Improve efficiency with SAP Document Management

SAP's Document Management System can help businesses improve their efficiency and streamline decision-making processes, says expert Jawad Akhtar.

Almost every organization contends with a huge amount of information that comes in soft copy as well as hard. That information must be managed and instantly available when needed. Much of it is scattered, which results in wasted time and resources and failed efforts when a business worker is trying to locate the right document. Making matters more difficult is the fact that a large number of documents and other references are not integrated with many of the business processes and transactions that users conduct in SAP on a daily basis. 

Take a look at the following examples:

  • A vendor delivers raw material to an organization as well as the accompanying quality certificates in the form of hard copy documents. After physical inspection of the material and cross-checking with the details noted in the certificate, the quality inspector files the paperwork. If the company needs to refer to it again in the future, no link or reference of the quality certificate exists in SAP.
  • Equipment requires maintenance on an urgent basis. Maintenance personnel spend precious time locating the relevant drawings or maintenance manuals in soft or hard copy formats for reference, before the actual maintenance work can begin.

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  • When recording important process data, the production staff needs trouble-shooting and important safely guidelines readily available. Many times, the required information is available either separately indifferent places or on a different system. Unfortunately, sometimes no visible link exists to information about who worked on the requisite documentation.
  • A company sells its products to a customer according to a sales order and it needs to attach the corresponding MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet). The shipping company's warehouse needs to access a separate document repository and print out and attach the MSDS at the time of shipment.
  • The procurement department regularly purchases valuable assets that, when delivered, include information about warrantees and guarantees. The user finds no provision or option to link the asset with the accompanying vendor-supplied documents.

Integrating SAP DMS

The process of integrating SAP's Document Management System (SAP DMS) with core SAP modules can help organizations manage these important sales documents and bring improved organizational efficiency to its business decision-making process.

SAP Document Management System comes as standard functionality when an SAP system is installed. No additional SAP DMS software is needed. It is highly advisable to conduct server sizing, with the involvement of a Basis (Netweaver) resource to assess and evaluate the need to have additional hardware for storing documents in a central repository.

If SAP is already implemented in your company, then you can implement SAP DMS as an independent standalone project. Alternatively, you can implement SAP DMS at the same time, when other core SAP modules are being deployed in your company. SAP Document Management is cross-modular; your company can implement it not only in the supply chain and logistics modules, but also in the Financial and Managerial Accounting (FICO) as well as Human Capital Management (HCM) modules.

Some important DMS features

SAP DMS functionality enables you to do the following:

  • Store and retrieve all of a company's important documents in a central repository, which is immediately accessible and completely integrated with the business processes mapped in the SAP system.
  • Check in and check-out documents as needed.
  • Have multiple parts .and versions of a single document for tracking purposes.
  • Index all documents for easy and comprehensive searches.
  • Search all documents by keywords in a long text of a document.
  • Organize all documents in a structured and hierarchical way.
  • Track all documents by their statuses and have document statuses control business functions.
  • Approve documents by individual digital signatures and also by a series of digital signatures.
  • Distribute (manually and by SAP Workflow) documents to relevant stakeholders.
  • Access documents on the Internet (WebDocuments).
  • Have the option of working with SAP DMS via SAP EasyDMS, a Microsoft Windows Explorer interface.
  • Control accessibility of documents to only the relevant stakeholders by authorization options.

Jawad Akhtar is an assistant vice president and SAP project manager for AbacusConsulting, where he focuses on SCM issues. AbacusConsulting is based in Pakistan.

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