ISV Enablement

Independent Software Vendor Integration to SAP

DataXstream has been a leader in SAP ISV partner enablement since 2005 and has assisted dozens of software companies to successfully enter the SAP market. SAP’s predominance in the enterprise software market means that third party enterprise software solutions need to interact with SAP- either receiving data from SAP or sending data to SAP or both.

DataXstream Offers:

  • Functional Expertise
  • Technical Expertise
  • Go-To-Market Expertise
  • Technical Sales and Marketing Support
  • Flexible Partnering Agreements

Client Success Story Greenlee Textron
What makes a great ISV Enablement Partner from Craig Stasila

Simplifying SAP UX Design is Easier Than You Think

User experience – UX, for short – is how a person feels when interacting with a digital product. What users expect is an easy, interactive experience that provides value with regular use. When forced to spend too much time navigating through a clunky web application, the result is frustration, loss of productivity and a perception of poor value.

If you’re tired of hearing complaints from customers, clients, coworkers or employees about web apps with a cumbersome user experience, you’re not alone. The good news is there are professional tools available to help UX designers streamline business processes, enhance visuals and simplify navigation to boost user satisfaction and loyalty. This article aims to familiarize and provide examples of some of the professional design tools available for enhancing UX on web-based systems.

Tools of the Trade:
Here are a few popular and easily accessible tools for UX professionals, developers, designers and interaction designers.

Fiori
Fiori is a collection of apps designed by SAP for broadly and frequently used SAP software functions. These apps offer a user experience that is personalized, responsive and simple, while enabling a holistic and consistent experience across multiple devices.
JavaScript
JavaScript enables you to add dynamic and interactive elements to websites. It can be used to enhance the user experience within web browsers by adding animation and effects, and also allows for communication between external devices and other platforms.
UI5
Not to be confused with HTML5, SAP UI5 is a library / framework of pre-built and customizable elements created using JavaScript that simplifies and accelerates the development of enhanced user experiences.
SAP Gateway
SAP Gateway is a technology that provides a simple way to connect devices, environments and platforms to SAP software based on market standards. It offers connectivity to SAP applications using any programming language or model without the need for SAP knowledge by leveraging REST services and OData/ATOM protocols.
ABAP Web Dynpro
ABAP Web Dynpro is the SAP standard UI technology for developing Web applications in the ABAP environment. This is the base of building a SAP specific webpage, but recently has the added ability to execute JavaScript.

How it’s done:
So what are some things you can do with the aforementioned tools? The examples below show how DataXstream developers used a combination of these tools to enhance the UX of our Order Management / POS application for SAP.

(1) ABAP Web Dynpro has enabled SAP web applications to utilize JavaScript. In the example below, both ABAP Web Dynpro and JavaScript were used to enhance the home page user interface.

ABAB, curtain effect, javascript

JavaScript was used to create a curtain effect. When the mouse is rolled over a blue icon, the box rolls up to reveal its contents. This can be seen in the first section.

Java Script, SAP, customization, SAP message

JavaScript was used to customize the standard SAP messages. Here the message is displayed in a pop-up that disables the background and forces the user to acknowledge the message.

(2) In addition to enhancing the UX with flashy interfaces, ABAP WD and JavaScript were used to communicate with a credit card machine. Below are snapshots of the interaction between the application and the credit card device.

OMS+, POS, credit card device, app display, SAP, SAP Retail,

Line items entered on the POS web app display on the credit card device.

UX, ABAP WD, JavaScript, credit card device, signature capture, SAP, SAP Retail, POS, OMS+

Once the customer provides a signature on the credit card device, it’s captured within the POS application.

cc machine, pos, oms+, sap, javascript, UX, ABAP WD,

The signature capture is also displayed on the retailer’s POS screen.

(3) In this next example, ABAP Web Dynpro, JavaScript, and SAP Gateway were combined to interactively display forms with the appropriate signature:

POS, ABAP, Web Dynpro, JavaScript, SAP Gateway
POS, OMS+, ABAP, Web Dynpro, JavaScript, SAP Gateway, SAP

POS, OMS+, SAP, signature

A PDF document within the POS displays the full order and signature.

In Summary:
SAP UI can be cumbersome, however simplifying digital apps to provide a better user experience, making it easier and more efficient for users, is not as daunting as you may think.

This year at TechEd && d-code, SAP’s premier technology education conference, DataXstream consultants presented a User Experience/User Interface Development session highlighting how DataXstream developers customized a standard Web Dynpro ABAP app using HTML islands. Participants learned to enhance standard floor plan manager components for Lean Order Management with HTML islands and saw examples of how HTML5 was used to enhance the GUI and communication with multiple external retail devices.

To learn more about DataXstream and view a pdf of this session, please click here.

michael_profile2Michael Champion
Michael Champion is a SAP Technical Consultant with DataXstream responsible for Product Integration and Development. His core skills include ABAP / Web Dynpro ABAP and Process Integration Development (PI/XI).

Fruit Growers Supply Selects Point of Sale Solution From DataXstream

FRUIT GROWERS SUPPLY SELECTS POINT OF SALE SOLUTION FROM DATAXSTREAM

DataXstream POS for SAP® ERP will increase sales opportunities and improve customer service  

 

WILLIAMSBURG, VA. – March 29, 2014 – DataXstream (www.dataxstream.com), the designer and seller of a fully integrated point of sale (POS) solution, announced today that Fruit Growers Supply has selected the DataXstream POS application. The solution works with the SAP® ERP application and provides traditional POS functionality as well as advanced order management capabilities. Built and deployed on the SAP NetWeaver® technology platform, the DataXstream POS application is easy to deploy through SAP portal technology or a browser and features real time inventory visibility across the supply chain. DataXstream’s solution helps organizations leverage live reporting of their business activities – an invaluable benefit for store operations and management reporting.

Fruit Growers Supply (FGS) based in Sherman Oaks, Calif. (www.fruitgrowers.com), is one of the oldest companies in the state to handle the unique needs of the agricultural community.  The company operates multiple retail and warehouse locations in California and Arizona.

“Our aged POS system had forced us into so many workarounds, resulting in a number of inefficiencies that had a negative impact to the top and bottom line,” said Alex Perlovich, IT Director at FGS.  “We were looking for a POS solution that could handle multiple types of payments (cash, credit, credit cards, EMV), as well as down payments with balance due at delivery, along with refund and return capability. We also wanted to have the POS solution that was flexible enough to handle complex order processes such as order on account with delivery over time directly from the POS terminal.”

The DataXstream POS application for SAP® ERP provides complete back office connectivity as well as comprehensive functionality for retail locations such as support for sales promotions and complex pricing. The system also supports better customer service through increased visibility to customer history and product availability, which is a common need in specialty retail environments.

“A key consideration for Fruit Growers Supply when selecting the DataXstream POS solution was that it is an add-on to the SAP ERP application environment and integrates with SAP ERP,” said DataXstream’s Craig Stasila, VP of Product Development.

About Fruit Growers Supply

Organized in 1907, Fruit Growers Supply Company (FGS) has grown along with the West’s citrus production. Today, the nonprofit cooperative association is open to the public and provides the agricultural items required to grow, harvest, package, and ship various agricultural commodities. With six retail Operations Centers providing over-the-counter sales, specialized ordering, and custom-design Irrigation systems, FGS continues to offer quality services and goods at highly competitive prices.

About DataXstream

Founded in 1997 and headquartered in Williamsburg, Virginia, with a development center in Indianapolis, Indiana, DataXstream has built a successful practice providing technical and functional consulting services for SAP solutions, software products for use in SAP solution environments, and a commercially available POS for use with the SAP ERP application. With trusted partners SAP, VMWare and Dell, DataXstream has provided tangible benefits to companies such as Lumber Liquidators, Eli Lilly and Computer Associates.

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SAP, SAP NetWeaver, and all SAP logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of SAP AG in Germany and in several other countries. All other product and service names mentioned are the trademarks of their respective companies.

SAP Services

DataXstream’s consulting teams have been committed to our customer’s success with SAP for over 17 years. Our focus on SAP technologies allows us to have a positive impact on our customer’s SAP projects and businesses. Our team members have a broad cross section of industry experience, working on both large and small teams, allowing them to quickly adapt to the needs of any SAP project. DataXstream’s investment over the last 10 years in SAP development capabilities gives our consulting teams an advantage by providing a solid foundation for advancing their SAP skills. This investment has given DataXstream the ability to build and maintain tools and project accelerators; allowing our consultants to set the right direction for your project, accelerate your timeline, reduce delivery risk, control cost, and ultimately, provide your business with quality SAP services.

 

SAP Custom Development

Developing custom solutions for SAP is more than just knowing how to code or a list of development objects. It is about enabling unique business processes and requirements, and having the vision to understand how those processes will change as the business grows. DataXstream development teams reduce cost though smart, flexible, scalable designs; reducing development effort, test cycles, and time to implement.

“I have worked on many challenging projects during many years in Aerospace and need to say that it is rare to find a team with such extensive expertise and knowledge.” – Planning Manager, Aerospace & Defense Industry.

SAP Functional Consulting

DataXstream’s functional consultants understand how to implement SAP software and business solutions and enable customers’ businesses for success. The challenge for any business is balancing the unique requirements and differentiators of that business with industry best practices and software capabilities to provide effective solutions that enable that business for success. DataXstream consultants have SAP domain expertise, cross industry exposure, flexibility and leadership skills to deliver real value to your business through SAP software and business solutions

“I would recommend DataXstream to any company looking to enhance SAP functionality at any module. The employees are professional, timely, and know the right questions to ask.” – Director of IT, Manufacturing Industry.

DataXstream Concludes another Successful Year at SAPPHIRE NOW 2013 and ASUG Annual Conference

Sapphire Now 2013 and ASUG Annual conference wrapped up last week in Orlando. DataXstream was among the 20,000 customers, vendors, and prospects in attendance. In addition to the participants in Orlando, over 80,000 virtual participants experienced this year’s conference. This year was no exception to SAP’s tradition of top-notch event, providing exciting news and innovative solutions. Likewise, DataXstream had a great week with customers and potential partners during the conference.

DataXstream highlighted core lines of business including Consulting Services, Project Leadership, Functional Expertise, Custom Development, Basis Administration, Integration Services, and ISV Enablement Solutions.

Here are a few highlights from DataXstream Core Offerings presented at SAPPHIRE NOW 2013.

  • DataXstream’s Consulting Services provide experienced consultants that bring technical expertise and delivery project success.
  • DataXstream’s Project Leadership utilizes years of implementation experience to set the right direction for your project.  We provide solutions that work for your company.
  • DataXstream provides Functional Expertise that delivers processes and configuration to maximize the business benefit of your SAP solutions.
  • DataXstream provides Custom Development solutions to bridge gaps between your business processes and the SAP solution, as well as driving cost reduction through better design.
  • DataXstream provides experienced Basis Administration to provide excellent NetWeaver platform support, and provide system architecture to deliver a reliable, scalable, and adaptable SAP platform.
  • DataXstream’s Integration Services team works with customers to build reliable, stable, and robust integration solutions.  Throughout the integration process, we work with you to integrate your SAP and non-SAP applications to build your complete solution.
  • DataXstream provides ISV Enablement services that integrate your third-party products into the SAP solution.

Now that SAPPHIRE NOW 2013 is over, DataXstream will return to its core activities and continue to deliver value to its customers and establish new business relationships.  We wish everyone who participated in the show continued success.

What Makes a Great ISV Enablement Partner?

DataXstream is a company that specializes in SAP and most readers of this blog are SAP professionals.  So, I have some shocking news for you–news SAP doesn’t want you to know.  Are you sitting down?  Good.

SAP isn’t the only software vendor out there!!

Shocking, I know.  But there are other software platforms than NetWeaver; software languages other than ABAP and Java; and there was a time in the not-too-distant past where the center of the SAP universe, HANA, didn’t even exist!

While you are coming to terms that SAP is not the be-all and end-all, I would like to point out that no modern software system exists in a vacuum.  Because of this fact, attention has to be paid to how software systems interact with each other.  There is a seemingly endless supply of enterprise software solutions that supplement existing functionality, introduce new functionality, improve the user-experience, and, in general, bring value to the enterprise.  SAP’s predominance in the enterprise software market means that it these new enterprise software solutions need to interact with SAP–either getting data from SAP or sending data to SAP (or both).

But, SAP is not an easy software system with which to integrate.  The depth of SAP product offerings and modules make learning how to properly merge SAP functionality with an external software system difficult.  SAP NetWeaver is not known as a particular open or easy-to-access platform.  And while I personally laud SAP for their decision to enforce proper multi-tier data access restrictions (i.e. no direct read/write database access), this decision makes the SAP learning curve especially steep.

Many software companies desiring to integrate their software solution with SAP choose an independent software vendor enablement partner.  So, what makes a great ISV enablement partner?

  • Functional Expertise: In order to make the most of an integrated software solution, you must understand the needs of the business user.  Once these needs are understood, you need to transfer these requirements into software functional units of work.  Finally, an end-to-end workstream is defined across all participant software systems that will deliver the required functionality to your customers.
  • Technical Expertise: The best end-to-end workstream definition is only as good as the framework upon which the integration executes.  A great ISV enablement partner understands all of the technical aspects of SAP NetWeaver integration and development.  They will use this expertise to design and implement a solid, robust, scalable technical integration solution.
  • Go-To-Market Experience: Once the solution has been designed and built, it will need to be made available to the market.  A great go-to-market strategy involves market analysis, promotion, and working with the SAP ecosystem including SAP partnerships and certification.
  • Technical Sales and Marketing Support: Even the best software solutions don’t sell themselves.  Your ISV enablement partner should be there throughout the customer sales process to answer any questions and remove any barriers to sale.
  • Flexible Partnering Agreements: A great ISV enablement partner will work with you to craft a partnership agreement that benefits all parties while giving your customer’s the world-class solutions and support that they need.

DataXstream has been a leader in SAP ISV partner enablement since 2005 and has assisted dozens of software companies successfully enter the SAP market. Contact us today, to find out how we can unlock the SAP world for you!

What Makes a Great SAP Custom Development Partner?

SAP Development Reality versus Reputation

Have you ever met someone whose reputation precedes them?  You’ve heard great things about his/her ability to get things done, the technical expertise and all kinds of accolades.  Then you meet.  And disappointment sets in.  The disconnection between reality and reputation smacks you in the face.

This (alleged) rock star cannot articulate what he does in a language you understand; he can’t give you a good sense of where he has done similar work before.  Where’s the magic?  I’m often amazed at how often technical gurus seem to have a skill deficiency when dealing with regular folks.  But why do I care, they’re a bunch of technical folks with specialized skills who do what the specification says – right?  Not so much.

SAP Development Core Competency

For me this situation touches on a core competence found in a great SAP development partner: the ability to communicate, question, understand and explain in non-technical language is critical.  As an SAP end user, business representative or business analyst (or, true confessions, sometimes as a project manager) you don’t care about how efficient the code is, which select statements are best, the funky table joins, the use of internal tables, memory parameters, and so on.  This is like explaining relativity to your dog – he’s hoping something good is going to happen when you stop talking.

Great developers have great coding skills; they understand technology and relish the tough assignments.  Don’t get me wrong: I love these folks and what they can do.  But the ones I want to work with know I don’t care that much about their esoteric universe and their alphabet soup.  Instead they know we need to use a common language to work together: the language of business and business goals.

My Checklist for a Great Custom Development Partner

The things I value most in a great SAP custom development partner are communication and collaboration, this means:

  • developers who understand business goals, business process and business data
  • comfort using business language
  • understanding of SAP business processes
  • SAP technical and integration expertise

DataXstream developers know quality output comes not just as a result of a well written functional or technical specification: it comes from common language and collaboration.

Now, let’s talk.

 

What Makes a Great SAP Integration Partner?

An SAP integration specialist’s responsibilities are to design and implement a robust, extensible solution that uses the appropriate standards and technologies to guarantee ACID programming guidelines (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability) while leveraging the available programming interfaces to the best of their capabilities.  This may sound like a daunting task.  That’s because it is.  Integration is a very complex, specialized areas of expertise in the SAP ecosystem.

A great SAP Integration Partner will offer individuals that design and build integration solutions that adhere to the following concepts:

  • Robust – A good integration solution can recover from data and/or transmission errors. A truly robust solution should automatically attempt reprocessing where appropriate and, barring automatic processing, alerts the support personnel to the exception with context-specific data to assist in the exception resolution.
  • Extensible – Change is constant in the world of business.  A good integration solution is able to rapidly adapt to changes in process, requirements, and/or functionality.  More often than not, the individual that initially implemented the integration solution is not available to make the changes.  A combination of good design, process and procedure adherence, and documentation lowers the total cost of ownership for the integration solution.
  • Standards – Good integration partners understand standards, how they should be applied as well as their strengths and weaknesses.  Integration solutions that conform to standards are usually more robust and extensible, and therefore easier and cheaper to support, than their custom counterparts.
  • Atomicity – Robust integration solutions require atomic actions.  That means if one part of the transaction fails, the whole transaction fails.
  • Consistency – A consistent integration solution leverages the application programming interface to ensure that all business rules and processing logic are applied to the data prior to posting it to the database.  It is also important that data created via the integration solution passes the same validation and business rules as data created via the user interface.
  • Isolation – Great SAP integration partners understand how transaction isolation can greatly impact overall system performance.  Providing isolation means concurrent execution of data transactions results in a system state that would be obtained if transactions were executed serially–or in other words the interface can be executed in parallel, and therefore, take advantage of SAP NetWeaver parallel processing.
  • Durability – A durable integration solution is not affected by errors outside of the transaction–whether these errors be related to environment (power, network, database, etc.), data (business rules, missing data, incomplete data, etc.) or other factors.
  • Programming Interfaces (APIs) – A great SAP integration partner understands available programming interfaces and standards, their relative strengths and weaknesses, and how they interact with other components of the application.  Not all APIs are created equal and a great SAP integration partner will choose the API best suited for the integration solution.

DataXstream solution architects and integration specialists are trained in every one of these aspects and have the experience necessary to ensure every integration solution is a great one.