Our experience allowed us to identify three areas that may prove particularly challenging in integrating e-commerce engines with SAP systems.
1. Choosing an engine
A range of opportunities are opening up to entrepreneurs beginning to sell online using e-commerce platforms. They have to choose the one they will launch in their company from a whole bunch of solutions meeting the basic assumptions.
It is important that the decision is preceded by a thorough, multidimensional analysis, both from the technical and business point of view. It is necessary to define strategic goals, precisely establish the service areas within the platform, and outline the points of contact between e-commerce and other departments of the company.
Already at this stage, when building the solution concept, i.e. the Business Requirement Definition, it is worth making sure that the people who will be integrating the ERP system in the future, e.g. SAP with the e-commerce engine, participate in the discussions. Their previous experience in this area will be an invaluable asset. This will help collaboratively define the technical requirements of the potential platform that will best meet the business expectations of the company, while being the least labor intensive to implement and integrate. In addition, the skills of consultants in both areas, combined with the client’s knowledge of the industry, may result in a synergy effect – creation of completely new, unique solutions for the recipient, or even optimization or automation of business processes.
As the modules offered by e-commerce do not always reflect the features of organization management systems, in-depth analysis and delineation of integration paths are also necessary when integrating the SAP system with an already functioning platform. Here, the prior experience of the consultants working on the project will also be particularly important. Knowledge of SAP and the shopping platform will help them create optimal connections between the tools. The broader perspective will also make it possible create a connector application between the engine of the e-commerce platform and SAP, which will facilitate integration in the case of very complex processes.
The second priority to focus on, after selecting partners to execute the integration and delivery of the e-commerce platform, is consistent communication. You have to find a common language and take care of it down to the smallest detail.
The basis for further work will be the verification of key nomenclature. As each party operates in a slightly different environment, misunderstandings can arise. For example, the term “business partner” can have different meanings depending on the specifics of a business. For one party it can mean the supplier, and for another – the end recipient. It should not be assumed that everyone will understand the message the same way.
When coordinating cooperation, the element bringing the team together will be the people responsible for integration. They are the ones who know the specifics of SAP environment, they have already worked with e-commerce platforms, and their experience in business allows them to understand the flows occurring in the enterprise.