Until now, customers and suppliers without direct EDI connections have been shut out of automated data exchange with SAP ERP systems. With the help of interactive forms, SAP service provider Mercoline uses SAP Interactive Forms by Adobe to help integrate such companies into the automated flow of information.
These days, logistics requirements include increased interconnectivity with customers and suppliers in order to make processes faster and more effective. Among smaller business partners in particular, direct process integration via EDI had previously been virtually unachievable. SAP Interactive Forms open up new possibilities for working together in an interconnected environment.
One typical application is the ordering process in purchasing. With the help of interactive forms, this process can be completed directly in the SAP system, even without an EDI connection. Once an order has been created in the SAP system, the form is sent directly to the supplier as a PDF attachment. The supplier can then open up the attached file using Adobe Acrobat Reader and enter changes to quantities and dates at the item and schedule line level as needed. The completed form can be returned by clicking on the “Send” button.
Once the form is received by the ordering party’s SAP system, the data in the PDF file is automatically read and entered or posted in the corresponding SAP order. Mercoline’s specially developed Cockpit (Status Monitor) manages all of the sent and received forms, and updates any interactive data. If order confirmations cannot be processed, they can be triggered again in the Cockpit.
Interactive forms can be used for numerous other process applications, from order entry to delivery notifications to complaints processing. Since such applications are often highly specific to the user company, the processes with SAP Interactive Forms are configured for individual customers.
Mercoline supports SAP users in setting up SAP Interactive Forms from concept to complete start-up. To ensure that old, often paper-based processes become interactive, the new process is first precisely defined. Reporting elements, which are to be interactively exchanged in the future, are established. In addition, prerequisites for receiving e-mails and reading interactive data are defined within the SAP system. Finally, the interactive form featuring the desired entry fields is created. The automated transmission and receipt of interactive forms by the SAP system requires the installation of the Adobe Document Server.
The most important advantage of SAP Interactive Forms is the added possibility of integrating non-EDI and non-SAP users into automated data exchange. The requirements are minimal: Customers and suppliers need only be able to read PDF documents. This significantly reduces processing times and notably increases response rates, giving SAP users a well-structured, efficient means of data collection.
When it makes sense to do so, Mercoline combines its own products like M.SecureTrade Entry Certificate with SAP Interactive Forms. In the Entry Certificate process, for instance, EU customers are sent an interactive form on which they can directly confirm the receipt of a delivery. For smaller and mid-sized customers in particular, this represents a major reduction in the hurdles they face in confirming deliveries within the EU. SAP user companies already using SAP Interactive Forms can quickly and affordably depict the Entry Certificate process, thereby reducing extra manual work.