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S/4HANA for Customer Management (CRM as Add-on) first look

Finally the first release of SAP CRM On-Premise (OP) embedded in S4HANA is here, showing an unique environment of working and truly streamline business processes, thus SAP CRM OP initiate the road of digital transformation by moving to S4HANA as a BackOffice solution and leaving the front office to the cloud solutions or CX, so all of them complete the #C4HANA platforms.       Why to embed the CRM processes into S4HANA?, many reason coming in mind: robustness, process versatility, maturity industry processes and providing to S4HANA Sales and Services of a real customer experience, in this way the solution is called #S4HANA for Customer Management, #S4CRM or #CM. As of now business consultant will have the opportunity to redress mistakes from the past experiences, re-designing processes by making use of industry best practices and leading our customer to the new digital transformation.

In this article will expose some functional and technical characteristics of the Customer Management release 1.0, remarking on those functionalities in #S4CRM based on my current experience, I will make comparisons against SAP CRM On-Premise still alive solution, current features and future planned functionalities.

Making flush flight on #S4CRM, it presents the same functionalities that already exist in the CRM OP, but the most highlighted features on this release is its focus on Services, being the most important those services processes directly integrated with the logistic and financial core-processes in the ERP, all above thanks to the direct elimination of the CRM Middleware and the so-called RFC to function modules thus, eliminating the bottleneck and optimizing the processes.

Let’s start by mentioning the new approach of the master data for CRM services, in this version the management of the objects/components like individual objects and installed base is very important, such as: equipment, machines, vehicles, sites, facilities and others that depict the customer´s installed base, what we know today as Technical Objects used in SAP PM / CS as Functional location, Equipment and BOM for highlighting the most impacted ones will be also directly managed by CM Services, it is assumed transitively the use of other objects related to the previous ones: measurement points, readings and warranties to name a few of them as functionalities added through the technical objects.

Service master data unified 

Warranty is one of the master date that will not be a type of product anymore as we know in CRM OP but a master data with the same definition in which the technical objects of PM / CS are managed, however, it is not yet clear how it will handle the Warranty Claim processes. Recalling Warranty Management is an added functionality within PM & CS, thus this object requires specific configurations for use together with the equipment, in the same way stable and defined processes, this is why the consultants of this solution will need to add additional skills, both configuration and functional, understand the hierarchy of technical objects, assembly and disassembly functionalities, integration with modules as fixed assets and material management, just for naming a few of them.

Based on my CRM experience, the integration of technical objects with SAP CRM Services was required since a good time ago, because it allows managing a single language, single data model and avoid the mapping of objects by having shared information in two systems, technical from the manufacture point of view and other commercial from the CRM side, these are gone and a single design of the data model is unified.

Part of the definition of objects and products used in CRM OP disappear, among them product hierarchy and categories along with set types and attribute set, they will not be longer needed, in the same way definitions of object families and the installed base components will not be required either; however, new definitions of technical object types and characteristics in PM / CS are added

Getting ahead what the S/4HANA1809 for CM release 2.0 bring, it incorporates the definition of Product Bundle to group several product components (tangible and not tangible) in a bundle or package, this is a functionality already exists in CRM OP and now it is downloaded to S4 to be used in packaged-quotes business document renamed Solution Package (old Package quotation).

Simplification processes 

It is good to mention that CRM OP processes are taking the greatest advantage from this unification and simplification for the service functionalities, S4HANA inherits all the CRM processes with a customer-oriented approach, having now Service Orders/Service Request nested with other transaction types such as: quotes, activities, knowledge articles instead of solution data-base and even pre-sales processes through opportunities. Above ones provide a more dynamic process environment, less rigid and lent to design complex business architectures. S4CRM Service becomes in the new Customer Service in S/4HANA, types of operations such as service notifications, service orders, task list are replaced by Service Request, Service order and Service Order templates, others such as Service Contract, are planned to be delivered in the next releases.

A question that derives from the previous paragraphs is what will be the future of Customer Service?, well, it does not exist anymore within IMG configuration nor in the SAP menu at least in S/4HANA 1709, simply the new implementations will require the implementation of S4CRM for the new customer and migrate old one from R3 to S4HANA, that is because SAP wants to put more focus on Services as customer experience on contrary what its predecessor does, a solution focused on the transactional operations over the technical objects; thus the best of both worlds PM/CS and CRM Services is mixed.

S4CRM provides a modern interface and processes strongly integrated to the back-office modules as FI, MM or SD; it could be thought in the short future to have a direct integrations with C4C Services being it the front-office of CM for Field Services, although this is not clear when a new actor is on the scene: Core System. The above will push to CRM a very important shift, given that sales has always been the focus not only for SAP but also for third parties solution non-SAP.

As a former SAP PM consultant I could say that the road for substitute SAP CS to S4CRM Services seems to be similar when CS module was created by adding functionalities and object management from PM and including operational processes integration with SD. In the case of PM common objects were shared: equipment, functional locations, measurement points, reading documents, task list, maintenance strategy, planning services, notifications and others. SAP is gradually adding functionalities from PM/CS, so it is not to be missed an integration between S4CRM Service and PM not only for the technical data but in processes where the occurrence of customer service derives in the generation of orders to internal maintenance, example: on ISU for feasibility check, internal adjustments and other activities related to service projects.

Service plan functionality is not available in the release 1.0 neither 2.0, even service contract, we could expect to have a similar CRM OP Service Plan and processing but there is nothing clear yet, I hope SAP takes the best practices from PM/CS and CRM, while for scheduling and resource allocation it will remain MRS, here again the great improve is not more middleware replication.

Web UI graphical interface is the same with some improved features and flavored Fiori look and feel, Belize theme is built-in. However, there are some improvements to be made in the graphical interface still: S4HANA objects tied to history transactions, such as: internal order, sales orders, good movements, etc., as well as objects, by example UI lacks of tree hierarchy to display customer’s installed base or technical object structure; of course GUI and Fiori interface are alternatives but just one would be better for customer experience. In detail a view for customer’s installed base search and display is required for equipment, components, warranties, measurement points, readings documents and such related transactional data like: contracts, service orders, it must be similar to ISU connection object data and related.

In the context of the Web UI for S4CRM 2.0 new Business roles for interacting with SD quotation and orders is delivered, but with the same limitations of CRM ERP Sales Order functionality. In my opinion it should be improved to make the user-contact one, means using Web UI as the only interface tool for customer raising his requirements and not toggle between Fiori, GUI and Web UI.

Managing of business roles is identical to current solution, S4CRM delivers an ISU business role as the main improvement for CRM´s vertical industries, the integration is direct with the ISU-core processes which is a huge plus since eliminates for example those annoying transactions like CRMREPL for the updating service contracts and products, also eliminate ISU master data object replications such as: customers, connection objects, installed base and contracts, those RFC fro move-in and move-out, readings documents, adjustments and others are pull-out, improving the solution performance.

An improvement on the HCM-organizational structure and S4CRM integration is the creation of Employees directly as BP, this through reports that take the data (info types) of the employee number form HCM and create the BP with the same characteristics in the respective role.

From the technical point of view CRM tables has been improved, in fact tables are also simplified to make access to the most direct information without the need for so many relational tables, for example the status of a service order now is part of a single table instead a relational one; in addition to a bunch of CRM transactions are no longer needed due to the adoption of the technical objects of S4HANA PM / CS, of course new tables and transactions are introduce to the consultants´ knowledge.

Business transaction like Case Management and Service Letter are out of this approach because of the few use of them in many customer. Knowledge management is incorporated to S4HANA through Knowledge Article business transaction which will not use TREX any more to index data but does the Enterprise HANA search component instead.

Integrations

Integration with CO through the Internal Order generation for collection of expenses, accounting supported through billing processes, credit management, and analysis of the profitability for the service orders; Sales and Distribution for creating sales orders and subsequent logistic processes. As of S/4HAN 1709 a new billing category for invoicing External Billing Document Request or EBDR, through this service and material can be invoiced in one document, but the final solution is still ongoing.

Now a direct integration with the HCM module is active, since the organizational unit, positions and employees are shared in the same system instead to synchronize IDOCs side by side. Another direct integration is with purchasing orders in MM for procurement of external services; in turn, direct integration with material management and BOM. Clearly the integration with Plant Maintenance for technical object, but SAP promises more deliveries over the next months.

Expected/suggested functionalities 

Integration with MRS is a debt, above one is expected along with Contract Service, Warranty Management, Complaint and In-house repair just for mention the most important.  But also there are in the list: SAP CRM OP migration tool, Field services integration (will it be in core-system?), skills management and service project.        As I mentioned SAP promises a tool and strategy CRM on premise migration to S/4HANA CM for those SAP CRM customers; it will begin with the migration of enhancement tables built by EAT, then later continue with master data conversion.

According to the roadmap It is planned the integrations with PM to those processes where internal work has to be done on the own facilities or equipment, so that to provide or extend services at the customer location by example Utility industry.

In my opinion would be nice to have the creation of sub-orders or child service-orders from Parents Order to those scenarios where comprehensive services need to be broken down by very specialized areas, knowledges or simply segmented by different profit centers but all of then tied to a huge work (similar functionality to PM sub-orders).

A nice-to-have in future releases is the processes integration of S4CRM CM with C4C Services for example creation of tickets in C4C and subsequent transfer to Service Order in CM, time recording and others.

For next delivery I will give more details of this version and the new release 2.0. Any comments is welcoming in order of enriching this article

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