Even with the standardized business processes and centralized data stores provided by SAP, much corporate data still resides in spreadsheets. Taking data in these spreadsheets and putting them into SAP remains one of the thorny challenges facing many corporate IT departments. Many business departments are
wasting resources in manually reentering this data into SAP while introducing errors due to manual data entry. Functional and technical analysts in the IT departments are inundated with requests from business users to automate the upload of Excel data into SAP.
o Are you an SAP business user looking to reduce manual data entry for mass uploads or mass changes to SAP data, particularly when the data already exists in Excel?
o Are you an IT functional or technical analyst looking for ways to service the end-user requests for data uploadd more effectively?
o Are you looking for ways that your company can save time and resources in SAP data management?
If you answered “Yes” to any of the above questions, then this article is for you. This article describes 7 best practices in automating the upload of Excel
data into SAP. Adopting these best practices will alleviate many of the pains that business users and IT analysts face in uploading Excel data to SAP.
1. Avoid Programming. With the several non-programming choices available to connect Excel and SAP, custom programming in ABAP or VB should be the absolute last resort for ad-hoc uploading Excel data to SAP. Not only programming is
expensive and time consuming, a program that will be used only once or even once a year is particularly wasteful. Further, creating robust programs require a fair bit of testing and if a program has not been well-tested, it could be dangerous and cause irreparable data damage.
Use a scripting or a non-programming approach as much as possible. SAP provided tools such as BDC, CATT, LSMW, and third party tools such as Winshuttle’s TxShuttle will allow you to avoid programming to a large extent.
2. Do not Upload Directly to SAP tables. While this point is very obvious, it
cannot be overemphasized. Writing directly to SAP tables avoids all the data
validation and checks and balances that happen when creating data through the
normal SAP transactions. So, avoid using any method that writes directly to SAP
Always upload data via the pre-configured SAP transactions or BAPIs. Again,
using tools such as BDC, CATT, or LSMW, or TxShuttle will allow the upload of
data via SAP transactions instead of writing directly to SAP tables.
3. Choose a Record, Map, and Run strategy. A record, map, and run strategy
generally involves first recording an SAP transaction where data needs to be
uploaded. The recording step is followed by a mapping step where the SAP data
fields captured during the recording are mapped to the Excel fields. Finally,
the transaction is run over and over again with the different rows of data in
the Excel file. A Record, Map, and Run strategy is similar to recording and
running macros for automating routine tasks.
The advantages of choosing a record, map, and run strategy are that (a) it is
very general and can work well for many different upload tasks and many
different SAP transactions, even with custom transactions, (b) it is a very easy
and intuitive approach and saves a lot of time making a mass data update, (c) it
is something that even the business users can do themselves without requiring
much IT support.
A record, map, and run strategy should be used for uploading data from Excel
to SAP. Again, the SAP provided tools, such as BDC, CATT, and LSMW all support
such a strategy and can work for many different erp system upload applications. The
TxShuttle tool simplifies the mapping recording and mapping tasks a lot and
makes it even easier for business users. Also, for applications that require
upload of transactional data containing header and line-items, such as journal
vouchers, invoices, purchase orders, sales orders, etc., the TxShuttle tool has
features that make it really useful.
4. Choose a Secure and SOX Compliant Method: Make sure the method you choose
is secure and preserves SAP’s role-based security. In these days of
Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) audits, this point cannot be overemphasized. One key aspect
of section 404 is checking that rights and duties are separately assigned to
different individuals so that no individual has the power to divert business or
transactions in a fraudulent manner. One of the most common open SOX audit
issues is that users in the IT departments have very broad access to production
data in SAP. Therefore to ease compliant with SOX, any mass changes or uploads
should ideally be performed by the business users who are already authorized to
make the change.
To allow business users to perform the upload via SAP-provided
transaction-based tools, they would need extra authorizations to use these
tools. If your company is not able to provide such authorizations, the use of
Winshuttle’s TxShuttle product may be more appropriate since it lives outside
the core SAP system and generally does not require extra authorizations.
5. Keep the data in native Excel format. If the data to be uploaded stays in
the native Excel format, rather than being converted to comma-delimited or
tab-delimited text file formats, it makes the upload process much simpler. One
less step for the users to worry about.
The use of Winshuttle’s TxShuttle product allows the users to keep their data
in native Excel format.
6. Select an outside-in approach: The two approaches to bringing outside data
into SAP are: (a) an inside-out approach where the data import tools live inside
SAP are used to bring outside data into SAP, and (b) an outside-in approach
where the tools living outside SAP are used to bring outside data into SAP. An
inside-out approach typically requires all the data import scripts and programs
to live inside SAP and therefore need to be maintained as SAP versions are
upgraded, even when the scripts are one-time-use only. Thus, these one-time use
scripts clutter the SAP system when using the inside-out approach. An outside-in
approach offers a cleaner alternative that can be used with the user’s existing
The announcement of Microsoft and SAP’s joint product, Mendocinno,
recently validates the importance that both companies give to an outside-in
approach. Other add-on products such as TxShuttle also take an outside-in
approach to connect to SAP.
7. Empower business users: On a final note, one of the best practices in
uploading Excel data to SAP is to empower business users to do the upload
themselves. The choice of the right tool for the business users which will
enable them to easily upload data without requiring any programming will go a
long way to freeing up IT resources for more mission-critical applications.
Letting business users take control of their own data also makes SOX compliance
An easy to use product such as Winshuttle’s TxShuttle which will let business
users upload their own data from Excel to SAP allows the empowering of these
In summary, the best practices in uploading Excel data to SAP proposed here
involve choosing non-programmatic, easy-to-use approaches, and this will enable
your company to save large amounts of time and resources in day-to-day SAP data