Who would’ve thought that the integration of WebClient UI and IC WebClient would matter so much?

SAP introduced the unified user interface with the 7.0 release that integrated the WebClient UI and IC WebClient at the transaction level.  SAP fully integrated both  User interfaces with EHP1. The new integration includes scratchpad integration with CRM WebClient UI order in IC, extended product search with product preview and multi-select for CRM WebClient order in IC, and real time offer management (RTOM) integration for CRM WebClient orders in IC.  The IC further intertwined the RTOM integration with Telco order management.

Shared service center: Both the ERP financials and Financial Supply Chain Management (FSCM) are integrated with Accounting Interaction Center (AIC) for outbound and inbound collections and dispute management. The Employee Interaction Center (EIC) is integrated with HCM processes, forms and employee authentication features. 

Other enhancements:  IC can now handle identical business partners from multiple backend systems. The agent inbox is powered to search work items from multiple backend systems. You are now able to link and unlink ERP business objects such as orders from the business context of service requests. The new checklist functionality organizes the process steps to resolve a service request.

Service request enhancements:  You can record the time spent by employees in resolving a service request and integrate with Cross Application Time Sheet (CATS) of the backend system. The ERMS is fully integrated. The “Auto Suggest” functionality is now available in service requests as well. New BI content for service requests analysis is available.

Architectural enhancements:  Did you experience challenges with setting up reverse proxy/firewall in the past? There’s a simple solution with simple ABAP messaging (SAM) service. Asynchronous processing of inbox search and alerts releases the bandwidth of the agent to perform other tasks while the query is being executed in the background. A major step forward is that multiple sessions with multiple communication channels are now supported. You can now do a free text search on activities/interaction record, knowledge articles, incidents and problems.

Usability enhancements: The agent will be able to specify the relevancy of search criteria for account, contact or both.  Rule modeler got robust with enhanced search and policy maintenance and Intent Driven Interaction (IDI) functionalities. Type concept for conditions has been introduced. The interactive scripting got better by allowing overwriting of an existing script with the same script id without first deleting the existing script manually.  The agents can now record and review the transcripts for customer responses after the customer call. Quite a time saver!

CRM instant messaging: Any IC agent would love this tool. You can chat with any agent within the group and be able to call, email and send CRM context data through instant messaging. It is not only cool but saves time and makes life much simpler.

Message blending: Think about converting instant messages and chats into a voice reading.  That is what message blending is. You can convert support centers into contact centers, as channels are flexible to use.

Communication hyperlinks and preview dialing:  One click dialing as the telephone numbers are rendered as hyperlinks in CRM business roles and views is a big time saver in the contact center.  The ability to preview the next call and the flexibility for the agent to accept or reject the call helps in routing the call to the appropriate agent.

Dashboards: The Xcelsius dashboard now covers incidents (service requests), problems, and requests for change.

Thank god!  SAP finally put an end to the performance horror stories with IPC in large order and contracts scenario with EHP1. 

I blogged about how persisted cumulative values of an order or contract in a table  solved the performance nightmares caused by the cumulative values being calculated each time an order or contract is opened.   Let’s understand further the pricing related performance improvements in EHP1.

Pricing totals are in the header of service contractor with EHP1: You have “Pricing Totals” assignment block to show the cumulated values prior to EHP1.  Large contracts with several 100’s of line items caused performance issues as system calculated the totals whenever a contract is opened. Now the totals are part of the header based on the persistent cumulated values in a table and the problem was solved.  Get access to EHP1 OKP if interested to know the technical details behind it.

New Pricing Interface: I had hard time answering a customer’s questions such as “Why pricing was called when I was updating non-pricing fields in an order, Is there a way to stop it as it is slowing the system?  Those questions will no more rises after implementing EHP1. Pricing is only called when changes are made to the pricing relevant fields with the new interface and it is now checked against the buffer also. Sales and service quotes and orders, package quote, financing contract and quote and multiple asset contracts are covered under the new pricing interface.  A mapping table is available to maintain the pricing relevant fields to add any of the object specific definitions. A mapping table to define project specific or customer specific definitions is also available.  In addition BAdI’s are available to implement customer specific pricing logic.

Option to disable cross-item pricing : Any customer using the cross-item pricing  knows  how painfully slow the system  is when an order or contract has multiple items  as system checks the cross-item pricing for a newly entered, or updated line item.  EHP1 provided an option to temporarily disable the cross-item function while entering, editing or deleting a line item(s).A user can enable the cross-item pricing at the end of processing the document or directly save the document which triggers the cross-item pricing for the whole document and displays/saves the document.

Delayed item load mode: Load the line items into IPC buffer on demand vs. loading all the line items into the buffer when an order or contract is opened in the earlier versions.  No need to explain how faster and efficient the new mode is.

Other pricing improvements that are worth mentioning, improved reading of item pricing data, changed logic to get product hierarchies and categories.

Get access to SAP CRM 7.0 EHP1 and read SAP note 1436942 if you are interested in deep diving into the above functionalities.

iServiceGlobe is dedicated to providing solutions to better enable your company reach prospects, increase sales, and provide quality customer service.  Typically, our blog focuses on technology based solutions that will help companies achieve this goal.  Today I am going to take a bit of a departure from my typical focus on CRM and give some attention to a completely different issue within the workplace in general and SAP Project in particular.  Most SAP Projects are implemented with a combination of internal workforce and external consultants.  The project team  memebers has  vast diffrences in the background and culture , but a common goal of making SAP Project a success.  The  relevance of project team harmony is very important for  project success. Please remember the project is as good as it is designed, configured and deployed. The single most important success factor of any SAP Project is  the project team with optimal harmony and synchronization. It is more important in the current times as SAP Projects typically have resources with different social and cultural values and backgrounds as the SAP workforce is more global than before. In this context it is important to discuss the factors that affect the general work environment and the corrective measures. We are often so busy with our daily job related tasks and functions that it is easy to overlook other core aspects of our work lives. Equally as important as our job functions is maintaining the environment in which we work in on a daily basis.  For example, blatant and subtle practices of discrimination and sexual harassment are obvious threats to the work environment that threaten to derail any company’s growth and productivity.  A less obvious threat to the work environment, and my area of focus for today, is workplace violence.     

When we think of “violence,” most of us conjure up images of disputes in the streets, domestic violence, religious intolerance and war.  We rarely think of violence in the workplace.   Interestingly enough, however, research suggests that most have us have or will experience violence in the workplace at some point in our careers. 

According to OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) of the US Department of Labor, workplace violence is a serious health and safety issue.  In fact, homicide is the fourth leading cause of fatal occupational injury in the United States.  Though “going postal” has taken upon a humorous connotation in many circles, the term initially arose from some very serious occurrences of workplace violence.

Companies could potentially limit these tragic occurrences of violence if we learn to identify the early signs of such seeds being planted in the workplace.  Though a majority of countries have legislation to address workplace violence and prevention, it falls short of addressing psychological violence or trauma common at the workplace.   Such occurrences, while often very subtle, often plant seeds that threaten to destroy the workplace environment and create a potential for a permanently damaged workforce.

Psychological Violence at the Workplace

Workplace violence takes many forms.  Culturally, we look at “bullying” as a problem in adolescence that starts and finishes in school.  Unfortunately, this is not the case.  In many companies, workplace violence takes place daily in the form of bullying.

As executives, directors, managers, employees, etc., it is important for us to make a collective effort to address the issue of this psychological form of violence.  Most of us have probably witnesses such bullying and chalked it up to an overly harsh manager or boss.  “You are such a loser,” “You are such a tool,” etc.  Statements such as these made to a subordinate should be taken seriously and addressed at their onset rather than wait for such occurrences to bubble over into a full spectrum of violence.

Often this bullying is a result of some very practical issues should be addressed at their first sign.  For example,

The boss wanted a “top gun” for the role, however, because of budget limitations, he was forced to bring on a new hire that is ramping up a bit too slowly.  As a result, the boss starts to feel impatient as project deadlines approach and the likelihood of delays increase.  The subordinate ends up bearing the brunt of his frustration.   In this scenario, both the boss and the subordinate are both subjected to mental stress and agony that should be addressed at its first signs.

This example merely scratches the surface of the mountain of workplace violence scenarios.  Many complex situations today are affecting the workforce’s mental and emotional balance on a daily basis.

How to Avoid Workplace Violence

So, what are some tangible steps that we can do in order to minimize the occurrence of workplace violence?  Below are ten things that I think all of us can start doing right away. 

1)      Every one of us should take the responsibility to find common

         ground with our fellow employees

2)      Communication: Have a two-way communication process early on

         when working with a new boss or new employee. The

         communication channel and medium should allow open,

         transparent and honest flow of information.  Both parties should

         express their expectations and discuss what each could do to

         ensure success.

3)      There is nothing wrong with a “save my skin” attitude, however,

         it should be used as a last resort to document concerns and

         apprehensions.

4)      E-mail is a boon and curse. The use of emails to build the record

         of concerns should be used as a last means and not the first

         means.

5)      Ensure that every team member constantly asks the question,

         “how can we help each other to be successful?”

6)      Mutual respect is the most important factor that one must

         remember even in the toughest or roughest situations.

7)      Ultimately, there are no bad people but people who are a bad fit

         for a particular organization.  These issues should be addressed,

         candidly, by both the boss and the subordinate. This could ensure

         that you are able to move the employee into a role that is better

         fit for them or help the employee roll out of the company in a

         more amicable separation.

8)      While not quitting is a strong ethos and shows determination,

         remember to choose your battles and realize that sometimes

         quitting may be the best option when there is no value in

         continuing to fight.

9)      One should choose a career that they are passionate about it vs.

         choosing a career based on compensation.  Choosing a career

         that one is passionate about will eventually lead to big payoff.   

10)  Since it requires a large commitment of time, finance and

       emotional stress, legal proceedings should be the last resort to

       consider when attempting to resolve workplace violence.

Tax Exemption Certificate:   Maintaining the tax exemptions based on exemption certificates issues by the local, state and federal governments was a challenge before EHP1. I know some companies that paid hefty penalties when they allowed tax exemptions without proper verification. There is clear ROI of EHP1 if your company deals with customers that seek tax exemptions as tax exemption application supports exemption certificate.  Tax exemption certificate feature is available as part of the SAP CRM billing and Tax Transaction Engine (TTE). System allows period based, amount based and onetime tax exemption certificate functionality. You can maintain exemption reasons and reason codes in the application. You can setup the validity of tax exemptions for certain products or services.  You assign the tax exemption certificate in the sold-to party account and system automatically picks up the tax exemption based on the preset criteria when you create an order.  You can setup a manual application of tax exemption after verification if necessary.  The billing run picks up the tax exemptions if any from the orders and no redetermination happen.  All invalid tax exemption certificates will be removed from the billing document. The billing checks the type of tax exemption and process accordingly (Ex: the billing engine ignores the tax exemption certificate in the subsequent billing document if it is one time tax exemption only).  The billing engine accumulates the exempt amount and links the billing documents with exempt for audit trail.

Enhanced Data Retention Tool (DARTX):  It’s great that your customers received tax exemption based on exemption certificates which are duly verified.  However the tax audits are random and tax authorities can potentially audit taxes that are filed in the past based on the agency laws. The period could be three years or more.  This means a company has to be ready for a possible tax audit. SAP has built tool similar to the tools that auditors use to extract, create retain and store set of data that is pertaining to audit at a later date.  This tool was originally developed for ERP and then they have enhanced the tool to be used with SAP CRM and GTS systems and called DARTX.

Performance improvements in One order object: Prior to EHP1, the total value on the header was calculated when an order or contract is opened.  In the process all the item values were called and cumulated which caused big hit on the performance. SAP made fundamental changes to improve significant performance improvement. With EHP1, a table holds the total values and no calculation happens when you display an order or contract.  The same was true with the order status which was derived based on the sum statuses of the line items when an order or contract is opened. Now the derived header status is stored in a table avoiding the redetermination when an order or contract is opened.

Asynchronous save:  Prior to EHP1   the save operation was synchronous and the user has to wait until the save is done.  System took considerable time to save a large order or contract with several 100s of line items.  Now the update or save is done asynchronously.  Users are no more required to wait until the save is completed.  You may have question that what if there is an error during the save process.

An express email is triggered to the user who called the update or save process on order or contract when an exception occurs.  The express mail is sent to the user email id.

Item search in large orders and contracts: In some industries the sales order and service contract could have 1000s of line items. Imagine the challenge of locating a particular line item for an update or review. It is no more a challenge with the item search functionality delivered with EHP1. The search is similar to the advanced search. There is BAdI available to enhance the item search further

Large transaction mode:  Pre EHP1, all the line items are loaded and displayed in pages when a contract or order was opened in the WebClient UI. This consumed considerable time to display the order or contract.  With large transaction mode the items in the first page are only loaded and the further pages will be loaded as the user navigates to those line items. By this way the order or contract is loaded much faster.  A user handling large orders and contract will see decent performance improvement with this mode. In customization you can setup threshold of the line items to designate an order or contract as a large transaction. 

Date rules and their calculation:  Previously the logic behind date rules is defined using XML rules parsing.  In EHP1 direct ABAP processing replacing the XML parsing made the calculation faster and hence the performance of an order or contract.

Kernel BAdI’s: the most frequently called BAdI’s are switched to the Kernel BAdI’s. The code from existing BAdI’s should be moved to kernel BAdI’s.   This paved the way for a huge performance improvement.

BDOC Generation:  Have you ever read schedule lines in an order? If yes, I don’t need to say how painfully slow it was. It is history now. EHP1 improved the reading with a secondary index.

Buffering of middleware parameters:  you would notice significant performance improvement if your company is using SAP CRM for order generation and SAP ERP for order fulfillment.  Remember the message “the transaction is locked “message while replicating the order from SAP CRM to ERP? Sometimes, it seemed like the order is locked forever. The process was slow as the CRM system was reading the middleware parameters from the database each time a replication is done.  In EHP1 the middleware parameters (Table SMOFPARSFA) is buffered.  Significant performances after you install the EHP1 in an integrated scenario.

I will continue to the part-IV of the blog  highlighting  the services functionality improvements.

Service is one of the strongest offerings of SAP CRM and got better with EHP1.

Automatic credit check: unable to collect service revenue because of bad credit of a customer was an issue before as no   automatic credit check was available in the prior releases. This issue can now be prevented by enabling the automatic credit check before releasing the service contracts and orders, complaints and in-house repair order for execution.

Product proposal tree:  product proposals in a tree view with multiple levels of hierarchies are now supported in service contracts and orders and in-house repairs.

Side by side view of two installed bases:  You can now display the two version of an installed base or two installed bases side by side to compare and easy copy of components from one to the other.

Audit trail on an installed base: Display a past version of the installed base at any given instance of time.  Track what components changed, added or deleted from the installed base.

Time recording in Service Requests:  You liked the service requests functionality. But couldn’t migrate from service ticket to service request as the time recording feature was not available. Now is the time to consider migration as the functionality is available in service requests with EHP1.  Record the actual duration, employee responsible, service type and valuation type. System automatically creates a service confirmation item for each time record entered.

Rule based dispatching: create a set of business rules to dispatch service orders and complaints using the rule modeler.

Check lists for service requests and orders:  The service tasks must be performed in particular sequence while servicing the customers in highly regulated industries such as nuclear energy, medical devices etc.  Your company wants to implement a faster service cycle by using a step by step procedure.  You can setup sequential or parallel service processing with a visual graphical flow. Provide check lists, check list processors via rules, work instructions, action processing and make long text available in step details.

Service transactions monitor: A graphical status monitor for service orders and confirmation is available from EHP1. View the status icon with a mouse over.  Navigate to the current service order, preceding quotation or follow-up service confirmation.

Multiple addresses on mobile client:   This mobile service client is a SAP traditional mobile client and not based on Sybase unwired platform.   This functionality is available for parties involved at the head and item level for service quotation, orders, and confirmations, complaints and returns.  A new button “Address Proposal” is available to check the available addresses and select the address for the proposed service if multiple addresses exist via a pop-up.  The one time address change can be done by right clicking on the address section and selecting the “New”.

Prediction of duration and parts:  Predict the service parts and service duration based on historical such as used service parts, quantity, duration, service products etc.

Warranty claim enhancements: Accept both customer and vendor warranties by validating the warranty claims against the warranty database. Issue the payment to the customer and trigger a claim against the vendor at the same time if there is a vendor claim is involved. Allow vendors to register the warranties online through self-service portal. Manage the warranty claims if the warranty service is provided by a third party on behalf of OEM.   The integration with financials helps in proper posting of credit for settlement with OEM’s.

New OLTP reports and unified templates: Create OLTP reports based on the real-time data using the wizard. Standardized report template provides unified look and feel across all the report areas.

  I did  a comprehensive review of the new functions of SAP CRM Marketing and how these functions address some of the challenges and shortcomings faced by the SAP CRM Marketing user community. The most noticeable function is marketing prospect object. Before, you have to manage a complete BP record when dealing with suspects which are not even close to prospects. It was frustrating and leading to junk prospect data in the system as you all know how low the rate of conversion of suspects into prospects is. This problem is solved with the marketing prospect object.  I tried to highlight the core enhancements under different functions below

Integrated Marketing calendar: The first thing you will notice is the SAP moved away from Java based UI to Adobe Flex UI.  It is very intuitive with advanced search and functions to create manage and edit marketing projects and almost could be called as a home page for marketing professionals.

Marketing Funds Management:  Use this functionality to set budgets for various marketing and campaigning activities. Switch the funds as necessary.   Purchasing settlements and commitments are uploaded to SAP CRM from ERP giving visibility into any cost over runs. Funds analytics provides slice and dice of how funds are utilized.

Campaign Templates: creation of campaign templates was bit of challenge before EHP1.   You can now create templates out of a best run campaigns and setup a library of best practices. Use templates directly from the marketing calendar.

Marketing task management: This functionality is similar to the all familiar planned activities management within an opportunity.  Setup, assign and execute set of predefined or planned tasks that happen within a campaign life cycle. These tasks could be exchanged using the groupware integration between Outlook, Lotus Notes and SAP CRM.

Digital asset management: Manage all unstructured  digital content such audio, video , graphics, images  and desktop formats from Quark and Adobe independent of marketing channel such as TV, Print, Web and mobile.

Loyalty management:   It is now extended to partner channel, point of sale (POS) and web channel.  Loyalty management can be used with both organizations and anonymous membership. The loyalty card handling facilitates to increase the membership. The new benefit and voucher tools and more options to redeem the points will help driving the membership of the program. The new extractors will help in analyzing the loyalty membership data.

Collaborative campaign management: This helps your corporate marketing organization in collaborating and aligning the partner channel with marketing channels and goals. The functionality includes option to include partner logo and partner sales executive signature in the campaigning templates and materials and target market programs based on partner channel reach and experience with a particular market segment.

High volume segmentation:  one user interface for both classic and high volume segmentation. The segmentation based on accounts, products and marketing prospects (new with EHP1).  The object segmenting is enabled in high volume segmentation. In addition, in-memory segmentation is available based SAP TREX and BW accelerator.

Marketing analytics:  the marketing executive dashboard provides insights into lead generation, campaign progress and the sales pipeline generated with reference to particular campaign(s).

SAP released SAP CRM 7.0 EHP1 on December 20th 2010.  We are continuously receiving positive feedback about the benefits of EHP1 in either in fixing the issues and streamlining the business process.

The following

One CRM manager of our customer quoted “IPC Performance is 40% better with EHP1”

“Our users like the enhanced intuitive Web UI”

 I decided to write a  series of blogs on EHP1 with a focus on  UI,  Marketing, Sales, Serivce, Pricing Engine and IC Webclient  for the greater benefit of SAP CRM community

The new productivity UI

SAP integrated the themes of CRM 2.0 and Web 2.0 and made the UI easy to use.

The search functionality delivered with EHP1 saves time by making the search easy and flexible. SAP delivered search templates for 94 commonly used CRM business objects. The model overview displays the list of marked attributes when a CRM business object is selected. SAP delivered the most requested functionality of multi value search (Ex: copy and paste multiple values from a spreadsheet into a search field in the advanced search function).  The export to XLS tool could be governed by the user roles and authorization to apply the corporate security and governance policies.

 BOBJ dashboards display got better with EHP1. The user can embed one or more frequently used dashboards on the homepage through personalization

 Object tagging is a great feature that allows user to tag an instance of an object (Ex: an opportunity document) .User could share the tags with community. User can set access to tag cloud on the home page via personalization.

All familiar Go-to menu and Action Menu that most users are use with the smartphones is now available in EHP1.  It looks like SAP is trying very hard to give an unified user experience.

Paste in tables is a great feature that allows users to copy the text in single or multiple cells to the existing table in Web UI.  You should calculate the ROI of user time saved by not re-entering the data that is already available in some electronic format.

Central sharing tool is a great way to share the saved searches, tags, favorites etc., with your user community.  Imagine the ROI   in terms of time saved by using the existing saved search created by a colleague instead of creating a similar search with the same parameters.

Content personalization is a great Web 2.0 features that most users are familiar with Google etc...  You can open and close a content block on page or you can remove the content from screen.

Enhanced table features such as  selection of multiple lines with CTRL/SHIFT & mouse click /key board combinations  within tables  and trees. The table scrolling loads the data as you scroll than loading all the table data to improve the performance.

Fixed columns  is an all familiar column freeze functionality of spreadsheet is available as a fixed column in horizontally scrollable tables. (Ex: fix the account name, phone#, email id an scroll through the rest of the columns)

Table filtering allows row filtering if rows are selected and the row selection is removed

Keyboard handling via arrow keys which is very familiar to PC users

Tab chain definition allows the users to define the sequence of tabs via personalization for any form based assignment block 

Tile layout personalization allows users to drag and drop assignment blocks from one tile to another on the tiled layout page. The automatic overflow mechanism incase more assignment blocks than the tile can display are assigned.

Further personalization such as multiple views for a table and save them under specific names is available. The views could be reused via embedding.

Task based UI that is introduced in CRM 7.0 got better with EHP1.  The visual guidance of sub steps in an animated scrolling structure for complex tasks similar to the 1 to 5 steps structure that most users use to place an order online with a credit card. The tasks could be reused via embedding.

Choice of death of wheel or gradient bar is available in EHP1.

Rapid applications and Mash-ups are available in the UI configuration tools of EHP1. Now you can change the SAP logo to your company logo using this tool.

Please check for Part –II on SAP CRM 7.0 EHP1 Marketing tomorrow.

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