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  Category: Articles » Technology » Computer Software » Article

Improving the Management of Output in an SAP Environment

By Nicole Summerfield

The customer associated with this case study is a large, multi-national manufacturer of chain saws and outdoor power equipment; gasoline and electric grass & weed trimmers, monofilament trimmer line, hedge trimmers, edgers, extended length hedge trimmers, pole pruners, brushcutters, gasoline and electric powered blowers, sprayers, gasoline and electric chain saws, guide bars, cut-off machines, earth augers, and clearing saws. The company sells their products to a nationwide network of more than 8,000 servicing retail dealers. They are also a worldwide exporter of their U.S. manufactured products to 130 countries.
Business Problem The company faced a multi-faceted business problem. They were in the process of upgrading their SAP environment and wanted to be able to offload the print spooler services from the application servers. Being able to separate the application servers from the print spooler and print management system would allow them to improve performance on the application servers, but more importantly, it would allow them to create a print architecture that was independent of the SAP print spooling system and their dependency on SAPscript to manage enterprise document formatting. They wanted to be able to utilize an off the shelf, standard electronic forms package to manage the document formatting and eliminate the high cost of maintaining SAPscript programming and staff expertise. Through the implementation of an independent print architecture, they also will be able to increase the efficiency of the IT organization and increase the efficiency of output/print driven business processes such as Just in Time Manufacturing processes, shipping, and materials management.

Objective In order to improve end-user support and satisfaction, system administrators needed a single, automated, enterprise-wide print spooler solution to manage print jobs and print queues. End-users needed a tool that would allow them to manage print themselves, improve the efficiency of their print related business processes and relieve the burden of print related calls to the help desk. Additionally, they needed to be able to fax print jobs directly from their application instead of printing them and then faxing them and have the option of "printing" a job to email for delivery instead of to a physical printer. The fax and email functionality was not possible in their environment without significant application changes.

Customer Technical Environment - See diagram
-Enterprise Management
-Product R&D
-Make to Order
-After Market Sales & Service

500 + users
Seven IBM AIX Servers
Legacy applications (developed in house) and associated servers
See diagram At the end of this document

Key Technical Requirements The solution this customer implemented needed to be an SAP certified solution tested to meet the BC-XOM standard for external output management solutions. Additionally, the customer did not want to add client software on the end-users PC's nor have to train the end-users on new methods of checking the status of their print jobs. While the solution needed to be SAP certified, it also needed to provide the Help Desk with the ability to manage and monitor print in the SAP environment and the legacy, in house developed applications.

Technical Solution After considering and evaluating several vendors, the customer chose to implement OM Plus the print spooler solution from Plus Technologies. They chose to implement the base OM Plus server module, the OM Plus Java GUI User Interface for their administrators/help desk and the OM Plus HTML User Interface for the end-users who wanted a zero client solution for advanced control of their print jobs. All other users who just need basic printed or not printed yet information and printer status can see that using the standard SAP GUI because OM Plus communicates this information back to SAP. Print Jobs are now "captured" by OM Plus and delivered to the appropriate device, fax system or email system. No modifications were required to either the SAP Applications or the AIX operating environment. The users just print as they normally do within SAP, and OM Plus does the rest. Administrators have a single, easy-to-use tool to solve printing issues in their new environment saving many help desk man-hours each week (over 70% of their help desk calls had been print related). Utilizing functionality built into OM Plus, users can also now select Fax or email as destinations and "print" their job directly to a fax or email server.

System Administrators see their whole print operation through the centralized administration function of OM Plus providing tremendous efficiency and major cost control. In addition, "power" end-users can utilize the OM Plus HTML Interface to view, manage and control their own print jobs without adding any additional client software on their PC's.

Implementation Installing, configuring, and testing were completed in under a week. The customer installed the OM Plus system without any formal training. A Plus Technologies engineer worked remotely via phone to assist the customer with the installation of the OM Plus software and to provide configuration assistance. This level of phone-based service is standard and included without additional charge in all purchases of Plus Technologies software.

Results Utilizing OM Plus allows the customer's system administrators to centrally manage their print/output across the entire enterprise. The OM Plus implementation increased the customer's overall print related reliability substantially. Because OM Plus is SAP certified to the BC-XOM standard, it can confirm, from end-to-end, the delivery of a print job and notify SAP of a successful delivery of the job. Without OM Plus, all SAP knows is that it delivered the job to the operating system's print spooling utility. The IT and end-user productivity was significant because (prior to OM Plus) over 70% of the calls to their help desk were print related. Utilizing a zero client deployment strategy allowed the end-users to manage their own print without modifications to the standard SAP user interface or without adding any client software on the end-users' PC's.

From a systems standpoint, the implementation of OM Plus also provided significant positive results. The new OM Plus based print server architecture offloads print management from the customer's application and database servers improving reliability and productivity of those systems. The OM Plus status screens standardize print management for the administrators across all platforms and applications, not just the SAP applications and servers but their legacy environment too.

Customer Quote "We have utilized Plus Technologies print and output management solutions for quite some time. With the additional functionality we get from OM Plus (communication with SAP, delivery to fax or email) we are able to improve our efficiency and many of our business processes."

Plus Technologies Case Studies The Plus Technologies case study series includes real examples of how companies use Advanced Spooling Solutions to streamline operations, reduce cost and/or add functionality to existing business processes. For more information on these case studies, contact Plus Technologies.
About the Author
Plus Technologies offers advanced Print Spooler, Print Management Software, Document Delivery, Windows Printing and UNIX Printing services and solutions.
Phone 877-899-7587 (Toll Free)
Outside the US and Canada - 937-384-0444

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