When moving to SAP Solution Manager 7.1, what are the key steps for configuring and fine-tuning change control processes? What do you need to know about ChaRM, Quality Gate Management, Retrofit, and CTS+ in 7.1?
Solution Manager Seminar speaker and SAPexperts author Nathan Williams took questions in a recent Q&A in Insider Learning Network’s IT Forum thread. SAPexperts editor Scott Priest moderated the discussion with Nathan Williams, author of the book IT Service Management in SAP Solution Manager.
You can follow the discussion thread in our IT Forum archives, or read the transcript here:
Scott Priest: Thank you for joining us in the IT Forum discussion thread today! I’m delighted to have SAPexperts author Nathan Williams taking questions today on change control management in SAP Solution Manager.
Nathan is author of SAPexperts Solution Manager articles, and he’s written the book on ITSM with Solution Manager. He’s also a speaker at this fall’s Solution Manager Seminar.
Nathan Williams: Thanks for the introduction, Scott! I'm happy to join Insider Learning Network for another SAP Solution Manager Q&A.
Today, I'll provide answers to your questions about Change Control Management in SAP Solution Manager 7.1. Let's get started!
Scott Priest: While people are still arriving, I'll kick things off: With some updates in tools and configuration of Change Control with 7.1, what's the relationship now between ChaRM and Quality Gate Management?
Nathan Williams: Scott, the relationship between ChaRM and Quality Gate Management (QGM) is important to understand so thanks for kicking things off with that question.
Change Control Mgmt in SolMan is comprised of many components. We'll get to those individually throughout the Q&A, but two of the main components are ChaRM and QGM.
ChaRM provides the approvals, workflows, automation and audit trails to manage both SAP and non-SAP related changes to your landscape. Since it provides somewhat tighter control, this component provides most value when deployed after a solution has gone-live.
QGM, on the other hand, controls transport releases by means of quality gates. Specific milestones, deliverables, and documents are identified that must be fulfilled BEFORE transports can be promoted to the follow-on systems. QGM allows project teams to go about their configuration and transport management without strict change control procedures, which is essential during implementation mode! QGM can also be set up in a matter of days, which is a big win.
With the release of 7.1, QGM is now integrated into ChaRM to marry both aspects and provide a much more holistic and central change control solution.
Luis Salvador: Ok Scott,
A first question for Nathan: Is there any possibility to use CHARM without to be assigned to any project maintenance/implementation?
There are a lot of customers that only need an approval process but don't need the project phase control inside maintenance cycle.
Nathan Williams: Hello Luis, it is nice to see you on the Q&A this morning.
ChaRM's foundational backbone is the task list / cycle transaction that is tied to a maintenance or implementation project. Since ChaRM leverages TMS configuration for everything related to STMS, and the project's cycle is built off of that infrastructure, it is not possible to deploy the intended ChaRM solution without these components.
However, the General Change document type (SMCG) available with SAP Solution Manager 7.1 is the only change document type that is not tied to a maintenance / implementation project cycle. While it is not SAP standard and not recommended as a ChaRM solution, you could utilize this transaction type to track the approval processes outside of phase control.
Crisper: I would like to post some first questions:
ChaRM is very process oriented, that means, to design and coordinate the process would be the biggest pain point, and as a result, people would "hate" ChaRM. The question would be, how is your experience: from which amount of users or systems, do you recommend to use ChaRM?
Under which circumstance would you prefer QGM than ChaRM?
What is the best practice to handle not-installed (planned) productive systems in ChaRM? Is virtual system in LMDB and STMS the best way?
That's all for the moment. Thanks!
Nathan Williams: Hello, Crisper. Thank you for joining the Q&A! You bring up some excellent points.
1. You are dead on about the process aspect of ChaRM. A lot of people underestimate the design effort involved when beginning a ChaRM implementation. It involves many different teams (across IT and business), impacts current tools, impacts change and release management procedures,, etc.. However that is not a reason to hate ChaRM by any means! You must understand the value that this tool will bring (i.e. ONE central tool for all ITSM and Change Control activities, which you already own with enterprise support).
So to answer your question directly, yes I highly recommend the adoption of ChaRM!
2. I discussed this a little bit in an earlier post. The short and sweet: QGM during implementation, ChaRM during operations. The exception is if you have strict change control requirements during implementation mode (some life sciences customers, validated environments, etc.) then ChaRM may be a viable option.
3. Keep in mind LMDB is the future in regards to managing systems in SAP Solution Manager. Feel free to email me offline and we can go into system landscape maintenance a little further.
OmarGarcia: Hello Nathan,
I have a question about the integration of Business Object CTS+ with ChaRM.
We can work with the CTS+ for Business Object in fact in this moment we are working with CTS+ for BO. This configuration was done on Solution Manager 7.1 SP07.
My question is: How to configure the integrationi of BO CTS+ with ChaRM?
Nathan Williams: Hello Omar!
That is a good question but is going to take longer than we have time for to dive into. I have some resources and blogs that I can post to the forum after the Q&A is over. They should get you in the right direction.
OmarGarcia: Thank you very much Nathan,
You help me a lot if you could share me the information.
Kristine Erickson: Hi Omar,
Nathan followed up with this information:
You may be familiar with this link, but it contains all of the resources available from SAP for setting up CTS+: scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-8576
You'll also notice the guide CTS+ Configuration for Change Request Management under Additional Material. This guide hasn't been updated for version 7.1, but it will get you in the right direction / thought processing for connecting your CTS+ environment to ChaRM.
Hope this helps!
Luis Salvador: Hello Nathan,
What can you answer about ITSM related to ITIL v3 methodology? How many ITIL processes can we manage with ITSM in SAP Solution Manager?
What about ITSM enhancements to manage more ITIL process ?
Nathan Williams: Luis,
I am glad that you brought this up. Just recently, SAP was awarded a certification on 15 ITIL processes! This is a huge leap forward in how SAP Solution Manager will be evaluated as an ITSM / Change Control Management tool going forward.
This certification came from Pink Elephant's PinkVERIFY ITIL v2011 criteria. Further, SolMan has also passed the SERVIEW certification in Germany.
You can read much more about this recent accomplishment in the blog below
As far as future enhancements, there are many planned enhancements that I have seen / heard on the floor of SAPPHIRE but we will need to wait until Feature Pack 2 before we know for sure.
Luis Salvador: Another question about usage Rights,
I know that on Incident Management there is a special condition about "standard" / "enterprise" SAP maintenance for customers.
Are standard customers not allowed to use incident management for identify non-sap components? Is it the same for CHARM ?
Nathan Williams: Luis,
Another great point!
For customers with Enterprise Support or higher (e.g. Max Attention) they are able to manage problems, incidents, service requests and requests for changes against non-SAP applications that touch the customer's business processes. The classic examples include mobile devices and printers.
This goes for both Incident Management and Change Request Management. You can see these details for yourself!
- SAP Solution Manager
- Usage Rights
Opening support up in these areas is a key focus for SAP Solution Manager 7.1. Now, we have a central platform to process all of these ITIL processes beyond just SAP. This advancement alone makes it even harder to build a business case for 3rd party alternatives!
Luis Salvador: Then Nathan, what can customers with Standard Support do? They aren’t allowed to use a Solution Manager extension for that use? Is there any workaround for make this a useful tool for Standard Customers without a change to their maintenance contract?
Nathan Williams: Luis,
Based on the details outlined in the Usage Rights, that is correct. From that point I would work with your SAP Account Executive / Client Service Partner to determine the best way forward.
Andy Davis: Nathan,
We have implemented CHARM for some systems with traditional 3 tier landscape (Dev, QA, prod), we have a few small SAP systems with only a 2 tier landscapes, with only Dev & Prod system and 4 tier including a Sandbox.
Can we use/ is it recommended to also use CHARM for these? Are there any considerations for set-up or is it recommended to always have a QA system?
Nathan Williams: Andy
Hey Andy, thanks for the question!
4 Tier including sandbox: Possible and recommended
2 Tier Dev + Prd: This is technically possible, but I need to go on the record and state that you should have a QA environment for unit and / or scenario testing :)
I haven't worked much with a 2-tier landscape with ChaRM but my understanding is that as long as you have a consolidation transport route from your development system (and all other ChaRM TMS, RFC, etc. pre-requisities completed) this should work.
Andy Davis: Nathan
When we have done the Import via CHARM and we are in the Go Live Phase of the Mtc cycle, the Normal Change status is not set automatically to Imported into production - so we have to go and set the production status manually on each change.
Are we missing some configuration or is this how it is designed?
Nathan Williams: Andy
For normal corrections you are correct. Standard ChaRM enforces a user (usually the requester or tester) to 1st verify that the change is working as expected in PRD and then confirming it on the normal correction.
Scott Priest: As things wind down, can you talk a bit about what is to come for the rest of the year as it pertains to Change Control Management? New Support Packs, Feature Packs, enhancements -- what's next?
Nathan Williams: Scott, great wrap-up question.
As many of you may know, SP08 of SAP Solution Manager 7.1 (released February of this year) it is the latest and most current support package available. The good news is, for customers that have applied SP08, you are set for the rest of the year for SolMan maintenance.
Feature Package 2 (which will bundle SP09, SP10, and likely SP11) is planned to be released later this year. Look for a lot of enhancements in the ITSM and Change Control Management area (even more ITIL coverage).
One rumored enhancement will be bar code scanning capabilities on mobile devices for IT assets, which is really awesome.
Looking further down the line, Feature Pack 3 has already been approved and a Customer Engagement Initiative (CEI) is already underway.
So, needless to say, the momentum is keeping pace and absolutely gaining in the world of SAP Solution Manager!
Stephanie: On behalf of the Enowa team, thank you for joining today’s Q&A.
For additional information regarding SAP ALM or any of our global service offerings for SAP please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nathan Williams: Thank you to everyone who joined, contributed and monitored the Q&A today. Thanks Scott and Kristine for organizing a successful forum!
See you next time!
Scott Priest: And for more from Nathan on Solution Manager 7.1 read his SAPexperts articles and my interviews with Nathan.
To learn more about Nathan’s book, IT Service Management in SAP Solution Manager, visit the bookstore.
And we’re looking forward to seeing Nathan live & in person at SAPinsider’s Solution Manager Seminar this fall.
Thanks again for joining us, and a big thanks to Nathan Williams!