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Author's profile photo Leo Diepstraten

Create one single source of the truth about your products and packaging in the cloud with SAP EPD Specification Management


SAP Enterprise Product Development (EPD), a cloud native solution, built on the Business Technology Platform (BTP), is on its mission to digitalize product development, from early design through manufacturing, supply chain and service. SAP Enterprise Product Development – Specification Management regulates and manages the product data that describes all aspects of a product and its packaging. The associated raw materials and ingredients are specified, as are the product compositions (bills of material) and the finished goods. With these, users and organizations have the possibility to share, analyze and capture its specification and product data, both internally and externally. We are thrilled to share with you the first version of SAP Enterprise Product Development – Specification Management which will be generally available with the 2211 release.


What do we mean by raw material, product, and packaging specifications?

In a specification the developer describes exactly what a product needs to look like, where it consists of, and which functions it needs to fulfill. Not only the product is described how it needs to be manufactured, but also how it should be packed, shipped and used. Therefore, you will have specifications supporting the early design processes, all the way through the later downstream processes. In the whole product lifecycle, specifications are describing business activities. Examples of data that is described in a specification is: the Material Master, Bill of Material, recipe formulation, sustainability and compliance data, purchasing and pricing data.

Specifications are used by many functions including R&D, product and packaging design and engineering, regulatory affairs, the quality department, production, purchasing, sales and service departments. Specifications are developed and modified for diverse types of projects such as new product development and introduction (NPDI), product changes and innovations, packaging and label design.


What obstacles do we reduce when specifying our products and packaging?

With the shorter shelf lives of products and increasing demand for diversity, the speed in which products have to be developed and introduced to the market becomes crucial for a company, to gain market share. A proper specification management helps companies to reduce the time to market of products and packaging. By enabling reuse of information, applying automated business rules and supporting workflow management, companies are able to speed up the product development and introduction processes.


Of all new innovations, less than 5% of the samples being designed will make it all the way to an introduction to the market. In addition, companies fear recalls of their products, because these recalls lead to: brand damage, loss of trust and risk of expensive fines. Nowadays, 62% of the recalls are due to improper specification management and labelling. With a proper Specification Management we can reduce the risk of product recalls or withdrawals. A specification reduces ambiguity. It might prevent accidents that happen due to a lack of information. About 60% of all quality incidents are caused by design errors.


Non-conformances negatively impact businesses because they damage their reputation, reduce efficiency and cost a lot of money to resolve. Some examples of these non-conformances are: shipment of products that are not properly tested, root causes of problems that are not correctively solved, changes that are not managed precisely. 25% of the non-conformances are due to incorrect specifications. In the healthcare sector, fines can be as high as $1.5 million per incident if companies fail to comply with HIPAA compliance rules.


Where to position Specification Management in the product lifecycle?

The picture below shows that specifications are predominant at the different stages of the product life cycle.

Not only the product and packaging design processes make use of the specifications, but as shown in the picture below, also the downstream processes are heavily impacted by them.

Since different lines of businesses have different business needs for specifications, a flexible and adaptable data model is needed to support the various customers in the process and discrete industries. With SAP Enterprise Product Development – Specification Management we offer a solution that fits for chemical, life sciences, cosmetics, food, and discrete industries.


What are the key capabilities of the SAP Enterprise Product Development – Specification Management solution?


SAP EPD Specification Management is a solution to manage specifications as central repository and being a single source of truth for all product, raw material, and packaging related properties. It supports the consumption and generation of product and raw material related information for the different SAP platforms like SAP S/4HANA OP & Cloud and others but also external data hubs and partner solutions.


SAP Enterprise Product Development – Specification Management has the following capabilities:

  • Manage Specification objects with predefined structures, texts, and properties for the chemicals, food, consumer products, raw materials, (semi-)finished products and packaging industries
  • Classify Specification and Product objects based on usage and significance
  • Apply compliance rules and requirements. Perform validity checks.
  • Structure Specifications via property trees, compositions, and linked objects
  • Support Business Technology Platform services, like the approval workflow, unit of measure, dimension, and conversion of units
  • Versioning and inheritance of specification data


Typical characteristics that distinguish it from the competition in future are

  • Integration with SAP and non-SAP solutions, both On Premise and Cloud
  • Integration with external Data Hubs and Partner solution
  • High performance on a state of the art user experience, which is user centric and easy to use
  • Predefined, flexible and customer extendable structures


The out-of-the-box capabilities offered are:


Configure Properties & Compositions

The SAP Enterprise Product Development – Specification Management solution consists of a various set of applications to configure the solution to the customer’s needs. There is an application to define Properties. These Properties can have a standard list of values, unit of measures, dimensions, minimum and maximum values, and default values. Properties can be defined in various languages and can be grouped by so called Property Trees. The Property Trees can then be assigned to a Specification Type. Next to Properties, there are also the so called Composition Items (like protein, milk, nuts). These items can be grouped by Composition Item Groups and classified by Composition Item Types, such as allergen and nutrient.


Categorize Product

Properties that are defined, can be assigned to Product Categories. And Specifications can have a Product Category assigned to it. In this way, Products can be categorized according to industry standards, line of business or any customer specific grouping. These can be used also to model groupings according to industry standards.

Manage Specifications

Specification objects with predefined structures, texts, and properties (trees) that suites different lines of business. These objects can be linked to each other, which makes it possible to build a structure of specifications. With the Manage Specification application the user can easily create, update, and delete Specifications. Specifications have a certain Type that determines the Properties of the specification being maintained. A Specification is categorized by the Product Category and a status profile (defined via Status Management) can be selected.

Manage Status

Status Management allows you to define a status profile, which is a set of sequential (lifecycle) statuses. This Status Profile can be assigned to a certain Specification Type. Each Specification of that Type will then automatically have the statuses defined in the Status Profile. Each status in the profile has a description, status type, next status and action defined.


To get an early insight in the (near) future innovations of SAP Enterprise Product Development – Specification Management, please use the following link: link to near term innovations.

How can various business functions profit from a proper Specification Management solution?

With a proper Specification Management solution, you can gain business benefits at the introduction of new products and packages. With Specification Management you can:

  • Define your new products and new materials accurately
  • Check compliancy during engineering and design
  • Reuse information
  • Introduce of machine learning
  • Share specifications in real time across development teams, departments, third parties

For meeting companies’ sustainability goals, a proper Specification Management will:

  • Give direct access to data of your products.
  • Offer efficient reporting capabilities
  • Offer real time analysis of effects of proposed changes
  • Ensure consistent data properties and attributes


The Marketing department will benefit by:

  • A reduction of the complexity. Ingredients and packaging components can be harmonized
  • Specifications to define the marketing needs


The business benefits for the Quality department are:

  • Direct access to critical documents
  • Company wide access to audits
  • Use specifications as a basis for test cases


Regulatory Affairs’ benefits are:

  • Comply to Governmental Regulations
  • Obtain approval for new products and ensure that approval is maintained for as long as the company wants to keep the product on the market


And finally, the Procurement department will gain profit by:

  • The possibility to manage the performance of the supplier network
  • A close collaboration with the suppliers
  • Support of the bid processes
  • Ability to calculate costs


SAP Enterprise Product Development is a cloud solution that enables you to digitally orchestrate your product development, from design to operate, resulting in reduced time to market, higher R&D return on investment, higher margins, and reliable product launches.

The solution offers the ability to run specific product life-cycle management services in the cloud, while keeping relevant data on premise. With the extension of Specification Management, we help our customers to reduce time to market, enable an efficient product development process and reduce already in the product design phase.


Customer influence and adoption

SAP is investing heavily in the development of Specification Management requirements. With the 2211 release, a stable foundation has been laid with which customers can incorporate their data model. It is the beginning of a journey in which the solution will be expanded with the above-mentioned capabilities. This journey can be influenced by the customers. SAP has six main Customer Influence programs:

  • The SAP Customer Engagement Initiative asks for your ideas during the development process
  • Our SAP Beta Testing program lets you weigh-in on a new product before its release
  • With SAP Integration Experience Feedback, you can experience the latest released intelligent enterprise scenarios on an integrated SAP internal landscape
  • The SAP Early Adopter Care program helps you deploy new innovations ahead of the competition
  • SAP Customer Connection provides an easy way to request enhancements in project mode, for mature on-premise products
  • And SAP Continuous Influence enables you to continuously suggest improvements on SAP Cloud solutions and most recent technologies directly to the development teams

To explore the possibilities of influencing SAP’s developments on SAP EPD Specification Management, please go to


Additionally, customers benefit from lower TCO and the possibility to develop custom applications on top more quickly (and independently from their S4 journey). The solution and approach enable the customer with a smooth transition from today’s On Premise solution to a full cloud solution over the years, while midsize net new customers can start directly in the cloud.


More detailed information on the solution can be found on the Help Portal: SAP Enterprise Product Development

There is also a video with an introduction to Specification Management: SAP Media Share


If you want to learn more or get inspired by a visionary demo – reach out to your contact person at SAP.

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      Author's profile photo Atilla Madarasz
      Atilla Madarasz

      Great article, Leo. Thank you very much. Very insightful.

      Author's profile photo Michael Schmalfeldt
      Michael Schmalfeldt

      More than curious to get to know more details. Also keen to see which functions (usage, reference/inheritance, specification types,...) from the old solution will be available again in the new specification management.

      Author's profile photo Christoph Bergemann
      Christoph Bergemann


      i miss "clarity": what can we really expect to get if SAP is talking about "packaging". It is not really clear what will be delivered (either now in the most current version of the tool or in a future version) Can you please share more insight here? For the "Chemical" part e.g. how store a chemical properly and how to transport a chemical: the packaging is an important piece of something..


      Author's profile photo Heinz Lutsch
      Heinz Lutsch

      Dear Leo and Community,

      I am looking for an option to integrate specification data, linked to Materials and Vendor Master Data, into Purchasing documents. I would like to include this data e.g. in PO item text in order that that vendor knows which limits and tolerantes of specific properties of a substance we are willing to accept. Is there a standard interface or way to achieve this kind of functionality? I would assume this is a requirement many companies have.

      I am aware of user exits and Badis for PO creation, but I would like to have a more flexible solution, that users can determine which properties are relevant for the specific material and vendor.

      Many thanks in advance