Nicolaj AmmannNicolaj Ammann Lifecycle Management – a Nightmare?

06/23/2008 by Nicolaj Ammann

Andrea User and Daniel Eveloper both work in the same enterprise. When they meet in the cafeteria, the say hello. That has been all, so far. Today, they will both attend the same meeting. They still don´t know that this will have an impact on their lives.

Andrea and Daniel are sitting in conference room 3.22
Andrea works in the human resources department and is in charge of employee training courses. Since long she has been familiar with this topic before she started to work for the company 6 months ago. She has a pretty clear conception of how the staff-related processes are to be mapped in the ERP system (Enterprise Resource Planning Systems). And she knows, which extensions and changes remain to be added. This is why she had invited Daniel. He has been recommended to her by the CIO.

Daniel is very experienced in IT and has worked for the company for a long time, principally engaged in the development of different ERP systems. He has been involved in a variety of release changes, system roll-outs and consolidations and – thanks to his good constitution – has survived, more or less free of damage.

And here is Andrea, another quite euphoric program manager who needs to be brought back to earth. What the heck is going on in the heads of these people? The “small” extension unfortunately requires a new service pack which is planned to be installed next summer, not before two thorough testing cycles will have been carried out on the development and pre-production systems. Experience has shown that deploying, configuring and testing this extension will take another two or three months – provided everything will pass off smoothly.

Andrea’s “small” change involves customizing activities for one of the applications. This makes it worse. The developer of this application has quit for a better job – the company´s advanced training offerings were rather sparse. Today, nobody knows how this application really works and – making it even worse – who has access to its various interfaces. A charming smile on his face, trying to strike a friendly note, he said something like “never touch a running system”. In a way, he felt sorry for having to thoroughly disillusion this nice woman.

Andrea, feeling her sweaty hands, is looking at her alarm-clock on her night table, showing 06.55 hrs. It takes her a couple of moments to realize, relieved, that she was just awaking from a heavy nightmare. A completely realistic dream. Very slowly, she is calming down.

Two hours later, Andrea and Daniel are – really – sitting in conference room 3.22
Andrea put forward her wish as to the “small” change concerning the ERP extension, and Daniel immediately knows what to do.

He takes a seat next to Andrea and starts his notebook. The tool he opens seems to display the system landscape. Right away, Andrea recognizes where her system is mapped. But there is another thing she does not see at first sight: the information about the systems that has been collected and related to one another by this tool. But this is not really a problem. Daniel knows which data can be recalled.

After recognizing that the change implies installing a new service pack, he starts an impact analysis for it. This involves listing all objects affected by the change and makes the related processes visible. Since there are quite a lot of processes that have to be changed repeatedly, test scripts have been produced for them long ago. Now, there are only two new processes listed which require a new test script, and it will be no problem to have them available by the time the system will be upgraded in a week. The request for the script he has just issued. When he is doing the same for the desired extension, he realizes that three new processes are implemented. Andrea is quite surprised about Daniel being so well acquainted with her HR topics.

The effect of the necessary change on the customized application is visible right away. The interface which must be extended is only used by one evaluation tool. Testing this interface and if necessary changing it will not take longer than 10 minutes. Without delay, he issues the order directly to the developer, which not only includes the development activities, but also testing as well es completing the documentation correspondingly.

The meeting did not take the full time Andrea had planned for it. So there is some time left for her and Daniel to have a cup of coffee together. Andrea has decided to thank the CIO for his recommendation.

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