06/27/2008 by Dieter Steiger
A comprehensive configuration management is the most important basis of SAP Change and Transport Management. For ABAP code, this is accepted as general practice and supported by suitable tools. But how about configuration management for SAP customizing?
From our experience, the major part of changes transported across a SAP system landscape are customizing changes. Not surprisingly, the persons responsible for change and transport management often keep struggling with problems after roll-outs for lack of consistently applied configuration management for these objects. A consistent change and distribution of customizing requires stringent configuration management.
Crucial to a cross-enterprise use and protection of SAP templates is that central and local objects are well documented, comprising all versions of their lifecycle up to the newest version.
Comprehensive SAP configuration management all across the SAP landscape is meant to ensure overall integrity of the objects involved in SAP development, including ABAP as well as non-ABAP objects:
- The use of well-defined standardized naming conventions clearly reveals to which organizations, areas and projects the objects belong.
- All changes to objects, including individual customizing settings, are documented. At any time, it is obvious who is – and at which times – the owner of settings, who is entitled to make and has made changes and for which reason. This allows the changes to be tracked afterwards, which is an equivalent to versioning.
- The documentation also includes the information as to who and what and who depends from a defined customizing setting. This is an integral factor of reasonable impact management.
In the context of each change to the SAP landscape systems, it must be made sure that the rules listed above for practicing a comprehensive SAP configuration management are observed. This, again, requires a strict organization of the change und transport management. Naming conventions for transport objects and transports must be established, transport packages must be grouped according to their content, organizational and technical processes must be clearly defined and adhered to.
Some projects are highly dependent on a consistent comprehensive SAP configuration management. Without this, very often the challenges to enterprise SAP organizations can hardly be mastered, especially in the context of mergers and acquisitions, strategic outsourcing projects, insourcing, and regional or global consolidations of systems. This is also true for customizing changes. However, a solid foundation as outlined above allows such projects to planned and implemented with reasonable effort and fair success. Also customizing changes of several systems can be consolidated without a negative impact.
In addition, a comprehensive SAP configuration management allows you to permanently record the data related to transports, to the transported objects and to the result of the transport, and to evaluate them. This is comparable to using suitable analyzing tools, such as the one offered by Prospero, which have been designed to disclose the causes of problems in SAP logistic processes, or even to give a prognosis concerning their results. The same is achieved by using SAP change management data for the transport of SAP changes. In any case, SAP change and transport management has still plenty of room for improvement in complex SAP landscapes.
Applying a wide-ranging SAP configuration management has turned out to be the most effective method to ensure a consistent and efficient SAP change and transport management and a consistent customizing across the SAP system landscape.
Unfortunately, the opportunity for global enterprises using large SAP systems to improve the quality and to save costs by investing in SAP change and transport management is very often not seized, because it is thought to be technically complex. But if the challenge is taken up it soon shows that the problems are more political or company-related than of a technical nature.