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Join Us at the SAP MFG Conference

Thanks to a fortunate turn of events, I will be in Las Vegas for the SAP MFG show.  I’ll be working in the Titan booth, talking about JaveLLin service management products and looking to make some friends.

Please stop by and say hello next week if you happen to be at the show.

Thanks for reading,

Adding an Action Box Item to a Notification

Here’s the full process to add an item to the action box.

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Define Action Box

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Select: Define Follow-Up Functions (Generated Tasks/Activities)

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Find your notification type, and double click on Activities.

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Pay attention to the Code Group/Code listed below.  This code group needs to be assigned to a follow up function.

Green arrow back to SPRO

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Select: Define Follow-Up actions for Tasks

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Select: Define Follow-Up actions for Tasks

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Select Define follow-up actions

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Select an existing item, or create a new one.  Double click on Function modules

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Add or review the function module listed.  Save and green arrow back.

Next we need to assign this to the code on the action box entry.

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Select Maintain Catalogs

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Select Edit Catalogs

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Enter in the catalog for Tasks (default = 2)

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Find the code group and double click on Codes

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Find the specific Code and add the follow-up action you added above.

Save.

Now test your action box.

Thanks for reading,

The 8 Forms of Capital – Spiritual

This form of capital is a little more “out there” for me, mostly because it is very hard to quantify.  The idea behind spiritual capital is connection to religion or spirituality.  My own beliefs are cloudy at this point, so I had a hard time grasping this until I started to think of the some of the other things I’ve heard through the years.

The “Law of Attraction” is almost a spiritual form of capital.  If you aren’t familiar with the law of attraction, it basically says the universe will bring you what you think about, well at least opportunities for it 🙂  It simple idea is to think about what you want in your life, do NOT think about what you DON’T want in your life because the law of attraction doesn’t understand a negative 🙂

The best word that summed this capital up for me was karma.  The idea of what goes around, comes around.  All of these pieces fit into spiritual capital.  So, what do you believe?  do you believe everything happens for a reason?  do you find the good in things?  do you believe that god or something is looking out for you?  if so, then you have spiritual capital.  Make use of it.

thanks for reading,

Intellectual Capital

Recently I talked about there being 8 forms of capital that everyone has access to, but often we don’t even realize it.  The first form is Intellectual Capital.  This is probably one of the most obvious of the forms of capital.  This is most commonly known as knowledge.

This means that the things you know are often as good, or better, than money.

Now, knowledge won’t directly pay the bills, but it will certainly get you hired on a job.  The things you know can never be taken away from you, if you use them, they improve rather than get used up, and best of all, life gives you the opportunity to increase your intellectual capital on a daily basis.  This is often why learning is far more valuable money.

I’ve often heard people tell stories that many people have gone from rags to riches to rags to riches.  It’s pretty easy to go from riches to rags, but to do it again is often attributed to their knowledge more than anything else.  So, think about what you know, and what you need to know to order to make yourself unstoppable.

Thanks for reading,

Making the Physical world digital

Well, recently in my quest to get rid of cable TV, I’ve been setting the groundwork for using internet TV.  That’s meant experimenting with antennas so that I can still watch live sports (they work really well in the right locations, and do almost nothing in other.), solidifying the internet service, etc.  One of the things I didn’t really think about was an easy way to watch my own DVDs/BluRays.  My buddy Justin turned me on to a really cool app (when my Roku arrives) I’m sure it will be an even better channel.  It works as a movie server.  So you can just pick whatever movie I want to watch and stream it.  WOW.  so cool.

Now, with everything, there is a downside.  First off, physical disks need to be converted to digital.  Now, my point for today is the fact that we often don’t even realize how many physical things we have that could be converted to digital.  A few years back, I got in the habit of making a digital filing cabinet.  I scan everything, put it in it’s proper folder, and I can access it whenever I need it.  Traveling for work, this has saved my butt multiple times.  But, all of these things take time.  I’ve often wondered if there was a cheap service that could do it for you, or maybe I’m the only one anal enough to need all of this done.

I’m curious if anyone else does this, and have they found a good way to convert physical to digital.  I’d love to hear a better option if one exists 🙂

Thanks for reading,

How many Service Materials (DIEN) do you need?

Now when you set up your service business business, one of the questions you always begin with is how many DIEN materials do you need to run your business?  Now there are the obvious ones if you are using the lead service material model (RAS) within SAP:

Return and Repair
Field Service
Exchange

Now, you can even break this down further by warranty or some other breakdown your organization needs.  My personal take is to avoid going any deeper than the level I have above.  The further down you break things at this level will likely lead to confusion/mistakes when entering in the orders/notifications.  I typically encourage any further breakdown to be handled at a level that can change (like the accounting indicator).  If you use warranty as an example, once this is on the sales order, it’s very difficult to reverse.  So I encourage you to keep things like that out of the “rough cut”.
Once you have the main processes defined, you need to take a look at the next level.  Now, this is the  parts where things become more convoluted is if you begin to use resource related billing.  Now the trick with resource related billing (RRB) is knowing what you need to report on.  One of these days I’ll go into more details on RRB, but before you can do that, you need to understand what your goals are.  Now you can go simple, and just say labor and materials.  But what about subcontract costs?  do you need to break out travel costs?  or maybe even certain materials (ROH’s vs. HALB’s).  Keep in mind that much of your design will be based on your customer needs, but some of it should be based on what you plan to track as a business as well.

Of course, there is the alternative, and that is to use the leading servicable material (RA) model, which makes anything you repair it’s own service material.  Typically, this is my least favorite approach because it requires a constant update to the OISD transaction to allow a new material to be a service material.  The flip side is that it makes it very easy to assign a specific task list by material.

The short story is to have a plan.  You can add more in the future, but in order to handle Resource Related billing, you really need to figure out this part first.  When I talk more about RRB you’ll understand why.

Thanks for reading.

Setting a General Task List in a Service Order

One of the really nice features in service orders is the ability to default in a General Task List (routing).

If you are familiar with transaction OISD, you already know that you can assign a general task list by plant/service material.  However, one of the things I often run into with clients is that the task lists aren’t specific to a service material (DIEN), rather they are specific to a material or group of materials. For that reason, SAP is so kind to provide a user exit:

IWO10020 (I believe)

this exit lets you impose your own logic on the general task list selected for the service order.  In our case, we a looked at the material in the task list header.  If the servicable materials = material in the header of the task list, bingo, add it to the service order.

You may have other rules that are more generic, product hierarchy, material group, or whatever you use to make a general group.  This way you have the ability to create the task list one time, and have it automatically pulled into every service order that matches your criteria.  This will help your planning and save your service technicians the time of entering in this data every time.

Thanks for reading,

Number Schemes for Serial Numbers in SAP

One of the things I’ve run into a lot of issues is serialization.  For some reason, serial numbers seems to hold a special place of confusion for many customer.  Today I want to talk about the serial number number scheme.  I’ve picked this as my starting point for serialization because many of my recent projects have had a lot of trouble coming to decisions on this topic.
Serial numbers have a great starting point when it comes to numbering.  As of ERP 5.0 or 6.0 (not sure exactly when), SAP added a field called SerializLevel.

This field allows you to make the serial number number scheme unique at a global level or unique at a material level.  This subtle difference has huge implications on the number scheme.  If SerializLevel is blank, then serial number is only unique at a material master level.  To put things simply, the combination of serial number and material number is unique, but the same serial number can show up for any material number.  If SerializLevel is set to 1, then the serial number is unique across the SAP instance.  This means that no serial number will ever show up  for any other material.  SAP accomplishes this by linking the serial number to the equipment record number.  I’ll have a future post that goes into the details of serial numbers vs. equipment records.  Since every business is different, and you can often become locked into a particular numbering scheme.  The number one decision to make is if the serial number is unique across the organization, or if it can be reused for materials.

There are some things to beware of when using this functionality.  The SerializLevel field is plant dependent.  This means that you do have the ability to set this value differently across different plants.  I discourage setting this differently for the same material.  If you were to set the value to be unique across the origanization in one plant, but unique by material in another, you’ll see some very inconsistent results in the history.  I’ll go into the serial number history in a future post, but when it comes to serialization, consistency is key.

The final issue to cover when it comes to serial numbers is what I’ve heard called “intelligent” serial numbers.  When I say intelligent serial numbers, I use the term loosely.  This can be anything from adding a prefix by product to each number, adding in a manufacture date, or it could be a combination of alphanumeric characteristic that have a decoder ring to explain them.  In my humble opinion, this is a very slippery slope and should be avoided at all costs.  When you move down the path of “intelligent” number schemes, you must introduce ABAP code to accomplish this.  I believe the user exit is IEQM0003 (don’t remember for sure if this is the correct exit).  Regardless, if you start creating an “intelligent” number scheme, you must have multiple number ranges available, you need code to possibly shift from one range to the next.  For anyone that’s been doing SAP for a while, you know that every time you introduce code, you introduce risk, and you introduce additional time to implement.

The most important question to ask is “Why do you need an “intelligent” serial number?”  A serial number should be nothing more than a tracking mechanism for a product.  Requiring the serial number to mean something is a not something that add value to a product, but it does increase the cost.  Anyway, I’ll get off my soap box now.  You get the idea that I think intelligent number schemes are costly, risky and unnecessary.

I hope you found this useful.  I hope to hear your comments, thoughts, or let me know things I missed.

Thanks for reading,

ROI of Service Parts Planning

I did a post a while ago talking about the concepts and practice of service parts staging.  Well, that got me thinking about the importance of parts planning within the service order.  Now everyone knows how important it is accurate forecast your inventory levels for production.  And while it’s still a bit of voodoo to figure out what you will really sell over a coming period, you at least have some idea of what to do.  And more importantly, you know exactly what components it takes to make one unit.

Well, service completely defies this logic.  In most places I’ve worked at, there is a “small” percentage of known maintenance coming.  This is often related to service contracts or maintenance plans.  It’s predictable and you know what’s going to happen.  If you want the generic example, oil changes for your car.  You sell a “plan” for discounted oil changes for 1 year, with up to 4 oil changes.  You know that you need to plan for the oil, filter and technician time.  No problem.  You still don’t really know exactly when it will happen, but you at least can guess.  But the real bulk of most service is unplanned and unpredictable.  You hope you’re product is designed to last at least a certain time period without a failure.  But things happen.  The point is, since you have no idea what could go wrong, how do you plan for this???

This is where your service order (and to some extent you service notification) become invaluable for helping you develop your own crystal ball of potential repairs.  Your service order should always contain the material that is being repaired (that’s a given).  But if you are using it correctly, you are also loading up all the time and materials you used for the repair.  This is normally driven from a cost perspective.  But what many people don’t realize is this is building your history, if you just remember to look at it.

I’m hoping the light bulb is starting to go off out there, but if not, let me lead you a little further down the path.  If you start looking at the components used for a particular repair for a material, it’s likely a pattern will emerge.  So let’s say you have you widget, and there are components 1 – 20 used to build it.  Now, if I were to pull every service order for the past year for that widget, and analyze the components (and qty) issued to those jobs, in most instances you should see the pattern of common parts usage.  Typically there will always be the common wear components (in your car this is the oil filter, air filter, brake pads, etc…)  Things you know will wear out and need to be replaced.  But now if I take this one step further, I can start looking at the average time before these components needs to be replaced.  Now, this analysis is a lot harder, because now you need to take into account the date the components was added to the widget (this could be the production date, or it could be the last service date).  However, the information is all in SAP.

Now, let’s just step back for a second.  Knowing exactly how long a component will last is great to know…  but for our purposes, this might be more info than we need.  If we can simply look at the component usage for service over a time span, we can now “forecast” what we really need to keep in stock in order to turn around those customer issues as quickly as possible, while still maintaining minimum stock levels.  Now if you’re already doing this, my hat is off to you.  In general, I don’t see this happen in the service order very often.  For the rest of you, if you’re looking for a tool to help you get this information, check out the Renovation Service Management Dashboard.  We are currently adding several new sets of metrics/reports to this dashboard, including service component usage.  If you could use this information, we’d love to help.

Thanks for reading,

EAM Conference

Next week, I will be heading out to Denver to check out the EAM (Enterprise Asset Management) conference.  I won’t have a booth this time, but instead I’ll be out and about meeting people.  If you are planning to be at the show, I’d love to meet up with you and chat for a few minutes.   Email me and catch up.

mpiehl@gojavellin.com

Thanks for reading,