Getting SAP and P2P Integration Right: Start With a Workshop

There are many advantages to having procurement, finance and IT join forces in not only selecting the right P2P technologies, but in mapping out all the critical elements of program rollout and, above all, ERP integration. SAP ERP environments, especially, can prove vexing from an integration standpoint in cases where back-end systems and instances have proliferated faster than those cute fuzzy creatures hopping around in our backyards – and procurement and finance each have their own set of expectations and requirements from a P2P deployment on top of it.

Starting with a workshop that includes finance, procurement, IT and other stakeholders is an essential first step in defining integration needs and requirements. As part of this process, this rag-tag, cross-functional team should:

  • Define integration approaches for suppliers – and technologies used (e.g. portal, e-mail, secure flat file, or cXML)
  • Determine data needs for the integration, and how to address different ERP instances, or other systems
  • Define the mapping structure – determine initial loading structure (e.g. which fields each system needs and how to map them)
  • Define maintenance process (e.g. data, frequency, volume, exception handling, roles)

And as we’ve noted previously, it’s also essential to nail down “processes owned by the P2P solution and those managed by the ERP system(s) as well as defining integration approaches for ERP and technologies used based on business drivers (e.g. web services, secure flat files, SAP iDocs, BAPIs, or regular flat files).”

Spend Matters’ experience suggests the best solution typically involves an implementation where the entire P2P process is managed through a non-ERP solution and the integration with ERP (often SAP) and is addressed as early as possible in the planning phase. This establishes the process from the originating master data to the concluding stages with data flows.

If there is one piece of “pre” implementation advice we have learned from our own work in the field, it is critical that within a workshop setting, an aligned team work together to define overall integration scenarios and architecture for the P2P implementation. Don’t dive into things too fast. Take the time to map out an integration strategy together.

Stay tuned as we continue highlight many of the key observations and recommendations from Spend Matters white paper, Cloud P2P Deployment: A How-To Guide to SAP and ERP Integration with eProcurement and Beyond (free download). Authored by Xavier Olivera, lead P2P analyst, Jason Busch, founder and managing director, and Thomas Kase vice president of research, this is one paper you should have read before rolling out your last P2P deployment!

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