Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Maintenance Plans as part of the Customer Experience

In the 20th century good products and services were an important differentiating factor for companies. Nowadays customer experience has become the key differentiating factor for many companies and products and services have become dissatisfiers, with outstanding customer experiences driving customer value, customer delight and loyalty.

Service Organizations can generate additional value and customer loyalty when offering the customer a customized maintenance plan. Maintenance plans support the execution of the preventative maintenance scenarios by automatically creating service requests. These service request will be created based on the maintenance schedule. This all sounds very easy, but there are some steps to be taken and things to be considered.

In this blog I will describe how maintenance plans can be created in SAP Service Cloud and how service requests will be generated automatically.

A maintenance plan provides your company with the ability to provide not just preventive maintenance support, but also when customers call in to schedule a regular service. Recently, I’ve implemented the feature of Maintenance Plans for a company who designs and installs professional kitchens for the catering industry. You can imagine that these kitchens contain some very specific equipment, i.e. high-speed dishwashers, pressure cookers et cetera. Each device is recorded in SAP Service Cloud as a registered product and they need to be maintained or serviced on time to ensure proper functioning.
When setting up a maintenance plan in SAP Service Cloud you have to define conditions and certain parameters for the maintained objects or registered products. When the defined condition for these registered products are met, then service requests will be generated automatically. A lot of information and (technical) terms, but where do you start?


Scoping, as you’ll probably know, is the process of matching your individual business requirements to the predefined capabilities of SAP Service Cloud. To be able to create Maintenance Plans the very first step is to flag the check box in the scoping which will enable the display of the Maintenance Plans tab and thus will enable you to create maintenance plans for customers.

Measurement Attributes

After maintaining the scoping settings, the second step is to define the measurement attribute(s) that will be linked to the registered products. Let’s presume that a high-speed dishwasher needs servicing after 500 hours of operating. The measurement attribute can be defined as ‘operating hours’. Other devices will be serviced every 2 months independent of the number of operating hours.
To be able to define one or more measurement attributes, you need to logon as an Administrator. Below you can see a screen shot where I’ve called the measurement attribute ‘Preventive maintenance’ with the value ‘Month’ set as a Unit of Measure.

After creating the measurement attributes, the next step is of course to link these measurement attribute(s) to the maintained objects or registered products.

Maintenance Plan

The next step is to create a Maintenance Plan and fill in the required fields as shown below.


Give the Maintenance Plan a name that is simply recognizable and almost explains itself, i.e. ‘Monthly Maintenance Plan’.

Schedule Type

When creating a maintenance plan, there are several options of Schedule Types you can choose from. Below I've listed the most commonly used Schedule Types:
  1. Cyclical
  2. Fixed Values
  3. Absolute
  4. One time
A cyclical maintenance plan will create a service request against a registered product every time the condition, as specified in the maintenance plan, is met.
A cyclical maintenance plan can be created with three different schedule conditions explained below:
  • Counter based;
A counter based cyclical maintenance plan compares the measurement reading value of a registered product against the condition specified for the same measurement log in the maintenance plan.
i.e. Measurement attribute ‘CUPS’ every 5000 coffee cups in case of an automatic coffee machine.
  • Time based;
When using a time based schedule type, the 'valid from date' of the registered product is compared to the current or system date. If this value exceeds a certain period (i.e. six months), a service request is created. If there is 'no valid from' date available for the registered product, the 'reference date' of the registered product is considered.
i.e. Measurement attribute ‘MAINTENANCE’ every 6 Months.
  • Time and Counter based;
In a time and counter based cyclical maintenance plan, you have the option of specifying a combination of both counter and time based conditions. The logic remains the same as explained in the two cases mentioned earlier above. If there are multiple conditions specified (such as: OR or AND) in a cyclical maintenance plan, then whenever a service request is created against a reading or date for each of the conditions, the reading is stored for the counter. In subsequent runs, these values are considered while checking each of the conditions.
i.e. Measurement Attributes ‘CUPS’ every 5000 OR ‘MAINTENANCE’ every 6 months.

Fixed Values
This type of maintenance plan can have a fixed list of conditions. Conditions in more than one group is not supported. Conditions related to multiple measurement logs is also not supported. Schedule condition can be counter or time based.
i.e. 'CUPS' is a measurement log which is associated to one or more registered products with the following conditions:
CUPS ‘At’ 10000
CUPS ‘At’ 50000
When the maintenance plan runs, it would create service requests in case the measurement reading value for the Registered Product is 10000. And the next ticket for the same Registered Product will be created when the reading value is 50000.

For an absolute maintenance plan, the conditions are checked with the latest reading of measurement log at the instant when the plan is running. A service request is generated if the conditions are met. A request would thus be generated whenever the conditions are met without considering historical readings or the service request generated data (as compared to other maintenance plan types as cyclical, fixed or once types). This condition type is valid only with Counter based conditions!

One time - No condition
This type of maintenance plan is created where no schedule condition has been maintained. Whenever the maintenance plan is run, a service request will be created for all the registered products which are part of the belonging maintenance plan.

After creating a Maintenance Plan, the status of the maintenance plan is initially “in-preparation”, which can be changed to “active”, “blocked” or “complete”, depending on the stage the task is in.

Schedule Conditions

The next mandatory entry to be made when creating a Maintenance Plan is a Schedule Condition. The following options are available:
  • Counter based;
  • Time based;
  • Time and Counter based.

The options above must be carefully selected in combination with the Schedule Type, described in the previous step.

Important remark!
Once you’ve created a maintenance plan, the schedule conditions and schedule type cannot be changed.

Once you have created a maintenance plan, save and open it and enter the required data on the relevant tabs:
  • Plan Definition
  • Ticket Template
  • Maintenance Items

Tab Plan Definition

Navigate to the Plan Definition tab to select the Measurement Attribute and add conditions to the maintenance plan. In my example I’ve created a Monthly Maintenance Plan that will create service tickets each month for the relevant registered products. As you can see I’ve also entered a treshold value of ‘1 week’. This means that the system will check and compare the valid from date of the registered product to the current date and will create a service ticket when the condition reaches 1 month minus 1 week.

Tab Ticket Template

The following step is to maintain a template for the ticket to be created. The auto-generated service request is based on the parameters you define on this tab. As you can see in the screen print below, there are several parameters that can be set, like a priority. The Service Categories are also very useful to distinct this particular service request with normal service requests.
But I’d like to point out one other parameter in particular: Prevent Creating Multiple Tickets.

As a Service Planner you can define that even when all the defined conditions are met, the system will not create multiple service requests for a registered product in the maintenance plan if an open or in-process request exists that was created earlier from a Maintenance Plan. So, this flag can prevent a Service Engineer visiting your customer to check on the same registered product again within a short time period. Not really customer friendly and thus a very helpful feature in my opinion!

Tab Maintenance Items

Next, click on ‘Add’ and add the registered products on which the conditions created in the plan definition needs to be evaluated.

In the example shown above, there is only 1 registered products linked to this Maintenance Plan.

Maintenance Plan Run

So far, I’ve only described the steps that need to be taken to have everything in place for creating automatic service requests. The final step is to configure as an Administrator the Maintenance Plan Runs that will perform a check on the maintenance plans and will create these requests for items requiring maintenance.
Create a new Mass Data Run Object (MDRO) Template Run and fill in the required details in the General Data and Control Parameters sections. After entering the details, saving and activating the MDRO run you need to schedule the MDRO run.

As you can see, I’ve created a MDRO run ‘ROST_MDRO#1’ which will run every workday at 05:00 AM.
And of course, to finalize everything don’t forget to enter and link the newly created MDRO run to the relevant Maintenance Plans!

The MDRO run will now select all Maintenance Plans with the name ‘ROST_MDRO#1’ and will check for all registered products within this Maintenance Plan if the conditions are met to automatically create a Service Request.

After reading this blog and finishing all the steps described above, you will now be able to optimize the service processes of your company and hopefully create more satisfied customers and as a reward, their loyalty to your company will increase!