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2010 Vienna Conference

2010 European CWG Conference - Vienna

2008 Marco Island Conference

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The 2008 North American Configuration Workgroup Conference was held October 6-8, 2008 in Marco Island, Florida, USA. The conference program and all presentations are available to CWG members on the document share. You can search through the folders for this or for all past conferences to find interesting presentations. Please make use of this additional opportunity to learn about the newest business trends and technology available regarding SAP Product Configuration!

The 2008 Conference in Marco Island was a great success. The CWG Board of Directors wants to extend a special thanks to our Main Conference Sponsors

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for helping to ensure that this Conference was able to come together at this venue.

Please review the program using the following link: 2008 North American CWG Conference Program. Members can find all presentations on the document share, and you can search across all conference presentations in the doucment share with a right mouse click on the different folders!

The conference kicked off Sunday night as many of the people who had arrived came to the ‘mixer’ event sponsored by Sparta Consulting. It was an excellent opportunity to renew acquaintances with previous conference attendees, and also meet some new ones. The attendees had a chance to preregister for the conference on their way to the mixer. Each attendee received a bag that contained a conference program, notepad, name tent, name tag and neck strap, some sponsor literature, and a shirt emblazoned with the CWG trademark. The food at the mixer was tasty, the conversation congenial, and the entertainment entertaining.


Over half of the attendees that this years conference had never attended a CWG conference before, demonstrating (from at least one perspective) the continuing, and growing, interest in the SAP Variant Configurator tool.

Day 1 of the conference:

The theme of this year’s conference was Emerging Themes in Configuration. The first day opened with an introduction and welcome address from Peter Illing, followed by an address from the CWG President Rick Smethers. The rest of the day consisted of a series of presentations focused on development updates and client presentations that were considered to be general interest to all attendees, showcasing the sometimes underappreciated (or not as well known) functionality available in the VC toolkit. A number of members from the SAP Labs highlighted updates to PLM, CRM, and the integration of ERP, CRM, SCM, and PLM across a number of end-to-end configuration scenarios. If you didn’t find something in these presentations to take back to your management, then you weren’t paying close enough attention.

Two client presentations were also part of the Day 1 agenda: 1 from Steelcase and 1 from Haworth, two furniture manufacturers, and competitors, from Michigan. The Steelcase presentation focused on how your company needs to create a (yellow brick) roadmap to navigate through business process changes required to reap the improvements that will enhance your company’s competitive advantage in the marketplace (if you were not at the conference and don’t get what I mean, go look at their presentation in the website document share). The Haworth presentation focused on the use of configured service materials and a maintenance task list to quote and complete the product documentation of non-standard (specials) products. This unique approach was completed with little customization and treats the Haworth Specials Dept. as a ‘workcenter’ that can be scheduled and assigns the tasks to the complete the customer communication and product documentation loops for special product.

The rest of the afternoon consisted of an overview of the presentations following on day 2 and 3, a challenge from Past President Robert Eramo to present at a future conference, an overview of the new CWG Website (which you have already seen if you are reading this), the new CWG Survey tool, which will allow the CWG board to solicit feed back on conferences and workgroup priorities, and the CWG Sandbox, giving all members who request an ID the ability to sign in and share specific configuration issues in a live environment.

The Day ended with an update from the CWG Strategy Committee chair Henk Meeter asking if the CWG, with it’s current structure and focus, was still relevant. Members were asked to consider the question and respond by taking the survey on the CWG website or discuss their thoughts with one of the board members (who were wearing red shirts through out the conference).









Day 2 of the conference:

Day two of the conference consisted of four tracks:

  • Track 1: Innovations/Updates
  • Track 2: Best Practices Track
  • 3: Partner Solutions Track
  • 4: Discussion and Influencing

The presentations in each track were schedule for 45 minutes and covered a wide range of topics, from simple VC setups, tips and tricks, to a demonstration of the SAP Advance Mode configurator. Many of the attendees (including me) found it difficult to decide which presentation track to attend in a given time slot. Fortunately I came to the conference with a co-worker and we were able ‘Divide and Conquer’ as they say in order to wring the most value from this conference for our company, thereby increasing the chances of our return trip next year being approved.

The Q & A sessions at the end of each presentation gave each person a chance to comment on, or probe deeper into, or share a related experience on the topic presented. These comments often led to networking opportunities where issues of mutual concern were discussed and potential solutions exchanged. I personally ran out of my stack of business cards sometime during the morning of day 3 (and I did not stuff any of them into the CINCOM drawing jar).

Supporting our companies modeling needs is typically the number 1 task of each of the attendees. We often arrive with at least 1 modeling or business process problem that we hope to get solved by attending a presentation, contacting an SAP partner, or through having a conversation with another conference attendee. The breadth and depth of modeling knowledge represented at this conference is HUGE, and if your company does not send at least one representative to the conference, they are truly missing out on a rare opportunity to gain critical knowledge, and you are missing out on the opportunity for personal growth in a challenging profession.

Day 2 ended on a high note that will be difficult to beat at future conferences. Configit, one of the conferences primary sponsors, took all willing conference attendees on a 3 hr dinner cruise aboard the Marco Island Princess out to the Gulf to watch the sunset and enjoy a wonderful meal. A large number of (incriminating) pictures were taken of the event. It was a rather overcast evening, with some rain clouds in the area, but the clouds on the horizon parted at the perfect time to afford the passengers with a beautiful view of the sun as in sank into the gulf of Mexico, framed on either side by rain squalls far out over the water. It never rained on the boat, the temperature was perfect, the food was wonderful, the views breathtaking, the dolphins playful, and the waves were non-existent. The perfect end to an information packed day.


Day 3 of the Conference:

Day 3 once again brought the group back together in a single room to listen to a series of presentations intended to once again address the conference theme of Emerging Themes in Configuration. The first presentation was given by Haworth and focused on the development of an Object Naming Convention for the various objects in the VC knowledge base. This has been a topic addressed a number of times in the CWG forums over the last few years and it was good to finally see someone put an insightful presentation together on the topic. Many of the attendees provided a brief overview of their own naming conventions in contrast to the approach taken by Haworth.

The afternoon saw a very informational review of the ALE process used to move VC data from one client to another within your SAP landscape. The presentation provided detailed steps on how you could set the ALE process up at your company. The final presentation of the conference was given by Dennis Williams from Schneider Electric entitled ‘How the Business drives the Technical Needs of Configuration’ that addressed the challenge of getting the Business to recognize its need for configured materials and soliciting their input in the decision making process.

Also at two points through the conference, drawings were held for some free giveaways. The first drawing was restricted (we all know about restrictions) to the pool of presenters, and the second drawing was open to all conference attendees. Four iPods and two framed photos were ‘up for grabs’. Robert Eramo played the host and the winners were as follows:

General Attendee Winners:

  • Julie Schmitt iPod
  • Henrik Reif Andersen iPod

Presenter Winners:

  • Peter Doris iPod
  • Michael Zarges iPod
  • Lars Hoegsted Framed Photo
  • Louis Columbus Framed Photo

Congratulations to all of the winners. We hope you enjoy your prizes.


The primary sponsors for this year's event were Sybit, Configit, and AICOMP Consulting. Additional sponsors were Sparta Consulting, Cincom, and LAM Research. The CWG board would like to extend its thanks and appreciation to these sponsors for their continuing support.

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