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Author's profile photo Michael Piehl

SAP SM: Blueprinting Questions – Master Data

One thing I’ve noticed over and over again, is that when it comes to blueprinting for SAP Service Management or Customer service, the same questions and same processes always apply.  And inevitably, the same gotcha’s show up because one of these questions is missed.  So today I wanted to talk about the list of blueprint questions I use.  If you see something I missed, please add it to the comments.  I’ve lumped things together into major categories and I’ve included questions if you’re already on SAP or if you’re about to blueprint from a completely different system.  Together I think we can make a great list for all of us to work.  This first post will focus on all of the master data related to SM/CS.

How many service products do you use?

If your audience is currently on SAP, this finds out what service materials are currently in use.  From here, the follow-up questions would be what service materials do you have, and what are each of them used for.

How many serviceable materials do you have (ballpark)?

This is to get an idea of how many materials are currently being repaired.  One of the big things that often catches customers by surprise is the amount of data that may need to be created if you choose to have different valuations for repaired materials.  Especially in an environment that keeps quick turn around stock in their warehouse (I call that process advanced exchange or service exchange).  There are usually 2 ways to handle this situation.  One is multiple valuation for a single material.  This can often be very messy and transaction intensive for the entire organization.  An alternative method to handle this is a second material material (prefixed or suffixed with something to show it’s a rebuilt/repaired/etc version).  This material can then be stocked under a different number, with different costs, profit centers, etc.  Short story, you need the answer for this to know if you might have to create an additional 10,000 materials to account for all of the serviceable materials.

Do you serialize?

This simple question is often one of the most important questions you’ll ask during blueprinting.  I’ve worked at multiple companies that did not serialize their products, but wanted to start serializing in SAP.  While this sounds like a simple request, there are a lot of follow questions you must find out during your blueprinting phase of the project.  Here’s where to start:

  •      Do you use equipment records or serial number records?
    • There isn’t a huge difference between the pieces of functionality, and won’t have a large impact on how you configure the system.  However, be prepared to explain the difference between a serial number & an equipment record.
  • Do you use an installed base or serial number hierarchy?
    • The use of an installed base or serial number hierarchy won’t impact your configuration that much, but it will have a big impact on your processes.  Both of these pieces in SAP require a lot manual maintenance, or perhaps some heavy programming work to accomplish.  It’s something you want to know as soon as possible, if you ask me.
  • Do you use an equipment BOM or Plant Maintenance BOM for any serial numbers?
    • This is important to understand because in SAP you have the option to maintain individual bills of materials for each equipment/serial number.  Again, this won’t impact your configuration, but will impact your processes.  If they answer yes to this question, you then need to understand how do they use this bill of material?  is it purely to maintain the as-built/as-maintained history record, or do they use it for creating materials using the same bill of material. 
  • How much information do you capture in your serial number?
    • With SAP serial numbers/equipment records you have the ability to capture an immense amount of data.  While this often sounds like a great thing, the new user will quickly learn that SAP doesn’t really maintain most of this data without a lot of custom development.  Often, I encourage my clients to only use what they NEED.  Now need is of course subjective, but it’s important to stress that it will be easy for this data to get out synch unless you have a good master data process.  These are the most common pieces that are maintained, but remember, there are a lot of options for more data, just be cognizant of the manual nature of most of the fields.
      • Partner Information
      • Warranty information
      • Serial Number Hierarchy
      • Location information
      • Classification information
      • Etc
  • Do your customers register their serial numbers with you to begin warranty or receive additional support?
    • This question is another important piece of serial number maintenance.  If they do have customer registration, you will need to follow up and find out how they receive the registration from their customers.  Is it online, mailed in, phoned in?  How should the warranty be handled?  does it differ by product, or does everything get a 90 day warranty.  This and much more is all part of the registration portion.

Do you use master warranties?

The master warranty is another piece of data that you want to capture early on.  The entire warranty conversation will inevitably take up a lot of your blueprinting time.  We’ll go into more details in some of the following posts.  For now, find out if the customer uses master warranties, or if they have a set of warranty rules for a defined period of time/products/services/coverages etc…

  • How do you currently determine what master warranty to assign to each product? or does everything get the same master warranty?
  • When does the warranty period begin?  When the product ships?  when it’s registered?  or some other method?
  • How many characteristics are you tracking in the warranty? 
    • Are you tracking things by time, mileage, working hours, or all of the above?

Do you use measuring points?

Measuring points are another major piece of master data associated with SAP Service Processing.  You first need to determine if they have materials that need measuring points.  Then you need to find out if you are measuring time, distance, operating hours, etc to make sure you can properly handle the setup.  Finally, you need to understand how those measurement points get loaded into the system.  Are they currently automated?  does someone manually enter them on a weekly/monthly basis?  What are the measurement points used for.  Are they used for warranty information?  to provide automated service notices to the customer for their next oil change? or are they simply tracked on internal equipment?

These are the big things I always try to cover when I start talking master data.  Obviously, every one of these pieces leads into other questions and business processes, but I wanted to start with one piece at a time.



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      Author's profile photo Bernhard Escherich
      Bernhard Escherich

      Hi Michael,

      thanks for your blog.

      I am sometimes missing project related blogs over the last weeks on SCN so I was happy to see your blog although it is not my area of expertise.

      Best regards,


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Great article.   One thing to add would be to ask about how they want to do their profitablity analysis.   Sounds strange, but it will affect how you setup your service materials & processes as well.

      Unless you are lucky enough to be able to do true SDI settlement back to the contract, (which rules out indirect cpntract sales in a different sales area) I've found that Profit Center integration is pretty weak in SM.   To pass the profit center from the contract line item through the repair actions (via the service notfication) and to the service order and corresponding issued spare parts requires putting in a couple of key enhancement points on the service notification as well as utilizing SD/SM user exits and FICO subsitution rules to allow for different G/L accounts for contract vs. warranty vs. billable repair postings.

      Otherwise you are forced to report from an SD perspective rather then an FICO perspective....which makes tie-out back to FICO miserable.