Were you aware of just how critical it is to design your Product Hierarchy for maximum performance?
Do you know if your approach to product hierarchy design will support all of your business requirements?
Many companies fail to take into consideration all of the elements of a robust product hierarchy design early enough in their implementation process.
Sketch: A Typical Product Hierarchy
As a result, they have problems or concerns with:
- Ensuring the Profit Center, Division and Product Hierarchy fields are aligned conceptually
- Providing accurate profit center reporting
- Ensuring the Marketing view of the Product Hierarchy is correct for their required marketing activities
- Misallocating marketing spend dollars due to incomplete information at all hierarchy levels
- Ensuring that organizational elements are reflected as needed in the product hierarchy and other key elements and to support all business requirements
- Deriving the right profit center from sales order items
- Performing periodical Backflushing and thus alignment with production planning
- Extending materials to the correct SAP Sales Area in support of correct reporting
- Properly classifying materials for reporting purposes
- Aligning GLNs (Global Location Numbers) properly for Supply Chain Planning purposes and other related forecasting tasks
- Introducing new products and retiring old products
- Track and Trace, and especially with product recalls
- Batch management activities, with severe impacts in highly regulated industries, such as pharmaceutical, medical device and aerospace & defense (A&D) industries
- Finding products and sub-products by validity dates, especially important for complying with Engineering Change Orders within the Aviation Industry
- Determining their current warranty obligations and exposure accurately
One key issue with regards to Product Hierarchy in SAP is how to realign a product hierarchy retroactively. An existing product hierarchy needs to be periodically updated. This leads to huge effort as we have to make sure that all the objects such as the material master, sales orders, profit centers, condition records based on Product Hierarchies, etc. have been updated with the correct Product Hierarchy. We have a tool called Product Hierarchy Re-alignment and also Profit Center Realignment which allows you to assign the product hierarchy and profit center to all objects that have already been processed. If interested, a demo is available.
How do you address these business-critical issues?
As you can see from what is an admittedly limited list of problems with improper product hierarchy design or a failure to follow SAP product hierarchy best practices, there needs to be a lot of effort put into getting this right. In our experience, we have found that it takes a 4-phase approach to getting this right, whether you’re doing a greenfield SAP implementation, a SAP upgrade or an additional functionality rollout:
- Phase One – Assessment
During the assessment phase, we gather the ‘As-Is’ information. Though most manufacturing concerns have a product catalog, they may not have a well thought out product hierarchy.
- Phase Two – Diagnostic
During the diagnostic phase, we will determine whether the current design supports the business and management reporting requirements. It is in this phase where we uncover whether the existing design is already causing problems. Using the techniques from Lean Six Sigma and our proprietary approach, we benchmark your existing approach against best-in-class and provide objective performance measurements.
- Phase Three – Prescription
Using the PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) approach, we design a product hierarchy that addresses the issues uncovered and provides a roadmap for continuous improvement. Each client is different but using our productized service approach can benefit from what we have learned from other clients and incorporated into our proven methodology.
- Phase Four – Implementation and Support
Finally, we help you implement the design. Given that new products and product variants are continuously introduced into the market, we find that on-going support is usually required by our clients. Our support teams use advanced systems and practices to ensure you’re operating at optimal efficiency at all times.
Whether you need expert advice with your product hierarchy or you need someone to take on the complete problem, we can help. We offer a highly refined SAP Product Hierarchy design methodology, successfully used by enterprises around the world.