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Merry Christmas

I hope everyone has a great holiday and spends their time enjoying friends and family.  I know that’s what I’ll be doing.  I’ll be taking some time off from the blog until after New Years.

Please enjoy the rest of the year.

Thanks for reading,

 

Design – How do you exceed your customers expectations without going overboard?

I’m neck deep in my latest design for the call center/customer.  It revolves around the concept of enhancing the service notification to be more function AND easier to use.  So, I was beginning to look at the selection screen.  I could model everything that current SAP transaction does, or I could just do a subset of those that I believe are the most widely used.  So this led me to the dilemma of how much is enough to exceed my future customer’s expectations?

I could spend my time adding in every option available, knowing full well that 90% of everyone out there doesn’t use most of them…  but then they are available, just in case.  Or, I could add in the bare bones, and have to scramble when a customer asks why a particular field isn’t available.  So, where do you draw the line.  I’m still a sales and marketing novice, so I often have to default to my friends for guidance.  First let me tell you what I think…  and then I’d love to hear if you have a different opinion…

I used to go down the path of add EVERYTHING. Afterall, I’m already in there doing it, it’s just a little more time, a little more repetition, and a few more entries in my tables.  However, I’m realizing that the more time I spend on tedious work like that, the more time I’m NOT spending on the really big pieces that I need to design.  For example, this product will have a big enhancement to the way that repair sales orders are generated.  It’ll give a company a lot more functionality and flexibility, and make life a lot EASIER for customer service.  I could spend my time getting that designed and fully tested… or I could add a few more fields for selection that will likely never be used.  So I’m going done path B…  because I can always add more fields later.  It won’t take much effort, and might actually cut down on some of the extra pieces I add that will never be used.

Thanks for reading,

Service Management – Enhanced Notifications

Well, over the weekend, I had a little free time, and I wrapped up the first piece of Renovation.  The enhanced notification creation.  It was actually a refreshing break to walk away from writing specs and actually get back into coding.  I’m pretty exciting, because a few week back I had the idea to leverage all of the work I did for Rapier, which was designed to be an out of the box Customer Portal for service management.  Now, I’ve taken that to the next level.  It still has all the pieces for the cusotmer portal, but now I’ve added in the ability for it to be an internal tool, which looking back, is probably a much better place to start.

It’s designed entirely in ABAP Web Dynpro.  So that makes it available without an SAP GUI, you just call up the URL, and give it a shot.  Among the biggest advancement is the built in creation of “multiple serial numbers” in a single notification.  Notice, I put that statement in quotes, because if you go into the backend system, there is a parent notification that you give to the customers, and then X number of child notifications that house each individual serial number.  But it works like a create with reference, including building in the document flow, and it copies all of the pieces you want (If I missed any, just let me know and I”ll be sure to add them).

One of my biggest questions is if this needs to be an ERP transaction, given my business. Having the web app seems like a plus when deaing with the call center/customer service, but maybe if they are used to entering in notifications, I’ll need to provide action boxes to do the same thing.  I’d love your feedback…

If you’d like to see what I have, go checkout this url for firefox and safari:

win-erp.paperstreetenterprises.com:8010/sap/bc/webdynpro/jvs/rapier_1100

then over on the left side of the screen, select create a notification.

currently, it seems to be working best in firefox and safari.  it also works in chrome if you use this extended URL:

win-erp.paperstreetenterprises.com:8010/sap/bc/webdynpro/jvs/rapier_1100?sap-ep-themeroot=&run=N#

for internet explorer, something has recently changed, and I’m having trouble getting it to run.  I can only assume it needs another support pack update 🙁

Thanks for reading,

Variant Configuration – CUUPDMV material variant update

It always amazes me how I can learn something new all the time.  I really thought I knew most of the Variant Configuration tricks, but today I learned new one.  it’s a standard transaction in SAP to update the configuration of the material variant.  Lately, I’ve just used GUI scripting to handle the task, because it was the best way I knew of to make sure all the change pointers continued to reset the BOM and routing properly.  Well, today a collegue of mine showed me this transaction she found online…  so of course, I needed to check it out a little closer.  This transaction is pretty slick.  You can update a bunch of MV’s at a time, you can hit all of the plants it’s been setup in, you can even do it by KMAT and get all fo the MV’s.  Quite impressive, since I’ve got used to maintaining a list of Material variants and plants to update.

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Just a note, be sure to uncheck “Only Display Selection” if you want it to be updated.  I’d prefer if that was labeled test mode, but since it isn’t, treat it like “test mode”.

Thanks for reading,

Service Management – Multiple Serial Numbers on a single Notification

If there is one thing I can say that seems to be requested the most often from the call center, it’s the ability to add multiple serial numbers to the same notification.  All too often, a customer calls in and has 5 (or maybe 500) units they want to send in for calibration, inspection, or damage.  Well, in SAP, you don’t really get that option.  At least not if you want to have any sort of traceability on those serial numbers.  I’ve talked to some of my fellow SM friends, and typically, the best that can be done is creating a lot of notifications.  You can tie them back to a single notification that you can give to the customer…  but it’s a lot of data entry.

So, for this reason, we’ve built this functionality into our Renovation product.  What we do is give you a single screen interface to create a notification (we even let you customize exactly what fields and where they go on the screen), and we give you the option to enter in as many serial numbers as you want.  Then, in the background we create the master notification, then we create one “child” notification for each serial number.  Using the reference functionality, we keep everything connected in document flow.  This gives you complete tracking and history, without manually creating a notification for each serial number

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If this sounds like something useful to you, checkout Renovation.  We are working to build a simple application that can be used both by your customers to enter in their own notifications, as well as make life quicker and eaiser for your customer service group.  I’d love to hear your feedback.

Thanks for reading,

Clearing Buffers – /$SYNC

I just learned a new trick.  I updated one of my columns to be longer, and for some reason SE16N just wouldn’t recognize the change no matter what I tried.  So I pulled up my friend Google, and did a search.  I quickly learned that you can clear the buffers by entering in:

/$SYNC

into the transaction code window.  Magically, everything worked 🙂

Thanks for reading,

Warranty – How do you keep them up to date?

Something I noticed a lot, is that when it comes to warranty, it can be very hard to keep this date updated in SAP.  You have the equipment record, which houses your start and end dates, and the rest of the system is great at using this data, but if you want to add information or update something, you have no choice but to go the equipment record and manually update it.  If you have a solid workflow process, and the people to do it, this isn’t a big deal.  But how many times do you repair a product, add an additional warranty( say 90 days for your repairs), but no one ever goes back to update the equipment record.  Now if the customer calls back, it appears it isn’t under warranty, and now someone needs to jump through some hoops to keep the customer happy.  All the while, it’s just a matter of master data.blog01

Because of this, we’ve enhanced our Proximity Service Execution product.  We added the TECO flag, but gave it additional functionality (that of course, you can turn on or off), that will allow you to enter the start and end dates of the new warranty and get the equipment automatically updated.  Now it’s that easy to keep your data in sync.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this new enhancement,

thanks for reading,

 

Service Management – Copy Partner from Sales Order

Well, I just stumbled upon something interesting.  I’ve been banging my head against the wall trying to figure out why my Sold-To party would not copy to my service order.  I don’t remember ever encountering this before, but after some digging, I found there is a table called TPAER_PM.  This table defines by PM/SM partner determination procedure which partners should be copied.

Strangely, only some of my partners were selected by default for copy.  No idea why.  In addition, there is a report you can use RIPACOPY.  This report will copy all of your procedures and partners into the table.  You will still need to add an X into any column that you want to copy.  So make sure you visit SE16N and set these values if you want them copied from the sales orders.

Thanks for reading,

Choosing a Conference

Well, December is the time of year that all the conference begin to start registration, both for attendees and vendors.  The past 2 years we’ve attended the SAP Manufacturing conference out in Vegas.  The results have been less than expected. As expected, the first year was a learning year.  A rather expensive lesson, but important nonetheless.  Year two we were pretty well prepared, we walked away with, what we thought, we some very promising leads.  Now maybe it was bad luck, maybe we misread the prospects, or maybe we are talking to the wrong people.  Wish I knew the answer.

All of this got me to talking with a good friend of mine.  He’s not in SAP, so I was able to get a good answer from him, without an bias.  He started asking me about other conferences that are available, and what kind of people they have attending.  I answered that ASUG/Sapphire goes on every year.  Since it’s Sapphire, it’s likely that a lot of people in control of the checkbooks will be in attendance to see the latest and greatest that SAP wants to sell them.

Well, the light bulb went off in my head, that maybe I need to change venues…  So started doing some research.  There are some definite drawbacks to doing Sapphire vs. MFG.

Cost:  ASUG/Sapphire is 40% more expensive.
Booth:  ASUG/Sapphire you get a “cube” which looks roughly to be a 5×5 closet space.
Focus:  ASUG/Sapphire brings in people from every area, many of which won’t apply to what we do.

My biggest concern is that after spending all of that money, we will be in this tiny cubicle, and might be perceived as too small to talk to, or a gamble to do business with because of our size, or maybe we won’t even be noticed.  On the flip side, we only need to be noticed enough to get one sale and the whole endeavor is paid for.

I’d love to hear your feedback.  I’m sure many of your have attended conferences.  Do you skip the people in a tiny booth?  or is it true what women say, “Size doesn’t matter” 🙂

Thanks for reading,

Getting the E-Book Approved

Well, in my quest to get my E-book published, I keep learning new tricks.  Today I want to talk about the EPUB validator, http://validator.idpf.org/  This little tool is absolutely necessary if you want to get your book into iBooks or any of the other major vendors.  The idea is that it goes through and finds in-depth issues embedded in your book. I thought I had all of the pieces cleaned up, but this tool found a few more.

1.  If you use lists, going too deep (like 1, a, i), it seemed to run into issues.

2.  Very long screenshots are no longer interpreted like a PNG file.  I had several images that were a scolling web page, and it was very long.  So I had to break the image into several pieces.

The other trick that I learned is that an EPUB file type is really just like a zip file.  I’m sure many of you already knew that, but it was news to me.  The EPUB validator is rather cryptic.  The errors that it give make no sense until you open up the zipped up EPUB file, then you can see the actual issues.  Initially, I was trying to figure out how it gave you line items and weird file names.  So be sure to unzip the file if you want to solve the issues.

That’s all for today.  Thanks for reading,