Our expert, Gabor:
Gabor Temesszentandrási has been working with SAP since 2000 in various positions (ERP Consultant, as Head of internal IT-Support, as an ABAP developer and as an SAP Project Manager). In his role as a form technology expert at Lupus Consulting, Gabor answers the most important questions about the different SAP forms.

 

Hello Gabor, can you give a brief overview of forms and form technology?

Forms are any types of documents that are created within a company. The most common types of forms are invoices, delivery notes, payment confirmations and dunning letters.
The form technology however is used to extract the data from ERP systems and convert them into a preferred format with the corporate design. In other words, most of the documents and papers created in a company are built in with specific forms technology: SAPscript, SmartForm or Adobe Forms (Adobe Interactive Forms and Adobe with Fragments are considered in Adobe Forms).

 

What are the differences in the technologies?

SAPscript:
SAPscript is the first forms technology and many documents in a company are still based on this one. Although SAPscript is still a reliable technology and meets the basic requirements, it has some limitations e.g. in multilingualism. A localization of documents by language is not supported and a copy of the form must be created and translated for each language.
Furthermore, the editing of existing forms is significantly more time-consuming due to the high complexity.

SmartForm:
The next generation of form technology supports a graphical editor. Compared to SAPscript, the forms are easier to maintain and more convenient for mass printing.
However, SmartForm is also not designed for multilingualism and is not an ideal solution for interactive documents.

Adobe Forms:
SAP and Adobe developed together a new technology to overcome the biggest obstacles in the previous form technologies. The SAP Interactive Forms by Adobe provides a WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) form editor and supports an efficient and precise way to create different types of documents. Even multi-language documents can now be maintained and edited more easily, thanks to localization.

 

Which use cases for form adaptations are common?

Mostly the companies require some small adjustments and minor changes in their existing forms e.g.
• add a new field to the invoice
• Imprints and headers are easier to customize
• Syntax and error check
• Multilingualism
Most common forms:

SAP-SDSAP-MMSAP-FISAP-PPAdditional
QuotationOrderBalance confirmationProduction orderReports
Order confirmationContractAccount confirmationMaterial stagingAdobe Forms with fragments
Delivery noteRequestDunning letterPicklistLabels
Packing ListReminderPayment advice  
Weight listFramework agreement 
Invoice 
Credit note, debit note

 

How important is form technology for companies?

All companies use forms to correspond with their business partners, which is why forms technology is indispensable. The implementation of ERP systems has simplified the work with documents, increased the efficiency of companies and reduced costs.
However, external factors such as legal requirements, company-related changes or technological innovations have increased the importance of updating forms.

 

For many companies the transition to S/4HANA is a recent topic. Can you go more into detail about S/4HANA and the form technologies?

The transition to S/4 is a great opportunity to analyse all business processes and to push forward the change management for the form technologies.
For companies using mainly SAPscript and SmartForms, the change to Adobe Forms is therefore an important preparatory activity. However, the effort of this process should not be underestimated, since only a few consulting companies have the technical expertise and the capacity to convert old forms.

 

What are the specific benefits that companies are experiencing with Adobe Forms compared to legacy technologies?

The new technology has several advantages for end-user as well as for developers. The Adobe Live-Cycle Designer supports the development of the forms and can be easily integrated into the SAPGUI. Using the drag & drop option in the tool significantly reduces the development effort.
If any changes in the forms are required, the developers can implement the requirements more
efficiently e.g. the insertion of a new document row. In addition, Adobe Forms can be used as an online
or offline form, for example to integrate end customers directly into business processes.

 

When is it reasonable to change the technology?

Basically, companies should change the technology as soon as errors in the forms become more frequent, regular adjustments are required or multi-language forms become important. Furthermore, we recommend to analyse the forms before the S/4Hana changeover and prioritize transforming the business critical documents to Adobe Forms.

 

How complex is the change from SAPscript/ Smart Form to Adobe Forms?

The complexity depends on the customer requirements. In our experience, companies often want to adapt existing content into Adobe Forms without further requirements. Since there is no simplified migration option, a copy will be created and the form will be rebuilt from scratch in Adobe Forms. The effort for all forms can vary between 2-15 days. For example, simple forms such as financial forms take 2 days – complex forms, such as order confirmation about 15 days. Therefore we recommend to set up a priority list and convert the business-critical forms first.

 

Why is form development a good example of successful remote projects?

The existing documentation and specifications provided by the customer and our expertise enables us to quickly gain an overview of the current forms. We only need to get access into the SAP system and we are able to analyse the forms remotely. The requirements are usually communicated by our customers via online meetings. Based on our own evaluation questionnaire combined with the requirements of our customers, we can provide a very accurate effort estimation of the development. Afterwards, we involve the technical experts directly in the projects and analyse the business processes. Based on our long-term consulting expertise, we ask for different use cases and consider possible scenarios.
Regular meetings and milestones ensure close communication between the developers and our customers so that communication channels remain short. All development tasks and project coordination can be done 100% remotely.

 

Finally – what is the future trend for forms?

An increasing number of companies are expected to upgrade to the latest technologies due to the S/4 Hana transformation. However, the old forms will only be converted when there is a concrete need.