Fritz MosonyiFritz Mosonyi Put your mind at ease even when SAP support packs roll out

04/01/2008 by Fritz Mosonyi

Typical Situation
Installing SAP support packs is always quite a challenge. Which parts of the SAP-supported business processes are really affected? What exactly should be tested? Are there any own developments affected? What is the amount of resources required for testing and interventions? These are just some of the possible questions. Unfortunately, they normally can not even be answered so that in practice, the only secure option is “to test everything”. The effort involved in that, however, would be simply impracticable.

Experience
What does “testing everything” actually mean? All processes? All system components? Who has got a list of them? One of the most frequent answers to these questions by SAP operators is “Our key users will know”. To put it bluntly, this is what the usual quality assurance process will be like: The SAP base team installs the packages on the test system, sends an e-mail to all key users on Monday morning asking them to do the testing with the additional remark “if we don´t hear from you by Friday noon, we assume that everything went fine, and will go live.” The result of this approach is well-known.

Future
Is it acceptable that the SAP Competence Center as an enterprise service provider confers the task of quality assurance in the installation of support packages completely upon the user, it’s customer? This would mean that the key users are those who are responsible, the quality assurance process is no longer under control. It can neither be monitored nor measured. It is not surprising that public accountants and auditors focus more and more on this process and its documentation.

A Solution
How can the individual change management process be smoothly and cost-effectively implemented? A possible solution includes two main elements:

  1. Step-by-step introduction of a tool-based quality assurance process for installing support packs: the existing QA process is extended step by step, each resulting in a visible benefit.
  2. Automation: This includes not only the automation of test execution, but spans the whole cycle of digitalization and automation of the entire change management process, from the tool-supported impact analysis over the selection of the packages to be installed up to the generating of test cases to be executed, including possible troubleshooting.

Summary
Introducing targeted test execution for the installation of SAP support packs, the people in business and IT can put their minds at ease and, additionally, a lot of money can be saved: Subsequent to the installation of the support packs, the system availability will be much higher and stressful interventions will be reduced.

It is crucial to a successful introduction to continuously keep in mind the whole quality assurance process. With every single improvement, for example the introduction of an impact and risk analysis, it must be asked if in practice there is someone to carry it into execution and if it can be smoothly integrated into the QA process. Provided that these requirements are met, the results will de facto be applied, the expected benefit will be seen, and the processes will be monitored by accompanying measures, not only because of ITIL.

To overcome the technical difficulties involved in SAP risk and impact analysis, there are some useful tools available. The Intelli Corp´s Live Compare with the Assessor Support Pack Template, for example, has proved to be a flexible solution. In the process of support pack QA, these tools allow for a seamless integration with SAP, SAP Solution Manager, and prevalent testing tools such as HP Quality Center.

About the author: Fritz Mosonyi is senior consultant and division manager for SAP tools at beteo partner SPP Wien.

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