Manufacturers need B2B customer portals, and those portals need SAP integration. It’s the only way to provide the best customer experience, and it leverages your existing investment in business data and logic without wasteful duplication and synchronization.
Yet SAP integration makes IT executives nervous. “You mean our customers are going to interact with our ERP system? Oh, that was never on the ticket.”
We get it. Master data in SAP isn’t usually configured with customers in mind. (Sometimes it’s not even configured with internal users in mind, but that’s another topic!)
Yet master data doesn’t have to be scary for integrated B2B portals. Here at Corevist, we guide our clients on what to configure for the launch of their portal—and what to save for later. I’ll give you our take on master data, but first, a quick overview of our technical discovery process.
Our technical discovery process
Since Corevist solutions are integrated to SAP on Day 1, we conduct a technical discovery call with your SAP resources to document your unique SAP configuration. We have one goal—to figure out your fastest path to value. We know that if you delayed launching your B2B portal until you got all of your master data and business process perfect, you’d never launch! We know it’s a journey and are looking for a viable first step to launch and help you put together a roadmap where your early success can fund future investments.
Each party has clearly defined roles on this call. The client shows us how their OTC process functions in SAP—specifically, starting with VA01 and seeing how an order is created, then moving to examples of document flow.
Our job on the call is to ask questions and fill out your SAP integration assessment. This assessment helps us uncover anything that may need adjustment in SAP to meet the OTC best practices on which Corevist’s integration is built.
As you can imagine, this process turns up some interesting configurations! In fact, we find that master data implementations tend to fall on a spectrum. At one end, you’ve got messy configurations that don’t reflect actual business processes. At the other, you’ve got pristine configurations that reflect real processes and follow best practices.
Problematic master data
If you’ve been on SAP ERP for decades and haven’t been programmatic about data maintenance, you may have layers of old configurations hanging around. You’ve learned to live with these ghosts of the past, whether it’s through tribal knowledge, sticky notes, or some combination of the two. While that’s not a great approach to data integrity, it may “work” just well enough to get by.
Here’s where Corevist’s flexibility comes in. If your ATP rules are complicated and might require human intervention today, no problem—we can turn off ATP display in Corevist.
If you don’t want orders that post from Corevist to be released for delivery in real time, no problem—we can turn that off too. All Corevist orders automatically conform to the relevant SAP business rules, but we can configure the application to put all orders on a block. This gives you time to launch Corevist with some features disabled while you configure SAP to align with best practices. When you’re ready, we can turn on that functionality in Corevist.
Every manufacturer who goes through this experience comes out stronger because their SAP system finally aligns with their actual business processes. We call this outcome the Kimono Effect. In essence, the pressure of customer interaction forces you to clean up your SAP data and logic. The benefits of this project go far beyond the B2B portal and touch every part of the organization.
Pristine master data
Some manufacturers are thoroughbreds when it comes to master data configuration.
For example, we recently had a technical discovery call with a manufacturer that had configured their master data to substitute one SKU for another if the first was discontinued. They don’t currently have a B2B portal, so this powerful logic is used only by CSRs and sales.
While it’s great for internal users, imagine turning that substitution logic over to customers. Imagine a B2B portal that automatically substitutes an alternate product when the customer tries to buy a discontinued SKU. Instead of losing the sale (or logging a phone call to customer service), you still get the sale, the customer gets an equivalent product, and everyone’s happy.
Corevist supports this out of the box—as long as you have alternative materials configured in SAP.
But you can even take it a step further. That’s what this company did.
They not only implemented material substitution in SAP, but they also enabled their CSRs to enter a customer’s SKU when ordering, with SAP automatically translating that into an internal part number through CMIR (customer material info record). That’s pretty incredible—and it’s an example of an organization that’s ready to create a great customer experience in a B2B portal.
That kind of configuration makes our day. We love working with clients that have organized themselves this well in SAP because our deep SAP integration “automagically” takes advantage of that data and brings it to the web portal.
The takeaway: Start now, clean as you go
B2B portals bring incredible value to manufacturers in the digital age. It would be tragic to hold that value hostage to a messy SAP configuration. That’s why Corevist is architected for flexibility. Ultimately, the point is to start getting value now and fix problems as you go. When you take that approach, you’ll be delighted with the results.