Month: September 2013

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Development – Be prepared for a long weekend =)

Well, not that long ago, I got a really exciting text from my partner.  He had a presentation on Monday (he sent the text on Thursday night).  AWESOME.  But (why is there always a caveat?), the prospect is on an old version of SAP (older than any system I’ve built since I started this adventure.)  Yikes!!!

Well, what do you do in this situation?  One, get out front of the customer.  I had Mike make sure to explain that their system is on a version that we haven’t tested WMigo on (or any other app for that matter).  Next, I had Mike check to make sure all the standard SAP functions used in the application existed in their system.  While this isn’t a guarantee, at least it told me if we would be immediately disqualified.  He did a quick check for me, and found out they all existed.  So far so good.  But now is where the fun came in.  On Friday, Mike explained that their business was looking for some things that weren’t originally incorporated into WMigo.  Namely functionality around quality inspections, or good receipts from production orders/purchase orders.  These are all good things to include, but having a demo on Monday, and it was already Friday immediately made me push the panic button.  Luckily for me, I was able to defer some of the stuff that Mike requested until version 1.1, but there were still things that needed to be added before Monday.

So, with a late night on Friday, I was feeling reasonable confident.  Mike was working on the presentation, everything looked good.  Saturday night arrived, my wife went to bed so I walked up to the office to check on Mike’s progress.  That’s when things got ugly.  Unfortunately, the functionality that Mike intended to demo hadn’t been tested.  He assumed it was all there, and didn’t try it.  So we worked till 4AM, bug hunting, adding new functionality, and just generally enhancing WMigo to give Mike what he needed for the demo.

While there’s no better form of motivation than a time schedule, I’m hoping to avoid this in the future.  I learned a valuable lesson.  I need to find out up front exactly what functionality needs to be shown to the prospect ASAP.  That way I can make sure I can run a quick test, or let my partner know that I don’t really know how that part works (in this case, much of the functionality was round PS, a weak point for me), so I could’ve turned it over to him to try it immediately…  not wait an extra 2 days.

The moral of the story, even good news comes with consequences, and like any good boy scout, make sure you’re prepared for anything (even an all nighter).

Thanks for reading.

Marketing – Looking for some Help

Well, based on some feedback, and just a general knowledge, I’ve learned I need some help.  So I’m sending out a distress signal for a marketing professional, or a recommendation from any of you.  Here’s some of the stuff I’m looking for…

1. Website Re-design.  We want to give it more of a professional look and feel.2. Website Content.  This is the most important one to me.  I want to take our content, which I think has plenty of substance, and mold it into landing pages that will convert to leads, sales pages that will convert to demo’s, etc.  In short, I need the sort of person that can turn our website into a lead generation website.  Right now, well, I don’t know what it is, aside for a good amateur attempt.
3. Direct Mail.  I’m looking at moving into the direct mail, for a change of pace in marketing.  But that means I need solid design, graphics, content, etc. to make a compelling postcard to send to someone to convince them to opt-in to our site, and request a demo.
4.  Logo design.  This one is more optional, but it would be nice to have a logo for each of our products, even if it’s a simple logo.
5.  Last but not least, help to integrate our marketing.  We want to make the direct mail, website, autoresponders, newsletters, etc. all have the same look and feel, so they can work in conjunction with each other.

I’ve been learning bits and pieces from the Remarkable Marketing Blueprint, and now I’ve stumbled upon Perry Marshall’s Basic Marketing Course (that I just started, so I have a long way to go).  Short story, I at least have some ideas of what I need, but I know I don’t have the expertise to pull it off on my own.

So I’m asking my audience, any of you out there that can help me with some or all of this or recommend someone that can, please get in touch with me.
Thanks in advance,

Business – Free Samples in SAP???

Hello again to all of my faithful readers ( I always keep hoping there are more than 4 or of 5 of you…  but I’ll take what I can get).  Today I’m back in the realm of marketing again…  and today I’m wondering about an idea that hit me a few days ago.  The concept is “Free Samples” of our products.  I’ll explain more in a minute…  but the idea is that we’ll give you the program for a limited time, and then the program will stop working, unless we provide you a support pack to unlock (which presumably, is when you buy it from us).

Now, I’m curious what you think of the idea.  The concept is very simple (yet tedious for me the developer).  I add in some code that exits the program after XX days.  You sign a legal document pretty much saying that you’ll use our application for it’s intended purpose, this is not for production, and you can’t copy it…  blah blah blah.  Then (in my mind) the customer falls in love, see how great our stuff is, and how excellent our service is, and buys it (along with all our other applications).  =)

Now, onto my questions for you.  First of all, would you ever see your company, or anyone you’ve worked with take this model?  would your organization be willing to apply code in their sandbox before they buy it?  If so, how long would they need to play with it?  (remember if it’s more than 3 shakes…  wait…  never mind, that’s something else).  Is 90 days long enough?  and do you go 90 days from today, or 90 days from installation?

Now the ethical question.  Perhaps I’m too trusting, but I have this belief that potential customers won’t copy my code into their own programs, and then say, “no thanks”.  But is a risk.  Do you think it’s likely that our apps will be pirated?  or do you believe that customers will pay for it if they like it?

Are there other risks I’m overlooking?  I’d love to hear you thoughts.  And thanks in advance.  I really do appreciate you being my sounding board.  Thanks for reading.

Service Management – External Email on Notification Change

This one goes out to my loyal crowd out there.  I’m looking for a better way to do this, and I’m not sure it exists.  I have an open notification, and I want to be able to notify a particular partner type (with an email assigned) upon certain changes.  We’ll keep it simple, and say a status change.  I want to send an email on notification change to this partner, but so far it appears this can only be done with a user exit.

Like so many thing in SAP, I’ve seen a ton things to accomplish this using actions in CRM, but my world is ERP, so it often means I need to do things the hard way =)

Now I know very little about workflow, so perhaps it’s possible, but that seems like a rather large up front cost in comparison to a little bit of ABAP.  But maybe I’m missing something.  If any of y’all might have a good option, I’d love to hear it, or if you’ve had to do this yourself, I’d also like to hear from you.  This hasn’t been a common request in my career, but it does seem to be popping up more and more often.

Thanks for  your advice, and as always thanks for reading.

Adwords – The Harsh Reality

Well, if you remember, I recently got started with Google Adwords.  I thought I was doing ok.  I was getting some clicks, spending some money, but getting no results =(  obviously, this is bad.  I recently talked to a marketing professional, that took a quick look at my site, and hit me with reality.

My landing pages sucked.  He gave me what he called a “$10,000 piece of advise”…  shut Adwords immediately.  He said the way my landing pages were designed doomed me to failure.  I was never gonna get any conversions with the current setup.  He told some simple tricks, that I’ll share with you today.

1.  Tell your visitor what you want them to do in the first page, without any scrolling.  If you want them to sign up for something, contact you, or just click for more information, don’t expect them to scroll and scroll to find that call to action.  You need to show it right up front.

2.  If you’re offering a newsletter, an E-Class, a whitepaper, or whatever, explain why they should sign up right up front.  People aren’t going to sign up for some nebulous offer…  not in today’s world of spam and junk mail.  They need to know why they NEED to sign up for your stuff.

3.  If you have a contact us link at the top of your site…  explain why they want to contact you.  If you’re like me, you’re not offering tech support or something random on your site.  You want them to contact you for more information.  You’re building leads.  Well, the average user needs a reason to click on something.  Be sure to give it to them.

4.  Avoid using stock photos, especially if you can use photos of yourself at work.  If you have pics of you at a client, or on the job, add those instead of some random models in a conference room.  It adds credibility and increases trust.

All that being said, look for some major revamps to the website coming soon.  Anyway, that my learning things the hardway lesson for today (too bad it costed me nearly $1000 in adwords…  but better now than after $5000).  Thanks for reading.

Variant Configuration – Block QtRq in the requirements

You know, I get this question about every 3 to 6 months, so it seems like  a good thing to blog about…  So here’s the deal.  Like everything in life, it’s a trade off.  When you DON’T check the Block QtRq you want the material blocked to ensure the most accurate availability of items.  When I say that, it means that the material will get locked instantly, so if inventory is going to be consumed, no one else can consume at the same time.  Now the drawback of this is that everyone else will get an error if they attempt to configure the item.  If you check Block QtRq, you open up the item so multiple people can be configuring the item at the same time, but you run the risk of inaccurate availability dates.


If you look at the configuration screen it seems like such a simple little check box.  But there is always to much confusion that goes along with it.  Just to be thorough, here’s what SAP says about this field:

Both of these methods work and are acceptable.  What you need to determine is the business risk of “possible” availability snafus.  By that I mean, you could try to configure 2 similar items at the same time.  Both will see available stock and capacity, but for example, let’s say one major component has 1 item left in stock, and it is 2 weeks before more stock arrives.  If you don’t lock the material, then you could run into the case where both configurations attempt to consume the part, and both will give you a promise date of Friday.  When in reality, one could be done on Friday, the other will take 3 weeks.  Now you may have to go back to your customer and explain that you can’t deliver on Friday.  In some industries, this is no big deal because they have additional lead times built in or 98% of the time have plenty of inventory to turn these types of items around, in other industries, if the inventory situation isn’t strong enough, or the lead times aren’t adequate this could lead to unhappy customers.
Everyone asks, what should I set the Block QtRq to?  I always have to apologize and explain I can’t answer the question because it all depends on your customers and your business processes.  There is risk in unlocking the material, but only your business organization can determine if the risk is worth the reward.

Hope this makes senses and thanks for reading,

Basis – Setting up SAPConnect

Well, yet again, I’m off in Basis land.  While I haven’t been able to get this completely working, but setting up SAPConnect is certainly required if you want SAP to send you any emails.  Part of my issue may with my own mail provider, but I’m still playing, so expect another post when I finally figure it out =).

In the meantime, here’s what you need to do:

Setup SAPConnect

1. In transaction SAPconnect: Administration (SCOT) choose View -> System status.
2. Choose Settings -> Default Domain.
3. Specify your default domain and confirm. For example, “”.
4. In the Administration screen, double-click the SMTP node.
5. Check the box “node in use”.
6. Specify the mail host for SMTP. For example, “”.
7. Specify a mail port. The default port is 25.
8. Choose “Set” (for “Internet”).
9. Enter an asterisk (*) for “address area”.
10. Choose Continue.

These steps are the hardcore necessary steps.  The following steps are nice add-ons and don’t hurt to do anyway.

Schedule the periodic background job to send queued e-mails

11. Call transaction SCOT.
12. Choose View – Jobs.

The SAPconnect Job Administration screen is displayed.

13. Choose Job – Create.

A dialog box is displayed.

14. Specify a job name.
15. Confirm.
16. In the next window, select the variant SAP&CONNECTALL.
17. Choose Schedule job.
18. Choose Schedule Periodically.

A dialog box is displayed.

19. Specify a time period.

For example, 10 minutes.

20. Choose Create.

Nothing too difficult, but certainly valuable =)
Thanks for reading

Variant Configuration – Stock Transfer Order

Recently, a friend of mine came to me with a question about using a configurable material on a stock transfer order.  Now I’ve never actually tried to do this, so I had to do a little research of my own.  In my experience, the only way to accomplish this was always using a material variant.  I was going through my head, thinking of my past projects and trying to remember if I’ve encountered this before.  The closest I came to is very first job.  But there EVERYTHING was a material variant.  So that didn’t help me =)

However, when I’ve played with this at previous projects, the result always ended up the same.  Anytime you attempt to “stock” a configurable item there are always issues.  The concept of an STO is similar to a purchase order between 2 plants, only you get to skip the sales order.  The problem occurs because there is no linkage between a purchase order and supplying plant (MRP) even though you use special procurement keys.  So even though you might generate demand, you’ll have issues pulling the BOM and Routing because the configuration doesn’t get passed.

So, in general, the only way to accomplish the “stock transfer order” concept using a configurable material is to either 1.  use a material variant 2.  Create a purchase order for the configurable item in the “requesting” plant and a sales order for the same configuration in the manufacturing plant.  Neither of these options are ideal due to the amount of data that must be created on both plants.

I guess that’s the price of VC.  If anyone has a better approach, I’d love to hear it.  This certainly doesn’t seem like the best option.
Thanks for reading,

Basis – Can’t get your Email out of Waiting in SCOT?

Well, in one of my latest development activities I needed to send an email from my web application.  Now this isn’t as hard as I thought.  I’ll talk about that in another post.  What I have been having a hell of time doing is getting the email to send from my system.  Like everything Basis related, it’s always a challenge for me 🙂  Today is no different.  I’ve got emails that were getting into the SAPConnect queue, but were stuck in waiting status in SCOT.

Well, thanks for other pioneers that have gone before me, I was able to learn that there is a simple fix for this.  It all has to do withe time zone of the system.  Another little piece of data that I never thought about.  The time zone of your SAP system defaults to CET, while this doesn’t seem like a big deal, if your user has a different time zone set, then SCOT could take hours before the system clock reaches your time zone.

You have two options.  One, you can change your user timezone to match the system timezone.  Depending on what you have control over, this is certainly the easiest option.  Option 2 is to change the time zone of the system.  Since I control the system, I went for option 2.  If you’re curious, go to SPRO –> SAP Netweaver –> General Settings –>Time Zones –> Maintain System Settings.

So, if you find that your email messages are stuck in SCOT, check your time zone.  It could be a simple fix to an annoying problem.

Thanks for reading.

Marketing – What would it take for you to recommend?

I’m on a theme, and since I can usually count on my good friends for some great comments (I never thanked y’all for the comments on focusing your time, so Thanks Jer & Justin, it really helped).  But now my theme is…  what does it take for you to recommend someone or something?  Of course this is a loaded question, but I’m looking for my sales force among my readers and friends.  Why?  well, it’s simple.  I can’t afford a sales team right now, and everything is based on “commission”, so if I have to pay big bucks, I’d rather pay it to my friends…  which is what I consider all of you.

So that being said, what would it take for you to remember a company or a product well enough to recommend it to your boss?  your client?  your previous client? etc…  I always hear that cash is king, and one my good friends Jeff reminded me of that a while ago.  I initially put out a campaign saying that I’d give anyone 5% of the sale if they referred me and someone bought my stuff.  Well, he pointed out that 5% doesn’t mean anything…  if they don’t go to the trouble to see that I sell a product for $50, or $50,000, well %5 is a whole different meaning.  So he encouraged me to pick a dollar amount… a big dollar amount, and I said ok…  $10,000 if you get me a sale (and by that, I’m only looking for a lead that turns into a sale).  Sadly, I only got one response, and I was never able to talk to the lead…  so that got me questioning…  what would it take.  If you’re reading this right now, what would encourage you to recommend or at least give me a name of someone that might be interested?  Is it a paid vacation somewhere?  Is it $10,000?  Is it $20,000?  is it 50% of the sale price?  or is there any amount that could get you to pimp something for me or anyone else for that matter?

Now I know that every person is different.  For me, if I had a friend doing this, I’d do it for nothing more than some reciprocity in the future.  so…  what’s your number?  how well do you need to be connected to the product before you’d be willing to say, “Hey Joe, have you seen this product?  I know you do this stuff, think it might be a fit for you?”.  Would you have to be a user/buyer of the product before you’d ever talk to someone else?  Or is it something you personally would never do unless it was your own business/product?

Again, I’d love to hear from you guys out there.  Don’t even lock yourself into an industry.  Just tell me what it would take for you to direct someone to a product…

Thanks for reading.