Competitive Service and Contract Management in SAP Business ONE Implementation: Part 2

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by Wolfgang Niefert | May 2009 | Architecture & Analysis

In this article by Wolfgang Niefert, we will cover the following topics:

  • Service workflow (from setup to operation) – In this section, we will configure the service module in a step-by-step manner.
  • Limitations of the SAP service module – Based on the available features, we will discuss potential limitations of the service module.
  • Evaluate potential add-ons for service – Add-ons which are proven to enhance the service module features, are available to overcome the limitations.

In the first half of this 2-part article series, we looked at the service module so as to evaluate potential actions that are triggered, based on service-related information. We also introduced a concept which explained how to utilize the service module features to establish a guaranteed response time for customers.

We also learnt about :

  • Key terms - The common terminology related to service management were covered. Although nothing major , we went about learning what the terms entail with regards to the SAP system.
  • Service module core functions – In this section, the available functions and features were put into perspective—what is available and how much we can expect from it.  You also learnt what service operations mean.
  • Case study and your own project – The available features of the service module were implemented for the case study. By doing so, knowledge was provided to implement the service module in your own business. We also reviewed some guidelines which enabled you to translate the case study implementation into a set of activities for your own project.

Let's begin with Service reports.

Service reports

The crucial element of each module is the information that can easily be extracted for reporting purposes. SAP provides a series of canned reports for the service module.

The Service Calls report provides information about service call activities based on the selected criteria. You can filter this report by timeframe of service call creation and also by resolution time. Additional filter ranges are available for Customer Code, Handled By, Item, and also Queue ID. In addition, the report allows filtering by Problem Type, Priority, Call Type, Origin, Call Status, and Overdue Calls. You can see that there is a wide range of options to obtain information. It is important to note that reporting can utilize the information only if all of the data is properly collected using the SAP forms. In case no options are selected for filtering, the report defaults to select all of the available information. The following additional service reports are available and have almost identical filtering capabilities as the service calls report: Service Calls by Queue, Response Time by Assigned to, Average Closure Time.

The Service Contracts report(seen below) helps you manage the status of all maintenance contracts. If you've ever had to manage maintenance contracts with customers, you will appreciate the ease of obtaining the information here. You can filter this report by Customer Code, Start Date Range, End Date Range and Termination Date Range. In addition, this report can be further filtered by Contract Type, Contract Status, and Service Type.

Competitive Service and Contract Management in SAP Business ONE Implementation

The customer equipment card report allows information to be obtained about items sold to customers based on serial number tracking. Each serial number has its own contract with expiration which is usually based on the purchase date. This report is able to be filtered by customer and item code. In addition, a more global filter can be used such as item group. The Service Monitor report provides a more real-time view of the service pipeline. We already covered this report in the previous section. Finally, My Reports includes My Service Calls, My Open Service Calls, and My Overdue Service Calls. Those reports conveniently filter the information based on the current login name. Therefore, if you run the report, you will only see information that is relevant for you based on the login.

Limitations

I have already mentioned that you can look at SAP Business ONE as the operating system for your business. You can use industry add-ons to seamlessly transform the standard features into an industry solution that is specific to your requirements. Therefore, let's evaluate some add-ons I've worked with that are related to the service module—specifically, the Enprise Job Costing module and the solution from Navigator called ServiceONE.

By looking at these add-ons, we can also learn the limitations of the standard service module. For example, since the Navigator promises to have all of the information available in one view, we realize that in SAP, we sometimes need to jump to different forms to get where we wanted to be initially. Let's further evaluate the features of these add-ons. The Enprise Job Costing solution introduces a web-based timesheet. This is an obvious feature that is not directly available in the SAP standard configuration. First, I will look at the Navigator solution and will then follow the Enprise offering. Often, there is more than one add-on providing industry-specific features. You then need to evaluate both solutions and decide which one best fi ts your requirements. Please note that I am presenting the add-on features to better define the limitations of the SAP Standard Business ONE features.

Job Costing add-on by Enprise

The Enprise Job Costing add-on is one of the first industry-specific solutions that gained widespread adoption as a standard for companies that required a detailed job costing solution. The advantage of this solution is that it is based on true expertise in the job costing area as it relates to the SAP service module. Let's look at a scenario that is very common for companies that work in the service industry and require what is known as job costing. However, I would first like to take the opportunity to explain job costing a bit. Job costing allows the profit and loss for specific services provided to be calculated. For example, if you have a company that sends out technicians to customer sites for performing equipment repairs, you need to make sure that the invoiced amount exceeds the cost you incur. The following workflow may be common in this environment:

  • Serialized items are delivered to customers with each having a warranty contract that may or may not include services, parts, and replacements.
  • Services may be performed on serialized items delivered by you or by another company.
  • A service call may lead to a proposal (job) which will then be ordered. Technicians may use a timesheet to report the status and time. Timesheet entries must be possible via a mobile device or the Web. Furthermore, time entered needs to be approved before it is relevant for invoicing.
  • A job may lead to subjobs that require unique management of related costs.
  • As the number of jobs increase, you will require "work in progress" reporting.
  • Estimating a job is crucial. Therefore, technicians need to be able to create estimates. It must then be possible to translate those estimates into orders and contracts.
  • As services may require replacement parts, a feature is required that allows optimized picking of relevant items for a specific job.
  • Complex jobs require milestone payments. This needs to be implemented in the contracts.
  • The invoicing system needs to be integrated with the way services are completed. For example, milestone payments, fixed priced billing, and partial invoicing are common requirements in the service industry.

The Enprise Job Costing add-on resides in its own menu item called Job Costing. As you can see below, the menu items are well defined and provide a quick overview of the available features. In addition, it is important to note that the features seamlessly appear within the SAP interface:

SAP

By selecting the Job Entry form, the powerful features come to light. As you can see in the following screenshot, the form allows searching jobs based on Status,Type, Properties, Category, and Entered By. The resulting list is shown in the lower pane. We can use this interface to search for specific jobs, and then click on the Bulk Invoice button as highlighted in the screenshot. This automates the invoicing process based on a clear, uncluttered form. Please note that we do not need to jump between multiple forms.

SAP

The Direct Time Entry form(seen below) is basically a timesheet. Therefore, technicians can use this to enter the time they spend on projects. Please note the buttons in the lower right that allow importing from the Web and also from an Excel clipboard. Enprise provides a web-based timesheet from which we can import data. However, it is important to note that we can also import from an Excel clipboard. This way, we can use the date that technicians entered in their laptops.

SAP

The contract list provides a link where the Enprise-enhanced contract management surfaces:

SAP

The contract management allows milestones for a contract. Each milestone to be established could lead to a milestone payment. In addition, we can directly jump to the related invoices by using the Show Invoices button:

SAP

Enprise has adopted the concept of master data. For this purpose, the Job Master Data form was established. This is consistent with the SAP concept. Each job is defined and configured with specific parameters, which later drive the transactions that are based on this master data. For example, we can define the job parameters alongside a list of subjobs. In addition, documents can be attached as attachments:

SAP

Advanced service functionality using ServiceONE by Navigator

Navigator provides a wide range of valuable add-ons. Each add-on is valuable. However, the key advantage of Navigator is the comprehensive portfolio of add-ons the cover almost all aspects of SAP Business ONE. In particular, the fact that Navigator also provides a mobile solution, which connects handheld computers with SAP Business ONE, extends the reach of the available functionality beyond the boundaries of the SAP client interface. Therefore, a mobile field service does not need to use a web-based timesheet, but could directly interact using mobile devices. However, you may need to purchase another add-on to accomplish this.

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Optimized SAP form views

ServiceONE established a service window that shows all customer information in one convenient screen. Service calls have a direct link for returns, or allow scheduling a resource. The heart of this add-on is the integrated view of all service-related information via Service Window:

SAP

The Dispatch Window(shown in the following screenshot) shows a calendar-style resource planner that allows resources to be selected from a list to start the dispatching and planning process:

SAP

Using this interface, you can view technician availability, and schedule the technicians to complete service tasks at customer sites. You may also check the current location of a technician. This can be done via a link from the calendar to Google Maps, which reveals the technicians' location based on the customers' service address where the technicians are currently working

Field service

As I mentioned earlier, fi eld service technicians may use mobile devices to complete tasks and record the cost of labor, material, and expenses.

Billing and revenue recognition

Service calls are directly linked to business partners. This fact is accounted for in the ServiceONE add-on via a direct link on the business partner master data level to service calls. Therefore, you can easily obtain service-related information from the BP master record:

SAP

SAP service module functionality available via add-ons

By evaluating two add-ons for service management, we identified the potential additional features that we could use which are based on our strategic direction in this area. The Enprise Job Costing module was very focused on job costing features. This solution provided a great level of detail to handle job-costing-specific requirements. This add-on was embedded within SAP, but added the features within its own menu section. The Navigator ServiceONE solution was centered around the service view, which could be best operated within a second monitor. You would then have SAP on one monitor and the service view on the other monitor. Furthermore, the Navigator ServiceONE add-on is a member of a well-integrated set of add-ons provided by this vendor. We evaluated these two solutions to make sure that the activity of evaluating add-ons becomes a common activity for you.

In addition, by evaluating the added functionality, we understand what the Standard SAP service module may not provide out of the box.

The following functionality must be obtained via an add-on:

  • Email case management
  • Field service integration via mobile devices
  • Planning of service activities via a calendar with dispatching
  • Contracts with milestones and invoicing
  • Timesheet entry via the Web
  • Bulk invoice generation for multiple jobs
  • Job master data management

Summary

We started off with Service reports, move on to understand the limitations of the standard service module. Finally, we evaluated two powerful add-ons. We saw that the SAP Business ONE platform can be modified via add-ons  to resemble industry-specific requirements.

In this article, we covered the following topics:

  • Service workflow (from setup to operation) – In this section, we configured the service module in a step-by-step manner.
  • Limitations of the SAP service module – Based on the available features, we discussed potential limitations of the service module.
  • Evaluate potential add-ons for service – Add-ons which are proven to enhance the service module features, are available to overcome the limitations.

If you have read this article you may be interested to view :


SAP Business ONE Implementation Bring the power of SAP Enterprise Resource Planning to your small-midsize business with SAP Business ONE using this book and eBook
Published: May 2009
eBook Price: $29.99
Book Price: $49.99
See more
Select your format and quantity:

About the Author :


Wolfgang Niefert

Wolfgang Niefert studied "Wirtschafts-Informatik" at the European Business School in Oestrich Winkel – Germany. The international management program included programs in London and San Diego with focus on Computer Science and Economics. He has more than 15 years experience with international SAP Implementations. A certification for SAP Production Planning allows him to relate larger SAP solutions to SAP Business ONE. Wolfgang also designed the N2ONE Portal for SAP Business ONE that allows the real-time management of e-commerce functionality.

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