Blogs about the Enhanced Material Search:
- Enhanced Material Search with Creation – Part 1: Overview, Enrichment of Search Results with Prices and Stock Availability
- Enhanced Material Search with Creation – Part 2: Catalog Search for Supplier Products
- Enhanced Material Search with Creation – Part 3: How to further enhance the new search capabilities to my business?
- Enhanced Material Search with Creation – Part 4: How to create new Search Criteria w/o modification
- Enhanced Material Search with Creation – Part 5: Major improvements in Enhancement Package 5
One of the key issues in wholesale distribution and other trading industries is efficiency in sales order entry. To speed up the searching for materials the new “Enhanced Material Search with Creation” is introduced as an alternative to the F4 material search, implemented in the Standard Sales Order within SAP ERP 6.0 Enhancement Pack 2.
In a series of blogs I would like to outline the fantastic new features of the Enhanced Material Search with Creation that makes sales order entry much more efficient and intuitive for sales reps and backoffice.
This first blog covers the general features of the Enhanced Material Search and the enrichment of search results with additional information from SAP ERP, like prices and stock availability for selected plants.
Full-text search using the TREX search index
The new enhanced material search is called from the Standard Sales Order and comes with an own screen. It provides a full-text google-like search for materials. Of course you can use wildcards. A fault tolerance can be switched on/off on the search screen. This is a much more intuitive way to search compared with the F4 search.
Additional specific search criteria can be used to narrow down the search results or to search in a field-specific way.
You can configure your desired search criteria from a list and influence their sequence on the screen. Also you can customize which search criteria are always visible and which can be additionally shown when individually required. This saves screen space for the search results.
The enhanced material search is based on the SAP Search Engine (TREX) which is typically installed on a small external server. The TREX search incredibly fast because the index is held completely in memory (RAM). A nice benefit: When using a TREX index instead of the F4 search you reduce the load on the SAP ERP system and gain performance for other processes.
Imagine you are a new sales rep and a customer calls you and ask for an affordable water pump that is in stock. How do you start your search? Is a pump called “pump”? Usually not – typically there is a model number and maybe a vendor named in the material description, but the term “pump” does not appear.
With the new enhanced material search a keyword search is introduced that solves this common issue. The keywords are not assigned to individual materials but to material groups. So you can e.g. create a new keyword “PUMPS” and connect it to the material group(s) that hold all the pumps. After a few minutes allowing the TREX to update its index the new keyword can be used as a normal search term within the full text search. Of course you can mix “normal” search terms with keywords, e.g. “siwamatics pumps” would bring up all materials which have the term “siwamatics” in the material description fields, and which are part of the material group(s) the keyword PUMPS is assigned to.
The keywords itself can be easily created in the new (small) transaction WSD_KEYWORD. You can assign one keyword to multiple material groups. You can also use keywords for common abbreviations, e.g. to use “PBG” for all plumbing products.
Enrichment of Search Results with Prices, Stock Availability, and other ERP
OK, with the new keyword search feature you have easily found the pumps, but you still need to know which pumps are in stock and what their (customer specific) sales price is. Remember we are still in a sales order, so we know the customer, pricing conditions, and we know our plant/store and our distribution chain – so we know enough to determine stock availability and prices – let’s do it!
Unlike the standard F4 material search the search results in the Enhanced Material Search are enriched with stock availability (ATP or unrestricted stock) and prices (list price, expected customer price, purchase price):
- Stock availability
All search results now immediately show the stock availability for the own plant in the search results overview. You can configure if the unrestricted use stock or current ATP quantity is shown.
For each search result you can further display the stock availability for other plants you have selected, such as predefined plant groups or plant numbers entered individually. For your own plant you can predefine so-called Close-By Plants or plants of your region.
The close-by plants for your own plant are maintained in the transaction WSD_CBP. In customizing you can individually decide whether you would like to see unrestricted stock or ATP for the own plant, close-by plants and other plants.
Please regard: No reservation or drill-down functionality to find the optimum location etc. takes place here during the ATP check; just the actual stock quantity is displayed.
For each search result the sales list price (of your pricing procedure), the expected customer sales price as well as the purchasing price maintained in the purchasing info record is calculated/determined. Prices can be determined in a plant specific way, so if your price for a given product is different in other store the correct price is always shown.
Why expected customer sales price? In the sales order you can have header specific conditions we cannot cover in the material search results. There could also be material-material-dependencies like buy 1 get another one 50% off. This cannot be covered in the calculation of the customer price, but will be determined correctly in sales order. That’s the reason why it is called “expected”.
- Additional Enrichment
For all search results the following additional information is shown:
– Color Indicator for material maintenance (stock available, no stock available, material not maintained for plant/distribution chain)
– Material number, sales unit, EAN/UPC
– Plant + plant name
– Stock level, base unit + type of stock determination indicator (unrestricted use stock or ATP stock)
– Sales list price, expected customer price, purchasing price + corresponding currencies
– Old material number
– Material group + description, product hierarchy, material type, material category
– Vendor + vendor name, vendor sub range, vendor material number, vendor material group
Transfer multiple search results to sales order
With this wealth of information on hand, a sales representative can quickly and easily find suitable products that are in stock and in budget. The sales rep can directly enter the order quantity for search results (even for a different plant!), mark the search result lines and transfer all marked lines to the sales order in one step.
From a sales order point of view, the sales order receives material number, order quantity and plant for each search result that is transferred. All the determinations for ATP or gATP, prices, plant/material combination checks, price calculation etc. take place in the sales order as before, without being influenced by the new Enhanced Material Search.
Where to get info material?
You can find an infokit about the Enhanced Material Search and other Sales Order Enhancements in the Sales Order Enhancement Series: Overview.
- In my 2nd blog Enhanced Material Search with Creation – Part 2: Catalog Search for Supplier Products I outline the new catalog search and creation capabilities for supplier products (without material master records) integrated within the Enhanced material search.
- In the 3rd and 4th blog Enhanced Material Search with Creation – Part 3: How to further enhance the new search capabilities to my business? and Enhanced Material Search with Creation – Part 4: How to create new Search Criteria w/o modification you can read about how to further enhance the Enhanced Material Search and adapt it to your individual needs while staying modification-free.
- In my 5th blog Enhanced Material Search – Part 5: Major improvements in Enhancement Package 5 you can read about major enhancements and improvements done in ERP EhP5.
Dr. Ingo Woesner
Application Strategic Innovation – Multichannel
P.S. The Enhanced Material Search with Creation is part of SAP ERP Core 6.0 EhP2, contained in SAP_APPL 602 in Business Function SD_01. No industry switch is required. The Enhanced Material Search is designed as a module that can be implemented in other applications as well. This must be done on project basis. Customizing is specific to the calling application. A major update and improvement was provided with Enhancement Package 5 (see my 5th blog).
P. P.S. Blogs about this and other Sales Order Enhancements are collected here: Sales Order Enhancement Series: Overview