Peter HelfensteinPeter Helfenstein How Tool-based SAP Change Control Helps SAP Customers

01/29/2009 by Peter Helfenstein

HP PPM in combination with beteo’s SAP Change Control Current Practice can help SAP customers to reduce cost and risk the SAP change process.

This article summarizes the potential benefits, challenges and approaches of implementing a SAP change control solution based on HP PPM and beteo SAP Change Control Current Practice as well as illustrates a sample customer reference.

Potential Benefits of a SAP Change control solution with HP PPM and beteo’s SAP Change Control Current Practice

  • Improved Efficiency: For 80% of all changes deployment time is reduced by 85 percent or more, manual intervention efforts by 50 to 70 percent – lowering overall SAP deployment cost and risk. Same customer headcount can manage more changes, reducing risk, change backlog and increasing traceability.
  • One Uniform Change Management: One single approach will manage all changes to all applications, across all environments and platforms, automating migrations and deployments of all software changes from projects and support. Typically the overall time spent on the change process can be reduced by 20 to 30 percent.
  • Digitized Best Practice: In addition the one approach will be codified, automated and governed for the entire change and deployment cycle with beteo Current Practice processes for effective change management. Like that best practice application development methodologies are enforced.
  • Automated Deployment for customer projects, changes from customer’s support and from SAP: Roll-outs from change request process and project implementations, SAP upgrades, SAP service packs, SAP hot fixes, change requests from support, configurations, SAP instance consolidations, and migrations to avoid costly delays and errors are highly automated including consistency assuring measures. Managing multiple deployment environments is enabled with full control over individual changes and groups of changes or releases.
  • Complete Visibility: A system of record audit trail for visibility across the entire change process with comprehensive reports and a real-time dashboard are made available.

Change Control challenges faced by SAP customers

For SAP systems as for any IT system nothing is more constant than change. At least once a week, numerous changes initiated by the customer’s  support, project teams or by SAP are moved into the SAP system landscapes and semi-automatically or manually transported to production servers. Because of the typically elaborate, complex system landscape of large SAP customers in their overall business environment, the risk that something goes wrong is high and complex, expensive manual interventions are often required to get changes applied without impacting the running SAP systems and customer’s operations.

A consistent, beteo Current Practice-based tool-supported SAP Change Control implements, controls and largely automates the SAP change process. A secure way of executing auto-deployment of SAP transports, for ABAP as well as non-ABAP changes, across the SAP landscape will be made available. It prevents system components from breaking down, resulting problems don’t need to be analyzed ex post and manually solved by system specialists anymore.

SAP offers a system with quite convenient possibilities to implement changes across system landscapes. Unless there are parallel changes from support and projects in complex system landscapes implemented, SAP’s tool supported transport management for changes does a good job. It allows transport routes to be defined across the system, transport requests to be released and change packages to be distributed and installed across the system, including defined validation steps.

But SAP’s rather sophisticated system has its limits. First, the process of rolling out changes is quite error-prone. Second, compliance rules are not completely met. And third, the system is susceptible to inconsistencies.

  • Changes are more or less simultaneously distributed across the solution landscape via transport processes. Differences in runtime speed in the various phases of distribution and verification can cause time-dependent changes to be implemented in the wrong order.
  • There might be conflicting changes from different projects, the customer’s support and SAP.
  • Manual changes might be executed at the wrong time.
  • SAP Customizing changes are not versioned and have no lock mechanism. It happens easily that they are unintentionally overwritten.
  • Once changes and change sequences have been executed, they cannot easily be executed a second time.

Ways to handle SAP Change Control challenges

There are ways to proactively handle these problems with a reasonable effort. Applying beteo’s “SAP Change Control Current Practice” in combination with HP PPM implies the following:

  • For all changes to the solution landscape, there is a change request and an approval. There is no transport request (technical change) without change request (organizational change). All changes are documented.
  • Changes are grouped according to projects, areas of use and common technical objects involvement, so that the transport is unlikely to cause conflicts with the system environment. The projects have more autonomy concerning transport.
  • Transport and routine tasks are automatically executed in the correct order, including comprehensive measures to ensure consistency.
  • Potential errors caused by changes that are transported faster than others or by unintentional overwriting are recognized in time and remedied proactively. This also applies to transporting different changes from all kinds of SAP or non-SAP systems, such as changes to SAP CRM, SAP ERP, or SAP BW objects, SAP customizing, Java packages, SAP portal configurations – and to many interdependent components that must be changed.
  • Entries into the Change Control documentation are made automatically and users of dependant objects for a change are being alerted.
  • Change processes are strictly followed.
  • All changes are executed in a secure way; rollback functions can be made available and changes run repeatedly.
  • There is a complete audit trail for all changes.

A reference customer for a HP PPM based SAP Change Control

The reference customer needed a software solution that would formalize, standardize, and automate every step in the SAP Transport Management process. The new solution had to control the entire change management process in a single, end-to-end workflow — from change request through testing and interim releases to live activation. The new Change Management should underpin the automated, controlled distribution of new and/or modified SAP software processes on the basis of a regulated information flow .

The challenge
To formalize, standardize, and automate the process of taking new or modified electronic business processes in the SAP R/3 environment live, in accordance with the best practices defined in the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). The customer was looking for a solution that would provide no-gaps support for every step in the SAP Transport Management System.

Business Value
With beteo’s experts and HP PPM, the customer achieved a change and transport management process to carefully control the system-wide distribution of software updates. The result: no more system failures, less manual work, and projects completed on time and on budget.

  • The customer successfully adapted and implemented SAP Change Control based on HP PPM and a solution architecture by beteo’s senior solution architect in a short timeframe.
  • The customer now has the ability to optimize its electronic business process on an ongoing basis, without risking the expense and annoyance of system failures.
  • HP PPM Change Management helped ensure that already the first strategic SAP project was completed successfully — on time and on budget.

About the customer
The reference customer is a large German SAP customer occupying market-leading positions in several utility business segments.

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