Month: July 2014

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Service Management – Service Parts Staging

It’s interesting, because as long as I’ve been doing service, I’ve always tended to be hands off on this portion of the process.  I left it to the MM or WM person to set this up.  I won’t pretend to be an expert or go deep into the configuration, but the overall process is something i wanted share.  Let’s start at the beginning.  What am I talking about when I say service parts staging?  I’m talking about the process of getting components that will be used in a repair to the service storage location so they can be easily issued to the order upon completion.  It also serves to “secure” the inventor for service.

Now, several of the things I just said, require a little more explanation, and I’ll get to them to shortly.  First, I need to digress a little and explain the 3 most common scenarios for service inventory.

1.  Service uses it’s own IM managed storage location.  Any additional inventory is acquired from an IM managed warehouse.  This scenario is the most common and the most straight forward.  Inventory can be completely managed using material movements.

2.  Service uses it’ own IM managed storage location.  Any additional inventory is acquired from a WM managed warehouse.  This is somewhat common, but still happens in the minority of facilities.  In general, WM tends to be used only for large warehouse with a large number of components.  This scenario becomes much for complicated because any time you deal with a “mixed” environment, you have to deal with material movements, transfer requirements and transfer orders.

3.  Service exists in the same WM warehouse as the inventory it may need.  While this sounds like an easy environment, it’s still a bit of a challenge because service management has no integration with warehouse management.  Now production orders can integrate with WM cleanly (at least in this scenario).

Now, the heart of the issue come from getting the parts to the service order when it’s needed.  This inevitably means that service will need stock from somewhere else.  It really doesn’t matter which of the 3 scenarios you are talking about, each presents it’s own set of challenges.  At the end of the day, we just need components in a location that the service department can access them.

Now, let’s take scenario 1 & 2 together.  let’s say we have a storage location called SERV. This will be the SLOC that service uses.  Now, the inventory that service and production both use will be in a SLOC called INVN. Now for your service parts, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if INVN is IM or WM.  To get the parts, you need to execute a material movement, like 311, and then send the pick list over to the warehouse to pick the parts and deliver them.  If INVN is Warehouse managed, just doing the 311 movement will generate a negative that can be converted to a TR/TO to actually move the parts from the bins of your choosing using LB12 or some other variation to create the .  Now, the major challenge is creating the material list to transfer, and then of course performing the actual move.  Now, the good news is that the components are “reserved” because in SAP they have moved to SERV, however the physical move still needs to happen, so it’s important to make sure the pick list gets sent to the warehouse to complete the loop when using the 311 method in advance.

Scenario 3 is actually quite a bit easier.  Since it is completely within WM, SAP provides a transaction called LP10, that allows you enter in the order and then select what bins to pull the material from, and then deliver it to appropriate service order.

As you can see, getting components to the service order isn’t as easy as it looks.  There is significant work, and this should play an important part in your blueprinting for service.  Determining if you want to deal with WM or IM in your service area is an important consideration.

Thanks for reading,

Variant Configuration – Unit Testing the model

Well, it recently came to my attention that when it comes to testing a model, it might not be obvious to everyone some of the cool tools available within in CU50.  While the seasoned veteran may find this obvious, as you learn VC there are always tricks that can make your life easier.  Today’s post is no exception.  Today we’re going to talk about the configured objects button with in CU50.  I’ll confess, this was a button that I knew little about for some time.  But of late, this has become one of the most useful testing tools when sales orders/production orders are generated.


Now, if you don’t recognize the name of the button, this screenshot should refresh your memory, even if you never knew what the button did :).


Now, this little feature is outstanding.  You can enter in a sales order or production order (material is for material variants, but you don’t need to enter this screen to see those.).  By entering this information into this screen, CU50 will bring in the complete configuration from the document, in this instance the sales order.


As soon as you hit enter, the standard CU50 screen will return, but you now get an extra Copy from: section to show you exactly what you’re copying from.


Once you enter the configuration screen, you can see all the characteristic values populated.  Now, this is especially valuable when dealing with sales relevant and production relevant items in the same BOM.  You also have the ability to see the configured routing.

While you can see bits and pieces by looking at the sales order, you often must see both a sales order and production order to see the entire picture.  CU50 gives you everything, and now you don’t even need to copy each and every value.

Hope you find this valuable and thanks for reading,


Quality over Quantity… Time for a Change

Well, a friend of mine recently sent me an article.  The basic idea behind it is for blogging, is it better to do high quantity?  or high quality?  In a perfect world, it would be both.  But let’s face it.  Most of us don’t get paid to blog.  It’s something we do in our “spare” time.  For me, it’s generate awareness of what I do, increase credibility, and maybe even attract a potential customer for my products.  That being said, I’m going to switch things up.  I’ve been doing posts Mon – Thursday for a past couple years.  Initially, I had a lot to talk about, and numerous topics to discuss.  Lately, I’ve noticed that many of my posts are just to post something.  I’m trying so hard to put out 4 topics in a week, that I don’t have the time to make them in depth, or really valuable.

After talking with my good friend Justin, I came to the realization, that if I spent the time writing one good post a week (at least that’s the initial plan), that it would be far more valuable than writing 4 posts, and would take me the same amount of time.  So to my loyal readers who look forward to my daily words of wisdom. (ha ha), I hope you’ll stick with me through this transition, and i welcome your feedback.  I do promise, that as I learn little tips or tricks, I’ll still drop in a quick post about them, but in general, I’m going to strive for greater quality, which means that it will be a lower quantity.

Thanks for reading,

Linked-In Using all those connections

Well, I signed up a few months ago with a company to help expand my linked-in presence.  They have done a great job of increasing the number of times someone searches me, as well as getting me connected to a vast number of a people.  The problem is that I now of all of these connections…  but what do I do with them?

The concept is that I can eventually get quality through quantity.  A theory that seems sounds.  However, with all that quantity, comes a great deal of “noise”.  The idea behind increasing my linked-in connections was to get me connected to people/companies using SAP.  In particular, to help me connect with the decision makers and the people that can write the checks.  Well, right now, I have no good way sort through the people that I may want to speak directly with.  I did recently find a cool option that I didn’t know about, and that is the option to tag contacts.  This is great, if my contacts had been “tagged as I went”.  Now, the shear volume would take me days to get through to tag everyone.

So, what I will likely end up doing, is searching my companies that I know run SAP.  Then for each of my first connections, I can go through and tag them.  The problem with this approach is that it still leaves all the companies I’m not aware of, thus losing me the connections I was really looking…  But like everything, I need to start somewhere.

But, if you’re connections are manageable, and you are trying to use Linked-In for business connections, the tag is a good option.  If you might have any suggestions on how to better sort my connections, I’d love to hear it.  In general, I’m a linked-in novice, so any advice is greatly appreciated.

Thanks for reading,

Where does your creativity come from?

Not long ago, I did a post, encouraging you to find out from your friends what you are truly good at.  Well, I did this exercise, and it really helped me.  But, keep in mind, it’s not everything that you’re good at.  While the people close to you might be able to help you see things you didn’t think of, rarely will they know what really sparks your creativity.  Hell, even I don’t know what really sparks it.  I’ve been reading/listening to a lot of Perry Marshall lately.  I love the possibility of going on vacation, meditating on a beach, or reading a fun book alongside the pool and having my best ideas come to me…  Mostly, I like the idea of vacations 🙂  But I just had another lightning bolt hit me tonight.  A lot of my creativity actually comes from writing.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I don’t fancy myself a writer, I don’t expect I to make my fortune writing novels.  But what has been happening is as I write, ideas start to flow.  Now, I tend to suffer from constant writers block.  I feel like I’m always struggling for something that will actually provide you, the reader, something of value.  I know how valuable time is to all of us, so if you’re going to take the time to read my stuff, I want to give you something worth your time.  I know that I may fall short, but trust me, I’m trying hard 🙂  But tonight, I saw that I needed to get some posts written before I head out of town.  So I searched through my notes, and looked for a topic that I wouldn’t have to spend a week researching.  I noticed some more ideas on the ROI that I haven’t typed up.  Those posts have been entirely off the cuff.  I truly just came up with a point to talk about, and pulled the ideas out as I started to type.  I used to think this was rare for me, but I realize that when I start to write/type, things will often just flow, new ideas will hit me (and I apologize, might often take you on a complete tangent).  But in the end, I look back and realize that I didn’t know I knew some of this stuff.

When I look at the ROI posts I recently put out, this is a perfect example.  It’s all stuff I should be using in my marketing, but I never put 2 + 2 together until I started typing.  Now my real lightning bolt moments don’t come from writing.  Those usually hit me for no reason.  I decided to start this software business one night on the airplane coming home from who knows where.  The trick for us all is to figure out when creativity hits you.  And then do more of that.

For me, I need to keep writing, and take more time off.  How about you???

Thanks for reading,


Measure your Marketing

Well, if it’s one thing I’ve been getting drilled into my head about marketing, it’s that it needs to be constantly measured.  What do I mean by that?  simple.  You need to know what works, what is driving new leads, new customers, and ultimately revenue.  If you’re sinking a lot of money into marketing for “brand recognition”, or if you’re told that you can’t put a value on the current approach you’re using, well, then you’re probably throwing your money away.  If you’re a big player, maybe you can afford to throw money at fancy ads and random billboards, but if you’re like the rest of us…  if you sink $5k into something, you better see some returns.

I’m currently at a crossroads with one of my current marketing approaches.  I really like the company, I like the people.  But ultimately, it comes down to results.  I’m 4 months into a campaign, and I can clearly see how my “audience” has grown.  The problem is that I have this huge audience of people that aren’t in my industry, will never buy my products, and likely only want to sell ME something.  The initial pitch was dead on.  You need to get quantity to get quality.  I can buy that.  It’s all about finding the right connections, and sometimes you need to take a round about approach to get there.  The problem is that after 4 months, I have 0 new prospects, most of the people at the conference still aren’t connected to me, and I’m $5k in the whole.

In order to help me gauge a little better, I just spent the night doing a little prospecting of my own.  First, I picked a company that I wanted to target.  I found all the people that might want to hear my message, hear more about my products, or might benefit from my blog posts.  All in an effort to find out if I could work my way up the chain to someone with the checkbook.

My second experiment was to work my way through the list of people I met at the tradeshow.  I have full names, emails and companies.  So it should be pretty easy to reach out to all of those.

Depending on the results I receive, will directly determine if I can afford to keep my hard earned marketing dollars flowing, or if I end up taking over this responsibility myself.  A prospect I certainly don’t want…  but ultimately could be outsourced to pretty much anyone if my instructions are clear enough.

The good news is that I don’t regret the money I’ve spent.  However, I’m really questioning the value going forward.  Especially if I can carve out 1 hour a week, and I can find the same contacts, or perhaps, I look to other ways to find my prospects.

The moral of the story.  You have to measure your marketing.  Don’t take for granted that it’s working.  Obviously, things like adwords are easier to measure, but at the end of the day, prospects, customers, dollars.  If you aren’t getting them, you’re wasting your money.

thanks for reading,

Writing an E-book – My next Adventure

Well, on top of everything else I have going on, it’s time to start one more thing =)  I was recently hanging out with my good friend Justin, and we go to talking about new ways to promote the business.  He mentioned that it might be good to look at a cheaper customer base and look at selling a small e-book.  Well, like everything in the universe, the ideas come at the right time…  and often hit you from multiple directions.  It was just the day before that I was listening to an audio program from Perry Marshall that said the same thing.  Be the person that wrote the book… literally.

Well, of course, the bad news is that this add just one more thing to my to do list, but this could be another piece of marketing gold for me…  or it could turn out like the white papers…  just another file on my HDD 🙁  Well, to be honest, the White Papers need more work, and with the feedback that I’ve received, could also work for me…  everything is a work in process when you’re small business guy.

But I digress.  So, the e-book is my latest marketing method.  Now, writing a book on it’s own sounds overwhelming, time consuming, and just plain hard.  Well, this isn’t entirely false.  However, the good news is that with all of my blog posts, I have a good chunk of material that can be converted into a book…  Like everything though, it will need a lot of editing, it will need some fresh content to go with what I’ve already given, and it will take some serious effort to make it usable.  So, don’t be surprised to see more posts about this latest adventure.  In the meantime, if you have any advise for me on writing a book, please comment on this post 🙂

Thanks for reading,

Happy Independence Day – a little early

Since I’m hoping to be relaxing a bit (as much as you can with 2 kids under the age of 4) tomorrow, I wanted to wish everyone a great July 4th.  Today try to remember exactly what our founding fathers fought so hard to provide for us.  I know, there are BBQ’s, picnics, parades, etc…  But just think back about where we might be today if those people hadn’t fought a revolution.  We could have King Obama or King Bush right now…  well, maybe sometimes it feels like that’s how things turned out anyway, but I digress.

In my opinion, what they really wanted was liberty.  They wanted the ability to do what they wanted, when they wanted to and not pay a whole bunch of money for “protection” or to fund the machine across the ocean.  And as long as that didn’t hurt anyone else, it seemed fair, after all, they were the ones risking their lives on the frontier.  So all those those traitors to the crown, terrorists, or whatever they were called back in the day, gave up everything to help start the most free nation in the world.

Unfortunately, if you look at our government today, it looks a lot like that same government we freed ourselves from a couple centuries ago.  Maybe it’s even worse, because technology increases the reach and power.  Anyway, take a minute and be thankful for our freedom we still have, be thankful for those founders that fought to give us this nation, and remember to NOT take that for granted, and don’t give away anymore of your freedoms.  Be like the founding fathers, and do whatever you can to take back your liberty.

Thanks for reading,

ABAP Web Dynpro – File Download SNAFU

Well, I just spent the better part of 20 hours hacking out my latest issue.  In my Rapier web application, one of the cool features I provide is the ability to download an output document from SAP.  Say for example, a quotation or order confirmation.  Well, I was using some fancy trick that converts the spool to PDF, then using the UI Element File Download.  Everything was great in testing.  No problems.  Then a couple weeks ago, I started updating all my documentation.  I came to do a screen shot of this and it it came out in jiberish.  It happened that I was using Firefox.  I tried it, and it worked fine on Internet Explorer, but all the other browsers displayed the text, instead of the pdf…  WTF!!!

So I did my due diligence, and hunted Google long and hard, hoping for a clue.  Nothing jumped out at me.  So, I then applied the latest support packs to my system.  No change.  Then I thought, maybe the kernel needs an update…  no change…  crap.  That burned through a lot of hours in SGEN time, downloading files, system down time, etc…  all for nothing (well, not nothing, but not the result I wanted).

Finally, last night, I decided to look at the UI Element itself, and what I was mapping to it.  I turned out, I was mapping a blank value to MIME_TYPE.  Interestingly, IE was smart enough to recognize the PDF, but none of the other browsers were.  Since all my dev work was on IE, and much of my testing as well, I missed this little fact.  As soon as I added application/pdf to that field…  magically, it began working on all my browsers again.  Woohoo!!!

Now, I hope you can learn from me again… first off, test your WDP on multiple browsers, unless you know you’re only going to support one browser.  This can’t be done in a customer facing application.  Second, MIME_TYPE makes all the difference.  It explicitly tells the system how to render the file.  Don’t take it for granted.

Thanks for reading,

Genius or Idiot? maybe a little of both :)

Just the other day, I had one of those flashes of brilliance (at least I think so).  It involved crossing over out big production product (Proximity) into the service world.  Well, instantly, I felt like I hit the jackpot.  This is one of those things that really ties our entire offering together.  Now it’s not a production product and a service product.  But it can packaged as a giant service suite.  My head began swimming with the possibilities of tieing in all my utilities that I’ve been designing, and on and on…

That’s when the other side of the coin hit me.  Why the hell didn’t I think of this sooner?  I mean for crying out loud, my partner and I had even mentioned doing this multiple times in the past.  But it was always just a passing comment, “when we get time we can do this”…  you know those comments.  That’s when I felt pretty stupid.  I mean really Piehl…  this idea has been just sitting there waiting for you pluck off the ground at your feet.

So…  once I got past that 🙂  I again began to realize that idea don’t always hit us until we are ready for them.  When we’ve talked stuff like this in the past, it was already around a feature or product aspect.  It wasn’t about the big picture.  It wasn’t about providing an all encompassing offering, making our stuff even more unified…  it wasn’t about me become more invested in both sides of the house, instead of just the developer of a production tool.

So, remember, it’s ok to feel like a moron for a few minutes.  But then come back to reality.  The ideas really do come to us when we’re ready for them.  Me, I needed more marketing knowledge before I could really see this for what it was…  A perfect way to position our entire offering to everyone.  This doesn’t take anything away from the awesome tool we made to compete with MES systems.  Just the contrary.  We now have 2 totally different customer bases to market the same product to.  Like I said, in the title…  a little bit of both…  but just remember, when the idea hits, run with it right now.  Don’t waste too much time, because when that initial boost is gone, it could get shelved along with the other things to “work on when we get time”…  which is never.

Thanks for reading,