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This week I had the pleasure of attending the 2015 North American CWG Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  For those who haven’t been, it’s a gathering of SAP partners and customers to work together, spread understanding, and solve challenging problems faced within SAP Variant Configuration.  For the conference veterans, we can agree it’s a bit of a vacation as well!

There was an impressive number of first-timers this year at CWG and it was at a brand new venue, right in the vicinity of the 2015 International Boat Show.  If you can handle some humidity, watching multi-million dollar yachts coast by as you sip bourbon with colleagues is a real treat.  Luxury aside, there was a lot of activity at the conference: AICOMP put together a wonderful Oktoberfest party at their office nearby; ConfigAir threw an amazing barbeque at a rented house on the canal; and this marked the first year eLogic ran formal LO-VC Expert training at the event!

We had 14 people attend this special day of training where we tackled seemingly simple Variant Configuration problems with not-so-obvious solutions.  One of the primary focus points was around elegant uses of constraints with restrictable characteristics. In fact, as surprising as it may sound, we spent an entire morning exploring a model with just two characteristics!  There were some really interesting techniques around reading multiple value instances of a multi-value characteristic and creative use of object declarations.  It makes you really stop and think about how powerful constraints are, and gives you one more tool in your toolkit before you succumb to custom functions.

There were many quality presentations this year and I particularly enjoyed one around Classification that Steve Schneider put together.  There seemed to be emphasized direction toward hybris CPQ, S/4 HANA, and Product Costing tools.  Lawrence Matusek and Rama Gottipati from eLogic put together great presentations around Bills of Materials and preparing VC models for IPC compliance, with a lot of positive feedback and engaging discussions with various attendees in the aftermath.  I encourage anyone interested to check these out on the CWG document share website where they keep a long-running record of past presentations.

I feel one of the most important aspects of CWG is the ability to meet and discuss VC topics with vendors, customers, and SAP directly.  There is a kind of atmosphere that encourages collaboration and sharing of concepts that really can change how people view certain areas of product configuration.  SAP is listening!  They encourage our feedback and participation to improve areas like the IPC, hybris CPQ and S/4 VC on HANA.  You also get an opportunity to see real examples of other configuration technology put to use, like ConfigAir’s 3D configuration experiment on the Occulus Rift!

For those of you who went, I hope you all had as great a time as I did. Anyone thinking of attending or on the fence,  I would highly encourage you to get approval now for next year’s fall conference.  It is worth the trip to see both familiar faces and new, spark conversation, and debate over configuration techniques, while having a beer down by the pool with some smart like-minded people.

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