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The Product Catalogue Processing with CRM ES bundle enables SAP customers to use third-party catalog software to create, update, and manage product catalogs and catalog data in SAP CRM, as well as to propagate existing catalogs and catalog data, built with third-party catalog software, to SAP CRM. Once complete, catalogs can be activated and published to the Web, presented via SAP CRM's Web channel application.

Using this bundle, customers can create entirely new catalogs in CRM from scratch, including detailed header, section and item data, or they can modify selected portions of existing catalogs while working within their familiar third-party product catalog management application.

By using the enterprise services contained in this bundle, the company can continue to use the functionality of its third-party catalog management engine and make the catalog created through that means available to SAP CRM Web Channel.

Integrating SAP CRM with the third-party catalog management tool provides SAP customers with the functionality and familiarity of the third-party application as well as the functionality and flexibility of SAP CRM. For example, an order created in the SAP CRM Web Channel web shop (customer front-end) containing a product originally added to the product catalog in the third party application is also available across the enterprise to employees in the company's interaction center as well as to the mobile laptops of sales representatives making site visits to customers.

Further, since SAP CRM is fully integrated with SAP ERP, an order created in the SAP CRM Web shop is replicated immediately to SAP CRM and SAP ERP.

Product Catalog Processing with CRM (click to enlarge)


By integrating SAP CRM with their third-party product catalog management tools, SAP customers are getting more than an isolated Web shop. Rather, they are implementing a whole CRM solution capable of handling and managing data entered in a single Web shop across the enterprise – ERP, interaction centers, and mobile devices such as those commonly used by sales representatives.
Since many customers have well-developed catalog creation and maintenance tools, this provides the best of both worlds; the Web shop becomes integrated fully with all backend systems, but the means to create that shop remains the familiar interface that those involved in selling online are accustomed to using.

The Product Catalogue Processing with CRM ES bundle allows users to work in SAP CRM via the third-party tool with a familiar user interface to create and manage product catalogs and related data. Essentially, product catalogs are created and managed in the third-party tool, which automatically feeds this information to the CRM system via the enterprise services in this bundle, which in turn feeds and publishes the product catalogs to the Web shop.

Additionally, companies gain the benefits of the Web catalog in the SAP CRM Web Channel application. Customers can continue to use their proven catalog engine for catalog management on the one hand and on the other hand make full use of the web catalog in the SAP Web Channel application. This is because the catalog gets loaded into SAP CRM and from there it is made available to SAP Web Channel Web shops. These Web shops provide strong catalog navigation and browsing along with product search, catalog views, and additional catalog functionality.

Creating catalogs is described in Use Case 1; Use Case 2 describes updating a catalog.

Integration of Data from Content Management Systems

An additional and fairly common use case for this bundle is to pull in catalog data such as photographs or the like from content management systems system and incorporate them into the catalog to ease the integration of such information. This process is described in Use Case 3.

Design-time Product Catalog versus Runtime Product Catalog

It is also important to note that within the SAP CRM Product Catalog functionality, there are essentially two types or versions of catalog objects. One is essentially part of catalog management while the other is the live catalog accessed by customers in the Web shop. This distinction is important because this bundle only provides services for the former of these two.

The first is the Design Time Catalog object, which resides in SAP CRM and allows users to create new catalogs and catalog sections in existing catalogs; to maintain catalogs; and to activate objects in the catalog such as products, items, and sections for publication.

To make use of the created catalog in the SAP Web shop, the activated product catalog can be indexed onto the SAP TREX server. In this way, the product catalog is converted into a runtime product catalog object available for display in the Web shop. Simply stated, once the Design Time Product Catalog object is indexed to SAP TREX, it becomes the Run Time Product Catalog object and is the live product catalog that will be accessed by customers through the web shop.

The enterprise services in the Product Catalogue Processing with CRM ES bundle are based on the Design Time Product Catalog object, which is simply referred to in eSOA terms as the Product Catalogue business object. These enterprise services enable companies to establish communications between SAP CRM and a third-party catalog engine, allowing users to replicate product catalog data from the third-party catalog engine to SAP CRM.

Five Types of Operations

The enterprise services in this ES bundle enable five types of service operations: for creating a catalog, updating or changing a catalog, reading a catalog,

Creating a Catalog

This is the initial step for creating a catalog. The Create Product Catalogue Basic Data enterprise service operation allows the user to enter the product catalog's header data, the basic data of the catalog used to delineate the overall content of the catalog, such as catalog name, type, basic list of characteristics, attributes used in each section of the catalog, variants (currency, language to be used, and type of list price to be used), and so on. Please note that the term Header refers only to the entire catalog's basic data and does not refer to individual catalog section headings.

Further, this operation refers only to the creation of the product catalog header (i.e., basic data) and does not allow the creation of a section or item within the product catalog.

The service operation for creation of the catalog header is Create Product Catalogue Basic Data (its technical name is ProductCatalogueCRMBasicDataCreateRequestConfirmation_In).

Updating or Changing a Catalog

The Update and Change operations allow users to create sections and items for a new product catalog as well as make changes to existing catalogs.

These operations allow users to change the hierarchy of the catalog. The term Hierarchy refers to the individual sections and their order and interdependencies within the product catalog (the different catalog sections build up the hierarchy). For example, a catalog for nonfiction books lists nonfiction as the top level of the hierarchy, then perhaps hardcover and paperback, followed by types such as textbooks and general interest, and then to genres such as politics, science, true crime, biography, self-help, and so on. Changing the hierarchy of a product catalog includes making changes to or removing catalog sections, creating new sections, changing the name of a section, and so on. The available operations for changing and updating the product catalog include:

  • Update Product Catalogue Section service operation (ProductCatalogueCRMSectionUpdateRequestConfirmation_In)
  • Update Product Catalogue Item service operation (ProductCatalogueCRMItemUpdateRequestConfirmation_In)
  • Change Product Catalogue Basic Data service operation (ProductCatalogueCRMBasicDataChangeRequestConfirmation_In)

Additionally, the update and change operations enable adding or removing specific items (that is, products) to or from a specific catalog section, adding or removing photos or graphics for an item or section, making changes to the product catalog header, and so on.

Reading Catalog Data

The read operations allow users to read the product catalog header data, individual sections, or individual items held within the product catalog in SAP CRM.

The available operations for reading product catalog information include:

  • Read Product Catalogue Item service operation (ProductCatalogueCRMCurrentItemByIDQueryResponse_In)
  • Read Product Catalogue Basic Data service operation (ProductCatalogueCRMBasicDataByIdQueryResponse_In)

Activating a Catalog

Prior to publishing a catalog to the SAP TREX server, the catalog as well as certain sections and catalog items must first be activated. This step ensures that catalogs or sections and items where changes still need to be made or that are incomplete cannot be published.

The available operation for activating the catalog and/or individual catalog sections or items is the Approve Product Catalogue service operation (ProductCatalogueCRMApproveRequestConfirmation_In).

Publishing a Catalog

This simply refers to the action to index a catalog and its activated sections and items to SAP TREX and make it available to the Web shop, thereby establishing it as a Run Time Product Catalog object.

The services involved in publishing a catalog are:

  • Request Product Catalogue Publishing (ProductCatalogueCRMPublishingRequest_In), which sends an asynchronous request to SAP CRM for the catalog to be published
  • Confirm Product Catalogue Publishing (ProductCatalogueCRMPublishingConfirmation_Out), which sends back an asynchronous confirmation from SAP CRM that the publishing is finished.

The Product Catalogue Processing with CRM ES bundle leverages enterprise SOA through communications between SAP CRM 7.0 and third-party composite applications using enterprise services.

Audience

Any organization that wishes to increase the efficiency with which it creates and manages product catalogs for its online Web shops will benefit from this bundle's functionality.

The roles in various industries that will use this bundle include:

  • Product catalog manager
  • Clerk
  • System administrator

    For details on Service Operations, Business Objects and Process Components, please check the ES Workplace.


How to Use This ES Bundle

Web shops, such as those run by companies such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, eBay, and so on, typically provide an online product catalog. And these catalogues are composed of a hierarchy of different catalog sections, each containing relevant items.

For quite some time, companies seeking to exploit the Web as a sales channel have relied upon third-party catalog management tools in order to create new catalogs, manage existing catalogs, and maintain and organize product catalog-related information. These systems offer industry-specific features and other services that make them valuable to users.

However, as standalone systems these third-party product catalog management tools lack much of the functionality and flexibility that is provided by customer management solutions such as SAP Customer Relationship Management and its Web Channel functionality. This functionality and flexibility is further enhanced by the fact that SAP CRM is of course fully integrated with SAP ERP, supporting, among many other functions, integrated accounting and logistics for orders placed via the web shop.

In addition, as companies have sought to integrate SAP CRM and its related Web Channel functionality to sell and market products in their respective Web shops, they have often sought to keep their respective third-party product catalog management tools in order to maintain the benefits of these tools and to avoid rebuilding the large amount of product catalog information held in these third-party systems.

Prior to the creation of the Product Catalogue Processing with CRM ES bundle, integrating these third-party systems with SAP CRM required custom integrations that could be costly and complex to perform. SAP customers could also deploy SAP's Open Catalog Interface, but this too could be problematic and did not provide a one-to-one standardized integration method.

By contrast, the Product Catalogue Processing with CRM ES bundle allows SAP customers to fully integrate their product catalog management tools with SAP CRM--and by extension SAP ERP--in order to create, update, change, and publish catalogs. As such, integrating SAP CRM does not mean losing these tools and in fact allows users to continue to use the familiar catalog management tool, and user interface, as the lead system.

In all, this bundle allows SAP customers to leverage a third-party system for sophisticated product catalog management as well as integration with other enterprise systems and SAP business processes.

Further, another common use case is integrating digital assets such as photos or video of products from a content management system directly into the SAP CRM web catalog.

The following sections explore three use cases for the Product Catalogue Processing with CRM ES bundle. Each use case provides concrete examples and shows how different outcomes can be achieved by using the enterprise services in different combinations. While these examples illustrate a few of the ways that this ES bundle could be used, the intention is to show the flexibility and reusability of these business objects and enterprise service operations so that you will have a clearer understanding of how to best deploy them in your own environment. This wiki is also a space for you to share knowledge and collaborate with others who are implementing the Product Catalogue Processing with CRM ES bundle.

Use Case 1: Creating Product Catalogs in SAP CRM Using Third-Party Catalog Creation Software

An outdoor adventure product company has used the Product Catalogue Processing with CRM ES bundle to integrate its third-party product catalog management system with its SAP CRM system. With this bundle, the company is able to continue using its catalog tool as the lead system while gaining the advantages of creating and maintaining all catalog data in SAP CRM. To implement the bundle, the company modified its existing catalog creation software to call the services in this bundle in order to replicate all relevant data to CRM. Once the data is in CRM, it can be fed to the company's online web shop either manually or as an automated process based on certain parameters, such as publishing a catalog to a specific timeframe.

The product catalog manager can begin creating a new catalog in the third-party UI by inputting a new catalog ID, such as "Water Sports" into the appropriate field. The ID indicates that the catalog will contain sections and items related to the company's rafting, canoeing, kayaking, and boating products. She will then need to add other required header data, including the language, the Web shop it will be published to (or indexed in) as well as other characteristics and variants. If all of the section and item data for the catalog is ready for publication at this time, she can enter it as well. If not, she can add as much or as little of it as she needs later.

To create the new catalog and its header in SAP CRM, the manager selects the "Create" icon or link, which causes the third-party tool to invoke the Create Product Catalogue Basic Data* service operation, which uses the Product Catalogue business object.

The manager will then add sections to the catalog as well as items to each section. Each of these can include product descriptions, various media, and descriptive text. As sections and items are entered and saved, the third-party tool invokes the Update Product Catalogue Section and Update Product Catalog Item enterprise services respectively.

Before any part of the newly created catalog can be published, the manager must activate it. She can activate the entire catalog or only those sections that have been vetted for publication. To activate a catalog, the manager selects the appropriate link or icon causing the third-party tool to invoke the Approve Product Catalogue service operation, which also uses the Product Catalogue business object.

After all or part of the catalog has been activated, it is ready to publish. To do so, the manager selects the appropriate icon or link causing the third-party tool to invoke the Request Product Catalogue Publishing service operation. Typically, once the publishing process has been initiated, it completes itself automatically. When it is done, SAP CRM invokes the Confirm Product Catalogue Publishing service operation to confirm that publishing is finished.

The following table summarizes these steps and the associated enterprise services:

Step

Enterprise Service Invoked

Step 1: The product catalog manager specifies a new catalog ID, along with any other information required for the catalog's header, such as the catalog language and country

Create Product Catalogue Basic Data

Step 2: The manager then adds the sections and items to the catalog

Update Product Catalogue Section
Update Product Catalog Item

Step 3: Before the manager can publish a catalog, he or she must first activate it in SAP CRM

Approve Product Catalogue

Step 4: The manager requests that SAP CRM publish the new catalogue

Request Product Catalogue Publishing

Step 5: SAP CRM sends back a message to confirm that publishing is finished

Confirm Product Catalogue Publishing

Use Case 2: Modifying Product Catalogs in SAP CRM Using Third-Party Catalog Creation Software

In the previous scenario, a product catalog manager working for an outdoor adventure product company created a new catalog for the company's line of products for water sports. In this use case, the manager wants to modify the catalog so that it reflects the new products that the company has recently introduced.

Before the manager can modify all or part of any published catalog, she must first deactivate the relevant sections by selecting the appropriate icon or link in the third-party tool's UI, which causes it to invoke the Approve Product Catalogue enterprise service (with a parameter that indicates that the catalog will be deactivated so that it can be worked on). Once the catalog or catalog sections have been deactivated, the manager can review them and their respective items by selecting the header, a section, or item, which causes the third-party tool to invoke the Read Product Catalogue Basic Data, the Read Product Catalogue Section, or the Read Product Catalogue Item service operations, all of which use the Product Catalogue business object.

Having determined those sections and items that she wants to alter, the manager can add new, delete old, or modify existing catalog data, and then save the changes, which invokes the Change Product Catalogue Basic Data, the Update Product Catalogue Section, or the Update Product Catalogue Item service operations, all of which also use the Product Catalogue business object.

For instance, if the manager adds just a few new items to an existing section of the catalog, the third-party tool will trigger only the Update Product Catalogue Item service operation. However, if she adds an entirely new section to the catalog, along with its accompanying items, the third-party tool will invoke both the Update Product Catalogue Section and the Update Product Catalogue Item service operations, and then again the Change Product Catalogue Basic Data service operation, as well, to account for the data in the new section.

As in the earlier scenario, before any part of the newly modified catalog can be published again, the manger must activate them by following the steps described there. The catalog or catalog sections can also be published upon being activated by following the steps described in the previous use case, as well.

The following table summarizes these steps and the associated enterprise services:

Step

Enterprise Service Invoked

Step 1: To modify an existing, activated catalog, the product catalog manager must first deactivate it

Approve Product Catalogue (with a flag to deactivate the catalog)

Step 2: The manager reviews the current catalog data in SAP CRM prior to modifying it

Read Product Catalogue Basic Data
Read Product Catalogue Section
Read Product Catalogue Item

Step 3: The manager adds new, deletes old, or modifies existing catalog data, and then saves the changes

Change Product Catalogue Basic Data
Update Product Catalogue Section
Update Product Catalogue Item

Step 4: Before publishing the catalog again, the manager must first activate it in SAP CRM, and then approve it

Approve Product Catalogue

Step 5: The manager requests that SAP CRM publish the new catalogue

Request Product Catalogue Publishing

Step 6: SAP CRM sends back a message to confirm that publishing is finished

Confirm Product Catalogue Publishing

Use Case 3: Modifying Product Catalogs in SAP CRM with Data from External Content Management Systems

In this use case, the product catalog manager for the outdoor adventure product company wants to add photographs and other digital assets from an external content management system into the catalog in SAP CRM. In this use case the user is working in SAP CRM.

As in the previous use case, before the manager can incorporate the new data, she must first deactivate the catalog by selecting that option, which invokes the *Approve Product Catalog enterprise service with a flag to deactivate the catalog so that it can be modified.

Once she has deactivated the catalog, she can add the digital assets to the desired item, which invokes the Update Product Catalogue Item service operation. She can repeat this as many times as necessary. The digital assets are copied to the design time catalog.

Upon transferring the data from the content management system to the catalog in SAP CRM, the manager may wish to review it for accuracy and, if necessary, make any pertinent changes. She then activates the catalog and publishes it.

The following table summarizes these steps and the related enterprise services:

Step

Enterprise Service Invoked

Step 1: To modify an existing, activated catalog, the product catalogue manager must first deactivate it

Approve Product Catalogue

Step 2: The manager transfers specified item data from the content management system to the relevant item in the catalog in SAP CRM, repeating this step as many times as necessary.

Update Product Catalogue Item

Step 3: The manager reviews the item data and makes further changes, if necessary

Read Product Catalogue Basic Data
Read Product Catalogue Section
Read Product Catalogue Item
Change Product Catalogue Basic Data
Update Product Catalogue Section
Update Product Catalogue Item

Step 5: Before publishing the catalog again, the manager must first activate it in SAP CRM, and then approve it

Approve Product Catalogue

Step 6: The manager requests that SAP CRM publish the updated catalog

Request Product Catalogue Publishing

Step 7: SAP CRM sends back a message to confirm that publishing is finished

Confirm Product Catalogue Publishing

Future Directions

Future directions for this ES bundle will be market-driven.

System Requirements

SOA Homepage on SDN
CRM BPX Community

1 Comment

  1. Unknown User (chwsx4p)

    Hi Deborah, Do you know of any list of available external product catalog engines?