21. July 2017

SAP CRM Product Modelling for Utilities with DSM Tool

Since SAP CRM 7.0 EhP3 we have experienced substantial improvement of product configuration possibilities, modeling and product variation with native transportation tools for utility products and product packages. Function set called PMU – product modeling for utilities is a powerful tool for defining and organizing the hierarchy through technical products (reference, module products) and product attributes that represent the key product features, values and conditions related to a product or to utility contract.

PMU is utilizing functions of BRF+ framework, which provides capabilities to create simple or complex rules for dynamic value determination, value helps, controls, presentation properties for each product attribute and many more.

So PMU is a great product modeling tool in SAP CRM for utilities. Far better than it used to be, but what about transport to test and production environment?

Product maintenance with its variation and utilities product transportation tool provides functionality for distributing product versions to destination systems of customer’s landscape, typically from development to various testing and production systems.

What happens when you use the configurable products with BRF+ rules and want to transport products into other systems? Do we need anything special? The answer is “YES, we need DSM”.

DSM (Decision Service Management) generally provides the functionality to distribute BRF+ functions across targeted systems through exporting XMLs files from the source systems and importing it to a targeted system.

If a product version contains at least one BRF+ function, the utilities product transport tool requires to set up and license Decision Service Management – DSM. Without the DSM, products can be distributed only without the assignment of BRF+ functions, that means the BRF+ functions need to be assigned to corresponding attributes manually on each target system after the BRF+ functions were distributed through standard customizing transport system and product master data were distributed through utility product transportation tool.  This usually requires tremendous time and effort needed to keep product setting consistent across the whole system landscape. Another disadvantage is the loss of transparent product version release management.

Example of DSM managed systems settings, source: SAP

So DSM is also great. Another question may arise: Is DSM included in standard license SAP CRM license? The answer is “Usually not, maybe you have an only starter pack of one DSM package”.

But how is licensing carried out?

DSM Licensing – the License policy is based on “Decision Service Asset Packages” that are defined as a collection of 25 decision service assets that can be used to create rules and policies for external consumption. A decision service asset includes the logic of BRF+ function maintained in objects such as rules and expressions like decision tables, Booleans, decision trees, formulas, etc. that are key issues for evaluation. Constants are excluded, also the number of productive systems, where the rules and expressions are deployed, is not relevant. For evaluating licensing fees, SAP uses report FDT_DSM_METRICS where you set the managed system ID of the production system and it will count the number of distinct Expressions, Rules, Constants (not counting) and the final number of Asset Packages needed. Typical utilities product implementation can contain hundreds of expressions and dozens of rules. The final number can be diminished during the implementation by using ABAP logic instead of BRF+ objects. The key advantage is in easy, consistent, transparent product version release and distribution management. (Disclaimer: As a licensing policy for DSM can vary, please check with your local SAP subsidiary.)

Experts Will Advise You

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Tomáš Prachar, Sr. SAP CRM Consultant