Dieter SteigerDieter Steiger SAP Solution Manager – Does It Manage SAP Solutions?

11/17/2008 by Dieter Steiger

I was fortunate to attend various presentations on the topic of SAP’s solution management at SAP TechEd 2008 Berlin.

My expectations regarding SAP solution management would be that SAP could finally take on the task of solution management for specific customer implementation scenarios, and that it would do so in a comprehensive manner. Sadly, this has not yet been achieved. Even after visiting the solution management presentations I was disappointed to find that even though the SAP Solution Manager does fulfill the requirements to manage a standard SAP system, key functions pertaining to the solution management of specific SAP customer implementations are missing.

Apparently the Solution Manager, with respect to SAP, remains primarily a gateway to the customer’s infrastructure. It allows the lifecycle management of the SAP standard software to be safeguarded in an optimized way.

SAP’s marketing, however, cleverly packages the Solution Manager as a comprehensive lifecycle management solution for specific SAP customer environments, even though basic requirements for bona-fide solution management using SolMan—such as customization version control or dependency management among individual software components—are nonexistent. This is all the more surprising because, for the standard SAP system, such functions are already implemented in the SAP CIM model.

Clever marketing messages that tout functionalities such as SAP ChaRM and SAP CTS+ produce a situation where customers pay barely any attention to the actual challenges that SAP ChaRM and SAP CTS+ must confront in regard to competing change request management and the consistent deployment of heterogeneous components. These are just two examples of individual functions through which SAP marketing attempts to convey that it comprehensively addresses the real-world, day-to-day challenges of competing operations- and project-related business transactions.

I wonder which customers truly use plain vanilla, non-customized SAP systems, since the need for changes will be obvious the moment such systems are used live. That establishes the need for real SAP solution management, meaning SAP lifecycle management. The SAP customer system does exist, but unfortunately product management for the SAP Solution Manager  hasn’t understood that yet.

Summary: Lifecycle Management with the SAP Solution Manager

It is somewhat disillusioning that SAP still hasn’t directed the SAP lifecycle management toward solution management for its thousands of different customer implementations. Despite the potential benefits for all SAP customers, the lifecycle management solution bearing the wonderful name of Solution Manager is still mainly a software logistics-specific bridgehead for SAP standard software.

One should consider that every customer implementation is unique and ultimately requires modern standardized procedures and standard solution management tools. Perhaps there is some benefit to the fact that compliance requirements are increasingly compelling customers to utilize more fully developed SAP solution management processes and solutions that implement for example customization version control. Admittedly, it would be desirable if SAP could take care of this in the standard Solution Manager. In any event, it would certainly be possible.

N.B.: beteo has implemented comprehensive SAP solution management for actual customer implementations based on standard processes and standard software, for example HP PPM. Instead of implementing SAP solution management for every customer individually, in addition to Solution Manager, it might make sense to have beteo scope out a potential Solution Manager project with SAP Solution Manager’s product management. We always consider our customers’ requirements.

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