SAP has been extremely busy in the ERP area the past few years.  The Development Team at SAP AG has been quickly incorporating HANA into all aspects of the ERP product and already brought 6 different releases of S/4HANA to market.  In addition, they’ve pushed out a large series of changes to both ECC and S/4HANA via their Customer Engagement Initiative (CEI).

What is CEI?  Want to learn more about it and new developments for PS?

 

Some Background

Back in the 1990’s, the process for submitting development requests was, in a word, opaque. You would type up a request in OSS, submit it, and then… wait.  There was no consistent communication from SAP about the receipt of the request, who was reviewing it, or what it’s status was.  Maybe SAP thought it was a great idea and were giving it serious thought, or maybe it had been requested several times before and a negative verdict already been agreed upon.  If it was part of their future plans, what was the timing for delivery? Did they need help testing it?  Did they have any additional questions about regulatory requirements or integration?  All of this took place before screen sharing virtual online meetings and collaborative technologies existed so it was a tall task to keep everyone informed.

 

What is CEI and Why is it Important?

CEI, which is also referred to as Customer Influence… perhaps SAP has re-branded it already… is SAP’s new program to engage customers and partners about upcoming development efforts.  Now with CEI, the process is far more transparent and communicative.  The program gives customers (and partners like Serio Consulting), early information and involvement in new solutions that are under development.

How does it work? SAP will first publish the program on the CEI platform.  It will get tagged appropriately so that you know it’s a financial, Oil&Gas, EAM, etc. focused activity.  Anyone who is a member of the CEI program can elect to follow and participate in that program.  Once a list of members have signed up for it, the developers in charge of each initiative will usually have a kick-off call and cover the overall scope of the development project.  The timeline of the project will be covered as well as the opportunities for customers to be involved in future activities such as onsite/remote workshops or beta testing.  Some of the bigger initiatives have had final calls with a list of the delivered improvements and how to implement them.  All in all, it’s a massive improvement over what we had 20 years ago.

My fellow SAP Mentor Tammy Powlas (@tpowlas) wrote up a good blog last year that gives you some more information.

 

Recent CEI Improvements for Finance and Project Systems

In the finance and capital accounting areas (our specialty), there have been an extremely significant number of changes delivered by CEI.  Most of these developments can be implemented via OSS note application and are available for S4HANA as well as ECC.  Here is a breakdown:

ProgramSAP Financials 2017

Status:  Completed

Overview:  This released a massive amount of changes across the FICO modules in ECC.  The final blog covered all of the new developments, most of which are very digestible… they’re single OSS notes that need to be applied to deliver the new feature.

Improvements Requested:  157

Improvements Delivered:  57

Here are some metrics from one of the calls:

 

 

Overview of Changes:  Here is a quick overview of the ones I find most useful:

CO-OM

  • Change documents for the CO period lock
  • Overall on/off switch for CO period lock
  • Generic search and reporting for CO objects
  • Mass change of settlement rules
  • Mass creation for cost centers
  • Singular / Central maintenance for cost center descriptions in multiple languages
  • Reporting via cost elements independent from the CO object
  • CO line item reporting for SKF
  • Cost center search help will only show currently valid intervals
  • CO commitment reporting for all accounting objects per profit center
  • Overall reporting on commitments
  • Improvements to the user fields on a cost center (Yes, you can add your fields to most any SAP master data record).
  • Mass change for CO user fields

PS

  • Mass change for system and user status

IM

  • Carry forward of unused budget

FI (GL / AP / AR)

  • Better display of technical data in change documents
  • Maintain house banks cross company codes
  • Several improvements to payment terms
  • Search helps.. SAP now hides most invalid or dormant objects from the search helps for CO Areas, Company Codes, Payment Terms, Cost Centers (mentioned above)
  • VAT tax improvements

 

Program:  SAP Project System 2015

Status:  Completed

Overview:  This project focused solely on the PS module in ECC and had almost as many requests as the Financials project but not nearly as many final items delivered.

Improvements Requested:  147

Improvements Delivered:  33

Overview of Changes:  Here is a quick overview of the ones I find most useful:

  • Change documents for status management changes (CN60)
  • Linked the Responsible Person field to HR (FINALLY!)
  • Link project types to project profiles
  • Check on CATS data before closing network activity
  • Mass creation of projects/WBS
  • Mass creation / change of settlement rules
  • Mass change of system/user status
  • Same profit center on WBS and assigned order
  • Set status and pass on for assigned orders
  • They’ve cleaned up some of the pop-up dialogue boxes (resizable, more consistent keyboard confirmations)
  • New settlement report
  • Check on project stock before closing WBS
  • Changes to the availability control configuration for percentages and absolute values
  • Improvements to AVAC for joint ventures
  • Warning for postings to a WBS prior to budgeting (there was a way to enforce this via a creative solution in the past but SAP now has a more formal approach to it)
  • CJ20N Intermediate Save button now works more consistently
  • New BAPI for PS budgeting (not technically a BAPI but still a way to programmatically budget on a project)

 

Program:  ERP PLM 2018: Portfolio and Project Management and Project System

Status:  Active

Overview:  This project is still active though the collection of new ideas has closed.  Here is the most recent blog.

Improvements Requested:  240

Improvements Delivered:  TBD

Overview of Changes:  It’s harder to review this project at this time because not every request has been evaluated or approved, much less delivered.  That said, here is what I see in the list:

  • Changes to Fiori apps
  • Project Definition user fields.
  • Lots of requested improvements to CJ20N.

If you want more information, head over to the CEI site and review the details for each project.