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Availability of Critical Business Processes Requires More Than Sound Technology: Operational Issues — People, Procedures, and Practices — Matter Too!

by Vivian Luechau-de la Roche | SAPinsider

January 1, 2002

by Vivian Luechau-de la Roche, SAP AG SAPinsider - 2002 (Volume 3), January (Issue 1)

At SAP, we know that business process availability is not merely a function of the underlying technology. Availability hinges on how that technology is first implemented and then supported, day in and day out. Functional and technical project teams must work in concert (not in a vacuum, and certainly not at odds with one another!) and so should in-house technical teams and outside consultants, including those from SAP. The new SAP Solution Management Roadmap offers a methodology for getting various operational issues to work in lockstep - issues like procedures, best practices, definitions of roles and responsibilities, integration and hand-off procedures between functional and technical teams, integration with SAP and partners, service definitions, and so on.

Tight integration among these operational concerns is more relevant today than ever before. Why? Consider for a moment the core business processes in your own company. How many software components, systems, and interfaces do you need to run your business processes? How many organizations, whether in-house or external, are involved in the implementation and maintenance of your business processes? This might include hardware vendors, software providers (SAP and non-SAP), network providers, third-party product providers, and technical and functional implementation partners. Now consider that the implementation team is generally not the same team that will be running and supporting the solution! This makes communication and coordination among all parties involved absolutely critical. The overriding need for a single, common methodology that can effectively govern these numerous operational concerns was the motivation for the SAP Solution Management Roadmap.

Some Observations on Implementation - Does This Sound Familiar?

It's probably not surprising that in many implementation projects the technical and functional parts of the implementation operate as two separate projects. In fact, we find again and again that:
  • The technical and functional parts of a typical implementation project are nearly equal in terms of complexity, effort, and expended resources.

  • The functional and technical implementation teams have different target groups: the operational organization and functional units, respectively.

  • In many cases, the functional and technical implementations are delivered by different professional service organizations and by separate project teams operating with separate budgets.

  • Most customers do not have a formal plan in place to guide the hand-off from the implementation team to the support organization.

Clearly SAP has a vested interest in ensuring that every customer can successfully implement SAP-provided business processes. So SAP has taken steps to define a clear, shared methodology for both the implementation of the technical infrastructure and the ongoing management of the solution.

The SAP Solution Management Roadmap clearly defines all these critical points of operational integration. It is a resource for the technical project team, the customer's support team, SAP technical consultants, and SAP partners alike.1

Solution Management Objectives and Key Deliverables

The SAP Solution Management Roadmap provides a clear methodology for the implementation of the technical infrastructure and for the continuing operation of the solution. This methodology includes:

  • A unified view of the technical implementation of solution landscapes

  • Procedures and SAP Best Practices2 to ensure the successful implementation of your technical infrastructure and your operations

  • Clear statements regarding the roles and responsibilities of SAP and all the parties involved

  • Integration and synchronization points between the functional and technical departments

  • Integration and hand-off procedures between the project team and the support organization

  • Definition of the services that are provided by SAP, as the solution provider, to ensure the successful implementation of business processes

Figure 1 introduces you to the scope and deliverables of the SAP Solution Management Roadmap project. As you can see, the Roadmap is designed for use during the Discovery & Evaluation, Implementation, and Operations & Continuous Improvement stages, and is targeted at customers, partners, and SAP's technical consulting organization.

The Roadmap is easily accessible via the SAP Solution Manager and the SAP Service Marketplace (

Figure 1 Scope and Deliverables of the SAP Solution Management Roadmap

Checkpoints Along the Way to Safeguard Your Business Processes

To ensure successful implementation of your business processes and smooth-running operations, we have devised a series of checkpoints, shown in Figure 1. Once a major milestone has been reached in the implementation, SAP's support organization checks the most important deliverables of that phase. For example, before you go live, SAP ensures that your production environment has been properly set up and that everything is in place.

In mapping the roles, checkpoints, and deliverables for all parties involved - the customer, partners, and SAP - the SAP Solution Management Roadmap includes a model for a collaborative approach to preventing problems, the SAP Collaborative Safeguarding program (see Figure 2). In this model, the customer and implementation partners implement the solution, and SAP checks and supports the implementation process.4

Figure 2 The SAP Collaborative Safeguarding Model

A Unified Methodology to Bring Together the Functional and Technical Teams

For business processes to work effectively, the functional and technical facets of the implementation and ongoing operation of a business process must work hand-in-hand. For this reason, SAP provides a unified framework for the implementation of any solution. From this general methodology you also are referred to solution-specific Best Practices. In effect, you get the best of both worlds: a guiding set of general, overarching principles and solution-specific content (such as Best Practices) that fit into that generic unifying framework.

The SAP Solution Management Roadmap consists of the five phases shown in Figure 3. Each phase contains work packages that consist of a collection of activities, with tasks and procedures to be performed during each phase. To ensure synchronization among all the parties and processes, the Roadmap defines project milestones needed at the completion of the deliverables in each phase, and describes the services SAP provides to assure the quality of the project implementation.

Figure 3 Five Phases of the SAP Solution Management Roadmap

For example, the major deliverable of "Technical & Integration Design" (Phase 2) is the Technical Design document - your blueprint for establishing the technical infrastructure, including software components, servers, network infrastructure, output devices, and so on. To complete this work package, a number of activities and tasks need to be performed. Once completed, SAP reviews the feasibility of the solution.

Benefits of the SAP Solution Management Roadmap

With the SAP Solution Management Roadmap, you don't need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to managing the people, procedures, and practices involved in your implementation. The SAP Solution Management Roadmap:

  • Speeds up the implementation of your technical infrastructure by using a standard methodology

  • Provides Best Practices on how to implement specific aspects of your solution management

  • Provides recommendations for the communication process between your technical and functional teams

  • Offers standard procedures for the transition from your project teams to your support organization

  • Provides clear statements regarding the roles and responsibilities of SAP and the parties involved

  • Provides a clear definition of the services provided by SAP to ensure a successful implementation

To Learn More...

Integrating the functional and technical implementation with the ongoing operation of complex solution landscapes is one of the big challenges in achieving high availability for core business processes. This methodology is designed to do just that.

Look for the first version of the SAP Solution Management Roadmap at the beginning of 2002, available via the SAP Solution Manager or the SAP Service Marketplace.

For the latest on the SAP Solution Management Roadmap, visit the SAP Service Marketplace at

1 The SAP Solution Management Roadmap complements the SAP Implementation Roadmap, which uses the Accelerated SAP methodology. However, it is designed to be used with any functional implementation methodology.

2 For more on SAP Best Practices, see "Empower Your IT Team with SAP's Best Practices for Solution Management" by Ute Rueckert-Daschakowsky in this issue of SAP Insider.

3 The SAP Solution Manager is the tool provided by SAP to support you during the evaluation and implementation phases. It serves as a communications platform and a central pillar of the new SAP service infrastructure. It also supports you in the successful technical implementation and management of your solutions with respect to core business processes.

4 For more on the SAP Collaborative Safeguarding program, see "Preventing Problems Before They Can Disrupt Your Business Processes: The SAP Collaborative Safeguarding Program" by Rüdiger Fries in this issue of SAP Insider.

Vivian Luechau-de la Roche began working with SAP software in 1993 as a Basis Consultant. She joined SAP in 1999 and is currently an SAP Support Architect in the Technology Center of Expertise located at SAP Australia in Sydney.

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