When asking customers how they leverage SAP Solution Manager, I commonly hear this response: “As little as possible.” Unfortunately, most organizations still view SAP Solution Manager as a technical-only tool centered on Service Marketplace integration, Maintenance Optimizer, and Early Watch Reporting. Furthermore, earlier versions of the solution did not make it any easier to enhance user adoption or improve consumer perception. However, with major functionality improvements to the SAP Solution Manager 7.1 product suite, the toolset offers so much more.
Due to misperception and lack of customer adoption, SAP Solution Manager has been viewed primarily as a Basis product both in function and genesis. Most projects and application of the solution stem from IT-related initiatives, which can be difficult to quantify the business value to executive management.
With SAP Solution Manager 7.1, SAP began to align closely with the well-respected Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) standard operations approach. Complementing each major ITIL practice with an SAP Solution Manager component, the robustness of the technology truly began to expand. While not every component is essential to a best-in-class SAP landscape, many can provide tremendous value outside of IT and for the business.
Below are some of the primary components within SAP Solution Manager 7.1, along with the corresponding high-level functionality that customers have found to be of value:
- Technical Operations: Perhaps the most widely leveraged and understood component outside of Maintenance Optimizer and Early Watch Reporting, Tech Ops assists in managing customers’ SAP landscapes via monitoring (i.e., Managed Systems) and diagnostics (alerting). Most organizations tend to start with Tech Ops and grow from there.
- Solution Documentation: One way to bring business value is through comprehensive business process documentation beyond specs stored in Microsoft SharePoint. Regardless of implementation lifecycle stage, capturing the business process — its interdependencies, design, test scripts, training, etc. — and having this all tied back to the actual SAP configuration drives true business value. Can Microsoft SharePoint do that?
- Change Control Management: Managing transport changes across a complex SAP landscape can be ominous. Change Request Management (ChaRM) is a comprehensive option that takes the onus off the Basis team and puts it back into the hands of change management. While this functionality is not easy to implement nor typically short in delivery duration, the structured process can assist greatly in effectively managing SAP landscapes.
- Test Management: Imagine being able to automate structured testing cycles for regression, upgrade, and enhancement package initiatives based on documented business processes. Leveraging HP Quick Test Pro and SAP Solution Manager Test Workbench provides a great foundation. (Little known fact: With SAP Enterprise Maintenance, every customer receives two licenses to HP Quick Test Pro at no cost.)
- Incident Management: One of the fastest growing SAP Solution Manager components gaining momentum is SAP IT Service Management. Originally focused as an SAP-only service desk solution — recent enhancements (integration with third-party Service Desk products) and SAP bolt-ons (asset tracking) have made this tool much more powerful and capable of managing an organization’s overall service desk.
SAP Solution Manager 7.1 Helps Support the Business
The primary responsibility of an IT organization is to support the business. SAP Solution Manager is a powerful toolset available to IT, but losing sight of this primary objective is not only problematic but dangerous. While not every SAP Solution Manager tool is right for every organization, its distinct ITIL-focused functions and features can most definitely bring value in the right scenario both technically and to the business. Taking into account the fact that SAP Solution Manager licenses are built into overall licensing costs, the arguments for not using the solution continue to dwindle, further solidifying the assessment that SAP Solution Manager isn’t just for Basis anymore. To learn more, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.