Variant Configuration

Complex manufacturing companies must constantly evolve to improve efficiency and provide products that consumers want in a highly competitive market. To accomplish this, manufacturers must manage and leverage variable product data from inception through sales and service. A particular challenge for complex manufacturing companies is the large number of variations among products, which are detailed in customer orders and passed through the entire supply chain. To meet this challenge, the manufacturer has to offer new variants of its products. Often, new variants are created by modifying existing product designs during order processing. A competitive advantage is created by reacting quickly to customers’ requirements. To help these companies manage and leverage this data and respond to sales and service needs, SAP provides integrated variant configuration capabilities.


SAP variant configuration improves information exchange between sales, engineering, and production. Variant configuration helps the customer or salesperson to put together specifications for the product and ensure that the product can be produced from these specifications. It also ensures that production costs do not overstep the mark.

SAP variant configuration eliminates the need to create a separate material for each variation of a product within your company. One configurable material can be utilized to cover all variants. In support of the configurable part, a super bill of materials (BOM) and a super routing are created for the material. This contains all the components and operations for producing all variants of the product. Utilizing this approach, sales order processing is simplified and finished product and component SKU’s can be minimized.

To establish the features of a configurable material, characteristics are defined to identify the product attributes. Rules and dependencies are associated with the product master, BOM, and routing to enable your organization to use these characteristics when configuring a material. These rules and dependencies can prevent combinations of options that are not allowed. Dependencies can also guide selection of the right BOM components and operations to produce a variant. Variant configuration allows the calculation of a price for a variant product based on the characteristic values selected. Variant conditions are defined to calculate surcharges and discounts for a variant.

For variants that are required frequently, an organization can create material variants, which can be produced without a sales order and kept in stock. When you receive a sales order, SAP can check whether the variant required is in stock, so that you can deliver immediately.

SAP provides the integrated variant configuration function to describe product attributes and assign them to the product master.

Variant configuration in SAP can help in multiple ways:

  • Select one or more product alternatives, even though they are represented by only one configurable material
  • Define the interaction of the BOM and routing for a product
  • Simplify sales order entry
  • Reduce Stock Keeping Units (SKU’s)
  • Streamline information from requirements planning

For complex manufacturing environments, SAP variant configuration provides the master data maintenance tools to realize improved business practices while simplifying sales and manufacturing processes.


To get the most value from variant configuration, you need understanding of customer requirements, engineering procedures and SAP’s configurable materials, production data and rules definition. With our variant configuration experience, Dickinson + Associates can create a model that is robust yet easy to maintain. Our consultants deliver their expertise in creating and maintaining programming code so your engineers can focus on developing successful products. Take advantage of using the full potential of your SAP investment with Variant Configuration solutions from Dickinson + Associates.

Representative companies our consultants have served:

  • GE Osmonics
  • Phonak
  • Stanley Black & Decker, Inc.
  • Tennant Company