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Author's profile photo Michael Piehl

SAP SM: Blueprinting Questions – Sales / Customer Service

Well, I’m back again to continue my blog on blueprinting for SAP Service Management / Customer Service.  This next portion tends to be one of the biggest areas for me in dealing with blueprinting.  I’ll do my best to keep it straight forward.  Please also refer to my other posts about Master Data and the Call Center blueprinting.

What processes does your business currently utilize?

This one simple question usually has the most impact on the service blueprint, at least in my experience.  You need to understand what processes your customer currently uses.  Once you understand what those processes are, you should be able to map them to SAP relatively easily.  Inevitably, some of the processes won’t be mentioned, so do your best to ask about each of these in detail.

  • Repair and Return Processing (in-house)
    • This is the standard SAP repair processing.  This will involve sales orders, deliveries, service orders and often notifications.  There are a lot of variations that can be built into this standard process, and you’ll want to understand if any of them apply.  Some of the variants include:
      • Are Loaned Items offered to customers?  are they offered to all customers or only customers who have purchased a “premium” service of some time.
      • How does scrapping need to handled for customer own equipment?
      • Is it fixed price billing?  or Time and Material billing?
    • How many in a day/week/month?
  • Advanced Exchange Processing
    • This process is a variation of the standard repair process.  The exchange is simply sending a new unit to the customer before receiving the customer’s unit.  This is often offered as a premium service to customers.  Some questions that need to be addressed for this process include:
      • How does billing occur?  is the customer billed as soon as the exchange is sent, and credited upon receipt of the customer’s equipment? Or is the customer billed after the unit is received and repaired?
      • Are brand new units sent as an exchange?  or are refurbished units sent as as exchange?
      • What happens to the repaired inventory?  Is it stocked as a new number or different valuation type? is it put back into stock as new?  Does it need to go to a special inventory location?
      • Does the repair of exchange need to be tracked separately?  does it require it’s own service order type? does it need special scheduling, for example all standard repairs must be done first before working on any exchange units?  It is first come, first serviced?
      • Is it fixed price billing or Time and Material billing?
    • How many in a day/week/month?
  • On-site/Field Service Processing
    • On-site or Field Service is usually the easier process.  Typically this consists of a service order that gets charged time and expenses.  However, like everything else, there are a lot of processes that can be combined with on-site service.
      • How do you deal with components needed for the On-Site work?  Are the parts sent to customer directly?  do you use “trunk” stock where your technicians carry their own stock?  Do you charge the customers for the shipping of parts?  Do you ever use customer’s parts in the order and if so, do you need to account for those in any of the processes?
      • Do you use sub-contractors or 3rd parties to perform any on-site work?  Do you need to track items like per-deim? hotel? airfare? 
      • Do you track or charge for travel time?
      • Do you schedule your technicians?  need a calender of events to know who is where?
      • How are costs currently tracked/entered?  do the technicians enter the information?  is the information sent to someone on-site?
    • How many in a day/week/month?
  • Returns for Credit
    • The easiest of the service processes, the simple return for credit.  No repairs, no replacements, just a credit.  Some additional pieces to consider include:
      • How does the stock need to handled when it is returned?  does it need to be sent to quality, repairs or production before issuing the credit?
      • How is the process handled if the material is damaged upon return?  is credit still issued?  is it partially credited?  Is it repaired, and if so, where does the cost go?
      • When is it returned to stock?  can it go back to unrestricted inventory as is, or does it need to be a different valuation type or a different material?
    • How many in a day/week/month?
  • Returns for replacement
    • This is a gray area as far as I’m concerned in the service world.  This could actually fall under the repair process and be executed like a service exchange, or it could just be a return order, with another sales order (free or paid) order to follow up.
    • The biggest think that drives this one way or the other is finance.  If it should count for or against your service revenue, this by all means, add it to the service process.  However, if it’s just a cost of sales, you’ll want to be careful trying to make it fit into service.  Someone’s budget might take a hit that they weren’t expecting.  In general, try to steer this away from repair orders.
    • How many in a day/week/month?

Do you perform quoting of repairs? 

Such a simple question… right?  nothing ever is in SAP.  When you talk about quoting in the service order, there are always little considerations you have to take into account.  So make sure you know what you need in advance.

  • Do you quote in house repairs?  if so, do you quote them before or after the product arrives in-house?
    • If you quote them after, please check out my blog post: SAP SM: Quoting In-House Repairs.  It will explain how to quote using the repair sales order you received the repair on.
  • Do you quote time and materials?  or do you quote as a fixed price?
  • Do you need to begin processing before the quote is approved?  for example, do you need to make or buy materials that have a long lead time?
  • How do you track your quote approval/rejections?

How do you price/bill your repairs?

The pricing and billing of the repair order is actually a much easier question (at least initially). 

  • Do you offer fixed price repairs?
  • Do you offer time and material billing?  If so, what do you bill for?
    • Labor?
      • do you break it out by straight time, over-time, travel time?  If so, do you have pricing and costing rates for each of them?
    • Materials
      • do you break it out by material types?  Finished goods? raw materials? etc?
      • Do you display each material used?  or just lump them all together into a single total?
    • Subcontract
      • do you need to break this into labor and materials as well?
    • On-Site expenses?  do you incur these?  If so, how do these need to be broken down to the customer?

Do you deal with warranty of products?

Warranty tends to be one of the most challenging pieces to deal with when it comes to the repair process.  There are a lot of variables, and it seems that everyone handles it differently.  So make sure you collect a lot of information.  I’ll do my best to arm with as many questions as I can think of.

  • How do you Track warranty?  is it through serialization? equipment records? time of shipment?
  • When does the warranty start?  shipment? registration? receipt? time of creation?
    • if it’s registration, how do you track that?  is there an interface?
  • How your warranty measured?  straight time? operating hours? mileage? or a combination of multiple things?
    • If it isn’t straight time, how do you track the other metrics?  is there any automation to capture the numbers or is it a manual process?
  • What is covered by the warranty?  Time? Materials? customer service? on-site service? everything?
  • When do you know that something is warranty?  do you know at the time of the customer contact?  or not until you actually evaluate the material and see if it falls under warranty (this is a big one in determining how to handle warranty).
  • Do you accrue for warranty costs?  if so, how?  is money taking out of each sale of particular parts to go into an accrued warranty account?  is there no accrual?  What accounts should be credited/debited when doing a warranty service of any time?
  • Are there special considerations for profitability or COPA?  (I’m no expert here, so if you’re like me, make sure you have your FICO person available to translate. ha ha)
  • what happens if someone doesn’t state it’s warranty?  what is the process going to be? (this one is always more for me, because without fail, setting something as warranty is often forgotten and need to be corrected after the fact.  Have a plan for this)
  • Do you perform your own service work for the warranty, or do you allow 3rd parties to repair the product and then bill you? (if so, see my post SAP Warranty Claims: A Guide for Beginners).

Do you use service contracts/extended warranty/etc?

Since we’re talking about warranty, the conversation wouldn’t be complete without talking about contracts.  Unless you offer a lifetime warranty, often you will give your customers an option to purchase an extended warranty or perhaps some sort of maintenance plan.  Like warranty, contracts require a lot of information to set the process up correctly.

  • What do you sell under a service contract?  is a yearly maintenance visit? X hours of support?  full repair/replacement?  Exchange processing for quick turn around?  extended warranty, for some or all facets of your product?
  • Do you use deferred revenue for the contract?
  • Do you use a billing plan?  or do you bill everything up front?
  • What accounts need to be credit/debit for the contract revenue?
  • How is service recognized? what accounts needs to be credited/debited when something is under contract?
  • Will you track specific serial numbers under the contract?  or any products the customer owns? (serial number tracking is encouraged)
  • DO you have a cancellation policy?  do you have a method for extending the contract? 
  • Do you track the costs vs. revenue associated with the contract?

This was a big topic, so inevitably, I missed something.  Please add things I have overlooked to help all of us get better at blueprinting,



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