The Office 2007 platform is nearly ready and as such, it would be rude not to show the developer community how to create new Office code that connects to existing business applications. In all the companies I've worked for tools like Excel, Outlook, Powerpoint and Word end up running a large proportion of a the business. This is where the majority of information ends up before users modify, compile, then publish and share it. It goes without saying that getting information into these end user tools in an accurate and rapid way is of high importance to a company.
Enter the OBA RAPs (what an acronym!) which stands for the Office Business Applications Reference Architecture Packs (Now you see where I got my blog title from! :-)). These packs provide examples of how to integrate line of business applications into Office client tools so that users can do their job more effectively. To help you understand how this is a benefit, let's take a look at an example in the supply chain management area of business activities.
Supply Chain Management Example
Let's look at an email received by an inventory analyst who is responsible for working on purchase orders. He receives an email in Outlook 2007 from the inventory planning system alerting him to a stock problem in the future.
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Notice how our analyst has a PO (purchase order) Management Ribbon tab right in that email? This is an example of how Office can be extended to provide functionality related to this particular user - in this case a inventory analyst. Under PO Management, this user can then choose to View POs or check supplier details. In this situation he needs to create a PO for the item of stock that is projected to be down.
He clicks through to view the POs relating the product, and can then go ahead and reorder as appropriate. Notice how this is all done within the Outlook email window, which pulls information from the inventory management software sitting in the background?
The order is completed and sent via RosettaNet standards in XML to the manufacturer and is controlled using a workflow running in the Windows Workflow Framework. This has all happened without the analyst leaving the email or wasting time by opening the inventory management software interface. Pretty slick.
Find out more information
At the moment we've got one RAP available which focuses on the scenario of supply chain management but there are more coming out soon.
Visit the OBA Reference Application Pack for Supply Chain Management site.