Next generation Configuration with SAP using Shell KMAT

As configuration experts we love SAP. That is why we are a SAP partner. With its plethora of modules SAP can help overcome numerous challenges a business faces. One such module is SAP VC

The SAP VC module enables users to create configuration logic for their products. This is achieved by creating dependencies. Users can create different types of dependencies that will constrain the product in some form or shape. These rules are then “activated” when someone is doing a configuration in the SAP landscape.

If you want users of other systems, such as your website or your quoting to follow the same rules you must rewrite the rules. This adds complexity to the process and allows for differences to be introduced.

The question is how complex is your product? Less choice usually means less rules and therefore rewriting rules in multiple systems is not a big deal and even keeping the original rules in VC might be fine.

However, you start facing challenges when:

  • Your products become more complex
    • There are a lot of product options and these options are interrelated
    • Relationship between your product options are complex
  • You realize that writing rules requires a considerable amount of expertise not only in the product but also in the tool
  • Your configurator does not perform well
  • Sharing configuration knowledge is not easy
  • The whole process is not scalable

You might find yourself faced with one or several of the issues listed above. When that happens SAP VC becomes less appealing.

Most probably at this point you would have invested quite a bit of time building up your product information in SAP. You probably have a landscape that is geared to work with SAP.  Starting everything from scratch because the configuration is not fit for purpose is not a great option.


So, what can you do?

In these instances, we advocate for the Shell KMAT approach. You can keep all the product information in SAP as you do today but use a different tool to write the configuration logic.

In other words, you can keep all the information regarding characteristics and values. You can keep BOM and Pricing, Worksheets and everything else where it is. But you offload the configuration logic to a system that has been built to deal with configuration. That means that there is a lot more guidance, help and validation when you are creating your rules. It also means that you can use a third-generation rules engine (SAP VC is second generation), that ensures that once the rules are compiled, there will be no invalid configurations.

Your engineers will create KMATs, characteristics and values in SAP as they currently do. They will then extract that information using a standard extractor and import that into a modeling tool. Depending on how your company is structured you can have product management, engineering or any other group creating rules. These rules are then compiled and fed downstream to the systems that need this information. Usually that means at least a quoting tool / ordering system and/or a website. Indeed, you can virtually feed any system without having to rewrite rules.

You might be wondering what would happen if you were to create an order for an invalid configuration directly into SAP? As SAP is not aware of the rules it would accept any configuration. In most cases this would not happen as Orders are created through tools that would have had the configuration logic and therefore would only produce valid variants. However, if orders are entered directly into SAP we can use a punchout method whereby the user “steps out” of SAP and into a configurator that contains the configuration logic to create and validate orders.

Final comments...

Shell KMATs :

  • is a tried and tested approach that is helping several companies achieve their goals
  • Leverage your SAP implementation with world leading configuration technology
  • Stops dependency to SAP VC expert
  • Enables sharing of configuration logic
  • Improves performances

If you are faced with any of the challenges described in this post and would like to know more about how we can help you please contact us, until then thanks for reading.