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Is LSMW the right tool to manage data related to regular business changes?

I was recently visiting a prospective customer, an automotive company, where I got a chance to learn about some of their routine business challenges with SAP data entry. One of their problems, which I describe below, was a particular pain point at this company. To solve this business issue today, they apply the tool — Legacy Systems Migration Workbench (LSMW); which is a far-from-ideal solution to their problem. It got me thinking about how many SAP customers today are in the same boat — using the wrong tool to solve their SAP data problems, e.g., using a wrench for driving a nail into the wall instead of a hammer. Is LSMW a good option to manage data related to regular business changes?

 

So, here is the business problem at this customer site. They use Scheduling Agreements in SAP (TCode: VA31/VA32, see screenshot below) which are very similar to Sales Orders, except the items being ordered have a pre-set delivery schedules. Now, depending on their customers’ business conditions, these delivery schedules often change and the schedule agreements have to be changed routinely. The list of agreements to be changed is usually available to the sales operation team every week as a spreadsheet. The change process currently used by this team is as follows:

 

1. The current scheduling agreement is first rejected in SAP with an appropriate reason for rejection (shown in the VA32 screen below) and a long text description.
2. The customer information and the item information for this agreement is copied into another spreadsheet.
3. A new scheduling agreement for the same customer and the same item, but a different delivery schedule is now created with the VA31 transaction.

VA32 

This is a routine activity at this SAP customer site (and I suspect at many SAP manufacturing or distribution-industry customers) and every week they might have to change hundreds of scheduling agreements. The sales operation group uses the following criterion to decide when to involve their technical LSMW resources — any time the number of agreements to be changed is less than 100, they do it manually; otherwise they send a request to their technical team.

 

Changing even up to 100 scheduling agreements takes several person-hours of data entry time every week. Doing it with LSMW; however, involves disrupting the schedules and commitments of their technical resources, who are valuable ABAP programmers. Moreover, even with LSMW, they often cannot do long text or automate the entire process – so some manual work is still necessary.

 

The challenge for this customer then is — how can this process become more efficient? Business is slow in this economy and the current resources can manage the tasks; however, how can they prepare for an upturn in business without adding new headcount? Should the business users be given LSMW training and access? Or are there other options?      

 

The general questions though are the following — 

  • Should LSMW be used for handling data changes arising from routine business changes?
  • Wasn’t the Legacy System Migration Workbench (LSMW) intended, as the name suggests, to migrate legacy data into SAP?
  • Is LSMW a business tool or an IT tool? What are the pitfalls of giving LSMW access to business users?

 

Of course, I showed them Winshuttle’s TRANSACTION solutions to solve their problem which empowers business users to automate these SAP data entry challenges  themselves without involving the technical ABAP team. With this solution, they can automate every single schedule agreement rejection (including long text) and new schedule agreement creation so they do not have to manually enter data at all. While they are rejecting a schedule agreement, TRANSACTION automatically extracts customer number, item number, and other fields into from SAP to Excel. The creation script is linked to the rejection script and it automatically runs after all the rejections have been completed, using data from the same Excel file. Winshuttle’s TRANSACTION is able to address this customer’s challenge quite well where LSMW was not able to and seems to be right tool for the right job — the hammer for that nail !

 
 

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      Author's profile photo Nathan Genez
      Nathan Genez
      I agree whole heartedly with you. I think the problem is that LSMW is too flexible and can be applied to just about any scenario in SAP. Customer end up using it for long term solutions to script out any repetitive process but I think this is the wrong way to go. LSMW, or eCATT for that matter, often breaks over time and requires re-work.  All of these tools aren't very intelligent either. They just blindly go through the recorded script and it's up to the user to anticipate any potential deviations from the standard screen sequence.

      LSMW has its place during legacy conversion and during adhoc requirements like you mention above. But if it's being run periodically SAP customers would be wise to invest some time and $$$ into a more sophisticated solution.  Winshuttle might be one of those solutions but any BAPI will do the trick as well.

      Author's profile photo G Lakshmipathi
      G Lakshmipathi
      The blog is quite interesting and nicely drafted but at the sametime, as rightly said by Nathan just to upload some data in bulk into SAP, I dont think clients' would be interested further to invest some $$$$