Adobe forms rocks with SAP. SOA in action (I think)

I’m back from the Ventoux ride, but more about that in another post once we have the pictures and video… 

I’ve written about Adobe forms and SAP integration before. Adobe is key to manager and employee self service, and lots of form handling in ERP 2005.

5 years ago, if SAP had figured it needed a cool forms handling tool, we would have locked 15 birkenstockers with PhDs in a room and after a couple of years they would have emerged, blinking into the daylight with a forms handling tool.  With Netweaver, we have realised that there may be a better way to do this. Adobe is the king of form handling, so we partnered with them to integrate Adobe forms into SAP. The Adobe alliance has since progressed further, for instance, with the muse project, but in this post I thought I would spend some time on the forms handling process.

Lots of administrative processes, be they HR or customer focused, involve filling in forms. (Americans call it filling out as do the Germans)  It would be great to be able to email a form to an employee or customer, provide pull down menus, validation and so on in the form, and let them fill it in when they want to, in a familar tool. Once finished the form updates the SAP system, seamlessly.  This is not future stuff, but it is available now, and is live in several customers.

Most bloggers look to the private sector for innovation, but there is lots of cool stuff going on in the UK public sector.  Check out this citizen self service demo. It was built by Arch, a consulting firm that specialise on SAP-Adobe integration. The demo is detailed, and explains alot of the technological underpinnings. If you want to know more contact Henry at Arch… I’d suggest that anyone doing shared service should check this stuff out.

I have seen other examples for HR processes such as performance management. It gives customers the flexibility to build the form to suit requirements exactly, without tons of bespoke coding.  It still forces the validation and control that the core ERP system is famous for. A mix of flex and control.

Based on the 75 tons of powerpoints I have read on SOA,  I’d say that the SAP-Adobe stuff is a great example of SOA.  My own view is that we spend too much time marketing the recipe, and not enough time talking up the meal.  The best way to market SOA, is not to talk about it, but to showcase examples. Then when people say “Wow how did you do that?”, you can smile bashfully and say “SOA”

If you have cool examples of front end innovations then please send me a screenprint, or a link and I’ll blog about them. Better still head over to SDN and share it there. The way to beat the SOA sceptics is simply to show it working…

7 thoughts on “Adobe forms rocks with SAP. SOA in action (I think)”

  1. You got it, Thomas! The people driving purchasing decisions are looking for what’s on the menu and how good they’ll feel after the meal. They care less (save the CIO) about what’s going on in the kitchen.

    Well said.

  2. Not trying to start a controversy whether putting Adobe to the fron side makes an architecture “real” SOA or not I’m providing a link to a much more comprehencive story. The implmentation there is not only using Adobe (besides CAF and Analytics) as a front-end but also uses process-implementing services behind the webservice-wrapped calls. If one is looking for a flavor of SOA from SAP s/he should have a look the that has the dual NetWeaver stack, ECC, BI, EP, MDM, CAF, Analytics, and, of course, Adobe – all installed, preconfigured, and running in one box!

  3. Roman
    Fair comment I guess. I’m less concerned about the SOA “pureness”, and more interested in showing flexible, easy-to-use front ends.

    I’ll blog more on the discovery system when I know a bit more about it.


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    Conference Schedule for 19th & 20th February 2008

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