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With the arrival of SAP HANA around 2010 has tried to lighten SAP systems to display more information in the shortest time possible. This has been possible thanks to technological advances in RAM and storage in solid state disk, where size is not a problem and access to stored data is much faster than traditional disk.
The HCM module is able to use this new technology and applied it in one of most important processes: the payroll process. Due to the large volume of data that typically have these processes and their subsequent analysis and reporting, lot of time is spent each month on these tasks. So SAP has developed a business function called HCM Declustering Tools.
What is Declustering Tools?
Before explaining what it is, we will make a brief summary to know what a cluster is. The large and heavy SAP processes, such as payroll, time management, accounting… are stored in cluster tables, these tables store information in binary strings making much faster access than to a transparent table. The cluster cannot be accessed directly with a SQL statement, in this case you need to pass data to tables where the information is not in binary format.
The Declustering tool will be to extract the data of cluster and place in transparent tables connected by primary keys to facilitate their reading in reports. Thus, access to these tables is done with SQL statements, merge payroll data with other modules: PA, OM…
Once configured the tool, the system will automatically copy the cluster to transparent table each time it is updated, so the data in transparent tables are always current, and therefore the reports are always ready to show the latest results.
HANA’s intervention here is crucial, because with a traditional system performance results show would be like today and we would have no benefit.
With a HANA system the results are amazing, the speed of access to data is so high that what used to take 30 minutes now is processed in 10 seconds; and total size of the cluster is reduced by around 60% in the tables of HANA.
These changes are a breakthrough for analysis and post-payroll reports, significantly reducing the time. But, we still depend on the cluster because the report of payroll is using them to store information there. Currently SAP is silent and leaves open the possibility of changing someday report RPCALCxx to don’t have to depend on the cluster, which would mean a further improvement in performance. Is that the end of the days of cluster?
Two articles ago, we indicated the beginning of our research in Machine to Machine (M2M) concept. To really have a noticeable feature, we decided to explore in our day to day and find that remote controls management of our business park was becoming a headache: Remote controls without battery, another jalopy to control, problems with the visitors…. So we set to work to replace barrier/garage remote controls with a website accessible from any device that allowed us to get rid of the terrible remote controls. No sooner said than done, we designed a device connected to the Internet 24×7, to centralize the opening of barriers, and a website (contained and released from the device itself) to validate access permissions by user / password against corporate SAP user or LDAP:
Currently all Provide staff with access to the business park use this route…. and are delighted!. We also use it to open the barriers when a visitor comes.
Would you like more details on this device? Send and email to firstname.lastname@example.org
SAP announced earlier this year its new user interface for HCM administrators: HR Renewal. At Provide we wanted to thoroughly test the functionality offered by this new interface, to find out whether or not it is a real alternative for classic interface Sap Logon. To do this, nothing better than implement it in our SAP systems.
Our first task was to investigate everything that we could about this new UI. We were surprised to find poor information on the web (Always the same screens!). Moreover, in daily contact with our customers, their feel is misinformation. Some of them do not even know of the existence of this new interface, and the brightest “heard something” but did not have any detail of its advantages or functionality .
That is why, once we have tested the HR Renewal in our systems, we believe that will be very interesting to share with you a summary of our first conclusions:
- Navigation is based on tabs , so it is advisable to use Netweaver Business Client to keep the reference of where we are. If we execute the Renewal directly on the browser, we can end immersed in a web of eyelashes.
- The initial display or “Landing Page” ( known as SAP ), organize in blocks some of the basic functionality for a HR administration user:
- Access to Personnel Administration and Organizational master data. At this point, note that SAP has made a big work to adapt their Infotypes to the new UI and has further concerned to provide the tools needed to adapt customer extensions.
- Access to Individual and Mass processes based on Process & Forms.
- Search: Finally a powerful and quick search on our PA and OM master data combined in a very intuitive way.
- Tasks inbox sorted by date of receipt or by priority.
- BW Queries and reports .
- Discussions: Integration with SAP Social Media to add comments as a forum does, on the master data of personnel or structure, so that the management team to communicate nimbly in the actual tool
Both the order of these tabs and the contents thereof are easily customizable by each manager. View update infotypes with an employee, and the new screen for Infotype 1 (Organizational assignment) in Webdynpro, seen in the following images .
We were surprised about mass execution functionality of personnel actions that allows, for example, to make a massive recruitment from an Excel file.
HTML5 organizational structure display or embedded Nakisa display, also greatly improves the appearance and usability when jointly update personnel details and Organizational data.
In conclusion, our view is that HR Renewal is a powerful replacement for the old HCM master data transactions, especially for personnel management ( PA30 , PA20 , PA40 … ) . Comparing organizational structure transactions, there is not a tool similar to PPOME encompassing so much functionality in a single access point, although depending on the tastes of the users, this can be an advantage.
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A few weeks ago Google announced the purchase of Nest, a company dedicated to smart thermostats and smoke detectors. Which could pass as a simple acquisition of a company, could be seen as an attempt by Google to enter in our homes and the world of domotic. If Google is already the owner of Android, the most used operating system in mobile devices such as phones and tablets, and is beginning to enter the world of smart-tv, vehicles, navigators and social networks like Google+, we can see how Google is moving into every facet of our lives, from work, to personal life, even our own homes .
Google ceased long time ago to devote only to on-line services, moving to hardware, to mobile phones, cars that drive themselves, Google Glass, smart glasses used to be connected to internet, read your mail, internet and in the future an Android-based smart watch.
Given that more and more of your devices are connected to the network, and most of them are based on Android, Google’s operating system, using any of these we can know how is our house, perform our daily activities, or work tasks, but also send a data of our customs or routines that can be used, as Google said, to improve our customer experience, or not?.
Provide´s opinion is that the power of information is going to be, if possible, even more important in the coming years and therefore companies must innovate in IOT, M2M and API’s. We are already investigating, SAP has its own M2M products …… What about you?
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Two years ago, when Provide HCM decided to create its new business line for SAP mobility , everybody had doubts about the usefulness of mobility in business . Today, two years after the adventure started, mobility has become what market experts call Commodity, i.e. something that any software product should offer.
The Statistics speak for themselves , Provide HCM mobility applications, have been downloaded by more than 10,000 people in over 300 countries and have been connected to more than 700 SAP installations. Browsing on the statistics of the downloads, and without doing large studies, gives us clear information about the preferences of SAP mobility users, for example, on mobile platforms per countries: Android sweeps in India & USA , while iOS does it in UK & Australia . Moreover, we found that the SAP consultants are on the wave on what refers to devices:
Also, mobility applications that Provide HCM offers are divided into two groups, HR applications and Netweaver applications, and here we also feel this difference between countries and platforms using our applications , for example, Apple users prefer HR related applications.
For us these data ( > 10,000 people using our apps!) are a big success, which has been consolidated by :
- Free applications without messy middlewares: Right…. yes! they are free! except for SysTransport Pro that releases and imports SAP requests, providing a strategic and independent functionality. The applications run on any SAP system ( > 6.0 ) , this was the priority , to eliminate installation and testing barriers. Inside our app catalogue, there are applications running under SAP Gateway Platform (Middleware), but they have lower acceptance among the general public.
- Constant Support: A lot of people contacted our support team asking for installation topics or problems, and we can say after all, that we have given a quick and efficient service to all the people who have contacted us which has made our applications stronger and better.
- Customer Development Requests: At this point, statistics turns important again: the vast majority of requests that we have received ( ad-hoc adaptations for safety, appearance , functionality … ) comes from small / medium size customers, from any industry , but who are developing their business in countries that are in strong technological growth and also have a different “point of view” like Russia , Saudi Arabia, Mexico , Singapore , India and USA among others. These customers show us they are really committed to invest their resources in mobility.
Despite it seems that all SAP efforts and resources are involved in new developments such as Cloud integration or Big Data, there are initiatives to improve the maintenance procedures of our traditional ERP products. The new developments announced by SAP Software Life Cycle Management are a proof of it:
-ANST Tool: Stands for “Automated Note Search Tool”, This application identifies problems in SAP Netweaver ABAP Transactions, looks up into the “SAP notes” database the last corrections released for the functionality tested and finally applies the required changes.
-Updating of the Dictionary Objects via SNOTE: The developers of standard SAP software have been demanding this functionality as much as SAP customers did, since every change in the ABAP dictionary requires a manual preimplementation. These manual changes have to be written by the SAP development teams and implemented by customer’s staff. This is something cumbersome and error prone for both parties.
-Correction Packages: SAP wants to introduce a new way to release functionality to complement the support packages and notes. According to SAP information, it will be used to release objects that were not included in a release note (such as an XML Transformation).
In Provide we think these are three valuable threads, since they shows SAP is committed with its installed customer base. We are willing to test and use the ANST Tool developed by our estimated Carlos Martinez Escribano, of the SAP Support Team based in Spain.
Will be our SAP systems capable to detect and solve SAP updates automatically in the future? How these tools will manage the customer repairs? Could be dangerous for an open source system to be self medicated? We will keep track of it.