A Day for the Process Industries at the SAP Enterprise Product Development Customer Council
After working on SAP Recipe Development for more than 10 years and having performed way more than 100 end user interviews as a UI designer and Product Owner, this year’s SAP Enterprise Product Development Customer Council was different for me: I am in a new team within PLM, the Cloud Acceleration team. I was watching from a different perspective now without the responsibilities of the POs presenting there, but also with a decade of experience I understood everything they said. I would like to share with you what were the highlights of the process industries specific day of the council for me this year.
The start of the day was already very promising as Ismail Serin, the chief PO of SAP Enterprise Product Development, had an introduction that showed how well he understands customers and put the rest of the day in context. He brought up a conversation he had with his cousin, who works for a cheese manufacturer, just the day before and how their problems are actually addressed by the new functionality that would be presented by others later that day. Such presentations are usually carefully written and rehearsed but this all sounded very natural and the fact that he managed to change it right before the council day shows that he owns the topic and fully understands the context.
SAP Enterprise Product Development has 4 main sections as you can see on this diagram:
The speakers and topics were arranged based on these 4 sections so I will keep it in my blog post to keep things simple.
Ing-Marie Loennerheden started with a very exciting planned capability called EPD Innovation Management. (Note: Since this is a personal blog post and not an official announcement, I will sometimes use the unofficial and informal abbreviation EPD to make the lives of readers easier.) It will be used to collect ideas, e.g., for a new seasonal flavor. I am looking forward to this functionality being directly integrated into SAP Enterprise Product Development because I have often heard from product developers that they could only rely on their past experience when getting the task to develop new flavors or fragrances of existing product ranges. This will help them work in a more structured way with better connections to their customers.
It will be interesting to see how these feedbacks will be then channeled into SAP Requirements Acquisition (an already existing functionality). This will help ensure that the final product also fulfills these.
Ing-Marie also had a lucrative offer: They are looking for co-innovation partners to develop an integration with Revuze. It is already available in the SAP Store to analyze e-commerce reviews and their integration to EPD will enable customers to feed the result directly into EPD. If you are interested and you do not know Ing-Marie’s contact information then drop me a comment below and I will connect you with her.
Jens Erb finished the Define section with a short presentation about SAP Requirements Management. This is an already existing functionality, but they made some performance and usability improvements. I think it is important to keep a software well maintained and improved even if new features are not added.
Jens also started the next section, Develop, with Product Verification and Validation. This is tightly connected to the previous topic since you verify requirements, but it was very well communicated that the persona is different.
The most important section for me in the Council was hearing how the various objects can be used in collaboration. When I talked to customers, I often heard that they are working together with suppliers or even co-manufacturers to bring a product to the market and previously this all happened via email attachments. OK, it kind of works, but it is 2022 and we could surely do better than that, right?
Felix Reichle started with Specification collaboration which adds some extra layers on simply sharing a spec with someone outside your company:
- You don’t necessarily want to share all the properties of specs in your system
- You don’t want competing suppliers to see what each other has to offer
- Templates can help you set up really simplified screens for users outside your company who never got any formal training in the system.
At the end of the collaboration all the data can be transferred back to a well-known S/4 system.
There was also some word about Document Collaboration which now has workflow integration.
It will be easier to find new suppliers with the Ariba integration of Supplier Collaboration and once the new product is ready to be manufactured the actual BOM’s can also be worked on together with internal manufacturing or even a co-manufacturer using Development Collaboration. It will be interesting how they will be even more closely involved in the future with Change Collaboration.
The next section was Deliver but for me it also showed a cool new way of working together with a package supplier and checking if the dimensions of their proposed bottle meet the requirements of the user.
Manage Product Data
Felix came back again with the Specification object but this time instead of the collaboration he talked about the new Specification Management which will be the “spiritual successor of today’s specification database.” He showed a live demo not just slides and for me it was good to see that they will keep the flexibility of the on-premise spec, but improve usability and simplicity significantly.
We also got a glimpse of the planned Intelligent Product Cockpit that will surely fill a gap in the lives of product developers.
The last presentation was a little bit surprising for me, but it actually made a lot of sense. Mateusz Graczyk showed how the digital twin could be used in the process industries. I somehow assumed that we can only talk about recipes and the actual products being manufactured but his example was about a heat exchanger, an equipment during the manufacturing process. He showed how the digital twin can help with its maintenance which can reduce the cost of manufacturing and also the risk of unplanned downtimes.
For those of you who were there: What were your favorite parts? What would you like to hear more about in the next Customer Council which will come later this year? Write it in the comments below and make sure to follow the tag SAP Enterprise Product Development to get notified about blog posts, news and events (like the second Customer Council coming up later in 2022.
About the author
Daniel Juhasz works in the Cloud Acceleration Team within PLM & Engineering. In addition to hosting the SAP EPD Community, he is also a PLM Ambassador promoting PLM and EPD content throughout various social media channels.