Recently, itelligence introduced a useful aid for the important production topic of SAP dependencies, called it.configure. The following blog post explains the most important advantages of it.configure as compared to the Dependencies Editor.
SAP dependencies are maintained in a separate scripting language, but at the same time this does not understand important elements such as «case» or «else». When constructing models, the user has to choose between writing numerous detailed and confusing rules or else a smaller number of larger but more cumbersome rules. The use of variant tables requires more oversight here. It reflects the need for permanent keys and the general desire to create as many cases as possible. This results in lengthy scripts of multiple lines. Typically there are only a few specialists in a company who are able to maintain these models afterwards.
Our ABAP – based add-on it.configure is a great help here, not only because rules are standardized and optimized, but also because they are presented in a single transaction and on a central user interface. Thus “normal” end users can model and manage them quickly, easily and efficiently. The IT tool is seamlessly integrated into SAP configuration objects. Procedures / Constraints / Selections and Preconditions will be replaced.
1 Rules hierarchically
One of the main advantages of it.configure is that its rules are ordered hierarchically, from the general definition of a standard top level to exceptions defined at more specific levels. Data entry reflects this hierarchy in a tree structure. This reduces the amount of rules, because according to the definition of standards, only the exceptions must be defined. This order increases the master data quality and the transparency of the configuration.
2 Definition of dependencies for «if-then» principle
The definition of the dependencies is performed according to the «if-then» principle. On one key the conditions are maintained, describing the «if- part» of a rule. These conditions can be very simple or they can consist of any combination of multiple features. This makes it.configure much more flexible than the SAP standard variant tables and also allows it to define each logical condition. For every «if-» part, there is a «then-part», in which the selection conditions, formulas, characteristic values, value constraints or default values are set. The «if -» and the «then-part» will also be displayed in a single interface, which creates a smoother experience for end users.
The advantages of this approach are obvious. For the configuration of a car, the most general key «model» is defined, this is the uppermost level. There the basic features are defined as binding. This may be the installation of cloth seats as standard, which also applies to basic equipment. Then the somewhat more precise key “equipment” follows this. Here, for example, the rule is maintained that leather seats will be installed as part of the luxury fitting. At the lowest level, a combination of the keys «model» and «equipment» allows for many details to be included, for example that in the top models in a series, leather seats are already installed as part of the comfort fitting.
3 Setting Default Inheritances
For rules that are defined under a key, additional restrictions can be defined as conditions. The copying of rules via drag and drop is possible. Additionally the same values can easily be set up via a default inheritance. The simulation of the product configuration, which occurs in the transaction CU50 of the LO -VC, can be started directly from the desktop. Another advantage is that the rules are stored in only a few database tables.
4 Intelligent Lock Concept
In addition, we have equipped the Add-On with many other useful features to make the end-user more efficient in their daily work. In particular we have enabled an intelligent locking concept. In this way, multiple end-users can simultaneously access dependencies and edit them. Thus, tasks that are incurred in the variant configuration can be performed very quickly and the follow-up processes in product development and manufacturing can be initiated promptly.
The F4 help simplifies the set of characteristic values in the then-part and assists the end user in their daily work, because they do not need to know either the name or the technical values as is needed in the Dependencies Editor. Similarly, there are functions for searching for variable and contextual features, dynamic filtering according to rules with various options, the display of the change history or for following administered rules.
5 Gradual conversion of the data model
SAP customers who switch to it.configure do not need to change their existing data model all at once. The Add On can be introduced gradually on an existing SAP system – for example, for all new developments, model for model, or for specific sections of the configuration, such as the definitions of individual features. Thus, the classical SAP dependencies, which are still managed in the editor, are replaced gradually.
More information about it.configure as a solution is available in the itelligence Addstore.
– By Dr. Andreas Holtmann Lambart and Sven Reiermann, itelligence AG –