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End the “Test Everything” mentality: Start with an Analysis project to optimize implementations and upgrades

January 30, 2014

By Rick Allen, IBIS

If you’re running on SAP, it’s time to take another look at SAP Solution Manager.  Yes, Solution Manager is specifically designed for SAP customers for monitoring, but it also provides solution documentation, change tracking, service desk and implementation tools to support your larger IT strategy and get a clear picture of the processes that are running today.

The first step to leveraging this functionality is to build the Business Blueprint structure to document the business scenarios, processes, master data and organizational structure supporting the business  –  identifying which processes work, which ones don’t, and where your SAP system can be optimized.

Now with SAP Solution Manager 7.1, there is an automated approach to document your Business Processes with Reverse Business Process Documentation (RBPD). With the new release included in 7.1, 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.

Ideally, SAP standard functionality satisfies the requirements for a business process.  Realistically, this is not always the case. 

So once the standard processes have been structured in your Business Blueprint, you need to add your customer-specific content to complete the process which, depending upon the amount of customization, can be cumbersome and time consuming.

Microsoft engaged with IBIS to simplify/automate this process, thus reducing the risk, cost and resources to successfully complete the project and provide additional SAP continuous improvement across Microsoft.

In this short excerpt of an interview with IBIS’s Marci Braybrooks, Andy Van Inwegen, SAP Release Manager for Microsoft Corp., shares his thoughts on their project. It’s a great example of how detailed system analysis – including insight into system configuration, business process structure, and actual usage – can drive efficiencies in implementation, upgrade and maintenance.

 

IBIS:  Microsoft, an SAP customer, has requested and received SAP’s Reverse Process Documentation (RBPD) service. What were the primary results using SAP’s RBPD service?

Van Inwegen:  First of all, Microsoft and SAP have a very strong partnership given our company’s strategic investment in software, services, and devices.  Using SAP’s Expert Guided Implementation helped us upgrade our Solution Manager system to version 7.1.  SAP’s RBPD service dovetailed on the upgrade to ensure that our Solution Manager system was on the adequate service pack level and all technical pre-requisites were met to run the SDA analysis.  SAP experts partnered very closely with our technical teams to determine the best parameters for running the analysis on our SAP ERP system.

IBIS:  Microsoft has also chosen several RBE Plus services from IBIS. Which key requirements have been covered by the different IBIS services?

Van Inwegen:  The training increased our awareness of the SAP Solution Manager functionality and helped us to gain the necessary support and buy in. We were able to build our project roadmap as a result of the 3-day IBIS Solution Manager Workshop. We also needed detailed visibility of our business process structure, SAP configuration, and actual ERP system usage. The RBE Plus Potential Analysis provided detailed usage information down to the transaction and program level.

Our reliance on the high-cost “test everything” mentality is gone. We now know exactly what each SP is changing in the landscape.We can now identify business process improvement potentials, support SAP system clean-up efforts, and have a better understanding of which processes are used in which areas and by whom. The RBE Plus User & Role analysis provided detailed end-user transaction usage, even customizing objects like document types, to help spearhead our role redesign effort. 

Those results also helped us to assign our custom transactions to our process model in SAP Solution Manager. The assignment of our custom transactions and programs was crucial for our efforts to implement Business Process Change Analyzer (BPCA) to get a customized process structure based on SAP’s Business Process Repository (BPR). The IBIS proprietary tool Blueprint Designer facilitated and accelerated this process tremendously along with the business process experts from IBIS.

Without assistance from both SAP and IBIS, our use of Solution Manager would have never taken off.

IBIS:  Do you expect any other benefits from the RBE Plus Analysis in addition to supporting your Solution Manager initiative?

Van Inwegen:  The RBE Plus results will also help us prepare for our quarterly support pack upgrades, to recognize discrepancies in the SAP system, and utilize SAP Best Practices. We will review our roles, authorizations, and SAP license situation based on the User and Role results. We will utilize the RBE Plus results to get rid of obsolete transactions, programs and other customizing objects in the system which are no longer needed.  It is our goal to proactively reduce the change impact to our core ERP system.

IBIS: Do you have any recommendations for other SAP customers based on your experience with IBIS and RBE Plus?

Van Inwegen:  Even after several discussions and demos we were surprised by the level of detail provided in the RBE Plus results. The information that IBIS provided coupled with the training they gave us on how to use the Solution Manager toolset going forward unlocked our team’s ability to deliver risk-based testing for each of our quarterly support pack implementations. 

Our reliance on the high-cost “test everything” mentality is gone.  We can now know exactly what each SP is changing within our landscape, and have the business process structure in place to outline the test scenarios we need to execute.

Andy Van Inwegen is the SAP Release Manager for Microsoft Corp.  He has over 14 years of experience in SAP systems.  Mr. Van Inwegen was responsible for implementing the new functionality available within SAP Solution Manager 7.1, and he managed the engagement with IBIS America, LLC.

Marci Braybrooks is Vice President of IBIS LLC. She has over 30 years of experience in IT, with 16 years focused on SAP Systems as a Business Analyst, Project Manager, and Solution Manager Consultant.

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