Month: June 2015

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Warranty Claims: A Guide for Beginners

Warranty Claims General Information

For any of you that have ever configured the warranty claims for the first time, you’ll probably notice that same thing that I did.  There isn’t a whole lot of help out there on the internet.  That’s why I’m writing this article.  I haven’t implemented everything about warranty claims, but I’ve done several working models and wanted to make it easier for someone out there who might be doing it for the first time.  The Warranty Claims module I’ll be talking about is in SAP ERP 6.0.  I believe warranty claims may go back as far as 4.6 or 4.7, but I”ll be honest, I’ve only worked on tem in ERP 6.0.  Regardless, most everything I discuss in this blog will apply no matter what version of SAP you’re implementing in.

First, the basics about warranty claims.  Let’s start simple, what are they, and why would you need to use them.  Warranty claims are the SAP provided method of handling any claims from a customer or third party.  You will typically use warranty claims in any event where the reimburser (whomever is actually paying for the repair) does not do the warranty/repair work, but rather outsources the work to another party (the claimant) and pays them for the time and materials.  Keep in mind that the party that does the work can be a subsidiary of your own company, or even a regional office.  The main concept behind the claims model is that you will be paying someone else to perform the repair.

SAP has built in the option to use IDOC’s to load in many of the steps of the claim, or you can process  it all manually.  The scope of this article will only cover the manual steps, mostly because if you can do it manually, the IDOC method just is a quicker way to load the information.

Terminology

As you may have noticed, SAP has its own terminology around the claims.  You’ll notice a couple of key terms that I want to define to make your life easier.

  • Customer – this is the end user that is having the warranty/repair work done.
  • Claimant – this is the repair shop, 3rd party service center or regional office that does the repair.
  • Reimburser – this is whomever is paying the bills.

Steps of the Claim

Depending on how your claims business works, there are four general steps or segments to the warranty claim.

  • Step 1: From Claimant
  • Step 2: To Reimburser
  • Step 3: From Reimburser
  • Step 4: To Claimant

I’ll go into more details on each of these steps and what sort of information gets passed a little later.  Also, you may not need all of these steps, and SAP does a nice job of letting you control the flow of the claim however you need it to work for you business.

Claim Categories

The next big thing to understand is the general types of claims that you can configure.  Like I mentioned earlier, SAP does a great job here of letting you configure what you need, but there are 3 main claim categories.

  • Pre-Crediting – the warranty credit memo is created for the claimant before waiting for a reply from the reimburser
  • Post Crediting – the warranty credit memo for the claimant is not created until an answer has been issued by the reimburser.
  • Recalls – this isn’t so much a claim type, as it a way to group and collect claims.  A recall works like a claim “campaign” in that it allows you start one recall with the basic information and then all of the subsequent claims are connected to the recall.  A recall will not go through all four steps of the claims.

SAP provides several other out of the box claim types, but these 3 are really main ones you’ll ever need to start with.  You will generally pick one of the 3 above and copy it to get started when you do your configuration.

Getting Started

The Customer Warranty Partner Type – AS

Now before you get started really doing your claim, there are a couple of things that need to be in place first.  The biggest thing is the partner type AS needs to be configured and assigned to your sold party as a possible option.  This partner type is a hard requirement to using warranty claims if you intend to include the “customer” in your claims.  The AS partner type simply says that the sold-to party (and it must be a sold-to party to work in the claim) is eligible to be used in a warranty claim.  Now depending on your scenario you have a couple of options of how to set this up on your sold-to party’s partner determination.

  • When you define the partner type of AS, it is recommended to make it a required partner of your sold-to parties if you could be receiving a warranty claim from any customer.  If you only receive claims from a limited number of customers or if you don’t know or don’t care who the end user is, then this step isn’t needed.
  • If you do set the required flag on the partner, it is recommended to update all existing sold-to parties in order to automatically add the AS partner type.  Gui Script is a great way to handle this if you don’t have the IT resources to do a more formal load.  You really just need to visit each customer once your partner determination is set and press save.  The new partner will be automatically added.

To give you some ideas, one of my previous clients processed the warranty claim as a sort of intercompany claim.  The regional office fixes the part for the customer, the head office then reimburses some percentage of the cost to the regional office, and then the regional office credits the customer, or simply performs the work.  In this event, we wanted to capture the customer because the warranty claim was used to move dollars from the head office to the regional office and from the regional office to the customer.  Since any customer could have a warranty claim, we set the AS partner type as required and added it to every sold-to party.

Vendors – Claimants

Now for every claimant that you have in your system, it must also be linked to a customer.  It seems a little odd, but the way the warranty claim functionality works, you need a customer for every vendor that will be a claimant (service job) and you need to make sure they linked to each other.  Also remember, that the customer must have an AS partner type assigned to it, even though it is a vendor.

 

Processing the Claim

Overview of the Claim Flow

Now that you know about the preliminary pieces you need to have in place, let’s talk a little about the flow of the claim.   Below is a sample flow of how a warranty claim can look.  Keep in mind, you don’t need all of these steps, but they are available if your process requires it.

Warranty Claim Process Flow

You’ll notice this flow shows all 4 versions of the claim. Next, we’ll talk about each of the different claim versions and their purpose.  After reviewing each of the steps, you should have a good idea of what versions you need in your process, and what information you wish to collect at each step.

Version Information

The purpose of so many versions in the claim process to capture what each party is asking for, as well as what is agreed to.  For example, the service shop may be requesting $500 of labor and $250 of parts, however your agreement only covers parts.  In that event, version 2 would show $500 of labor and $250 of parts.  Version 3 would show only $250 of parts.

Now the claim can hold a large amount of information in each version, and I’m going to cover some of the high points, but please be aware, there are a lot of fields to capture as much information as you need.  You also have the ability to configure the layout and what fields are visible in each tab of the claim.

Header Information includes all the partner information, including the end customer or vendor depending on which version of the claim you are looking at.  It also includes the equipment record (or serial number, etc), it will contain a multitude of dates (much like everything in SAP) to say when the failure occurred, when the claim was sent in, etc…  It also contains several different text and long text fields.

One of the most useful features of the claim is that you can capture all the parts, labor, subcontracting and break it down in a complete list, so you can see everything that was used in the repair by your service shop.  Each item is broken down by category, qty, price requested, etc.  You also get complete pricing functionality inside of the claim including a special pricing procedure specifically for the claim type.

You can even create a service or quality notification directly from the claim (and it will be shown in the claim document flow).  One of the drawbacks, is that the notification does NOT show the claim as part of the document flow, but nothing is perfect.

Processing the Claim

The biggest thing all the version have in common is the action button.  This is how you process the claim and move it from status to status, and can create a new version depending on the action selected.  The action button is what you press at each of the claim.  When you’ve reviewed it, when you’re ready to send it to the reimburser, when you want to post a credit to the vendor’s account, etc.  Using this action button and paying attention to the status of the claim is how you will know what still needs to be done, or who should be processing it next.  This is also one of the main pieces of configuration for the warranty claim.  You can go anywhere from any status, as long as you configure it as an option.  It’ll be important as you begin your configuration to pay attention to your options, and keep in mind what you think you want your claim to look like at each step of the process.

Version 1 – From Claimant

This version is all of the information from the customer, to your service provider.  If your process starts at the end user, and you want to track it all the way through, you’ll start at Version 1.  You will typically use this claim step if your company is both the service shop and the reimburser.  One example of this is the intercompany scenario.

I recommend creating the service notification from this version if you will be performing any sort of repair.  This will allow the document flow to capture the notification, repair sales order, etc. so that all of the information can be kept together.

For this version of the claim be sure to set the partner equal to the customer.  You must use a Sold-To Party with an AS partner type.

Now, if you are processing the claim manually, be sure to uncheck the Manual Processing box.  This was a point I struggled with for a while.  If you don’t uncheck this box, you can’t process the claim to get it to version 2.  Never did find any documentation that explains this, but it sure gave me headaches for a few days while I played with random pieces of configuration and pushed lots of button before I tried that one.

Version 2 – To Reimburser

This version contains all of the information from the claimant to the reimburser.  This version will be used regardless of your scenario.  The information  is everything from the service center.

For this version of the claim be sure to set the partner equal to the vendor.  You must use a Vendor that is connected to Sold-To Party with an AS partner type.

Version 3 – From Reimburser

This version contains all of the information from the reimburser to the claimant.  This version will be used regardless of your scenario.  The information  is everything approved by the reimburser.  In short, this version is what the reimburser will pay the service center.

For this version of the claim be sure to set the partner equal to the vendor.  You must use a Vendor that is connected to Sold-To Party with an AS partner type.

Version 4 – To Claimant

This version is all of the information to the customer from service provider.  This version will include everything that is approved to be sent to the end customer.  That may be a credit to their account, it could be spare parts or could simply repairing the part under warranty and sending it back.

For this version of the claim be sure to set the partner equal to the customer.  You must use a Sold-To Party with an AS partner type.

Next Steps

Now that you understand the warranty claim process a little better, you should be in position to decide how you want to configure the actual claim.  What I recommend doing is play with the SAP standard Pre-crediting or Post-Crediting scenario, whichever is closer to what you think you will need.  Run through at least 1 complete claim and pay special attention to all of the statuses and all of the options you get with each status.  This should give you some really clean direction of what you need your claim to accomplish, including some of the steps to undo a mistake.

Re-evaluating the Business – Making a plan

My new buddy Jeff turned me onto a new book (well, it’s new to me) called Traction.  The idea behind this book is to get a grip on your business.  Well, this is right up my alley.  Lately, Perry Marshall has been talking a lot about working “on” your business, not “in” your business.  Well, I am VERY guilty of spending all my time working “IN” my business that I often forgot about the business itself.  I’m so focused on writing blog posts, adding new features, and contacting prospects, that I quickly realized that I only have a “high” level plan at best for my business.

Now over my career, I’ve often gone back and forth about my goals for JaveLLin Solutions.  Sometimes I look at it as a self sustaining business that I can move me out of the consulting world, so I can pursue my dream full time.  Other times, I get more ambitious, thinking that in 5 to 10 years, I want someone to buy me out for millions of dollars, and finally I have the idea of building a business that I could leave to my kids (this one is a bit more far fetched, since who knows if my kids would be interested… after all, my oldest boy isn’t even 5 yet.  ha ha ).

My point is that my “plan” has been vague at best.  This new book is forcing me to sit down and decide what is my plan.  As the old saying goes, if you don’t where you’re going, how do you plan to ever get there?  or maybe you’re already there.  And I know that personally, I’m not there yet.  So I need to start focusing on what I want to grow this business into.  The book is interesting, and I’m sure I’ll be posting more about some of the ideas I’m getting soon.

But you need to walk away with this thought.  What is your plan?  are you waiting on social security?  a pension?  a lottery ticket?  or do you know what your goal is and at least have a direction for getting there?  if not…  do yourself a favor and spend some time thinking about it.

Thanks for reading,

Maintaining the Website

I recently started to revamp my website (thanks Jeff).  Until just recently, I didn’t realize just how out of date it was.  That doesn’t even account for all of the things that just were not set up well enough.  But it brings up a great point.  If you have a website, how often do you update it?

Now, until recently, I know that I have barely touched mine in about 12~16 months.  I’ve gone through and added new comments on some of my products, and even added a new page for something I recently did.  But now that I look at it, it’s not nearly often enough.  More importantly, if you don’t renew your content, why would anyone come visit?  you make get the occasional new reader, or someone directed there from a link, but if you want to establish yourself as a brand, you need to make sure people want to visit.

Now, this site has had the added bonus of my blog.  That doesn’t change the fact that this site could use a significant overhaul as well, but one thing at a time.  My JaveLLinSolution.com site doesn’t have a blog, it only has my products.  And since I can’t develop fast enough to have new content on a weekly or even a monthly basis, it tells me that I need to revisit my site more often.  Even if it’s just changing some images on the home page, talking about the latest event I attended, or whatever.

Now, I’m not crazy enough to believe that people will be following my site religiously.  I’m feeling pretty lucky that I have some of you as steady readers.  But, the way I look at it, if I change things up at least quarterly, it might encourage people to at least scan the home page.  And that would be a victory to me.

My question to you guys…  how often do you update your site?  It doesn’t have to be a complete overhaul or new theme, but at least go back and revisit every page and verify the content, maybe change some text, or add a new picture.

Thanks for reading,

The evolution of consulting

It’s very interesting to me as I look back at my consulting career, and compare it to now, to see the consulting world has changed for me, and at least some of my friends.  When I first started consulting, it worked for one of the big firms.  They would send me to a project every single week.  It was my job to be onsite at the client, every week.  Remote work wasn’t even an option, except for Friday’s.  Now I fast forward 15 years, and my last few contracts have been primarily remote.  Meaning I make a visit once a month or every two months, otherwise everything is done by conference call, webex, etc.  What changed???  Was it just me?

I don’t think it was just me.  I think it has a lot to do the client becoming much smarter in how they use their budgets.  Back when I first started consulting, companies seemed to just have money to throw away.  When you figure that on average (of course this varies by location) it costs $1000-$2000 per person, per week.  Back in the day, there could be 20 – 50 consultants on a project.  Now, many of the projects I’ve worked on in the past 5 years have been 10 consultants or less.  Why is this?  in my opinion, it has to do with companies finding independent consultants with solid skills compared to 15 years ago, you let a big integrator come in with their army (many of which were learning on the job).  By getting solid skilled people, companies were able to cut down the number of people needed by a factor of 2, or in some instances as much as 10.

To follow that thought, when a proven resource was found, it was no longer such a requirement to see them in the office every day.  Especially, when week after week, the consultant was getting their tasks accomplished remotely.  So this begs the question, is there value add to spending $1000 – $2000/person/week just to have someone on-site.  There is no question that is valuable in certain times of a project, initial blueprinting, major testing cycles, and go-live.  I’ve done projects like this for the past 4 years, and each has been just as successful as any project that I traveled every week.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Is it only certain modules?  is it only certain industries?

Thanks for reading,

Service Management – Making the Service Product Section Appear in the service order

Well, thanks to Deven for this post.  He pointed out something that I really hadn’t paid attention to the in past.  If you are looking at the service order, certain orders have the service product, sales order, etc.  (in default SAP, this is the RMA section).  If you find this section isn’t showing up for your service order and you want it, you need to add a single check mark in configuration.

blog-01

Select: Credit Limit Checks, Sales Document Types for Service Orders.

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Be sure the service check box is set.

Thanks for reading,

Wanted: Visionaries

One of the revelations that has recently hit me is that if I want to really build a business, I need some ideas.  Now, here is my problem.  I’m really good with “reactionary” type solutions.  I can look at a problem using the tools I have and can come up with great solutions, but I’m in need of is someone that look forward and help guide me where to go next.  What I’ve discovered about myself is that I’m the sort of person that guide an idea to completion, but I often get caught up in managing those projects, and don’t make the time to pay attention to all of the latest and great technology out there.

I’m looking for some help to start taking my business beyond SAP ERP.  Right now I’m considering the internet of things for certain niche markets, but here again, I’m chasing the pack.  My buddy Justin recently pointed out that if you aren’t focusing on solutions that can make a 500% – 1000% difference, you’re probably chasing the wrong ideas.  With the speed of technology in today’s world, everything is changing faster than ever.  If I’m not focusing on something big, I’m one of the dinosaurs just waiting for extinction.

So if you’re one of those visionaries out there, that can see the path, or at least have a good guess, please reach out to me.  I’m very interested in partnering with you.

Thanks for reading,

Would you find it useful to see All the in-house repair information on one screen?

One of the biggest complaints I have from clients using the in-house repair process is that when I look at IW58 (notification list) I can’t see the repair sales order or service order, if they were created from the action box in the notification.  Well, I decided that it would be a useful feature to add to my Renovation product.  Take a look, and let me know what you think.

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You’ll see in this screen shot that also incorporated this into my multiple serial number functionality.  So if you just have a single notification, you’ll see the sales order number, the line item, and the service order if they exist for each line.  If you have a multiple serial number notification, you’ll see the word multiple, and you can click it and see the popup.  This will show you the sales order/line item/service order for each serial number.  Pretty slick???  I hope so.

thanks for reading,

Web Dynpro – Overriding a Column Title in an ALV Grid

Here’s a useful little tip that I just had to overcome.  In my Renovation application, I have an ALV grid of results, and some of the columns are my own custom columns.  Instead of taking the data dictionary description, I wanted to be set it to my own description.  I had solved this issue for non-ALV tables, but it seems that ALV had me outsmarted for a while.  I finally decided to solve this little headache and thought I’d show you what I found.  First off, thanks to Thomas, the web dynpro guru and all his posts.

http://scn.sap.com/thread/1385428

This thread gave me exactly what I was looking for.  It turns out that you can’t just change the text, you first need to turn off the data dictionary binding.  It’s pretty easy to do…  For me, I just needed to add one additional method call:

 l_header->set_prop_ddic_binding_field(
    property =  if_salv_wd_c_ddic_binding=>bind_prop_text
    value = if_salv_wd_c_ddic_binding=>ddic_bind_none ).

but if you're starting from scratch, check the link above to see full sample code.  
Thanks for reading,

 

Looking for a new iOS App developer

Well, unfortunately my rock star app developer I’ve used in the past has a new job, and won’t be able to support my ad-hoc projects very well going forward (I’ll miss you Paul), so I’m on the hunt for a new developer.  If you happen to know anyone that does iOS development and is familiar with using the Netweaver gateway services, please let me know.  I would need to find someone that will work on a per job basis, since it’s unlikely I will have constant work to do.

Ideally, this person will be able to iOS and Android (iOS is the starting point, but if a client wants Android, I need to be able to convert to that platform).  All of my services will be coming from SAP Gateway, so experience here is very helpful, especially since I’m far from an expert in this area, but I’ve figured out enough stuff to be dangerous 🙂

email me at: mpiehl@javellinsolutions.com if you are interested.

Thanks for reading,

 

Netweaver Gateway – Cleaning up Runtime Artifacts

Well, since I’ve been working on a new mobile app, I’ve been building quite a few new services.  I had noticed that my compile time was getting pretty long (5 – 10 minutes in fact).  I initially thought was just because of all of the services.  But then I took a minute and noticed that every time (I think) I compiled my project, I was getting several new classes (interfaces) created.  I started looking at them, and they all seemed identical.  It seems that the gateway makes these extra classes for you to redesign things.  The problem is that suddenly I had a 1000 new classes I didn’t even know I had.  So, I started hunting on the web to see what I could find.  I never did get a good explanation for all these classes (if anyone out there reading can tell me, I’d love to understand).

But apparently, this is a known issue, and the only way to clean it up is manually.  So if you find yourself with a new netweaver gateway project, take a look at your runtime objects.  It’s likely you have a big stack of trash in there.  Here’s why I’m getting rid of it.

1.  SE24, deleting the extra classes.  I did a small experiment, and it’s like doritos, crunch all you want, we’ll make more.  So I’ve been wiping out all of my interfaces, and then recompiling my project, leaving me with just the few classes I need.  I built a gui script to do this, as it was taking nearly a minute for each deletion.  Decided, I’d let it happen while I slept.

2.  if you want to remove them from the list, you need to take a 2nd step and delete them from table: /IWBEP/I_SBD_GA  I just built a simple program where I can input the classes I deleted, then remove them from the dB.  The following code is simple and take care of the issue.

TABLES/IWBEP/I_SBD_GA.

SELECT-OPTIONS:  so_name FOR /IWBEP/I_SBD_GANAME.

DELETE from /IWBEP/I_SBD_GA WHERE name in so_name.

I’m still in the middle of cleanup, so I’m hoping my run time significantly improves.  Then I can get back to the original issue of why my create attachment won’t compile… but I’ll save that for when I have an answer 🙂

Thanks for reading,