Sappi Fine Paper relies on the software heavyweight SAP to run a global network of manufacturing and distribution responsible for producing 6 million tons of paper each year. While SAP excels at managing operations, it doesn’t necessarily present the most welcoming interface when presenting data to customers. In recognizing this, Sappi sought to develop an improved customer portal, that still relied on SAP data to deliver customer data on inventory availability and order status, but presented it through a custom user interface, more in keeping with Sappi’s other online services.
Portland Webworks responded to these requirements with a thorough evaluation of end user expectations, and the development of a rich user interface design, strongly focussed on delivering product and order data in an intuitive way. This design was then brought to life using the flexible combination of HTML/CSS with AngularJS, communicating with a RESTful Java backend utilizing Spring and Jersey. The application leverages Hibersap as an abstraction layer on top of SAP’s Java Connector, minimizing the technical code required to call a function in SAP. Finally, the portal also uses Sappi’s existing Liferay infrastructure, and its own RESTful services, to handle content management duties.
Deployed to the cloud using Amazon Web Services, the new interface (which rolled out to North American users in March 2013, and is set to roll out to European users in August) now provides Sappi with a significant competitive advantage. Customers can easily check stock and product availability, initiate order enquiries, manage financial reports, review customer service claims, and track the status of open orders. The portal also includes a number of useful calculators to help customers estimate their shipping needs.