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Small Business Advise from an Expert

While I was poking around Linked-In the other day, I found a great article.  It talked about the “Secrets to Winning Technology Sales“.  I highly encourage you to read this.  The article is pretty much an interview with someone that would purchase technology, software, etc.  While this is geared toward things I do, the information in the article is pretty universal.  I learned some new things as well.  There is actually a lot of good advice about how NOT to piss off a perspective customer.

I’ll keep this short and let the article do the talking.  Thanks for reading,

Does your shop floor like working in SAP?

Do your production employees have a simple work list to use?  Can they see everything they are supposed to do?  Do they know what’s the most important task they should focus on at quick glance?  If not, you are not using your shop floor as effectively as you could.  If your shop floor personnel have to ask the supervisor, or jump through 3 or transactions in SAP to figure out that information, what is the chance they will do it every time?  The name of the game is to make the system as easy as possible, so they can focus on what they do best, make stuff.  The more time they spend in SAP, less time they spend on what is really important.

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What if your shop floor personnel could log in and see this list, sort by most important at the top, and show all the information they need at a quick glance?  If you add notes to your production orders, you could also quickly double click on the X, and see exactly what the supervisor (or whomever) entered about the order.

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This also applies to serial numbers, transfer requests and transfer orders.  You can pre-configure the list in the order that makes the most sense for you shop floor, and show only the columns your people care about.  If you think this could save you time, money, and make your shop floor happier, please check out this full demo for more details.

Thanks for reading,

Do Warehouse workers like spending time in SAP?

In general, this is a pretty simple answer.  Of course not.  So why is it so complicated to move something from bin to bin, or Storage location to a bin?  If your warehouse is WM managed, there can be a lot of transactions  involved to simply move a part from bin to bin.  Between doing the initial material movement, then a transfer requirement, then a transfer order or transfer posting.  So, why would you expect your warehouse worker to be responsible for all of these transactions?

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If this describes your warehouse, then you should check out WMigo.  This a solution that combines the standard IM (inventory managed) transactions with the WM transactions into a single movement.  Check out the demo for more information.

Thanks for reading,

When do you make a new Service Order Type?

Now, this is a question that I often struggle with while I configure a new implementation for Service Management.  When do you really need a new order type, versus just re-purposing an existing order type?  There are some obvious instances where you need a new order type.  For example, revenue bearing vs. non-revenue bearing fits that bill.  As a general rule, I typically aim for 4 different service order types for a facility.

  • In-House Repair
  • Field Service
  • Exchange Order – this is optional if a company will use this process
  • Sub Service Order – this is optional if needed for many companies

Now the line becomes gray when you suddenly start talking about warranty vs. non-warranty.  In general, many companies do not know in advance if something is warranty, so generally I do not split these up.  Even exchange versus standard in-house repair is often overkill.  I only break these up sometimes to give the service shop better visibility of what needs to be handled first, because typically you want to handle the customer repairs first, the exchange items second.

I’d love to hear your opinion on this topic.  I’m actually mentally battling right now on the best approach to take.  The give and take between less orders types and better visibility for reporting and prioritization.  Maybe I’m biased, since I’ve written a dashboard of my own, but I generally drift toward less order types.  What do you do?

Thanks for reading,

Service Order Quick Change – Would you use it?

One of the things I’ve often found lacking in standard SAP is the ability to quickly change multiple documents at the same time.  Now there are some transactions like MASS or MMAM that let you change some things, but it often locked down pretty tightly at more organizations because there is too much power.  One of the places I’ve found this would be particularly useful is updating service orders by the supervisor.  Let me explain…

How often does your service supervisor have to go through 10, 20 or maybe 100 orders per day to update the service order?  It could be to assign the priority, the responsible technician, or maybe the start and end dates.  Regardless, manually opening each order is a waste of time.  What if you could have a single list of all the orders you care about, and you can just enter in the changes you want to make to multiple orders, and press execute to have it all taken care of?

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Check out service supervisor if you could use this functionality, plus a lot more.  Currently, we support multiple fields for quick change including:

  • Priority
  • Person Responsible
  • Accounting Indicator
  • Planner Group
  • Basic Start/Finish Date
  • Maintenance Activity Type

All fully configurable, so you if you don’t any of these displayed or changeable, just set it in configuration.  This is just one of the many features in Service Supervisor.  If you’d like to find out more, please check out the full demo for Service Supervisor.

Thanks for reading,

 

 

Reporting for Repair Sales Orders

If you’re familiar with SAP service management, you realize the challenge of seeing the full picture of the in-house repair process.  If you don’t what I’m talking about, you’ve never tried to see the end to end service process in a single place.  Because SAP Service Management is a combination of plant maintenance and sales and distribution, this means that you have to try to get your reporting from multiple different places.  If you want to see the time it took from creating the repair sales orders to the time the customer sent you their item for repair, how do you do that?  Worse yet, how do you find out how long it takes between receiving the customer’s item and the time your service order is released?  Because you are often crossing modules, there is nothing out of the box to give you this information.

Now you may have a great SM person, who has spent countless hours working with your BW person to create this cube, so you can get some of these metrics.  In many of the places I’ve been, that never happens.  Often service is the forgotten department, always at the bottom of the development queue.  What if you could get all the information you could ever want or need on your repair sales orders?

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What if you could all of this out of the box?  Well, you’re looking at it.  Our Service Management dashboard pulls together all of the information on repairs orders, including associated documents, status’ and when they were set, built in metrics to quickly see at a glance how many orders are open, received, in repair, and so much more.  If you use Service Management, your organization needs this kind of information.

If you’d like to learn more, check out demo of the Service Management Dashboard.

Thanks for reading,

Consolidating the Business

As I work to develop my plan for my software business going forward, I suddenly find the need to do all these little (and not so little) clean up projects.  It’s partially procrastination, I can recognize that much.  But I also find that it is a kind of a symbolic thing in my own mind to consolidate everything into a single place.

Currently I’m working with my business partner to transition the entire software business over to just me.  This requires more headaches than I originally expected.  There are the legal ramifications, like the the business address, owner, etc.  There are the financial details like bank accounts, upcoming bills, and just general budget constraints, then there is software side of things.  I believe I mentioned it a while back, but I found that I made life hard on myself a while ago creating a lot of SAP “namespaces” for all the different software packages I designed.  Well, this turned out to be inefficient because it restricted me from good code reuse, and also just makes life more difficult in the general design path.  I spent a bunch of time last week, literally copying everything over to a single namespace (‘JVS’).  This is one of those activities that certainly wasn’t required…  but in some ways it turned out to be necessary to my own mental health.  It was sort of relaxing to just be able to focus on a mindless task for a few hours a night, and know at the end that now everything is under one umbrella for the software, as well as for the business.  It helped me relax and gain a little perspective on going forward.  It also helps put my “stamp” on it, so to say, that things have just evolved again.

So I guess my point today is that sometimes it’s good to bring things together, and the symbolic gesture of it can be helpful for the soul.

Thanks for reading,

The Proximity IPad App

Hello everyone.  I apologize for the inconsistency lately in my posts.  Between soul searching and planning, I haven’t been as diligent as I’d like.  Today I’m looking for your feedback.  About 9 months ago, we created this cool IPad app for the Production Supervisor.  My problem is that I haven’t really received much feedback on it.  I would really love to hear what you think of this application.  Is it easy enough to use?  do you like the layout?  you like the interface?

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The driving force behind my request is that I’m in the early stages of designing an application for Field Service.  I’m planning on following the same sort of look and feel, but if it’s junk, or could be improved, I’d really love to hear about it before I start investing more cash in my next app.

BTW.  if you’re interested in connecting to a live system, email me at mpiehl@javellinsolutions.com and I’ll give you the address and user/password to try it out.

I really appreciate your feedback and thanks for reading,

Dealing with Setbacks

I’m not gonna lie.  I’m disappointed that things haven’t gone better this year for the software side of the business.  The bright side is that consulting has been good for me this year, and has been able to keep funding my dream of the software business.  This doesn’t change the fact that sales aren’t where I wanted or even expected them to be yet.  Which unfortunately always comes back to the big question…  “Am I doing the right thing?”

So for me, this question is especially tough to answer.  I’ve been working on this dream for going on 8 years nows (In one form or another).  Looking back at all the time, energy, late nights, and of course cash that I’ve sunk into this dream, it’s incredibly hard to consider giving it up.  On top of everything else, for those of you that know me, you know that I have a VERY hard time giving up.  My personality tends to be the brute force, keep working, try harder, learn a new skill, and everything will work.  However, I just found out that my business partner has to step away, and I can’t blame him.  However, that does mean that it’s back to just me to fund the business, and drive the sales, contact the prospects, schedule the conferences and determine what I can afford to keep doing.

So right now, I’m initially going into cost saving mode.  I’m looking for ways to trim my expenses, and do a real analysis of what I need to be doing.  But anytime something like this happens, it’s not question yourself.  After all, I’d been trying this for a long time, maybe it’s just not meant to be.  I guess self doubt is a natural part of the game…  now, how to decipher if it’s just a little bit of self pity, or if it is reality hitting me on the head with a 2×4 🙂  I guess only time will tell.

But have no fear.  I intend to keeping putting out my ramblings and tidbits here on my blog, and I think I’m on track for a mid-November release date of my E-book.

Thanks for reading,

Managing the Workload

Well, things are going along pretty well, but I recently took a look at all of the outstanding work I wanted done.  Several key pieces, I had slotted to complete before year end, so I could get them certified by SAP.  Well, it seems the calender has got away from me, and I’m creeping into the end of October already.  Now this isn’t the end of the world, and there is plenty of time, but for the first time ever, I have help doing this development work.  This is a GREAT thing, unfortunately, it means that several objects that I want to add pieces to are already under construction with one of my contractors.  My good friend Jer warned me about this, but I thought I’d have more time before it actually impacted me.

So, why am I writing about this today?  first and foremost, it is essential to have systems in place to help you manage what is going on, and who is working on it.  Now, I’m still small, so this can all be managed with a simple spreadsheet.  And Thankfully, this has helped to stop me from jumping right into my next idea, since if I did, I’d end up getting either my work, or my contractor’s work overwritten when it got combined.  So, what do I currently track:

  • Specification number & description – for those of you who are non-techy, this is just the “thing you want done”
  • what’s the status of spec – a great reminder for me if I haven’t written the spec yet.
  • Who is the developer
  • what status is the change in
  • Main object touched
  • Priority of the list

So today’s advice, is to make sure you track (and look at that tracking sheet) before you jump into something.  Don’t fall into the trap that I tend to fall into.  “I’m too small to need to worry about that yet”.  Once you have more than I person doing the same job, you need something to properly manage the workload.  You might just save yourself a big headache.  Now, I still have the challenge of getting everything done, but that’s for another time.

thanks for reading,