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Multiple Specifications in QM

I've been wondering how the whole multiple spec functionality in QM has been received and how folks like it or don't like it.

I helped implement this at one chemical firm a few years back.  Since then I believe they have had mixed feelings about it.

I've been told that the maintenance of the specs is a real pain and the learning curve difficult for people that have to learn it due to normal employee turnover/promotions etc.

There were also some issues with LIMS integration, in particular getting the qualitative characteristics for customer specs to properly valuate and close when transferred from LIMS.  From what I understand, SAP has been slow to offer any solution.

One of the things it also results in is that all plans have to be managed using the workbench (CWBQM) which in and of itself can have a steep learning curve.

Another issue was that it could only use copied characteristics and no reference characteristics.  This thus forced all material specs to be maintained fully in the plans. Something I've never personally been a real fan of.

But at the time, and given the requirements of the project it seemed like the best solution.

So now that it has been available for awhile, I'd like to hear some other feedback from people and firms who have implemented and used it for awhile. Or from folks that recently decided to implement or not implement it and why they choose the route that they did.

My goal is to write a series of blogs on the multitude of ways that product and customer specifications can be handled in SAP.  There are a number of them and I think few people, (including many consultants), really have a strong grasp of all the various approaches.  Most seem to have a certain way they "like" and it usually relates back to what they were taught or shown first!  But as we all know, one solution never fits everyone.  I have my own thoughts as to what I think is "ideal" but I try to realize not all companies can do it that way.  I try to provide a few viable options  with the given pros/cons of each and let the client choose a particular path. 

So for this discussion.. lets hear your thoughts on multiple specification functionality!!


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3 Answers

  • Jun 14, 2013 at 07:11 AM

    Hi FF,

    I have not implemented multiple specifications so far. So i can only tell why I did not consider this, not if the users/I like using it or not ;-)

    What I see as the biggest issue is the copy thing of characteristics. I am a big fan of centrally maintained (reference) MICs, and SAP is already not good on this with forceing one to use at least a dummy plant for MICs. As you write reference characteristics cannot used with multiple specs, which makes it hard to maintain the MICs then for the multiple specs.

    The engineering workbench as a must for maintainence is a greater issue for users that are familiar with the "old" maintenance transactions. From my experience it is similar to the ME21 vs. ME21n switch. It is always difficult to make that transition for users, a good time I found is a release upgrade/system patch, where we just removed the "old" transactions completely from authorization roles.

    Generally I feel that multiple specs would be great for usage in a global company environment, where you have the same MICs, but e.g. due to different measurement equipments might have different tolerances. Up to now I have to say that most users already struggle with implementing/understanding/using the basic elements in SAP (MICs, mat specs, inspection plans, sampling strategies), so multiple specs would definitly be too complicated to explain/keep up running at the moment.



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    • One approach I have promoted during some implementations is to have reference characteristics designed to be used globally (yes, could be grouped in classes), whereas some tolerance values are maintained in the material specifications. So to answer your question, if it is possible for a company I generally advise to have common, material independent MICs, and then to use mat specs to push material specific values into them.



  • Jun 18, 2013 at 01:44 PM

    Ok folks.. this is Chemicals... I'm SURE there are more folks out there that have used or considered using multiple specs!!!!

    52 views and only one response!?!?


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    • Actually I tend to agree with the client here.  I usually suggest to the client the if the method differs, it should be a different spec. (except for when the method number is different but the actual laboratory steps are the same, like when two plants run the same test but use a different method numbering scheme in their plants). 

      In your example you've indicated the method is different.  So I have to make sure that the proper method is used regardless of the spec.  Hence different MIC's.  Different methods can affect precision of the test and some methods are specific to certain types of compounds.

      Now if BP had them run the USP method but only wanted a different spec range, then they could have used the multiple specs because the only thing different is the desired spec.

      One of the other big issues with customer specs and using multiple specs is for planning and ATP.  As of right now, ATP has no way to take into account a customer's spec.  So you can't try to "plan" to a customer's spec and unless you use batch determination in the order, you can't determine with any certainty if you have material in inventory that matches THAT customer's spec.  And if you accept the order you must manually communicate to the planner's not to just make the material, but to make it to try to meet the customer's spec.  Which might not be easy in some cases.

      Thanks for your reply!  Lets keep the discussion going!!


  • Aug 08, 2013 at 09:07 AM

    Congratulations to bringing up that topic which is I know a hot one for companies using SAP´s QM module. Recently we had a discussion within VCI QM working group (VCI is the German Industry asociation of the chemical industry) about how to manage product specifications in general. In that sense our topic was broader than just looking at multiple specifications. The outcome of that discussion was that there is not the one way to manage those. Some were using multiple specifications others were not - we definitely found mixed feelings about it again. But how did companies manage product specifications then? One approach is to have those outside SAP which is not a good one of course. We also discussed to make use of specification data base of EH&S module. Some were skeptic to do that due to organizational restrictions they saw within their company. On the other hand in many companies (mainly mid-sized) EHS and QM are belonging to same department. So why not making use of EHS-QM interface which was improved with EhP 5 of ECC6.0? We decided to have a closer look to this interface in our next working group meeting in fall this year.

    How do you think about that interface considering the EhP5 enhancements?

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    • Your comment on MICs is an interesting one and we defintitely have to think about ways ho to handle that best.

      I like your business plan. However before taking action here I would like to hear from customers what they think about it