Competitive Service and Contract Management in SAP Business ONE Implementation: Part 1

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by Wolfgang Niefert | May 2009 | Architecture & Analysis

In this article by Wolfgang Niefert, we will take a closer look at the service module to evaluate potential actions that are triggered, based on service-related information. The concept introduced here will utilize the service module features to establish a guaranteed response time for customers. You will see that there are various angles to look at service. In addition to its more traditional view, service can be used to establish a service-level-type management for customers and the related sales opportunities. Basically, the service module can be used as a sophisticated alert system.

What we will learn in this article?

In this article, we will cover the service module and highlight how it fits in with the sales and opportunities management functionality. The key features, from taking a service call to contracting management, will be explained. In order to establish a practical platform for this, a case study will be expanded to utilize the service module. As a part of this section, a complete workflow will be configured from setting the right parameters in the admin section to connecting the information for service personnel.

We will learn about :

  • Key terms - The common terminology related to service management will be covered. There is nothing major waiting for you here. We will simply learn what the terms entail with regards to the SAP system.
  • Service module core functions – In this section, the available functions and features will be put into perspective—what is available and how much we can expect from it. For example, you will learn what service operations mean.
  • Case study and your own project – The available features of the service module will then be implemented for the case study. By doing so, knowledge will be provided to implement the service module in your own business. We will review some guidelines which will enable you to translate the case study implementation into a set of activities for your own project.

Key terms

Let's start with the key terms related to service and contract management in SAP Business ONE. By looking at the key terms, you will get an understanding of what can be accomplished with this module

Service contract templates

In the admin section, we can define the service contract templates that can later be used as a basis for actual contracts. Please note the template character. All of the parameters we define here will automatically populate the relevant details in the contract once a template is selected. The following screenshot shows that a contract template can be created not only on a per-customer basis, but also for item groups, and a specific item based on serial numbers. In addition, please note the Reminder setting. You can set a reminder which will provide an alert prior to the expiry of the contract. This way, you can be sure that you contact all customers and allow them to renew their contracts.

SAP

Serial number contract

The most common usage may be the Serial Number contract type. Each product will have a specific contractual service eligibility based on the serial number. Consequently, if a customer purchases an item that is managed by a serial number, a warranty contract template can be associated. This will create a customer equipment card.

Customer contract

However, please note that this concept does not need to be used only for items and serial numbers. As you can see in the previous screenshot, we can create contract templates for customers and whole item groups. For the case study, I will use this concept to create a service contract for key customers. We can then use the service functionality in SAP to make sure these customers get priority treatment. You see, we can use the service functionality in this creative way to improve our service quality.

Item group contract

Just as we may decide to use the service module to guarantee a specific response time to customers, we can make sure that a specific product line is managed. For example, if you have a new specifi c product line that requires technical expertise for implementation, then a service contract may be offered to customers. Therefore, all customers who purchase an item that belongs to this group will be eligible to purchase a contract and receive the relevant expert support.

Customer equipment card

The customer equipment card applies to the contracts that are managed by a serial number. Since the serial number contract applies a unique contract situation for each item, you will need to have the relevant information to be able to categorize a service call. For example, you need to know the serial number to identify the customer and the relevant warranty that remains for the specific serial number. In addition, if a customer calls you, you"ll want to be able to look up all of the serial numbers for this customer. This can be done using the customer equipment card. Please note that a customer equipment card is automatically created if a customer purchases an item that is managed by a serial number. You can assign a service contract when this happens on the level of sales order.

Service calls

Service calls are incoming service requests from business partners. The following screenshot shows that service calls can have many sources. For example, service calls may come via emails, phone calls, web requests, or any other defined Origin. I am highlighting this because, in essence, you can use the service module for any activity where you want to apply a specifi c response time management.

SAP

Queues

As mentioned above, the service module can be used to manage any kind of service-related activity. Queues allow your personnel to be associated with named groups. In the following screenshot, I have created two queues. The first queue is for 1st Level and the second queue for Resolution and Sales. Consequently, I assign personnel who can best accomplish the relevant tasks to each queue as follows:

SAP

Knowledge base

As you work on service calls, you can build a knowledge base that documents how problems were resolved. For example, if the problem resolution department resolved a problem, it will be documented as a part of the service call. If the service call is for a serialized item, then this knowledge is available to the first-level support the next time a problem is reported for the same item type. Therefore, this can take the workload off of the specialized personnel as they can avoid repetitive tasks. In addition, new employees can benefit from the knowledge already acquired for resolved service calls.

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Core features

Based on the key terminology, you now have a better understanding of how to set up the service module. The core functionality that the service module can be used for comprises the following features:

  • Service operations – Create skill-based queues to work on service calls.
  • Service contract management – Apply contracts to customers, item groups, or items with serial numbers based on templates. Set reminders to get information about contract expirations.
  • Service planning – Allows contractual information to be utilized and queues or specific employees to be assigned. It tracks activities and documents solutions.
  • Track customer interactions – This documents all customer interactions, from call initiation to problem resolution. It also allows service calls to be escalated based on contractual resolution time and actual status by using the integrated Service Monitor.
  • Customer support – This establishes an integrated platform for support using purchase history and contracts for customers or serial numbers.
  • Sales opportunity management – This aspect uses service call management to create new opportunities. In addition, it makes decisions about call priority based on open opportunities and customer account balance.

You can see that the main added value is not only to have a service module, but rather to have a service module that is fully integrated with the workflow of all your customer interactions. Therefore, the full potential of your customer interactions and product management can be improved.

Project plan status

In the project plan section called Phase 2 – Analysis and Design, we are currently working on the features as a part of the analysis phase. In the Service section, under the task group called Divide into subjects, we will evaluate the available features and implement a core workflow to verify the relevance of the service module for our project.

Your project

Before I proceed with the implementation of the service module for our case study, I would like to provide you with some recommendations for your own project. You can then better utilize the information provided in the case study.

  • How do you want to organize your service? Categorize your service requirements into serial-number-based management, product categories, and customers. Then, create the relevant contract templates for each category.
  • Design the contract templates and keep in mind that these are the only templates which will later be assigned for each serialized item, product group, or customer.
  • Define queues and the people responsible to take care of service call issues. Make sure that you have a hierarchy. For example, have first-level support take the basic calls. Then, allow assigning a queue, such as second-level support, to resolve the issue. You may also have a queue called escalation queue. It would resolve issues that were not resolved within the resolution time defined in the contract.
  • Note that the service module can be used to establish customer response times. Therefore, you may create a customer-specific contract for key accounts and then establish an alert based on a query to find qualifying customers. For example, you may want to provide customers with extra service based on their previous purchases. In this case, each customer who has purchased more than $5,000 within the last three months can receive special treatment and would be placed on the key accounts contract type. You may also establish surveys for lost opportunities. Using the service module, a contract template survey can be created and applied to the lost opportunities.

I will touch all of the aspects above in the case study. You can translate the way I am implementing it here to your own project requirements.

Case study—step-by-step implementation

We will now implement the service module for the Lemonade Stand enterprise. This will allow us to establish a guaranteed response time for all customers who have reached a specific number of orders within the last twelve months of operation. This way, we can ensure that an experienced account manager will be assigned to all customer interactions. In addition, I can document all of the interactions and monitor the status. By using the service module for this task, it can be guaranteed that the response time based on the contract type is met. You start in the Admin Section and open the contract template setup viaAdministration | Setup | Service | Contract Templates. As you can see in the following screenshot, the Key Customer Care contract template was created. This contract will be assigned to every customer who has placed at least one sales order with us. You may define more detailed criteria for your own business. The criteria you use can easily be implemented via a query and then assigned to an alert.

SAP

The contract template is valid everyday except Sundays.

As seen below, the response time is defined as 4 Hours, and the resolution time is set as 8 Days. An important thing to note is that the Contract Type is Customer. This means we will need to assign this contract to selected customers. I will now manually assign this contract to the customer World Mart. This is done by opening the service contract management form via Service | Service Contract. Then, I will click on New in the task bar. Note that the contract can be adjusted at this level. However, initially, the parameters default to the values that were set in the contract template. In addition, an owner is assigned. This means all service calls related to this customer will now go to the owner. How does the owner know that? For each new service call that is entered for this contract, an alert will automatically be sent to the owner.

SAP

Let's see how this works. The service call form can be opened via Service | Service Call. In the following screenshot, you can see that the World Mart customer was selected. This is the customer with the key customer contract. The contract is automatically selected and the Resolution and Sales queue is assigned. Note that the resolution deadline for this call is automatically calculated based on the resolution time that was set in the contract.

SAP

On confirming the form by clicking on OK, you can log in as the user who was selected to be the owner. If you refer to the screenshot showing the queue configuration with the queue members, you will see that the user Joe King is a member of the Resolution and Sales queue. Basically, this user will now get an alert that a customer has a new service call. Indeed, there is an alert when you log in. The following screenshot shows the Service call 2 has been assigned to you alert. The details are available in the lower pane of the Messages/Alert Overview window. If the user clicks on the golden arrow that points to the Service Call No., the service call opens up.

SAP

As users work on service calls, expenses and activities can be tracked. I added an invoice and a related return. You can see that these transactions are clearly visible in the Expenses tab page(seen below). By using this method, you can track expenses and profits made with customers. In the Expenses Details section, you can track deliveries, returns, invoices, and credit memos. You can also track items that were transferred to technicians for on-site repair. This is categorized as Transferred to Technician. In case the technician brings the item back, it is called Returned from Technician.

SAP

Activities can also be tracked on a per-service call basis. The benefi t of tracking activities in the service call area is the advanced service-level integration we get. The activities will be measured against the response time and resolution time that were set in the contract:

SAP

The history of everything related to the service call is automatically included in theHistory tab. Take a look at the history we created by adding the service call and then assigning it to the queue. As you can see, it is also documented that the expense document was added:

SAP

All of the information is tied together in the service call for this customer. By clicking on the E-Mail icon in the top task bar (seen below), an email can be generated that would send the service call details to selected recipients.

SAP

In this example, two SAP users were chosen to receive the service call details. This will result in an alert in the Message/Alert Overview box for those users:

SAP

A crucial part of this workflow is the Service Monitor (shown in the following screenshot). A manager can use this tool to check how the service call resolution time measures up against the contract resolution time. It is here that escalation procedures can be initiated. You can see Open Service Calls and Overdue Service Calls. If you click on the Details button, the relevant calls open up. From the detail record, we immediately have all of the history available.

SAP

For our case study, we will ensure that every customer who has at least one purchase order will be placed on the key customer contract. The consequence is that the response times can be measured using Service Monitor. In order to accomplish this, the following steps need to be completed:

  • Create a query that identifies customers who have placed at least one purchase order and are not assigned a contract yet.
  • An alert needs to be created for the manager to allow assigning customers to the key customer contract.

The query by the name New_Key_Customer is shown in the following screenshot:

SAP

This query will show customers who have placed a sales order and who are not assigned any contracts.

The next step is to create an alert called New_Key_Customer(shown in the following screenshot). This alert uses the query as a basis and alerts any users who are selected in the list. In our example, only manager was selected:

SAP

In order to showcase this scenario, another customer called Orange County Distributor was added via Sales Opportunities. This was accomplished by clicking on the Business Partner Name drop-down and then creating a new business partner master record. Then, a sales order was added for this new customer. Within a minute, an alert was received by the user called manager that a new customer complies with the key account eligibility:

SAP

As a fi nal step, the contract management section was opened via Service | Service Contract and Key Customer Care Service Contract was assigned to Orange County Distributor. Two things will happen now. If this customer calls, we can assign him to the queue, and qualified salespeople will guarantee that the response time and resolution time is met every time. Any issues, can easily be monitored via the Service Monitor. In addition, the New_key_Customer alert will be emptied out as there are no more records qualifying for the criteria:

SAP

Summary of the service workflow

The workflow comprises of settings in the admin and user section in the service module.

In the admin section, the following tasks were completed:

  • Define contract templates
  • Select coverage for each contract based on serial, product group, or customer
  • Define the response time and resolution time
  • Define queues and assign members

The users then used the service module as follows:

  • Call entry, tracking, and management via the service module forms
  • Track types of calls and their origin
  • Monitor remarks, activities, expenses, resolution, and history

The continuous usage will automatically create a knowledge base. The knowledge base can be used for solution information via keyword searches.

The concept of queues allowed specialized groups of technicians to be set up as queues. Essentially, this provided a platform for skill-based routing.

Via the Service Monitor, a supervisor is able to get a real-time view of the overall service call situation. For example, open calls and overdue calls can easily be evaluated.

During our case study, we also realized that the service module could be used to establish a guaranteed response time for selected customers based on the criteria we defined.

Summary

In this article, we covered the SAP service module. We started by introducing the common terms. Alongside this discussion, the core functionality related to the service module was explained. We implemented a service feature set for the case study. Based on the case study, we implemented a service and contract system that established a defined response time for important customers. In the next part, we will learn about service reports and also about advanced service functionality using ServiceONE by Navigator.


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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