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Don't Sit on the Sidelines When It Comes to Your Applications' Health

by Wendy Maldonado | SAPinsider

October 1, 2012

Application lifecycle management (ALM) is crucial to helping businesses see the benefits of their investment in new technology as quickly as possible. In this article, you’ll learn how ALM enables IT and business managers to effectively maintain business continuity, accelerate innovation, and reduce risk while keeping TCO low.
 

When businesses make the decision to implement a new technology solution or process, they want to make sure they start seeing the benefits of their investment as soon as possible. This is why application lifecycle management (ALM) is crucial. ALM is a term that describes the processes, tools, services, and organizational models used to manage software from concept to phase out.

ALM enables IT and business managers to more effectively maintain business continuity, accelerate innovation, and reduce risk while keeping the total cost of operations (TCO) low and protecting the company’s IT investment.

This all means that companies are better able to realize the benefits of new technology and process investments.

Support Your Applications Throughout Their Life Cycles

SAP’s ALM approach focuses on helping IT develop best practices for managing each IT process, no matter how complicated the application landscape might be. The goal is to allow them to achieve key performance indicators (KPIs), reach a high return on the investment, and increase the quality of implemented solutions and processes. SAP’s ALM offerings cover:

  • Processes based on best practices uncovered by SAP Active Global Support
  • Tools from SAP and third-party vendors to support the ALM processes
  • Support and consulting services that provide expert knowledge and educational services to empower your workforce
  • A best-practice methodology, organizational model, and solution standards to support the software landscape

SAP’s ALM services cover 11 ALM processes to help you manage your SAP and non-SAP applications from implementation through the retirement of the solutions.1 These processes are:

  • Solution documentation: Identifies and documents business processes for SAP solutions, including partner software components, custom code, and interfaces
  • Solution implementation: Identifies, adapts, and implements new and enhanced business and technical software implementations
  • Template management: Allows customers with multisite SAP software installations to create and manage their company-wide business process library — from template definition to template implementation and optimization
  • Test management: Defines testing requirements and scope for projects and changes; is used to develop automatic and manual test cases, manage the testers, and report on test progress and results
  • Change control management: Provides workflow-based management of business- and technology-driven changes, integrated with project management and synchronized deployment functions; leads to improved reliability of the solution and minimized risk; contributes to technical and functional robustness
  • Application incident management: Enables centralized incident and issue message processing on multiple organizational levels; can be connected to a non-SAP software help desk application; includes follow-up activities such as root-cause analysis and change management
  • Technical operations: Monitors system and end-user experience and the routine tasks of system administration, such as sending alerts and analyzing and maintaining SAP solutions
  • Business process operations: Sets up, supports, and executes operational processes, including business process monitoring and management, data consistency management, and data volume management
  • Maintenance management: Covers lifecycle management of corrective software from discovery to test-scope optimization and optional automatic deployment to productive environments
  • Landscape transformation: Manages business and IT-driven changes in SAP landscapes
  • Upgrade management: Provides comprehensive project support for release transitions; helps customers understand and manage any technical risks and challenges of an upgrade

SAP Solution Manager supports these processes by acting as the single source of the truth for solutions and their life cycles. Companies can use SAP Solution Manager to document implemented business processes and solution landscapes. Third-party solution extensions can be used in conjunction with SAP Solution Manager, providing enhanced features and functionality to improve quality and reduce risk associated with managing complex system landscapes (see sidebar). After go-live, these tools can all be used to monitor and track business performance and as a basis to develop software changes to meet evolving business demands.

In addition, SAP Solution Manager acts as a hub to integrate SAP tools and solution extensions that help enable these key ALM processes (see Figure 1). This means that SAP Solution Manager can act as a central repository of information from across the solution landscape, which allows companies to work from consistent information sources, improves transparency and visibility, enables collaboration between business and IT, and helps eliminate process gaps and disruptions.

SAP Solution Manager acts as a central hub from which ALM processes and the tools that support them can be managed
Figure 1 SAP Solution Manager acts as a central hub from which ALM processes and the tools that support them can be managed

The Benefits of Integrated ALM

By implementing ALM processes and establishing SAP Solution Manager as the integrated platform to launch ALM activities, companies can more easily share information across business processes and facilitate collaboration between IT and the business. Following an integrated ALM approach allows companies to deliver innovation and manage change more quickly to meet business requirements, reduce TCO, deliver superior-quality applications that maintain business continuity and reduce risk, meet or exceed service-level agreements with the business, manage and report on KPIs, and optimize business processes over the life cycle of your applications.

To learn more about SAP’s ALM offerings, visit www.sap.com/lines-of-business/IT/solution-extensions-for-IT/index.epx

Wendy Maldonado (wendy.maldonado@sap.com) is a Marketing Director at SAP, responsible for managing global awareness of world-class SAP solution extension products for application lifecycle management (ALM).

1. These processes run within the context of the five-phase Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework (though customers can still benefit from following these ALM processes within the context of the ASAP methodology or their own methodology). [back]

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