Configuration Management – why this new capability will improve communication
You know this from your daily life – misunderstandings can easily be avoided if all parties share the same level of information.
One goal of a PLM system is also to ensure communication between various departments. What is the shape of the new design? Which parts are required? How to plan the maintenance? These are typical questions during a product introduction that the colleagues from marketing, purchasing or service will have. And a solid data foundation is the key to answer these questions the best way.
Of course, developing a new product is not an easy task. Maybe a used technology is not holding to its promise and the design needs to be changed in the last minute. Or a component is not available and has to be replaced with something, that is only halfway compatible. These always ongoing changes can be the reason, why, for example, the service manual gets created with a lot of effort based on still the old approach – and not for the really produced product which is now looking a little different. The same applies for the production planning, the involvement of suppliers…
In order to avoid these situations, PLM systems provide the single source of truth. Only sometimes the access to the right information is not so easy for occasional users. What is the latest version? Which version got released? Which version will be produced in this specific plant?
The new Configuration Management will help here and provide simplified access to the rich data. A configuration expert can easily create so called ‘Configuration Plans’. These ‘Configuration Plans’ can contain one or many phases (e.g. ‘as released by development’, ‘as released for production’, …). Then the right BOMs and with them the attached Material Masters and Documents are being added as baselines to the phase. If all the data is correct, then baseline and phase get released and can easily be shared with other users.
The advantage with this new approach is, that downstream users from marketing, purchasing, … can access a well-defined baseline that is reviewed and released – instead of random searching in the system. In addition, such a configuration phase can be described by the configuration manager or additionally documented with attachments to better explain the contained data.
But the improved communication is only one aspect. In many industries like medical devices or automotive suppliers, regulation authorities or audits require a detailed documentation of the whole product introduction process. Who has released this change? When got this item introduced?
Also here the new ‘Configuration Management’ is providing the possibility of documenting the composition of the product structures, material masters and documents into a baseline for a given time, change number or revision. This baseline is de-coupled and can later on easily be used to prove the status to a given date.
How can I get started with Configuration Management?
In addition to many other new features, SAP Enterprise Product Development 2211 (SAP EPD) now also contains Configuration Management. This functionality is supporting SAP ECC Systems down to EhP7 and of course to S/4HANA. An ABAP Add-On is required to enable the right interfaces on the backend side.
Once the AddOn is added to the backend system and after a few configuration steps the Configuration Management can already be used, leveraging all the data that is already available in the backend systems.
Interested to learn more? Here are links that can help you further: