Using Floe is one small step you can make to move towards a carbon-neutral future.

As every organization seeks to reduce their carbon footprint, we must embrace new and innovative ways to make a difference.  It will take a host of changes to business processes and policies to small baby steps towards a carbon-neutral future.  Using Floe for SAP communication is one step that every SAP customer can take to help them reduce the environmental impact of their business activities.

Historically, organisations used to print and post communication to customers, suppliers and employees; outputs like purchase orders, invoices and pay slips.  And, incredibly we still see this happen today:  Just last year (November 2021) we received by post a remittance advice from one of our customers.  Of course, receiving a remittance advice is always a happy moment, but the knowledge that customer of ours was still printing and posting them was a sobering moment, particularly because we received it while COP26 was being held in Glasgow.

It’s truly astonishing that this is happening at all.  It’s a terrible waste of paper and energy. The argument to move to email output is easy and obvious, and of course most organisations already made that move some time ago.

The solution most organisations chose was electronic document delivered by electronic mail: Email with PDF attachment. PDFs could be rendered using the same output technology (SAPScript / Smartforms / Adobe forms) in SAP, and could be printed by the recipient.  But we don’t print them any more: We no longer need an electronic document format designed to be printed.

So, in most cases, there is no longer any need for a PDF attachment. And there is an enormous potential saving in computer power in replacing the PDF with a pure email solution.

The comparison comes, in the main, from the relative size of an HTML email versus an email with a PDF attachment.  A complex, rich-text email is not likely to be more than 30KB, whereas a complex PDF is likely to be 300KB: In general, the PDF is always 10 times larger in size.

CPU Power
The PDF document has to be ‘rendered’ – created from a template, and that takes CPU power in the SAP back-end, separate ADS server or cloud service.  Sometimes this can be quite intensive; it depends on the technology.  But, however the PDF is rendered, it is taking computing power that isn’t required when there is no PDF.

SAP database
Once you’ve generated the PDF you often store it, in the SAP database or a separate document server.  A single PDF doesn’t take up a lot of space, but you don’t have a single PDF, you have thousands.

Email server – outbound
SAP sends the output to the outbound queue of your email server.  And that server processes the output and stores it.  Larger outputs use more processing power and more storage.

The email is sent over the internet to the inbound email server – again, the larger the file, the more power required.

Email server – inbound
The recipient’s email provider / email server now processes its inbound queue, saving the email in its database.  Once again, larger outputs use more processing power and more storage.

Transmission to email client
Many of us read emails on mobile devices, and to get there the files travel over wi-fi or data service.  Larger files take up more bandwidth.

Email client
Each email is stored on the recipient’s multiple email clients – outlook, phone etc.  The recipient might file the email in a folder, and might separately file the attachment somewhere.  So, a 300KB PDF file might easily take 900KB of storage across the recipient’s devices and file servers.


At every stage of the journey, the email with a PDF attachment is more costly to the environment than the ‘pure email’ equivalent.

Given the new commitment to a carbon-neutral future, in a short space of time, we will find this approach archaic, and as astonishing as printing and posting.

And of course, this is just one small step.  Sending one email without an attachment won’t make a difference. But how many attachments does your system send every year: Ten thousand? Ten million?

And now, in 2022, can you justify the additional computing power required to send PDFs?  You won’t notice a cost difference of switching to pure email, but there will be an environment difference, for you and all your business partners.  The resulting usability greatly improves too.

If you outsource your SAP output production, do you insist that your supplier does not render and send PDF?

If you have a commanding position in your supply chain, do you insist that your customers and suppliers never send you emails with PDF attachments?

The bottom line is that implementing Floe enables you to remove PDF attachments, so it helps you reduce your carbon footprint.  Now, given that information, do you choose to ignore it or take action?