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Service Management – Service Order Number Range

Here’s a simple little post that I often forget, so why not add it to my notebook (or to everyone else, my blog).  Whenever you create a new service order type, you must remember to set the service order number range.  Relatively easy, but it does work a little different than setting the number ranges in SD, so I thought I’d run you through it quick.  Here’s where you go in configuration.  (the shortcut is txn: OION)

Select configure number ranges

Then press Edit Groups

Now once you are here, scroll all the way to the bottom until you find the section called Not assigned.

if you see any order types in this section it means they have not been assigned to a number range (I know, rocket science, right?)  So, press click on the order type and press the select button.  Then scroll up to the number range you want to assign this order to.  Click the check box in front of it, then press the Element/Group button.  Viola…  (if you don’t see the number range, you’ll have to back up to the previous screen and check the intervals.

Now, the biggest thing to remember with all of this is that if you transfer the new order type, you most likely haven’t (and shouldn’t) transport the number range assignment.  Number ranges are one of those all or nothing type transports.  So, in the new client, remember to repeat these steps to avoid shortdumps =)

thanks for reading, and as always, if you need Service management or Variant configuration help, click the contact us button above and let us know how we can be of service,


Service Management – Service Order Release Strategy

One of the decisions I often see customers struggle with is when to release the service order.  So I thought I’d give you my opinion on the service order release strategy that I’ve seen and give you some good information to consider before you make your final judgement.

Now, the biggest dilemma I hear is do I release it automatically, or do I wait.  My answer, like any good consultant, is it depends.  The biggest factor that anyone needs to consider in this choice is, do you care when the requirements move to MRP.  What happens is when a service order is released, any planned components will show as a demand in MRP.  Well, if you’re not ready to work on this order for another 2 months, in my opinion, you don’t want the demand going out for the parts as soon as it’s created.  Now, if you’re using all of your dates correctly, and have outstanding capacity planning figured out, you can probably avoid this.  Most places I’ve worked at are not that sophisticated, and don’t have the resources to maintain that level of planning for service.  In those instances, I encourage you NOT to release the service order automatically.  You can control that setting in the service order type configuration:

simply make sure this box is unchecked.  The other cool thing is that you can decide on an order type basis.  So perhaps for your field service or plant maintenance orders you do want them released automatically, but perhaps for your service exchange or even in-house repair orders, you want to manually control this.

As a rule of thumb, I generally set it to be NOT released immediately, unless it is for a Field Service Order Type.  This allows the service planner to review the order, set the dates properly, make sure the correct components have been called out, and decide if it should be added into the queue…  or this one should wait because there is already a backlog of more important service orders to attend to.

Using the system status, it is easy to see what is not released.  Simply look for CRTD to see the unreleased orders.  If it is REL, it has been released.

I hope you found this interesting.

As always, if you need more help in service management or variant configuration please use the contact us button above and let us know how we can help.

I’m also on the lookout for new topics to blog about.  if you have suggestions, please comment on any of my post,

Thanks for reading,


Service Management – Bringing in a General Task List

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.

Hope you found this useful,

As always, if you’d like more help in SM, please contact us.  We will be happy to do anything we can for you.



Service Management – Adding Multiple repairs on the same repair sales order

Now, if you’ve been doing this for a while, I’m sure you’ve encountered this issue.  The customer sends back multiple repairs for the same order, however, service notifications can only contain a single material/serial number.  Now, I’ve heard rumors that in EHP4 or EHP5 there is something that can be activated to allow for multiple serial numbers, but I haven’t seen this yet, and for most of us, it isn’t an option anyway.  Because of that, we resort to alternate processes 🙂

Adding another repair to the same sales order is pretty easy.  You must need to make sure you fill out 4 key fields.  Material (this is the service material/DIEN), qty, Servicable Material (this is the material you are fixing), Srv Qty (this is the qty of units you are repairing in a single service order).  That’s it.  As long as all your master data is properly setup, you’ll be good to go.

Now a couple of words of warning.  First, your notification will not track to any additional line items you enter on the repair sales order.  By that, I mean that if you do a lot of work/information gathering at the notification level, the document flow may not be reflected accurately.  This is because in SAP, the notification number is at the header level, even though the actual repairs are at a line item level.  Certainly not the end of the world, but it can be confusing, especially if you rely heavily on document flow (like I usually do).  Another point on this is if you are dealing with warranty/service contracts.  Only the material/serial number entered will be checked.  So if there are 5 items, only 1 of them will be checked automatically by the system if you do it all in a single notification.

Second, I always encourage using a quantity of 1 for every repair.  There are exceptions, but often the clients I deal with want their units back as quickly as possible.  If they send you 5, and 1 of them takes 2 weeks extra, they want the 4 that are done.  Well, if you load the qty of 5 in the sales order, that means you only get 1 service order, 1 inbound delivery, etc…  You could get fancy and split things up after the fact, but it will get messy and much harder to trace.  If you were to set up 5 repair line items, you could should them each as they are completed (or you could even do complete delivery).   The important thing is you have the option.  If the group of materials sent back are only useful as the qty 5, then by all means, do a single line.

Those are the quick ins and outs.  We are have an SAP app that does have one approach of connecting multiple notifications to a single repair sales order line item.  The drawback is that the document flow still only works from the notification.  If you are interested in learning more about it, please contact us.

Hope this was useful and as always, if you need additional help, please let us know.



Service Order Document Flow – Configuration

In a recent post, I talked about the document flow functionality.  One of the things I wanted to cover is how to turn on the service order document flow.  In the sales side, all of this information is turned automatically.  In SM, you need to manually turn on the pieces you want.  My recommendation is to turn all of these items.

First of all, this is where you go in configuration

Once inside the transaction, this is what you’ll see.

Now, I encourage you to make sure all the components you use are checked.  that’s all there is to service order document flow.

If you have any SM needs, please press the contact us button at the top of this page,

Thanks for reading,


Service Management – Understanding the Repair Procedure

One of the key pieces of the in-house repair scenario is the repair procedure.  The repair procedure simply put is the roadmap of actions that need to happen when you perform a service process.  I’m going to talk about how you can set this up and use it to fit your business process.

First thing is show you where in configuration you define the repair procedure.  The following screen shot shows you where to go in SPRO to configure the repair procedure.

Initially, select the Maintain Repair Actions.  This screen will give you the translation of what each action means.  The actions are the key in the actual repair procedure, so I wanted to show you what they look like.  Normally, this screen doesn’t need to change unless you want to add better text to the action (this will show up in the repair screen).  Some of the important terminology in this screen:

  • Send/Pickup Replacement refers to loaned equipment.   Simply put, you send the customer a unit to use while the repair happens, then they send it back after they receive their repaired unit.
  • Replacement Part – this is an exchange.  It means the customer will keep this unit (and typically return the unit they currently have to you.  then you can repair it and add it to your refurbished/spares inventory).

Alright, now on to the real work.  Next we will pull up the repair procedures.  I’m going to walk through the example of an in-house repair that allows loaners.  the next screen will show you how to get into the repair procedure.

Select the procedure you want to view (or copy in the event of creating a new one).

Now, you’re looking at the SAP logic of the repair procedure.  What you’ll notice is that everything is broken up by stages.    Remember, for each stage you can only define a single Default.  The stages are as follows:

  • 101         Accept repair: this is the actual receiving of the item
  • 102         Start repair: this is the repair of the item, or the processing
  • 103         Confirm repair: this is what happens after the service order is confirmed.

Now, if you look at the first stage(101) in the procedure below, you’ll see the following steps.  These are the steps you are allowed to do as soon as you enter in the material to repair.

  • 101         Returns                – this is flagged at Default, so that means this will automatically be placed into the sales order as soon as the repair procedure is selected.
  • 104         Send Replacement – this allows you to send a loaned piece of equipment to the customer
  • 106         Replacement Part – allows you to send an exchange to the customer.

Looking at stage 102, you’ll see the addition of Manual and Conf. populated.  Before I move on, the options for confirmation (conf.):

  • 01           Repair: fix me
  • 02           Do not repair/can be delivered: don’t fix me, but send me back
  • 03           Can be scrapped: scrap me
  • 04           Repaired/for delivery: I’m repaired, send me back to the customer.

Also note, if something is set as manual, even if 01 -> 04 above are selected, the item will not be automatically added to the sales order.  It will have to be manually entered.

Now looking at the actual data for stage 2 you’ll see that the numbers make a little more sense:

  • 102         Repairs                                 01                           : since this is 01, it means repair me, thus generate a service order.
  • 103         Outbound Delivery         02           Manual: this is the scenario  where the item cannot be repaired, so just send it back to the customer.  This is a manual step.
  • 107         Scrapping                            03           Manual:  Similar to 103, but this time we won’t even send the item back to the customer.
  • 108         Credit memo                                                     :  Create a Credit Memo Request for the customer, with reference this line item.
  • 109         Debit memo                                                       : Create a Debit Memo Request for the customer, with reference this line item.

I hope this makes sense of how to structure your repair procedure.  If you’d like more detail, please comment below.  Now for the next piece, how do I attach this repair procedure.

In the item category configuration, scroll to the bottom of the item category, and enter the Repair Procedure.  I’m not going into the details of how to select this item category (I’ll save that for another post).

I look forward to your comments,

If you need more in depth assistance on this, please contact us for additional consulting help,



Service Order – Using the Document Flow

Now in my opinion, one of the greatest things that SAP has added into the system is document flow.  this is especially true for SM.  If you’re new to SM or SD, you might not be all that familair with using document flow.  If you’ve ever visited an SD or SM document, you’ve most certainly seen this weird little icon:  .  If you plan to do anything in either of these areas of SAP, you’ll quickly realize it is your best friend.

Document flow in SAP is simply the connection to all of the preceding/follow-on documents.  In the in house service scenario, a type document flow may look something like this:

You’ll notice that in this picture I was able to see notification, the repair sales order, the inbound delivery, the outbound delivery, the invoice, and any other SD related documents.  What you also may have noticed is the distinct lack of the service order, but there is a service documents button.

Unfortunately, in the design of document flow and the table structure for capturing this, the service documents were neglected in the initial design, so the Service Documents button I believe was an afterthought.  It’s still better than nothing, and I’ll give you some tips for making the best of it.

The first big thing you need to know is, if you’re starting at an SD document (delivery, sales order etc. ) be sure to click once on the sales order (make sure it’s highlighted, and you’re good).  then press the service documents button.  This will bring up a new screen showing the service order and any of it’s related documentation.

One of the other issues I’ve encountered with document flow is the inability to see sub-service orders in the documentation.  The only way to see if there are sub service orders is to drill into the service order, and look for the structure button

You will then need to click this button to see the sub service orders.  You can then drill into the order and see it’s individual document flow.  As a follow-on to this topic, if you have a complicated doc flow, for example…


Service Order (for quoting) – Repair Sales Order
     Service order
          Sub Service Order
          Sub Service Order
Inbound Delivery
Outbound Delivery


Now with a structure like this, you again, won’t be able to see everything depending on where in the structure you are at.  For example, if start at the service order (for quoting), you won’t be able to see the actual service order used for repair.  Instead, you’ll have to navigate to the notification, and then you’ll be able to see the structure below the notification, including the repair sales order.  The way the documents are laid out above, shows kind of how SAP structures them.  Since it is a pseudo parallel path, you have to work your way up to a common document before you can see the next path.  In this example, the notification is that common document.

There is a another big thing to remember when dealing with service.  You have to turn on the document flow for many of the items.  For example, purchase reqs, material transfer, etc. must be turned on before they will generate items in the document flow.  I HIGHLY encourage you to make sure these are turned on.  Not seeing the purchase reqs, or materials issued to a service order makes your job as a troubleshooter FAR more challenging.

Now that’s the basics of document flow, and if you’re not already using it, get familiar.  For me, it’s personally one of the best tools offered in the SD/SM module.

Thanks for reading,


Service Management – Using the Notification Status to your advantage

Now in my many consulting engagements, one thing I’ve seen consistently overlooked is the notification status.  When I ask why don’t you close your notification when you’re done with them?  I always get the same answer, we don’t have the time.  Now I understand that everyone is busy, and extra steps take extra time, but today I’d like to point out why using the notification status can help your service organization.

Now, the first thing to notice is that by default, service notifications do not have a lot of status options.  For the most part, it’s open, closed (there are more if you use the tasks, but that’s for another day).  So it’s pretty easy.  There is also the ability to add the user status (another thing I highly encourage, more on this later).  So we’ve established that there are simple choices in the service notification…  but they are often not used.

Now, the whole point of this post is to tell you why you’re missing out if you don’t use these.  Just like everything in SAP, you can collect data, metrics, and lots of useful information if you just enter it into the system.  I did a post the other day talking about how companies miss the boat by either not entering, or not using the info that SAP offers.  Well, this is directly related to that.

Entering the status of the notification allows you to use standard SAP transactions (IW58 for example) as a work list of notifications that require attention.  More importantly, it can give you the metrics to see how well your call center is performing.  Since SAP collects all the data for you, you just need to tell it when you’re done, you can have instant statistics on how many notifications were created, how long were they open, how many were closed, and even who closed them.  If you run a call center, this information could be vital to determine if you have enough representatives in the call center, are they able to close the majority of calls without follow-up, how many were questions vs. an actual return or RMA request?  All of these metrics can be extracted from SAP (if you want to see this in action, check out the demo for Broadsword, and it will show you a program that shows you all of these metrics.  All of which extract standard data from SAP.

The whole key to this is…  someone needs to perform the tasks of setting the status (user status, or just closing it).  Like everything, the data is no good if no one is looking at it, but if you are a proactive organization,  you are probably looking for ways to cut costs.  Knowing how your call center is performing can give you some key insight into now only your employees and their skill sets, but also into your products and how well they meet the needs of your customers.  (you can tell this by the number of returns, the reason for returns, and the number of repairs).

Well, I hope this was useful… as always, thanks for reading and I’d love to hear from you,


Installations in SAP – Project Systems vs Service Management

I recently got a request from a consultant friend of mine.  He was wondering about the best way to capture costs of installations.  In my experience, there are 2 very different ways of handling this, and much of it is related to the size/complexity of the installations and the amount of data you are willing to maintain in order to accomplish this.  Let me talk a little about the 2 methods.  In the end, both are great, but you should be able to look at the situation and decide which one fits your needs best.  Now, my quick disclaimer.  I am by no means a PS expert.  There quite probably many things I’m leaving out of the discussion, and I encourage you to talk to a PS expert if you think you need to go down that path :).

1. Project Systems.  This method is typically reserved for large installation (in my opinion).  The nature of project systems is that there is a lot of functionality, but there is also a lot of data to maintain in order to use it.  In PS, you can have multiple different cost collectors, full project tracking, production orders, service orders, purchase orders, etc.  all of these things traceable inside of a network/WBS.  I recommend this approach for anything that is large and may require any sort of planning functionality (for example, planning multiple service technicians, material reciepts, contractors, etc…).  Most importantly, if you need to track it like a project, it should be a project.  As far as costs/price go, usually resource related billing is used to track this since it is often a time and materials type activity.

2.  Service Management.  this is method is gonna be  the down and dirty method.  It’s a single service order (with the ability to make some sub service orders if you so desire).  It will still allow you to plan components and operations, but from a simple order structure.  You use this approach typically for anything small that doesn’t require a full project plan to coordinate (or if you want to do the project planning in MS Project and that’s good enough for your purposes).   The installation service order can be spawned directly from a sales order.  You can still use resource related billing for the cost/price determination in the sales order.

In my experience, the biggest thing you lose between SM and PS is the reporting and scheduling functionality.  PS is far superior in this respect, but if it’s overkill for your needs, you can get by with a much more simple approach in using the service order.

I hope this sheds some light on the differences.

Thanks for reading,

Serial Numbers – Number Scheme

Since I got a request for more posts about Service management, I thought I’d dig into my bag of tricks.  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,