About SAP Business One 9.0 with Microsoft Office 365
File sharing with SAP B1 was a real pain, which now can be nicely addressed using MS Office 365. This document describes how this can be achieved in detail.
More than two decades ago MS Office was developed by Microsoft, and from that time it has been continuously enhancing to keep pace with the new technologies and users’ modern expectations. Initially it was only a pure windows based and desktop dependent application, but today it’s being extended to a cloud based application. Many of us can remember when Office 2007 was a package of a few desktop applications to do word processing, spreadsheet processing, etc. on desktops. But today we can do those works on web-browsers and mobile apps without any considerable setup overhead. From the beginning SAP users are also using MS Office for various office related file attachment processing. So, with the advent of new technologies in MS office it is also improving experience of SAP users in the concerned areas of their day to day business transactions through SAP.
A decade back file sharing was not so easy like today. But with promising technologies, for example Microsoft SharePoint, which is ideal for file-sharing over online environment now a days, offered as a bundle with MS Office 365. Today we can work virtually anywhere using the Office applications we trust across our favorite devices—PCs, Macs, and selected mobile devices. We can have everyone in sync with enterprise-grade email and shared calendars we can access at our desk or on the go with MS Office 365 which offers many cloud oriented features for office applications. Here we’ll focus on file sharing configuration in SAP Business One implementations which now can be more perfect around office file attachments, updates, and views using the new features of MS Office 365.
Collaboration with teammates, partners, and customers for documents those are always up to date and accessible from almost anywhere is possible with the SharePoint features of Office 365. This feature has removed the hurdles of file sharing as attachments with various SAP B1 documents. Previously some folder needed to be setup as shared folder on the file system to store the attachment files of SAP B1. The shared folder could be accessed from multiple machines in the concerned LAN or WAN with various file sharing limitations around speed, security, availability, etc. If we would like to avoid the file sharing limitations then the attachments in the SAP B1 documents needed to be mapped / stored in the local folder of the individual users. But storing files on the users’ local file system would cause inability of perfect collaboration on the attached files.
Following figure shows the relevant area of SAP B1 where we configure the file sharing paths. The path which is shown in the figure can be obtained from Office 365’s SharePoint area once it is available with us.
Following figure shows how the file path is referenced to Sharepoint to our local drive to map the same with SAP Business One.
Before setting up the local drive which connects to the Sharepoint document library to SAP Business One, we need to have Sharepoint Workspace and configure it as shown below. This setup needs to be done preferably on SAP B1 server where we want to create the central repository of files and folders for SAP B1 attachments. Access to these files and folders should be restricted over file system as the file access (authorization) can be controlled at SAP B1 document level and at Sharepoint end.
Once Sharepoint Workspace is configured on the target system, where the attachment file repository is planned – map the network drive as shown in the following figure. Map the location created in the 1st step to the location to be created in the 2nd step.
Finally how an attachment in any SAP B1 document works is shown in the following figure.
Workflow of file attachment and collaboration on SAP B1 documents become automated after a successful setup of Office 365 with Sharepoint, local drive mapping on SAP B1 server (or locally), and general settings for file paths in SAP B1 as shown earlier. Whenever a user attaches a file in SAP B1, the file gets stored in the local path (connected to Sharepoint) as configured in the general settings. And then whenever a file is stored in the mentioned location, the file gets synced with Office 365 cloud through Sharepoint services.
Sharing files through Sharepoint has got its own inherent advantages like better security, better accessibility, automatic versioning, better availability, and so on. Now with the advent of office web-apps, Office 365 is also offering editing capabilities of the Word, Excel, and Power Point documents online on the web-browser itself. Consequently it is reducing IT infrastructural setup overhead around collaboration on office files like word, spreadsheet, and presentation processing which can be proven as a great relief for Small and Mid-sized enterprises over the time.
Following figure shows how an SAP B1 attachment can be editable online within the web-browser itself apart from desktop application. So collaboration on attached files is more easy and efficient with MS Office 365 now.