Deskbound workers should not be the only ones who can use SAP business data and processes. To truly leverage your substantial SAP investment the benefits must be pushed out to every corner of the organisation. The way to do this is through mobile devices.

Mobility projects have often been fiddly and high risk. Technologies are immature and incompatible and specialist skills are expensive. Many IT managers have bad experiences in this area and are holding back even though the technologies have matured substantially in recent years.

The potential to drive new efficiencies using mobile devices cannot be ignored, and pressure is growing to try again and get it right. The challenge facing SAP customers is how to select between competing technologies. Even if you have chosen a vendor, you may still have to choose between their competing options.

This white paper compares the options currently available for deploying SAP features and functions through mobile devices. It describes the approach taken by different vendors and looks at the strengths and weaknesses of each. A strong case is made for an integrated Microsoft-SAP architecture, based on its maturity, simplicity and flexibility.

Business Drivers for Mobility

Mobile applications that connect workers directly with business data and processes in SAP can drive enormous efficiencies in an organisation. Paper forms and lists are notoriously inefficient and error prone. Using mobile devices improves the accuracy of data by removing transcription errors, and validation errors are reported immediately, removing the timely feedback loop.

Information is available in SAP much earlier in the process, improving the timeliness of reporting, decision making and follow-on processes. The amount of time spent processing data is reduced by eliminating form shuffling and data entry. Staff satisfaction is improved, retention rates go up, and training costs come down.

Many functions can be deployed to existing mobile devices. Customer information, sales orders and product enquiries can all be handled using higher end mobile phones already used by sales teams.

As device prices become lower it is viable to deploy them to more functions in the business. As the trend continues, it is important to choose an architecture which can be supported internally and is flexible enough to accommodate new requirements.

Traditional Solutions and Limitations

A number of established solutions are available from SAP and other vendors to deliver mobile functionality. This section provides a brief summary of these approaches.

SAP Console

In June 1998 SAP purchased 51% of OFEK-tech Software Industries Ltd., an Israeli software vendor specializing in warehousing and distribution-centre logistics management and operations. As “SAP OFEK-tech”, one of the main objectives of this new partnership was to develop native support for radio frequency (RF) devices for the SAP R/3 Warehouse Management Module.

The interface technology developed by OFEK-tech was first available in SAP R/3 version 3.1H. By release 4.6B SAP had developed Mobile Data Entry transactions and renamed the offering as SAP Console. As of ECC 6.0 it is still a current technology

Screens are developed in ABAP using a subset of Dynpro features (excluding tab strips and other graphical elements) and assigned to mobile transaction codes. The SAP Terminal Server, a telnet server, is installed in the SAP landscape. A terminal server client called SAPVtio is installed on each RF device and configured to connect to the server. Middleware is not required.

  • Delivers comprehensive warehouse functionality “out of the box”
  • Supports custom and third-party developed transactions in the familiar ABAP environment
  • Terminal engine runs on a variety of mobile devices and consumes little processing power or bandwidth
  • Clunky text based interface with no support for GUI controls or elements
  • Requires specialist ABAP Dynpro development skills to develop new screens or customize existing ones
  • No support for offline operation
  • No support for device specific functions like RFID, GPS, camera, touch screen

SAP Console is suited for existing warehouse requirements, where it can be deployed with minimal additional development effort. If development is required, serious thought should be given to more modern development tools. These allow all the features of modern devices to be used in the solution, using a more intuitive graphical interface, with the option for disconnected operation.

It is not suitable for offline operation

SAP ITS Mobile

ITSMobile stands for Internet Transaction Server for Mobile devices, and is one of several approaches that companies might use to create an SAP Data Collection solution. At a conceptual level, solutions created using ITSMobile are very similar to WebSAPConsole and SAP Console

ITSMobile is available for all SAP versions starting with 4.6C – however PEAK recommends only companies on version 5 (ECC 5) or higher uses ITSMobile, as previous versions require using a separate ITS server.

ITSMobile is a relatively new solution that became available to SAP customers in Q3 2007, and was developed primarily to allow the discontinuation of WebSAPConsole, and provide a simple migration path for those companies using that solution.

  • 40 standard WM and LES transactions out of the box
  • License free (part of your ECC license)
  • ABAP & Dynpro skills is (almost) all that's required
  • Can be implemented by many SAP and non-SAP (hardware) partners
  • No middleware implementation or cost, if you run SAP you already have the Netweaver Application Server running
  • Works well with barcode scanners and RFID readers
  • Supports voice picking
  • Online only
  • Not robust, 100% WiFi coverage required
  • Only 40 standard transactions, no MM-IM and no newer stuff
  • Any changes or new development is on your own, no SAP support
  • No standard enriched functionality. ie. no GPS + Google Maps in the yard, no RFID writing to container tags, no camera with AR overlays etc.
  • No other data sources (mash-up), ECC only
  • No standard device API access (GPS, camera, motion sensor, mobile printer etc.)


  • I wanted to take a moment to thank you for the wonderful job in helping us to improve our warehouse management processes. The time needed to perform operations in the warehouse has been reduced. We look forward to continue working with you in the future.

    Adem Haxhijaj

  • Thank you for working with our company. You really went out of your way to help us to speed up our data entry in the warehouse with accuracy of data capture. I appreciate your promptness, quality of work, expertise and would recommend your services.

    Tony Polad

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