Month: November 2012

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Variant Configuration – CU60E – Uploading to a Variant Table

Hey everyone, I figured it was about time I drifted back to VC for a while.  I’ve been posting about business and service a lot lately, so here’s a little tidbit that has come in very handy for me.  Often time when you’re loading in a variant table, there can quite a few entries.  So SAP built in a pretty little cool utility.  It’s CU60E.  The only problem with it is that isn’t intuitive exactly how it works, so here’s how you can make use of it.

1.    The characteristics in your file must be listed in the same order as they appear in the variant table.

2.    The file must be saved in a ‘;’ delimited file (Use CSV, and then do a find a replace).

3.    Validate the CSV file to make sure there are no quote marks included.  If there are, they need to be deleted.

4.    The upload should only be done for the initial load of the table.   When it runs, it wipes out the existing contents, and uploads the file.  You cannot append to an existing table using this transaction.

If you follow those 4 simple steps, you’ll be able to upload to any variant table using CU60E.

happy configuring!

Remember, if you need any help with variant configuration, service management or production planning, please use the contact us button above, and let us know how we can help,



1.    the variant table.

2.    The file must be saved in a ‘;’ delimited file (Use CSV, and then do a find a replace).

3.    Validate the CSV file to make sure there are no quote marks included.  If there are, they need to be deleted.

4.    The upload should only be done for the initial load of the table.   When it runs, it wipes out the existing contents, and uploads the file.  You cannot append to an existing table using this transaction.

Inspection Characteristics – How to Add to a Material

While testing my software applications I often run into new pieces of master data that I’m not familar with.  Not that long ago, I had to learn how to assign Inspecting Characteristics to a material (so they would show up in a production order).  Since my blog is also my searchable notebook, I thought I’d share it with the world =)  Please note, this approach isn’t the only way to do this…  but for my testing, it works.  Feel free to experiment further.

Step 1.  Make sure that the material master has a quality view and you select Inspection Setup:  Select inspection type 03

Step 2.  Create a Master Inspection Characteristic (MIC)

Go to transaction QS21.  You will need to probably create a few MIC’s.  First we will create a Quantitative one.

Enter in the plant and press enter

Enter in the info shown above (you can enter more, but consider this the base amount of data).  Hit enter or press control indicators

Hit enter after filling in the above data

Enter in the above data and press enter.

Now press the Quantitative button and enter in the above data.

Enter in a catalog and press enter.

Save it and you’re first MIC is done.

To do a Qualatative Characteristic

go to QS21 again and enter in the plant

Fill in the above data and press Control Indicators

Fill in the data and press enter

Fill this in.  Press Enter and Save.

You now have 2 MIC’s.  Feel free to create as many as you want/need.

Step 3.  Add the MICs to the routing

TXN CA02 to pull up a routing.  enter in the material and plant.

Go to the Operations you want to add it to.

Highlight the operation to add the characteristics to and press Inspection Characteristics

And badda bing, badda bang, badda boom, you have inspection characteristics loaded into your routing.

Next time you make a production order, you’ll see these.

If you need more help from us, just press contact us above, and we’ll be happy to help you,

Thanks for reading,


Service Management – Using IW72 to monitor the Service Order List

How about another simple tidbit on service order.  Using the Service order List.  You can use IW72 or IW73 (if you only want to display).  Now if you notice this screen has a LOT of options.  It gives you an incredible amount of control allowing you see only what you need to see.  The top portion lets you limit if it’s Outstanding, In Process, or Completed (TECO).  In addition, you can control by dates, numbers, customers, etc…  This is highly valuable when you have a lot of notifications and multiple people processing them. 

Once you have all your selections in, I encourage you to save it as a variant.  No sense in reinventing the wheel.

Next up, press execute and let’s see the results.

Now, by default there are always set fields that will be displayed.  If you’re not aware, there is a huge catalog of fields that you can display.  Priority, start and end dates, status, etc…  Pretty much anything you want to know about about the service order aside from long text.  Just press the variant button, add the fields you want, you can even save sums and sorts.  Maybe I’ll do a reporting post to show you the fun parts of ALV in the future.

Now, on top of all this, you can also select a group of orders to Release (green flag), TECO (checkered flag).  If you use the menu option:  Order–>completion–>complete (Business) is also an option.

For most clients, this is a great tool out of the box.  Occasionally, customers need a fancier work list, but most times, IW72/IW73 is more than sufficient.  However, if you’re looking to gather true metrics, I recommend checking out our Service management Dashboard: Broadsword.

Well, it’s a nice easy lesson for today…  but for no point in frying your brain today.  I’m sure you’re busy thinking about Christmas shopping anyway =)

If you need some Service help, press the contact us button above and let us know how we can make your service business better,



Service Management – Service Order Number Range

Here’s a simple little post that I often forget, so why not add it to my notebook (or to everyone else, my blog).  Whenever you create a new service order type, you must remember to set the service order number range.  Relatively easy, but it does work a little different than setting the number ranges in SD, so I thought I’d run you through it quick.  Here’s where you go in configuration.  (the shortcut is txn: OION)

Select configure number ranges

Then press Edit Groups

Now once you are here, scroll all the way to the bottom until you find the section called Not assigned.

if you see any order types in this section it means they have not been assigned to a number range (I know, rocket science, right?)  So, press click on the order type and press the select button.  Then scroll up to the number range you want to assign this order to.  Click the check box in front of it, then press the Element/Group button.  Viola…  (if you don’t see the number range, you’ll have to back up to the previous screen and check the intervals.

Now, the biggest thing to remember with all of this is that if you transfer the new order type, you most likely haven’t (and shouldn’t) transport the number range assignment.  Number ranges are one of those all or nothing type transports.  So, in the new client, remember to repeat these steps to avoid shortdumps =)

thanks for reading, and as always, if you need Service management or Variant configuration help, click the contact us button above and let us know how we can be of service,


Happy Thanksgiving

This is a just a quick post to wish you and your family a great Thanksgiving.  I’ll be taking the next days off, so no new posts.  I hope you’ll be taking the next few days to enjoy time with the special people in your life.

For me, it’s a chance to reflect on how thankful I am for everything I have in my life.  I’m thankful my great friends, many of whom I just don’t see often enough anymore, my wonderful family, most of whom will actually be at our house starting today.  Wow, it’ll be crazy.

I’m thankful for my awesome son, who cracks me up on a daily basis.  I’m thankful our coming soon addition is healthy and I look forward to meeting him/her in just another 6 months (holy cow).  I’m thankful for my loving wife, who generously puts up with my obsession in this new business venture.  God bless her, because I doubt I’m easy to live with =)

I’m thankful for my new company and my new partner.  Together, we’re going places…  we just need to keep plugging away.  Thanks Mike…

And I’m very thankful to all of you.  Until recently, I didn’t think anyone was reading this stuff.  However, I’ve been comments from a lot of you, and I have to say, it makes me feel pretty good.  First, that I’m not doing this for nothing, and second that you spend your valuable time to read my ramblings =)

Anyway, have a great holiday, and I’ll be back on Monday.


Service Management – Service Order Release Strategy

One of the decisions I often see customers struggle with is when to release the service order.  So I thought I’d give you my opinion on the service order release strategy that I’ve seen and give you some good information to consider before you make your final judgement.

Now, the biggest dilemma I hear is do I release it automatically, or do I wait.  My answer, like any good consultant, is it depends.  The biggest factor that anyone needs to consider in this choice is, do you care when the requirements move to MRP.  What happens is when a service order is released, any planned components will show as a demand in MRP.  Well, if you’re not ready to work on this order for another 2 months, in my opinion, you don’t want the demand going out for the parts as soon as it’s created.  Now, if you’re using all of your dates correctly, and have outstanding capacity planning figured out, you can probably avoid this.  Most places I’ve worked at are not that sophisticated, and don’t have the resources to maintain that level of planning for service.  In those instances, I encourage you NOT to release the service order automatically.  You can control that setting in the service order type configuration:

simply make sure this box is unchecked.  The other cool thing is that you can decide on an order type basis.  So perhaps for your field service or plant maintenance orders you do want them released automatically, but perhaps for your service exchange or even in-house repair orders, you want to manually control this.

As a rule of thumb, I generally set it to be NOT released immediately, unless it is for a Field Service Order Type.  This allows the service planner to review the order, set the dates properly, make sure the correct components have been called out, and decide if it should be added into the queue…  or this one should wait because there is already a backlog of more important service orders to attend to.

Using the system status, it is easy to see what is not released.  Simply look for CRTD to see the unreleased orders.  If it is REL, it has been released.

I hope you found this interesting.

As always, if you need more help in service management or variant configuration please use the contact us button above and let us know how we can help.

I’m also on the lookout for new topics to blog about.  if you have suggestions, please comment on any of my post,

Thanks for reading,


Challenges of the First Sale

Hi again,

For those of you that follow me, you know that I’m trying to launch my SAP Add-on Applications business.  Well, if you remember, several months ago I announced that my first sale was pending.  Well, it is still pending, and I just wanted to relay some of the challenges I’ve encountered, and some lessons I’ve learned based on my experiences over the past few months (I know, crazy the amount of time it can take for customers to truly decide to buy).

Everything started a couple years ago when I worked at a client, and the need for a service dashboard first popped into my head.  As it turns out, one my clients that consulted for was interested in my dashboard.  Imagine my excitement.  Someone wants to buy what I’ve put nearly 6 months of work into (at that time, since it’s been even more.  lol).  Sweet…  so I scheduled a demo, everyone liked it…  then I waited…  I emailed to check in to see if there were questions I could answer.  I always tried to not pressure my prospect, so I’d just drop an email every 2 weeks or so to see if there were questions i could answer, or anything that would help them decide if my dashboard would be a fit.

Eventually, I get an email that says my prospect is interested…  Now I’m really excited.  So next begins the negotiations on price.  Well, my first piece of advise, set your bottom price you will accept, AND STICK TO IT.  I failed this first test.  When the prospect came back and gave me the price they thought was fair, it was $5000 less than my bottom line.  What did I say?  “OK”.  What should I have said…  “I’m sorry, but for we can’t possibly sell something for less than X”.  Ok…  so I dropped the first ball, but whatever, I got my first sale, and I just need them to sign my paperwork.  Oops.  I don’t have any paperwork.

So, next mission is come up with all of the terms and conditions.  Luckily for me, I at least had the legal portions of this that I got done a while ago.  But, I still needed the specific purchase agreement document.  Lucky for me, I’ve been a consultant for a while, so I know all about contracts.  I also had my SAP paperwork that had the agreement for my partnership.  This made a perfect starting point, so I quickly put it together, ran it past my partner.  We hashed out the details we could live with and quickly sent it over to my customer.  I’m giddy as a school girl.  I can see my first payday for all the effort that I’ve put into this venture.  I’m already planning my next product that I’m going to sell to this prospect…  it’s awesome.

Well, more waiting…  roughly ever other week, I’d finally get some feedback from the prospect.  The first round was a lot of changes, to both the legal document and purchase document.  So, first order of business is getting my lawyer to look at it and make sure I’m still protected, and won’t lose my software based on the wording from the prospect.  Within a week, I hear back and have my answers.  So I do my markups.  Now the purchase agreement is where the trouble came in…

Now, keep in mind, I’m still excited, this is my first sale, and I can’t wait to make it happen.  But, I start reading the markups and I get a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I vent for a few minutes to my partner, and then calm down.  The prospect is now requiring free training.  Well, it’s a report…  who needs to be trained on a report???  anyway, we decide that training isn’t being given for free.  We’re already selling this at a 60% discount (a  lot lower than I wanted).  Then, the payment terms are suddenly 1/2 now, 1/2 after implementation.  the problem is that implementation from our side is a 1 day event.  But, suddenly 1/2 of the money would be withheld until the prospect decided to implement and receive their free training…  Ugh… Then to top it all off, our business model (and everyone that I’ve talked to who does similar software) charges a yearly software maintenance agreement or licensing for a number of users.  Either way, it’s residual income year after year.  The prospect said no… we don’t want that.

So, I start with my first round of compromises (all of which benefit the prospect).  I did hold firm on no free training.  But I gave in, and say 1/2 up front, 1/2 after 2 weeks…  I made the SMA optional, and I even discounted it… something we originally agreed we wouldn’t do.  And we gave in on most of the legal points…

Two more weeks go by, and we get the next revision…  pretty much asking for more.  Training is required.  and the payment schedule of 1/2 up front, 1/2 after 2 weeks wasn’t acceptable.  We compromised again.  We gave in the training, and said 1/2 up front, 1/2 after a month.  It’s a report, takes 5 minutes to install.  No configuration is required…  so anything more than a week…

Still not good enough…  at this point, I have stopped compromising.  I’ve already agreed to more than I should have, and the possibility of getting the 2nd half at some arbitrary date in the future, was more than I could accept.  So I sent the paperwork back one last time, nothing additional offered.

So, after all this… what did I learn above all else?  Be willing to walk away.  If you keep giving in, the customer is going to keep asking for more.  It’s no one’s fault but my own.  I don’t know if my prospect will sign or not.  And I’m ok with it.    Don’t get me wrong.  I really want the sale, but I’ve already got to a point where making this sale is no longer a financial win for me.  I know this was long winded… but I wanted to let you know that the sale isn’t everything.  Even if it isn’t a physical product, there is still a point where the sale isn’t worth what you’ve given up.  So, stay firm, and don’t get too attached to that sale.

As always, learning things the hard way so you don’t have to =)

thanks for reading,



Managing your Time – Avoid Getting Overwhelmed

Hi everyone,

Today I want to talk about something that is hitting me dead square in the nuts.  Time management.  For my friends, they know that I tend to be a little of a driven personality.  I see a goal, and do everything possible to meet that goal.  it’s a good trait…  as long as you can manage your goals 🙂  right now, I’m looking at all the things I have on my plate, and starting to realize that I just can’t keep up.  let me give you an example.  Currently, I’m a small company, so that means I wear MANY hats.  Right now, I’m working on doing a major overhaul to our new product Proximity, I’m trying to write 5 blog posts a week, I recently finished my first autoresponder class for SM, I have my “day” job that takes 40 – 50/hrs a week (a lot more hours than my previous couple of contracts).  On top of that, I have marketing materials for my current products that need to be created, web pages that need to be added, and I still need to maintain the day to day business paperwork.

When I read the couple of sentences, it really doesn’t sound that bad.  But then I look at my to-do list (BTW, I still recommend Remember the Milk if you don’t already have a system), and it’s up over 20 items every day.  What does that mean?  it means i can’t keep up with the schedules I’ve set for myself.  It’s becoming a good day if I can get my list under 15…  and I’m ecstatic if I can get it under 10.  Accomplishing everything, just isn’t happening.  that means, I haven’t estimated very well, and I’m fall behind. there’s a very simple solution to this…  I need to re-evaluate everything I’m working.  Is it reasonable to do 5 blog posts a week?  is starting a new auto-responder course worth my effort right now?  What am I losing by not having my marketing materials up to date on my website?

Now, for me, I often have a hard time admitting that I can’t accomplish it all.  But I’ve been running at this rate for the past month, and I’m working till 1AM every night and then getting up at 6:30am every morning to start again.  No one can keep this up forever (at least I know that I can’t…  I’ve already noticed I’m cranky and have been getting more headaches).

So this post for anyone out there trying to get stuff done…  Focus on the most important tasks first…  but if you have too many tasks and you’re starting to notice you can’t get anything done…  it’s time to put some things on the back burner.  it doesn’t mean it won’t come back… but it’s important to hit the most vital tasks, and do them right.  then come back to the other tasks when you have the time to devote to them.

Hope this helps you out,



Putting together my first Autoresponder

For those of you that know me, you know that I am far from a sales/marketing type person.  I’m an engineer/computer programmer.  So this journey of sales and marketing has been a challenging.  My friend Justin and I have been doing this on-line program called the remarkable marketing blueprint.  All of the information is solid, and useful.  The hard part as been trying to apply it to what I do.  I’m not really a writer, or a hard-core blogger.  I don’t sell small products or services for the masses.  I do highly specialized service and applications for a LARGE computer program.  What I have found is that there is more in common than I ever expected.

Because of that course, I actually took the time to put together my first auto-responder course.  Sounds easy right?  just spew out stuff that know by heart, and drop it into mail program.  Well, for me, that was hardly the case.  In order to try to make the content worthwhile, I spent a lot of time coming up with the topics to talk about, getting screen shots and collecting all the relevant data to the subject.  In short, I spent about 10 times longer building this than I expected.  Don’t get me wrong, I would do it again.  Even sharpening my skills (and like so much of this blog) it’s a notebook to remind me how to do things if I forget =)

Well, I’ll touch a little on the technical side as well.  I chose to build a web page for each of my E-Course Lessons.  I then did a small email with the first paragraph or two from the auto-responder with a link to the page.  I did this for 2 reasons, and my thinking may have been flawed.  So if anyone reading this actually knows how to do this stuff, please feel free to give me some constructive criticism (go easy on me…  it’s my first time).  First, I wanted to get people to my website, so they could see everything I had to offer, including the blog, newsletters, and of course my products.  Second, Mailchimp has this really cool feature that tells me if anyone clicks on a link from my email.  This gives me a heads up if anyone is actually reading the stuff, or if just getting the emails.

So far, I have about 4 people that signed up.  You have to start somewhere 🙂  if you’re interested in learning how to improve your SAP SM, give it a read.  You might just learn something,

thanks for reading,


Service Management – Bringing in a General Task List

One of the really nice features in service orders is the ability to default in a General Task List (routing).

If you are familiar with transaction OISD, you already know that you can assign a general task list by plant/service material.  However, one of the things I often run into with clients is that the task lists aren’t specific to a service material (DIEN), rather they are specific to a material or group of materials. For that reason, SAP is so kind to provide a user exit:

IWO10020 (I believe)

this exit lets you impose your own logic on the general task list selected for the service order.  In our case, we a looked at the material in the task list header.  If the servicable materials = material in the header of the task list, bingo, add it to the service order.

You may have other rules that are more generic, product hierarchy, material group, or whatever you use to make a general group.  This way you have the ability to create the task list one time, and have it automatically pulled into every service order that matches your criteria.  This will help your planning and save your service technicians the time of entering in this data every time.

Hope you found this useful,

As always, if you’d like more help in SM, please contact us.  We will be happy to do anything we can for you.