Month: April 2014

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Variant Configuration – Using the SCE Debug

Well, a while back, I did some posts about different ways to debug in the IPC.  THere was one more way that I never talked about, mostly because I hadn’t been able to get it working on my machine.  Using the SCE Debug as a tool is a great way to test your models on a local machine.  While it won’t contain all the same information as doing it online, it does give you the opportunity to play with your model without being connected to SAP or even the internet.

The modeling happens in R/3 as usual. If something is to be tested in IPC, a runtime version has to be created. This is of course the same pre-requisite for the IPC running in VMC of ECC. However instead of calling the report to publish the runtime version to VMC’s DB, you download it, using transaction CU36. It will download the whole KB into flat files. The flatfiles will then be imported into a (local) database. This process is executed by a simple batch file. After the flatfiles are imported, the RTV is available to SCE.  For more information on this, see my previous posts.

Select from the menu Trace–>Trace Settings.


In the dialog you can select an appropriate input level for filtering out some details (if wanted). 9 will show everything, which makes sense for a trace.

Select from the list of modules, for what you want to receive log entries. They are as follows:

Module Description
DDB Dynamic Database. This is the memory of the inferencing engine, storing all facts about the current configuration state.
PMS Pattern Matching System. Constraints are considered declarative. This means in opposite to procedural coding where everything is executed line by line, constraints describe a status and will be executed in any undefined order if their pattern is fulfilled. The pattern usually exists of an object declaration as well as a condition. The pattern matching system is responsible to find those constraints, which patterns are fulfilled.
CSTR Constraint. This is useful for figuring out for example in combination with DDB, how a constraint influences facts.
RULE Rules. (If used) Mainly used in Advanced mode as monitoring rules
CFG Configuration
SCND Selection condition (good for troubleshooting existence or missing items on a bom explosion). See super bom.
PCND Precondition. If used. It is strongly recommended not to use any preconditions.
PROC Procedures. This option makes most sense in combination with DDB, seeing which modifications happen.
FUNC Functions
TABL Variant Table access

Table 1 “traceable engine modules”

Very typical and useful settings are DDB,CSTR,PROC. Eventually SCND if the bom explosion is to be verified.

After selecting the options, you can do any modification directly in the SCE UI. With each selection / modification, you see traces being updated in the lower part of the window:


The trace area is not very powerful regarding functionality like search etc. The right click menu allows to clear or to save it to a file. It is however possible to select all entries with ctrl + A, copy the traces (ctrl + C) and paste them into an external editor, such as notepad++.

One of the biggest benefits of using the SCE over using IPC is if you want to see the initial logic being executed, you activate the trace and create a new configuration session (with the white paper icon in sce).  The IPC will automatically execute the initial logging before you can begin the simple trace, so often this will help you find problems within the initial execution of your dependencies.

As always, Thanks for reading,

Service Management – Using the Installed Base

I recently decided I wanted to understand a little better how the installed base works within in ERP 6.0.  I certainly found some things I liked, and some things that were disappointing.  For any of you experts out there, perhaps you can tell me if I’m missing something in configuration (I looked, and found nothing).  So, let me tell you about my finding…

Transaction: IB51 allows you to create a standard installed base.  you select your type of IB and simply press enter.  Here is a sample screen shot of a quick IB that I put together.blog01-01

What I like is the ability to add most any type of object into the installed base.  I can add straight materials, equipment, functional locations, Documents, Text or even other Installed Bases.  Very cool, because it can truly be a repository of most anything you might have at a location.

Now, it got even a little more cool, when I looked at transaction IB61, this allows me to copy from a sales order or a production order and bring in the items automatically into the installed based.  A very handy tool.

Now, for the con of the Installed Base.  The number one thing I was missing was the ability to assign partners to the Installed Base.  I have become a big fan of attaching partners to equipment records, functional locations, notification etc…  suddenly not having that option left me feeling a bit naked.  You can assign a single address, and probably work some hokey methods to tie text to a partner number.  But why not just integrate the option.  Oh well.  It could be worse.  In addition, installed base does not fix the issue of having to manually maintain everything when something changes.  So, just like the serial number hierarchy within the equipment record or functional location, if you make any changes, you have to manually do the adjustment in the installed base.  The most common example I run into is that a customer sends back a piece of equipment and for one reason or another, a new unit is sent to the customer and the old number remains at the plant (or gets scrapped).  You must manually go into the installed base and make the swap if you want to keep things accurate.

Overall, it’s not bad functionality, if only I could assign partners to it.  If you know what I’m missing, please comment on this post.  I’d love to know 🙂

Thanks for reading,

Variant Configuration – SCE UI Load KB

Well, since I’m on a roll, figured I might as well show you how to load the KB into the SCE UI within your local database.

The first step is to make sure that you extracted the latest files from CU36 (see my previous post for details on this).

Now, here is where you need to do a little work.  In your IPC installation directory (and I use the word installation loosely, since it was just a zip file with a bunch of files).  So, what needs to happen is to copy all the flat files into the ..\db directory (for me, there was an intermediate folder, so for me it ..\db\temp\ to hold all my flat files.

Now, one additional step that I needed to do was copy the file sce_import_meta_data.sql from the ..\lib\scripts\ directory and place it in the ..\db\ directory (notice that even for me, it was not in the temp directory).  Now, I also needed to rename this file to be: import_meta_data.sql

Once this prep work has been completed, go the ..\bin\KBAdmin.bat


Verify your DB settings (see my previous post on the SCE if you need more details on how to set this).


Use the menu:  knowledgebase–>upload


enter in the location you used for the flatfiles (see above for more details).

Press Start Upload.

When it’s done, you will now have the DB populated with the knowledge base you loaded.

When you know what to do, it’s pretty easy…  but this took me a few hours of experimenting to figure out what to do… =)

Thanks for reading,

Variant Configuration – Creating the Knowledgebase

Well, now that you know how to get the database setup for the SCE UI, you need to work on creating the knowledgebase.  This is pretty straightforward exercise, but it does require a few transactions to perform the whole process.  Let’s walk through what you need to do.


We start with Transaction: CU31 to create the KB object.


Much of the information is just descriptive, so set the status and give it a description.  THen press the profiles button.


Again, these are just names, so name the Profile and give it a description.  Then press enter.


Now, we finally get to some real data.  I typically enter in the KMAT material, but you could do it by class and class type.  Add a description and then save.


Now that you have a knowledge base, you can create the runtime version (RTV).  Go to transaction CU34.


IN this screen, we set up all the vital stuff, including what plant the BOM should be looking at, if it’s a production BOM or Sales BOM, etc… Also, a very important field is the valid from date.  Remember, that KB’s and RTV’s have no concept of engineering change.  This means that the valid from date is VERY important for your process going forward.

After you enter in the info, I encourage you to check.  Press the syntax check button, and you will receive a report of your model.


My model is very simple, so everything is green.  If anything is yellow, be sure to pay close attention.  This could cause you issues within the SCE/IPC.  The question mark to the right often has good information.

Finally, green arrow back, press generate, and you have your RTV.

The last step is just to download the flat files.

Use transaction CU36

Enter in your KB and version, then press the export button.


The only field you need to be concerned with here is the Path.  the rest only applies if you are using R/3 or CRM as the your SCE installation.  For my purposes, I’m focusing on the offline database only.

Hit the green check and you’re ready,  Next post I’ll talk about uploading the flat files into the SCE.

Thanks for reading,

Variant Configuration – Installing the SCE UI in a Local Database

Now, I struggled with this one for a while.  I was able to get the IPC 4.0 files that include the stand alone version of the SCE UI.  I recently learned that in all the versions after 4.0, this option is no longer available.  So, to me, 4.0 is still a premium, just to be able to do the offline testing of a model (especially for someone that periodically travels on airplane.  ha ha ha).  Anyway, after some digging, I was finally able to figure out how to get this installed.  If you’ve read my previous posts on the SSC installation, you’ll remember that you need SQL Server on your local machine in order to make this work.   Please refer back to this post if you are having issues connecting.

Now, the first thing you need before you can do anything is set the system variable for JAVA_HOME.  If you aren’t familiar with this, following the next couple of steps.
Right click on my computer, and select properties.  If you are in windows 7, click the advanced system settings, and press the environment variable button.




The variable name needs to be: JAVA_HOME

the value is the path on your hard drive to get there.

Now, once you have this, you can move on to the harder pieces.

The next thing you need to do is locate the files for the ipc, and go to the /bin directory.  This will have a bunch of batch files.  The first file you need to execute is:  admin.bat


The first screen, you can leave this defaulted as it is.  This would be more important if you wanted to connect directly to R/3 or CRM.  Go ahead and press Next. and then Next again, since you don’t need to worry about security on your local machine 🙂


this screen is where all the work comes in.  Press add to add a new connection


Now, all of these values will come from the SQL Database you created.  See SSC installation for more details.  Be sure to create a new database, I called mine IPC.  Then populate all the other values.  The Port you can accept the default, for Client, you can just use 000 since it’s local.

Finally, make sure to highlight the new DB you added, and press the Create Tables button.  Then press save.

I’ll take more about this soon, including how to upload a model into the stand alone database.

Thanks for reading,

The “Sabbath” – It’s not just for religion

Ok, many of you know that I’m a bit of a self-improvement junkie.  I’m always looking for ways to make myself more productive, a better person, better husband, better father, successful entrepreneur.  Well, I started listening to something new a few days ago.  Well, you start watching a movie or listening to something to and just start nodding because they are telling your story?  Well, that’s the sort of moment I got this morning listening in my car.  As I type this, I even have the excited butterflies in my stomach…  that usually means I’m onto something pretty good (or I had too much caffeine.  I hope it’s the former 🙂 ).

Well, this is something I got from a Perry Marshall program.  The special guest was named Steve, and he started talking about how hard he works, and he eventually started to feel hollow.  The business was growing, he had more work than he knew how to finish, along with his full time job.  Well, this pretty much describes me perfectly.  So, I’m nodding along, listening, and wondering how can I fix myself from this same problem.  Well, this program has a bit of a religious spin to it.  I’m not an overly religious person, I spent a lot of time in Lutheran school as a kid, but I had fundamental “challenges” with organized religion, and I’ll just leave it that.  Anyway, Steve started talking about the Sabbath…  well, I remember that one, it’s Sunday right???  turns out if you dig into the true definition, it just means rest…  but a very special type of rest.  It’s a rest that you have to give one way or a another.  You can voluntarily take the rest, or it will take you in sickness, disease, burnout, numbness, etc.  You get the idea.  So it starts to hit me, that I’m always on…  I take a couple hours a day off to play with the kids, or maybe work in my garden…  but generally, I’m doing something all the time until I can’t think straight again.  So it hits me…  I need a Sabbath…  now, I haven’t figured out how to accomplish this yet…  but the crazy excitement I’m feeling is my inner voice telling me I need this…

Steve actually gave a great example.  A bow has to be unstrung, or it become less effective and weaker over time, until it finally breaks.  Well, looking back, my bow has been strung tightly for far too long.  How about you? are you burning the midnight oil?  do you find yourself in perpetual motion…  maybe you need a “sabbath” too…

Thanks for reading,

Variant Configuration – Material Variants Visible in Sales Orders

I just discovered something interesting that I never noticed before.  During some testing for an upcoming go-live, one of the people in our team noticed that in an plant that uses the material variant, but doesn’t produce it, you can see the configuration within the sales order.  The configuration is completely grayed out, so no changes can occur, but still behavior I didn’t realize.

This little tidbit has some interesting side effects and possible benefits.  The first and most obvious is that your order entry person can easily see the configuration of a material variant if they want to see what options are select.  Now, one of the key things to keep in mind, if you want this behavior, you now need to maintain the characteristics and values in all plants.  This is always a mixed bag in my opinion.  Typically, I encourage clients to only maintain the material variants in plants that produce the material.  The reason is that for any changes to VC logic that impacts the characteristics and values needs to be updated in every material variant/plant combination.  This can quickly become a big data nightmare if you have many plants and variants.  If the number is manageable, it’s not such a big deal, but it is an extra piece of data to maintain.  It also means that you need to be careful if you need to have any plant specific logic incorporated within your materials (again, you hope to avoid this whenever possible in the model).

The short story, it could be a mixed blessing to have Material Variant information available within the sales order.  Potentially valuable, with master data maintenance repercussions 🙂

Thanks, for reading,

Motivation – Avoiding the Letdown after a big event

Well, right now, I’m struggling a bit with keeping my high energy going after the big conference.  It’s now been over a week since I got back from Vegas.  The conference was great, we got a lot of solid leads…  but with so much work going into the conference, it can be hard not to slack off a bit.

So, leading up the conference, I was focused on getting the website converted to our new format (check out and let me if you have any feedback on the new site), and I was focused on a web dynpro version of Production Execution, and the IPad app for the Production supervisor, getting a new SAP system up and running to allow fast access of all our applications…  All of that effort, kinda left me a little burned out.  Then of course, I’m a bit of an introvert, so having to be on 100% of time during the show really takes a lot out of me.

So, what I’ve found is that it’s quite alright to take a week and ease back into things.  Go to bed at a reasonable hour every night, just work till you get tired, or take care of the high priority tasks, and let the secondary tasks slide for a week.  the important thing to remember is that you can’t let things slide forever…  so keep your to-do list up and running.  Focus on the high priority tasks, and when you feel a little more charged up, go back to your “normal” schedule.  For me, I’m hoping to ramp up this coming week and be rolling at 100%.  The conference gave me some big new things to start working on, but I need to start small.  I also just finished a great marketing book.  I’ll talk more about that soon…

Have no fear, more technical stuff is coming, it’s just been a long couple of months.  ha ha ha.

Thanks for reading,

Marketing – Updating the Autoresponder

Well, I just recently spent a few nights updating my existing auto-responder course for Service Management.  I thought it would be a quick win.  Afterall, I was trimming out most of the lessons that no one looked at anyway.  Well, it turns out, that I need to pay more attention to the auto-responder than I have in the past.  Let me walk you through what needed to happen.

First, I copied all the existing web pages to a word document, so it would be easier to edit offline.  Crazy, but this is a lot more effort than I originally expected.  I needed to do it anyway, so I could grab a lot of the content that will become a series of E-Books anyway, but sometimes just pulling images from the webpage is a major hassle.

Once I had everything in word, then it was proofreading, updating the content to sell better.  Namely, trying to pitch this more a higher level audience.  Like I mentioned in previous posts, most of my stuff was geared toward my peers.  Great to build my reputation, not so great to generate sales 🙂  So that meant I needed to rework much of my content, remove the low level configuration.

After finishing all that, I needed to update all my web pages (my auto-responders all link back to web pages in my site).  The reason I do this is to see how many people are interested enough to open the email, and then how many click to my site to read the whole deal.  It helps me gauge how good my copy is to entice people to read the whole thing.  Then, of course, I ran into a new obstacle.  Using Optimize press meant that I lost all the good looking formatting for my class.  So I needed to recreate each page, just to have a logo, title bar, etc…

When I finally finished all that fiasco, then I had to head back into Mailchimp and rework all that content.  Mostly easy, but then I realized that the extra content I had in my surrounding my teaser copy.  So I had to make sure that each of my pages was consistent and accurate.  Especially since we’ve rebranded some of our products.  Short story, just re-tooling my auto-responder burned a good 25 hours when everything was done.

So, with all of that, if you want to check out the finished product, I’d love to have you sign up 🙂


Thanks for reading,

New Trends – SAP invests in Field Service

While initially, I was afraid this might be bad for me, it’s anything but.  The trend that SAP is working toward is all CRM Service Centric.  While this may be the latest and greatest, our target audience is still the small to midsized companies.  Many of them don’t have the resources to switch to CRM service.  This works perfect for me.  My self service portal can be a perfect compliment to the portal SAP has for CRM, and likewise, the Field Service application I’m currently building will do the same thing for SAP’s app that works off of the cloud/CRM.

I saw a presentation that went over the whole range of stuff that SAP is working on/just released in regards to mobile apps, web apps, and let me tell you, it got me excited.  Especially, if I can capitalize on this trend.  So, watch for more posts on the future Field Service application from JaveLLin, I’m already hyped up about it 🙂

thanks for reading,