SAP-SEM: Completing the Picture

While SAP R/3 is used for the day to day operational 'boring' stuff, like Finance, HR, Procurement, the SAP SEM or Strategic Enterprise Management module is used to complete the overall big picture of an Enteprise Management.

Using SEM, we can see the 'birds eye view' of the overall company. All the processes and interactions between the R/3 module (HR/SCM/FIN/EAM) will manifest itself in SEM and provide us with the bigger picture.

Thus, SEM is a powerful tool for CEO's, Strategist, Planners of a Company to see snapshots of how 'healthy' the company is doing. Using 'Management Cockpit', 'Business Planning and Simulation', and 'Balanced Scorecard Strategy Management', a CEO can decide what's the best way to run and fine tune the company. With the information at hand, he can decide the next move of his company. Like a seasoned chess player, he will move the pieces with the help of a powerful ally, SAP SEM!

Therefore, any SAP implementation will only be complete with the addon of SEM components.
Without it, it's kinda like the story of the 3 blind men who felt the different parts of the elephant. Each of them will have a different interpretation, without being able to see the bigger picture.

SAP: Short form, Short codes.

Previously in my post, I highlighted that SAP consultants love to use short-codes / abbreviation to explain the mechanics of SAP. Today, I will explain few of the short codes widely used in SAP to illustrate the point.

  • SAP R/3
    Is the 3-tiered transactional business application of SAP. 3 means 3-tiered, presentation layer (SAP GUI), application layer (ABAP layer), and DB layer (Oracle/Mssql or any other DB).
  • FI - Financials Accounting
    This is the core module of R/3. Every other module is tightly integrated with FI. FI is where the accounting book, GL (General Ledger), AP (Accounts Payable), AR (Accounts Receivable) resides.
  • CO - Controlling
    This is the "management" aspect of financial. Costing, Revenue is determine here. You can define Cost Center, Profit Center, Cost Object, Internal yada yada yada here. This is used by management to plan cost/revenue flow effectively.
  • HR - Human Resource
    Anything related to people.
  • AM - Asset Maintenance
    Management of fixed asset, purchase, depreciation etc.
  • PS - Project System
    Use for management of Project related stuff. Either it's CAPEX, OPEX or Customer in nature. You can define level of WBS (Work-breakdown structure) of the project.
  • PM - Plant Maintenance
    Everything related to equipment preventive maintenance, management etc.
  • MM - Materials Management
    Procurement and inventory tracking. This is where you can have the so-called 'Just In Time Inventory'. Gone are the days of having a huge warehouse just to store spares.
  • SD - Sales and Distribution
    This module handles from customer sales order to delivery of product, and billing.
  • ABAP - Advance Business Application Programming
    In house Business Programming Language of SAP. Instead of manipulating database directly, you use modified OpenSQL to access Business Objects.
  • BW - Business Warehousing
    Unlike R/3 which is OLTP in nature (transactional based), BW is an OLAP (analytical in nature. Used for statistical reporting and such) tool. It handles data ETL (Extraction, Transformation and Loading), query, and complex analysis. BW can obtain it's source from different source system, be it SAP R/3 system, or from different sources altogether.

There. This is just a small list of what to come. Yes, I do get lost sometimes with all the jargon and stuff. But nothing beats this typical conversation with an SAP consultant: " Hey, can you SAP Logon into R/3, check in FI module and make a GL posting FB50 so that I can create an ABAP program to interface with BW, to produce a nice report using Bex?".

Anyway, I guess the reason for all this short codes is, SAP is a screen-based, dialog kinda module. So, every transaction is attached to what they called a T-Code. For example, to make a GL posting you only need to type 'FB50' in the SAP GUI command line. Thus leads us to the overzealousness use of abbreviation in the everyday life of an SAP consultant.

What the heck is SAP?

Before we even begin to delve further into the core of the SAP, we need to ask ourselves the main question. What is SAP? Does it stands for "Sistem Ayah Pin"? Or could it be a "Systemic Abundance of Pain"? Call it what you may, but in reality, it stands for "Systems, Applications and Products". Well not exactly correct. The original acronym should be something in the German language which I don't bother to find out.

Personally to me, SAP is a "System that caters All Possibilities". Before knowing SAP, I'm just like any other software developer who prefers to code stuff from scratch, or use some open-source stuff like PHP or MYSQL to develop software like say, An Asset Management System. But after a few hours of introduction to SAP, I knew that my "Homegrown" system is far more inferior than what SAP has to offer.

For example, my Asset Mgmt System only provides the usual Asset system like asset tracking, registration, preventive maintenance etc. But SAP, not only provides that, but the whole system is tightly integrated with Financial Elements, heck even HR is tightly integrated with it's asset system. Hell, after browsing the SAP solutions website, I knew, the project that I'm involved in only caters a small portion of the complete solution of SAP. We're just using the standard mySAP ERP solution + SEM BW stuff whereas, SAP provides more, including Product Lifecycle Management and Even CRM. I mean with the right customization, I'm pretty sure SAP can do my laundry too!

But with all greatness comes a flaw. Like Superman who's vulnerable to Kryptonite, SAP is so complex that when I first started in this project, I was completely blur! To make matter worst, SAP consultant like to use short-code. Stuff like FI, CO, MM, SD, PM, PS, HR is assumed to be well known to the uninitiated public! I will elaborate further on this in my future posting. For know, let's just assume that SAP is a world of jargon.

Anyway, to sum up the above, SAP is complete integrated solutions that covers the whole spectrum of Enterprise Applications, be it Back Office ERP Functions, or Customer-Facing CRM and Product Lifecycle Mgmt system. There. What a mouthful.

The Beginning of an SAP Newbie

"A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.", thus said wise-old Lao Tzu.

Like all journey, this one will start with the first small step into the unknown. Filled with uncertainty, doubt, confusion, and an almost child-like naivety. Here, I will document my journey towards attaining "nirvana" in the world of SAP.

Thus born the "Chronicles of an SAP Newbie".