP S/4HANA Cloud. The successful creation of the inbound delivery will then notify the supplier that everything worked.

The Promise of Automation and Efficiency

The Supplier Portal prototype promises to deliver automation and efficiency across the entire P2P process. Here’s how:

  • Error Reduction: Manual data entry is error-prone. With the prototype’s automated data transfer, the risk of errors is significantly reduced, leading to more reliable and accurate transactions.
  • Time Savings: What used to take hours or even days can now be completed in minutes. This time-saving has a direct impact on productivity and allows employees to focus on more strategic tasks.
  • Accessibility: The portal is designed to be user-friendly and accessible, even for suppliers who may not be using SAP systems. This inclusivity ensures that all stakeholders can benefit from the streamlined process.
  • Real-time Updates: Thanks to SAP BTP Event Mesh, the portal offers real-time updates. This means that as soon as an event occurs in SAP S/4HANA Cloud, it triggers an immediate response in the Supplier Portal. It is easy to consume events with SAP BTP Event Mesh because the Events are no code instead of api calls.

 

Demo of the Supplier Portal

 

 

Conclusion

The Supplier Portal prototype represents a significant step forward in reimagining the P2P process. By harnessing the power of SAP BTP Event Mesh and SAP S/4HANA Cloud, the project has created a solution that not only enhances efficiency but also promotes collaboration and accessibility.

In a world where digital transformation is a necessity, the Supplier Portal prototype showcases how technology can be harnessed to simplify complex business processes. It is a testament to the commitment of the APJ Architecture & Platform Advisory department to provide innovative solutions that empower organizations to thrive in the digital age.

As this project evolves and expands its capabilities, it holds the promise of revolutionizing the way businesses approach P2P processes, making them more efficient, accurate, and user-friendly. The Supplier Portal prototype is not just a glimpse into the future; it’s a leap forward in the journey towards smarter, more streamlined operations.

In this project, I learned a lot about the use of different SAP technologies. I really liked the simple and fast way of building the Supplier Portal with SAP Build Apps. I could really focus on developing the backend and the integration of the SAP BTP Event Mesh and SAP S/4HANA Cloud. The concept of Cloud Events makes it easy to consume real time updates of a system, which can be implemented in many more ways.

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      Author's profile photo Avik Mazumder
      Avik Mazumder

      Very good explanation of Supplier portal prototype. earlier we had built similar apps using  Ui5 fiori elements as well, however 'SAP build' app seems fast-tracked that process as per your experience.

      1/ How much time did it take to complete the entire backend data model mapping /UI design of logo and login page plus 3 important tabs/buttons main block of function and build process setup for integration etc?

      2/ The event mesh queue manual clearing - could it be automated  via any job or is it runs every 5 minutes, then we still have some time lag between SAP posting and the same document ( PO/ IBD/GR etc.)- How could it be real time or is it near real time , some manual refresh is required?

      KR

      Avik

      Author's profile photo Daniel Melchior
      Daniel Melchior
      Blog Post Author

      Hello Avik,

      thank you so much for your feedback and questions! I try to answer them as good as possible:

      1/ I built the Supplier Portal with all the backend capabilities and frontend development in SAP Build Apps in a time range of 2-3 months. Please remark, I haven't worked in any of these technologies before that. I also wrote a project thesis for my university to this topic. Some experienced user should do the same work in maybe 1-2 months of work!

      2/ As far as I know, event mesh queuing is near real time. Thats a big advantage of using SAP BTP Event Mesh. You can definitely run a job to clear the queue. In my use case, I used the Kyma Backend to receive the messages from the queue. There is a node module which has a API Rule. This API Rule is linked to the Webhook of the Event Mesh queue.

      I hope that I understand the questions and I answered them to your satisfaction.

      Best regards,

      Daniel