Companies using the ERP system generate large amounts of documents every day, for example, scanned invoices, CAD system design files, real estate photos, etc. Documents are an indispensable element of the functioning of any enterprise, without which they cannot exist. Unfortunately, such documents are often stored in various locations, e.g.
- in remote locations of network servers searching for specific information can be very time consuming and cumbersome
- on local disks of computers, access to which is almost impossible for all employees.
In such situations, the Document Management System becomes helpful. It is a standard functionality of the SAP ERP system without the need to purchase additional licenses or any fees (except for integration with CAD systems).
The DMS system is available from SAP R / 3 3.1. Most of the functionalities described below have been launched since version 4.6.
The SAP DMS architecture is shown in the figure below.
Capabilities and functionalities of the SAP DMS solution:
- Configuration of any number of types of documents
- Secure attachments storage
Normally, attachments for SAP DMS can be stored in the SAP ERP database, which, however, is not recommended due to capacity limitations of the ERP system databases and limiting the number of attachments to two. Most often for SAP DMS, SAP Content Server is installed, which removes all restrictions related to the number of attachments. SAP CS is part of SAP ERP, so it does not require additional licenses.
- Controlled archiving and display of documents using an internal browser and external applications
The internal SAP GUI viewer (ECL Viewer) allows you to view a large number of raster and vector file formats, such as PDF, JPG, BMP, TIFF, GIF, DWG, DWF, PNG, PS, TXT, etc., and three-dimensional file formats such as JT, STL, and VRML.
The figure below shows the ECL Viewer for SAP GUI.
- Document versioning
In the event of final approval of the selected document, it is possible to create a new version and then make changes for this version. These actions do not affect the earlier version, which remains unchanged on the system.
- Connection with other objects of the SAP system
Standard DMS functionality allows the document to be linked to other SAP business objects such as materials, customers, order items, device master data, and more. If the selected object is not available as standard, it is possible to connect it using extensions of the SAP ERP system.
- Possibility of extending document attributes by using classification
Each DMS document type can be assigned its classification with an unlimited number of attributes for the document parameterization. Then, very useful functionality is searching for documents by the attributes of the created classification.
The use of classification in SAP DMS is illustrated below
- Change management support
In the DMS configuration, for each type of document, we have the option to enable tracking of changes to individual document fields, and then list the history of field modifications made by all users who change the document.
- Possibility to use multiple authorization mechanisms
There are several standard authorization objects for DMS - to create, change or display for a single document, document type, status, etc.
- Integration with Microsoft Office applications
In the case of Microsoft Office attachments, such as MS Word and MS Excel files, they are displayed in the SAP ERP environment, which integrates with the MS Office package installed on the user's computer.
- Status support
A very useful functionality of SAP DMS is the ability to configure statuses for a given type of document. Configuration allows you to apply any number of statuses that can be used for the next approval steps. For document flow, it is possible to create a Workflow responding to individual statuses.
The illustration below presents the status handling in SAP DMS.
- Ability to set automatic conversion of attachments from design formats to generally available formats
For files that may not be viewed with standard browsers, you can convert them to generally available formats such as PDF.
- Various access interfaces
Access to DMS documents is possible through several tools:
- SAP GUI - standard access to the SAP ERP system
- Web Documents - access via a web browser
- SAP Easy DMS - application for Windows (Vista, XP, 7)
- SAP Portal iView - access from the level of SAP Portal
- Numerous possibilities of extending the standard functionality
For SAP DMS, there are several options for changing the standard, extending the functionality by using BADI, Customer Exits, and User Exits.
- Integration with CAD systems
To integrate the SAP DMS system with CAD systems, several external companies (Cideon, Cenit, DSC, Tesis) have created integration tools with CAD systems such as AutoCAD, Solid Edge, CATIA, Microstation, Inventor, Solid Works, and others. However, please note that this functionality is extra paid.
About the author
Jarosław Pyrgies - Senior ABAP Consultant
He has over 8 years of experience in programming in the SAP system in MM, WM, SD, PP, QM, FI, CO, FI-AA, HR, CRM modules, and over 11 years of experience in designing and developing software in various technologies and on various platforms.