Whether you are evaluating an initial implementation or expanding your use of SAP Solution Manager for documentation, business process analysis, and project planning, what is the first step? Rick Allen of IBIS recently shared his advice on getting started and rethinking the SAP Solution Manager rollout.
Q. What’s the first step in planning for SAP Solution Manager implementation and rollout?
Whether you are implementing or upgrading SAP Solution Manager, the first order of business is to identify a core team from IT – and this includes both the support and project delivery.
Depending upon the size and structure of your IT organization, the core team makeup may vary. There may be a handful of people who understand components like Change Management, Service Management, Business Process Monitoring, etc. However, a larger number of stakeholders need to understand the real value and benefits of Solution Manager, and often this never really gets shared or understood by a broader set of stakeholders.
Operational as well as functional members should participate, and if a separate Quality Assurance team is used, then participation from that group is needed as well.
In addition to the Basis team, key members from all facets of the SAP team should be represented, including:
- Functional Analyst/Configurator
- Technical Analyst/Developer
- Quality Assurance/Testing
- Project Manager
- Production Support
Q. What are the most overlooked steps once the key team members are in place?
Do not underestimate the value of initial training and education, as well as developing a customer-specific high-level roadmap and strategy for rollout.
This core team should be educated in the key components of the SAP Solution Manager platform, including a basic understanding of ALM and “Run SAP Like a Factory” processes. A more in-depth understanding of the technical requirements is needed so that informed decisions can be made.
The team must be empowered to define the standards and procedures that will be used in building out content within the framework of Solution Manager and understand what Solution Manager specifically means for their business and organization -- from outlining a document strategy, determining strategy for utilizing projects (implementation, template, maintenance), solutions, change management (ChaRM), and incident management (Help Desk).
We typically offer 3 or more days of hands-on exercises and system prep, and will also provide facilitated workshops to help teams build their business case for adopting the platform.
Q. What should the first task be for the SAP Solution Manager implementation team?
In addition to the technical implementation and system setup and connectivity, building the Business Process Blueprint (BPR) for the organization is typically the first task. You can’t manage or control what you don’t know – or what you haven’t documented. Most of the functionality in Solution Manager requires a solid Business Process Structure to be built to fully leverage its capabilities. The foundation component of Solution Manager is a “completed business process blueprint.”
Q. What’s the timeline - and what resources are require - to complete the Business Process Blueprint?
This used to be a time consuming task – but not any longer! The 7.1 release of Solution Manager introduced a strategic cooperation between SAP AG and IBIS Prof. Thome AG (IBIS) to deliver an automated approach to building a Business Process Blueprint -- Reverse Business Process Documentation (RBPD) -- which significantly streamlines the process.
With this new release, IBIS provides business content for the Solution Documentation Assistant (SDA) to support a comprehensive analysis of the functional usage of SAP ERP systems, based upon not only transactional processing but also SQL queries that apply an intelligent analysis of customizing, master, and transaction data statistics to determine the business blueprint.
The end result is high-quality content applied to reverse business-engineer the process structure for documenting projects and solutions, which can be used on an ongoing basis. There is some manual effort needed, but Solution Manager and IBIS provide detailed content and tools to accelerate the customization of the business process blueprint.
Q. How does this new automated approach address and document the organization’s customization of programs and transactions?
Ideally, standard functionality would satisfy the requirements for a business process, but once standard processes have been structured in your Business Blueprint, you inevitably need to add your customer-specific content.
An inventory of past customer-specific processes, process steps, custom configuration, custom development objects (transactions, programs, forms, reports, enhancements, and workflow objects) is often outdated and difficult to produce. The time, resources and effort to build this inventory manually can be intensive, which is why we developed a solution (RBE Plus) and services to build this inventory -- automatically and with substantially less time and fewer resources. Our services assign custom transactions and program inventory to the appropriate business process in your blueprint structure. We then work with the functional team to model the custom development inventory into the SAP standard structure.
Q. What is next step for those who have already implemented some basic SAP Solution Manager functionality?
It’s all about taking a broader look at the value of aligning Solution Manager functionality and content with existing internal methodologies. As with any standard software, an organization needs to determine whether they will adapt to standard methodologies, or whether the software needs to be configured. Setting a clear strategy from the start is key.
Most importantly, though, many organizations simply haven’t explored the value of operating Solution Manager as a centralized platform for managing the applications lifecycle. Understanding how SAP Solution Manager can offer a single source of information about your SAP – that is a step that can simplify implementations and drive business process improvements well into the future.