At Radiant Think, we often get to see VC Models at various companies. It is surprising, or perhaps not so surprising that there are many VC models out there that have been in active use for many, many years. Some of these are over 10 years old now and this is a long time on a technology time scale. That does show the power of SAP Variant Configuration as the models have adapted to all the changes that models required..
Why does it matter?
However I am seeing a shift in the marketplace with companies now looking more closely at their VC models. I see two main reasons.
Firstly the VC Models are becoming difficult to maintain, hard to understand and prone to error. I have seen companies who are almost too scared to touch them as the risk of something breaking is considered high.
So why is this the case?. Well, older models may have been implemented by consultants or by business people that may have left the business. They may not use good practice approaches.
The detailed knowledge of how the model works, may no longer be there, and those that follow later try their best, and also add there own VC modelling style. So as you can imagine, that over a period of time we start to see model decay. It starts to loose its structure, assuming it it had a structure to start with!
This means that any changes required, from various sources such as component changes, adding more options, changes to standards, changes in markets etc add to the complexity. The signs of an old model that has decayed is increased risk of errors, slow to adapt, hard to maintain and in general - not fun to maintain.
The second reason to look more closely at VC Models relates to the speed of technological change. In recent years we see the internet, SAP AVC, SAP S4HANA and Cloud all impacting faster and faster. Companies need to be proactive to keep up. So any company that is wanting to take advantage of Variant Configuration moving forward do need to see if the models are going to be fit for purpose..
Do you know the warning signs?
So when you look at your models - Do you see constraints and variant tables being used? If so you maybe in a better place. However if you also see many Preconditions and extremely complex Procedures then for me that is a warning flag that you need to think about your VC model designs.
In the video I talk about this. Have a look, it is fairly short, but one positive approach I have seen is one company who put 8 VC Modelers through our online VC Essentials Course. Because our training is anchored strongly in good practices, they were able to see where their existing model approaches were causing their problems.
In simple terms, they were doing very few of good practice approaches such as Constraints and Variant Tables, but loading up heavily on Procedures and Preconditions. This is nearly the opposite of good practice.
So in my view many companies are not aware of good VC Modelling practices. They are blinkered, and perhaps do not know they have a problem. But the tell tale signs will be there. Models that are hard to maintain, cause errors, lack of knowledge on how they work etc.
One small step towards better models
You need to realise that SAP are not VC Modeler's. They provide a software tool called Variant Configuration that is powerful in the right hands with those with the right knowledge and understanding.. As such, although they may suggest broad approaches to modelling, this is not a core activity for them. Although they do provide comprehensive training resources, they do not provide training that is VC Modeler focused.
That is the niche we focus on.
Try our preview of the course. https://radiantthink.litmos.com/online-courses/
Contact me for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org