Digital consistency between FUTURA and SAP works only by means of a genuine integration. In decisive contrast to an ordinary interface, the data exchange in this case is triggered automatically and interactively, in tune with the business flow. As the “leading system”, SAP is supplied with all the necessary data to ensure a gapless documentation. An intricate manual data import or export is no longer necessary, and subsequent changes to already transferred data pose no problem owing to the integrated change order management.
An interface conveys data from A to B and is merely a technical description of data exchange between different systems. Integration, however, makes a seamless representation of processes across system boundaries possible: Users work without system boundaries and automatically initiate the data exchange between SAP and FUTURA in the process.
The SAP-integration is based on bidirectional, real-time interfaces. The means for this purpose are largely standardized programming interfaces provided by SAP Business Objects, so-called BAPIs (Business Application Programming Interface), across which external programs can access data and business processes within the SAP-system. BAPIs are independent of programming languages and communication mechanisms; therefore, they play an essential role in business data exchange which goes beyond technical integration. This is what enables the interactive operation of the SAP-system via FUTURA in the first place: The combined error handling directly indicates the processing status of the data exchange and allows users to work within one system only.
The GAEB-based data exchange format plays an important role in planning, purchasing and billing of investment goods and projects (AVA-process) in Germany. Most planning offices are using this format to exchange item lists. SAP does not support the GAEB-format, but it can reproduce the corresponding structures. As a result, extensive item lists would have to be created manually with great effort in SAP. If a differentiated and traceable activity record (measurement) is required in SAP, a complete item list that serves as a basis must be available too. In this context, the integration modules provided by FUTURA enable the transfer of GAEB-based item lists, orders or contracts to SAP – in SAP, the single items of the item list (GAEB-parlance) are reproduced as service lines (SAP parlance) and placed below an item. The following steps, such as the purchase order and the activity recording (measurement), can be taken and processed in a differentiated manner, with reference to particular items available in the item list.
In case of changes, a transaction interconnected with SAP, the so-called change order management comes into play, whereby traceable document modifications in SAP can be automatically initiated via FUTURA. Of course the error handling applies here too. In addition, a validation takes place in order to assess if the specified value limit has been exceeded due to the change.
Communication between the systems takes place via Webservices. Idocs (ALE) or a pure eSOA-communication (Enterprise Service Oriented Architecture) can be applied for transferring data from the SAP-system to the FUTURA-application. The open, service-oriented architecture (SOA) provided by the SAP NetWeaver platform is thereby used.
The FBG (FUTURA Business Gateway), developed by Futura Solutions itself, is the middleware and integration platform which is optimized for specific data exchange. Especially when processing services with extensive data, these must be conveyed reliably and quickly between the systems. This is ensured by the FBG. It connects the FUTURA-application to the SAP-environment. The required data is transferred via web services in XML format. SAP-standards such as BAPIs and Idocs are used. Depending on the interface, the data is transferred synchronously (real-time data feed), i.e. in real time, or asynchronously (batch input procedure). The IDocs are automatically converted into XML-structures.
Technical process flow
Process of SAP-integration made by “Futura Solutions”
AVA-process via FUTURA
Well integrated planning, purchasing and billing
Out of the Box process
Going live in 4 steps: Analysis, Implementation, introduction, support