Rapid Data Access on the Move

Typical! A sales representative has his day all planned out and arranged several customer visits but, while driving to his first customer, head office calls to tell him that the appointment has had to be postponed. It’s a pain, but there’s nothing he can do about it. It’s lucky that his BlackBerry is equipped with SAP xApp Mobile Sales Online. To make the most of this unexpected window in his schedule, he looks up the customer’s contact details on his handheld terminal, fixes an alternative appointment and arranges a spontaneous meeting with a business partner by e-mailing him directly using his BlackBerry.
SAP xApp Mobile Sales Online (SAP xMSA Online), a standard component in SAP CRM, enables users to access important information from SAP Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM) – such as contact data, appointments, object data and sales opportunities – in a matter of seconds. This information helps field staff arrange appointments or write up visit reports between appointments, thus freeing up more time for sales activities.

Fast access to customer data

SAP xMSA Online at Schöck
SAP xMSA Online at Schöck

The german construction industry supplier Schöck Bauteile GmbH has implemented this type of solution with the support of CRM special expertise partner movento. The starting point for the collaboration was Schöck’s SAP CRM project in 2005. Back then, the thermal insulation specialist replaced its out-dated CRM application with a portal-based solution, which has since been rolled out in several European countries. The solution comprises SAP CRM 4.0 People Centric User Interface (PCUI) with the building object management solution from movento, SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence (SAP NetWeaver BI) with Knowledge Management, and SAP R/3 integration in SAP NetWeaver Portal.
Although this solution allowed field staff to access SAP CRM data on the move using a laptop and UMTS technology, there was still one major problem. For example, if an employee was in the car, there was no way of calling up the data quickly and directly. It took too long with the laptop solution – taking up to ten minutes to switch on the device, start Windows, establish a connection with the UMTS provider, and log onto the company network and SAP CRM.
In contrast, SAP xMSA Online enables fast data access on the move via BlackBerry terminals, which are usually always switched on and ready to go. Mobile employees can use this solution to access customer contact details and history – that is, any interaction they have had with customers such as visits, calls, e-mails or complaints – in a matter of seconds. Moreover, they can also create and change data and activities. SAP xMSA Online accesses existing processes and master data from the CRM application, making redundant data storage a thing of the past.

Manageable costs

The solution is relatively straightforward to install. All you need is SAP CRM with a Web user interface and mobile terminals. BlackBerry solutions from Research In Motion (RIM) are recommended because the company’s BlackBerry Enterprise Server enables single sign-on (SSO). The components usually run on RIM BlackBerry (OS v3.6 and higher), but are also compatible with other terminals using Microsoft Pocket PC and Pocket PC Phone Edition (Windows Mobile 2002/2003 and 5.0), Siemens SK65 (with Blackberry Built-In), and Nokia devices on the Series 80 platform (Communicator 9300 / 9300i / 9500). In principle, the application can also be started from any Internet Explorer, so it can also be used on laptops and desktops.
The solution uses master data and processes from activity management in SAP CRM and movento construction site management, which means there are no extra costs for additional developments or modifications. The typical BlackBerry functions, for example direct dialing a number from the contact screen, are integrated on the basis of CRM master data. This means that users can call their business partners or send them e-mails directly using the communication details stored online in SAP CRM. As data no longer has to be stored offline, there is no need to program an additional interface or install storage space on the terminal, which saves costs. At the same time, there is less risk of unauthorized third parties accessing sensitive data if the BlackBerry is lost because the device can be blocked immediately in the RIM server. Users access SAP xMSA Online via single sign-on. If field sales staff use their handheld to logon via the RIM server, they can access SAP CRM without having to log on again, which saves time.

Keeping the standard lean simplifies operation

System landscape SAP xApp MSA online
System landscape SAP xApp MSA online

In the Schöck project, movento made the application available on the Java stack of the SAP CRM server. User roles and authorizations are assigned via SAP’s User Management Engine. movento set up single sign-on between the RIM server and the CRM backend and installed the configured application on the registered terminals.
Customzing is carried out using the administration console. Schöck wanted to keep SAP xMSA Online as lean as possible, so decided not to integrate a function to map reports from SAP NetWeaver BI via BlackBerry. For reports, mobile staff access the company’s complete SAP CRM solution via SAP NetWeaver Portal. It is a good idea to keep the standard as lean as possible because this simplifies operation, which increases acceptance among staff members.
The solution is quickly ready to go live – as the project at Schöck shows. “The standard SAP xApp Mobile Sales Online software was implemented based on the existing infrastructure in just three weeks, including planning and preparation,” says Martin Elsholz, Senior Application Consultant at movento. Rapid implementation has benefits for everyone involved – users benefit from convenient access to important information, and customers are provided with an improved service because their questions can be answered in next to no time. Costs remain manageable thanks to the low workload – the existing system environment does not have to be changed significantly.
SAP xMSA Online has really proved its worth at Schöck, as project manager Hansjörg Beck explains, “It is the simplest and quickest way for employees to access our customers’ address and communication details when they are on the move. And that was what we wanted when we decided to implement SAP xMSA Online. In fact, the project has met all our expectations!”

Christoph Resch
Christoph Resch