Dealing in Data

Feature Article | April 15, 2011 by Daniel Hardt

Another level of interconnectedness: Crossgate’s B2B network brings partners together (graphic: Crossgate)

More interconnectedness: Crossgate’s B2B network brings partners together (graphic: Crossgate)

When integrating their business partners, small businesses and midsize companies often forgo implementing Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) standards, deterred by the costs of procuring the necessary hardware and incorporating their partners.

SAP Information Interchange by Crossgate – an SAP solution extension – solves these issues by transferring and synchronizing data and documents in various formats through a business-ready network. Bypassing one-on-one connections between partners and providing corresponding services on-demand is making EDI an interesting option for the midmarket after all.

A business-ready network

Through this network, customers can eliminate their need for paper-based documents by implementing e-invoicing and similar technologies. A total of more than 40,000 companies connected to the transaction platform through a standard interface can now receive invoices in PDF format.

There are two paths to joining the network: Companies unable to accept EDI transfers can receive signed invoices through an e-box on the Crossgate platform, which also sends them notifications and PDF copies of incoming invoices by e-mail. Alternatively, they can have invoices fed directly into SAP ERP as EDI data records. Crossgate’s digital solutions cover the processing of incoming and outgoing invoices, including signatures, compliance monitoring, and audit-compliant long-term archiving.

The platform generally transfers data as an on-demand service; customers need not modify their in-house system architecture. Instead, they can look forward to potential cost reductions amounting to between 0.25 and 1.25% of their revenues thanks to supply-chain customizing and synchronization.

Companies can transmit their documents by fax, e-mail, text message, RFID, and GPS over the Web or EDI; the network integrates these channels and prevents incompatibilities. Should established standards call for paper invoices in certain cases, a print service can handle their generation and dispatch.

Next page: SAP Information Interchange

The process of integration with SAP Information Interchange (graphic: SAP AG)

The process of integration with SAP Information Interchange (graphic: SAP AG)

SAP Information Interchange

Since 2010, SAP users have had access to SAP Information Interchange, a solution extension optimized for use with other applications that also offers a number of additional advantages.

SAP Information Interchange contains a B2B content engine for converting SAP processes, as well as business partner profiles as B2B content, which makes ad hoc data exchange possible. Meanwhile, preconfigured SAP process profiles for SAP Business Suite and SAP support make the application particularly easy to use.

Users can choose between two types of implementation: With the in-house variant, the customer’s internal IT department takes care of the connection to Crossgate’s business-ready network. In the managed service model, Crossgate handles the setup, customization, and operation of the customer’s business partner profiles.

Integrating SAP NetWeaver PI and IDOC

Five communication profiles are available for SAP Information Interchange users in different processes and industries:

  • Order
  • Order Response
  • Delivery Forecast
  • Advance Shipment Notes / Delivery Notes
  • Invoice

With IDOC as the application’s standard interface, data can pass directly from SAP ERP to third-party systems. SAP NetWeaver Process Integration (SAP NetWeaver PI) is recommended for combining internal and external business processes.

More than 3,000 companies have already chosen SAP NetWeaver PI as the middleware for their service-oriented architecture. This offering includes Enterprise Services Repository, an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), preconfigured integration templates, and specific adapters that provide technical support for end-to-end integration.

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