Uploading from Excel Data
to SAP effective upload
Upload Excel Data to
SAP: 7 Best Practices
By Vikram Chalana
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
re-entering 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.
|• Are you a 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?
• Are you an IT functional or technical analyst looking for ways to
service the end-user requests for data upload more effectively?
• 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
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 tables.
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
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
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 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
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
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 security profiles.
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 easier.
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 business users.
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 management.
To learn more about SAP tools, BDC, CATT and LSMW, visit http://www.sap.com.
To learn more about Winshuttle tool, TxShuttle, visit http://www.winshuttle.com.
At this site, you can download a FREE WHITE PAPER describing this
problem and how the TxShuttle tool works at uploading Excel data to SAP.
You can also download a FREE 15-day evaluation version of the TxShuttle
software for connecting SAP and Excel.
About The Author
Vikram Chalana is the SAP product
specialist at Winshuttle, Inc. He has helped many clients automate their
SAP business processes, in particular processes dealing with the
connecting spreadsheets and SAP. He has been in the IT industry as a
data minining, business intelligence, business process automation expert
for over 10 years.
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