2009 Marco Island Conference


The 2009 North American CWG Conference was another great success. 

The CWG Board of Directors wants to extend a special thanks to our Gold Conference Sponsors

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

The conference kicked off Sunday night as many of the people who had arrived came to the ‘Meet and Greet’ event sponsored by Cincom.  It was an excellent opportunity to renew acquaintances with previous conference attendees, and also meet some new ones while enjoying the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico from the Penthouse Terrace of the Marco Island Hilton Hotel.  alt

The attendees had a chance to preregister for the conference on their way to the event.  Each attendee received a bag that contained a name tag and neck strap, some sponsor literature, and a shirt emblazoned with the CWG trademark.  The event was well attended and appreciated by all those who came, and a wonderful way to relax after a lengthy flight and before the flood of information that was to begin the next morning.

Close to 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 and IPC.

Day 1 of the conference:

The theme of this year’s conference was "Education, Influencing, Networking”.  The structure of the conference had been reworked toalt allow more time between presentations to facilitate networking with attendees.  The first day opened with an introduction and welcome address from Rick Smethers, followed by an address from the CWG President Dave Loomans.

The keynote address was given by Roy Marsten entitled ‘A New Science of Configurable Products’ that altfocused on locating the ‘treasure’ buried in a company’s sales data.  The process focused on using new tools to find clusters of popular feature combinations and identifying customer imposed, versus product imposed, feature dependencies.

The rest of the day consisted of a series of presentations focused on development updates and client presentations that were considered to be of general interest to all attendees.  Harald Vogel gave an overview of the future of configuration in SAP.  Jack Nehmer presented on the SAP product strategy for configuring Product Solutions, highlighting the opportunity many businesses have of bundling services with their products to increase revenues and profits.  Eve Roesler, also from SAP, altpresented on the enhancements available in the SAP PLM 7.0 (released May, 2009), including new functionality that can be used to create selection conditions within the BOM structure.  The process may only work for fairly simple selection conditions at this time, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.

altTwo client presentations were also part of the Day 1 agenda: one from the Baldor Electric Company and one from Steelcase.  The Baldor Electric Company presentation focused on how one company was able to use VC to simplify the product creation process, even in a highly customized environment.  While acknowledging that may not have ‘followed the book’, they were still able to deliver a significant return under the requirements imposed by the business.   This presentation was one of the highlights of the conference for me and is definitely worth a look.

The Steelcase presentation focused on the business process of product development and the challenge of reducing data replication.  Steve Schneider was looking for other interested parties to join him in creating an influencing group to address a concern his company has in reducing data replication across the enterprise and enhance the share-ability of the data created for Variant Configuration.  A follow up session for those interested in collaborating on a solution was scheduled for Day 2 as part of the SAP and Other Influencing track.alt

The rest of Monday afternoon consisted of a presentation by Jane Barrett from AMR Research with a survey conducted using input from members of the CWG.  Jane’s preliminary results can be viewed along with the other presentation in the document share section of the CWG Website. 

altThe day ended with an overview of the presentations scheduled for day 2 and presentation by the leaders of the West Michigan CWG Local Chapter on the genesis of their group, and some of the challenges they have faced as their group has grown.  The presentation included some recommendations for those interested in starting a local chapter in their own areas.  Don Cochran ended the presentation with a review of how the CWG plans on supporting members who wish to take on the task of creating a local chapter in their own areas.

Day 2 of the conference:

Day two of the conference consisted of three tracks:

Track 1: SAP and Other Influencing
Track 2: Best Practices and SAP Updates
Track 3: Partner Solutions

altThe presentations in each track were scheduled for 45 minutes and covered a wide range of topics, from simple VC setups, tips and tricks, to live demonstrations of vendor software using data extracted from a potential customers system the previous day.  There was also a very well attended ‘Modeling Contest’, which was really less a contest than a collaborative problem solving session, with many of the attendees sharing ideas on how the approach and solve the problems presented.  

Once again, it was very difficult to decide which presentation track to attend in a given time slot, and unlike last year, I was the only person from my company to attend due to the economic situation so I really had to make some hard decisions.   A highlight was the overview of the coming enhancements to the PMEVC transaction presented by Andreas Kraemer from SAP.  This transaction a by a lot of companies and the coming enhancement will likely have a dramatic improvement on productivity.

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.  More than once throughout the conference, attendees were heard to exclaim ‘That is what we have been looking for…’ as a presenter or fellow attendee suddenly dug up a nugget of wisdom that would allow them to solve a difficult business problem, the value of which most likely greatly exceeded the cost of the trip.  This is something to remember as you look at trying to justify a return trip to next year’s conference.

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 address the conferencealt theme of "Education, Influencing, Networking".  The first presentation was a brief update on the CWG Sandbox and its expanded capabilities with the CRM Module now in place for CWG Members to learn with.  Has your company been thinking about the SAP CRM module?  If so, this is a great opportunity to for your company to learn about and use the tool with no upfront investment.  Instructions on how to gain access to the CWG Sandbox are on the CWG website.

There were two presentations on the last day that dealt with the challenges associated with documenting and altgetting approval for VC and other product related data.  One method, presented by Nishan Pillay from IBM, focused on capturing the data in a VC workbook to facilitate loading of the data into SAP.  The other presentation was the last one of the conference and was presented by Bruce Jones, also from IBM, and Michael Josephson of Mertis Consulting.  Their methodology focused on a data promotion process centered around the Product Data Replication Workbench in SAP.   Just prior to their presentation, Daniel Naus gave an excellent primer on the Product Data Replication functionality in SAP that really shed some light on this little known bit of functionality and is definitely worth a look.

Sandwiched between these presentations were a number of presentations dealing with best practices, trick and tips, the use of variant functions, and an Experts roundtable.  This 3 hour stretch had three of the most highly value packed sessions of the whole conference.

altIf you were not there, then you need to find the presentations from Peter Einstein, Chip Holder, and Lawrence Matusek in the document share on the CWG Website and study these presentations.  You will not be disappointed.  Be sure to follow up with them at the next conference if not before.  These three officers of the CWG Board outdid themselves in creating value packed presentations for the membership.

Another set of drawings were held on the last day of this year’s conference.  The first drawing was reserved for the pool of presenters, and the second drawing was open to all conference attendees.  Three iPods, two framed photos, and two copies of ‘Variant Configuration with SAP’ (in english and hot off the SAP presses) were ‘up for grabs’.  Robert Eramo once again ‘spun the wheel’ and the winners were as follows:

General Attendee Winners:

Bill Hooper   Book
Daniel Naus   Book
Dinesh Prabakar  Photo
Matthias Waltz  Ipod

Presenter Winners:  Mitch Clark   iPod
Vahe Der Gharapetian  iPod
Nishan Pillay   Framed Photo

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


For a complete list of the presentations click here.

The primary sponsors for this year's event were Sybit, Configit, VCxI Solutions and eSpline.  Additional sponsors were Cincom, Fysbee, and Configura.  The CWG board would like to extend its thanks and appreciation to these sponsors for their continued support.


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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 28 September 2010 16:38 )