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The #1 Pitfall to Avoid with Your Next Upgrade or Implementation

by Guenter Blattner and Matthias Melich | SAPinsider

January 1, 2005

How well do you really know what’s going on across your solution landscape? SAP Solution Manager gives you the integrated content and tools to ensure a thorough understanding of your SAP landscape for all invested in the health and well-being of a solution.
 

 
 
Guenter Blattner,
Vice President of Development for
SAP Solution Manager

 

 
 
Matthias Melich,
Global Product Manager
for SAP Solution Manager

 

Q. What is the #1 pitfall you would advise readers to avoid when it comes time for their next SAP upgrade or implementation?

The #1 pitfall is not using SAP Solution Manager to aid and guide the process. The best and most up-to-date resources for these tasks are offered through this application management solution. Moreover, leveraging SAP Solution Manager at the outset of these endeavors means you gain a better grip on your solution over the long term. Ask yourself this: How well do you really know what's going on across your solution landscape? Do you have a firm handle on:

  • All of the business processes that are running there?

  • Test cases and test results?

  • E-learning units?

  • Modifications and enhancements?

  • Incident and problem information?

  • Maintenance activities?

  • Service activities?

  • Systems documentation?

If the answer to many or all of these is "No," this indicates a lack of transparency. Gaps in this information create barriers to ongoing application management and to the continuous improvement of your solution landscape. How can you effectively and efficiently manage solutions or effect change when you don't know where things stand?

This is why we see so much interest now in SAP Solution Manager. At the start of this new year, a large number of upgrades, new implementations, and global rollouts are being planned. Each offers a clean slate with which to institute disciplines that ensure transparent and coordinated management activities, and the vehicle to institute these disciplines is SAP Solution Manager. It's the common point, the centralized management solution, to which all parties who are vested in the health and well-being of a solution can come to plan, configure, test, deploy, support, and monitor a process end-to-end.

All the content, tools, and links to SAP are there to enable you to do this (see Figure 1). With SAP Solution Manager, you've got roadmaps, methodologies, scenarios, and best practices to guide your planning and configuration activities. You've got access to all support services at the right time. You've got full control over all reported issues, all testing efforts and results, all documentation. And if a business process has a global reach, you even have tools to automate and standardize settings across global locations and subsidiaries. All these things work together in an integrated fashion.

Figure 1
SAP Solution Manager at a Glance

Once you've moved from implementation to the operation phase, SAP Solution Manager continues to support your solutions and provide additional functions. The service desk functionality will handle incidents as they arise. You can use the real-time monitoring functions for your systems, business processes, and interfaces. You can keep tight control over all changes to your solution with the new change request management functionality. And all of these types of activities can be cataloged within SAP Solution Manager for quality control and for future reference. Now compare this to your situation today — that's quite an improvement in application management, we think!

This is our approach to a real reduction of TCO— if you use SAP Solution Manager in the way we've outlined, you will never have to enter the same information twice, and you'll have the transparency needed to understand what is going on in your solution. In the end, this means that you have increased the reliability of your solution as well.

Note that this approach also speeds up ROI — we provide you with a clear methodology buttressed by SAP Solution Manager as a tool and as content for the full mySAP Business Suite 2004.1

Q. A lot of customers and consultants have used the ValueSAP toolset for a lot of SAP implementations. Can they stick with what they know, rigorously document their activities, and achieve a level of transparency across management activities that would approximate what is possible with SAP Solution Manager?

The ValueSAP offline tools operated disjointedly, for the most part. You would use the Q&A database for blueprinting, the IMG for customizing, and the Business Process Master List (BPML) for configuration and testing management. The tools were not entirely integrated with one another. Between these phases, we often saw gaps and a lack of consistency in terms of project documentation and solution data. In addition, the focus of the ValueSAP toolset was to accelerate just the implementation phase of setting up a specific system. You would use it to implement SAP R/3, for example — not to manage downstream life-cycle activities and not to manage a business process that spans multiple systems.

SAP Solution Manager, by contrast, was designed to address the complete life cycle of an SAP solution. If you've got a business solution that spans SAP R/3, BW, and CRM systems, for example, SAP Solution Manager enables you to manage it end to end, starting at the blueprinting and customizing phases and continuing through testing, deployment, operation, change management, troubleshooting, and on up through system expansions and upgrades. All tools and information that come into play at any point are integrated with one another.

This is why we have stopped shipping the ValueSAP product, have discontinued development activities of ValueSAP tools and content, and urge customers to utilize SAP Solution Manager with their next major project.

We want to assure all AcceleratedSAP (ASAP) methodology users that SAP continues to develop the ASAP Roadmap content and ships it in the SAP Solution Manager platform. Although the tools have evolved, the underlying methodology principles remain in place.

Q. SAP Solution Manager serves as a gateway between the customer and SAP. With better information flow between both parties, is it fair to say that customers who use SAP Solution Manager can expect better support from SAP?

Absolutely, because we feel that collaboration is the fundamental principle of SAP's relationship with our customers. Here are two examples:

  • A customer reports a problem and an SAP expert logs on to the customer's system to sort it out. With SAP Solution Manager, we have a clear view of what is going on in the customer's system — what the system settings are, what the core processes are, which incidents were reported to the customer's help desk, which support packages were applied, and so forth. We can hit the ground running and get on to the business of resolving the problem. Without SAP Solution Manager in place, there is typically considerable legwork to be done to glean this information. With SAP Solution Manager in place, we see faster and higher-quality problem resolution.

  • Or consider the case where customers want to shore up the capabilities of their in-house support organizations. For these needs, SAP Active Global Support offers "empowering services" for all phases of the solution life cycle (see Figure 2). These empowering services can be ordered and tracked via SAP Solution Manager.
Figure 2
SAP Support Programs Along the Solution Life Cycle

Q. Among customers embarking on a strategic project that pushes the envelope of their current SAP system, a common refrain is that they feel they are "going it alone." We understand that SAP Solution Manager opens up new pathways for collaboration on continuous improvement projects between customers and SAP. Can you elaborate on this?

What we are really doing with SAP Solution Manager is increasing the level of intimacy with our customers — we know more about our customers' solutions, and this provides us with a lot of opportunities to better support our customers.

SAP Solution Manager is a central environment that couples a communication infrastructure with an onsite database of detailed information about the customer solution. Through SAP Solution Manager, all improvement opportunities can be orchestrated, from simple support and updates to the empowering services we alluded to earlier on up to a premium support offering like SAP MaxAttention, which is an adaptive set of support services for customers with complex solutions that span a variety of systems.2

With SAP Solution Manager, you have optimized and customer-specific access to the multifaceted SAP improvement offerings, which include services as well as content, best practices, and methodologies. Ultimately, this enables our customers to derive the most value out of their SAP solution at any time during its life cycle.

Looking ahead, SAP Solution Manager, with its intimate knowledge of customer solutions, ultimately enables SAP to radically revamp the upgrade process.

Today, we are looking to work more closely with our customers and keep support costs in check across implementation and operations, even including a standard upgrade procedure for all customers of a specific release.3 The additional knowledge garnered through SAP Solution Manager will ultimately be the key enabler for closer relationships, providing more tailored upgrades for our customers, adapted to their particular situations. This is a major vision we're working toward.


1 For a closer look at how SAP Solution Manager is bound to reduced TCO and improved ROI, see Matthias Melich's article "Application Management, TCO, ROI, and the Tie that Binds Them" in this issue of SAP Insider (www.SAPinsider.com).

2 For more on SAP's MaxAttention offering, see "Dedicated SAP Expertise for the Most Demanding Solution Landscapes: SAP MaxAttention" by Oliver Huschke in this issue of SAP Insider (www.SAPinsider.com).

3 See Doreen Baseler's article, "How SAP Solution Manager Can Smooth Your Next Upgrade Project," in this issue of SAP Insider (www.SAPinsider.com).

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