Transcript from Live Q&A with Michael Pytel - SAP Solution Manager

by Kristin Bent

April 29, 2011

Leveraging SAP Solution Manager for Optimized Project Management: A Special Session and Q&A with Michael Pytel

In a recent IT Forum on Insider Learning Network,  IT 2011 speaker Michael Pytel answered questions about SAP Solution Manager. Michael,  a certified SAP Solution Manager consultant with NIMBL,  took questions on when,  why, and how to use SAP Solution Manager to make your SAP upgrades,  implementations, or enhancements faster, streamlined, and more cost-effective.

Kristin Bent:
Welcome to today's IT Forum on using SAP Solution Manager to optimize project management!
Thanks, Michael, for joining us today!

Dear Michael,
We have SOLMAN 7.0 SP15, how can I get the Roadmaps to Implement Properly Enhancement Packages for our SAP ERP Solution?
Thanks, Mauricio Cardozo.

Michael Pytel: Mauricio – Thank you for the question!
I would recommend installing SPS 22 or above to get the latest content from SAP re: roadmaps, accelerators, etc.  SAP updates their roadmaps in Solution Manager via the ABAP component ST-ICO.  So, if you don’t feel comfortable moving all the way to SPS 26 for Solution Manager – y ou can move to a different version (at least SPS 22 in my opinion) and then apply the latest ST-ICO patches.
Once you’ve updated ST-ICO – you’ll have access to the latest roadmaps for Enhancement Packages, Business Objects, etc. – in addition to all of the accelerators SAP provides…
Almost forgot – you need to be on Solution Manager EHP1 (SPS18) or above to download and install Enhancement Packages for ERP, CRM, Netweaver, etc.

Michael Pytel
Twitter: @michaelpytel

Gabriel Pardo:
Dear Michael,
We're in the middle of an implementation of Financials (FI/CO) and we are not yet using CHARM for end-to-end change management;  Is this something you typically recommend doing post go-live or have you seen CHARM being used as part of a project?   We struggle with approvals in transports as we have a manual process in place, and we'd strongly consider using CHARM if it makes sense. Many thanks.


Michael Pytel: Gabriel!  Name me a customer who hasn’t had (or currently has) transport control issues?  It’s something we all struggle with during the normal lifecycle of running SAP.  A few questions…
* Is your team geographically dispersed?
* Are you planning to move transports together in one large release for Go-Live?
* Do you want the ability to lock down who can create/release transports?
* Would you like a Change Control Manager (or Change Board) to decide when transport move and not require Basis support?

If you answered yes to all of the above – then ChaRM would be a great fit.  We can force individuals to create a Change Request before a workbench request is created.  And we can better plan when testing resources will be needed.  If you are on Solution Manager SPS18 and above – we now have Quality Gate Management which enables us to input our project milestones.

Sounds amazing right?  It does take a significant amount of effort to configure, train and deploy.  So you’ll need to ask yourself can you stop now and spend 8-12 weeks on ChaRM?
Why so long?  There are only two standard change types by default in Solution Manager.  And you have to configure service desk, configure workflows, approvals, etc.  There is tremendous value in ChaRM – so don’t let me stear you away from it.  Maybe you could get by in this project by configuring basic Transport Workflow in TMS?


Please take a look at this great blog on ChaRM from Christine Kattas and this article from Solution Manager Expert on ILN  [Solution Manager Expert subscription required]

elhabibJabbar wrote:

Hello All, We are in the Analysis phase of implementing PSCD on the top of FI (ECC 6.0).  We have Sol Man installed on a Sand Box. We need to setup Blue Printing on Sol Man for this project, and I'm wondering if I would be able to set up the PSCD Business Scenarios in the Blue Print before installing PSCD (or should I have to install PSCD before?).
Thanks for your help.

Michael Pytel:
elhabibJabbar – Thank you for joining the conversation!
No need to wait on installing PSCD to start a project in Solution Manager.  Here in my lab I’m running Solution Manager SPS23 – and I pulled up the Business Process Repository to see what kind of content SAP has provided for PSCD – and I’m happy to report I see several business process examples listed.
These examples would be a great template for use during your Blueprint exercise – ad might even point out some gaps or things people had not thought of.
Good luck on the project! 

StephenLawson wrote: We are very new to Solutions Manager and I have been asked if objects like Function Modules can be stored in Sol Man.  If you could give an overview of what objects and can and cannot be stored that would be very helpful.

Michael Pytel: Stephen – Great question!  Leveraging Solution Manager Project Administration to manage/track/maintain custom developed objects is one of its greatest strengths.  We don’t necessarily store the object in Solution Manager.  What we do is store the functional spec, technical spec, test scripts, etc in the tool.  Then we link the actual object from our development system to this documentation in Solution Manager.  You can link function modules, abap programs, webdynpros, CRM UI objects, portal objects, PI objects, etc. You also have the ability to link the transports as well.
What’s the value?  We can associate all documentation related to the object – link the object – and enable our team to collaborate on it all.  The big pay back comes after go-live when you transition all this information to support teams.
Hope this helps!

KirkSchamel wrote: Michael, Couple questions
1. We are considering using Solution Manager (Project Admin) to manage tasks of off-shore developers.  Do you have any suggestions?
2. Every time we want to create a project document, we have to update the templates that are provided by SOLMAN.  Can I edit the master template?  Please let me know how.

Michael Pytel wrote:
A1: Project Administration is perfect for geographically dispersed teams.  It provides a central location for functional team members to upload/modify their functional spec for a WRICEF object.  Then the technical team can create a technical spec in the same folder – enabling the entire team to collaborate on the documents.

A2: Modifying templates is very easy in Solution Manager.  You’ll need to use transaction SOLAR_PROJECT_ADMIN > navigate to your project > and select the ‘Project Standards’ tab.  From here you can remove the SAP templates from your project and upload you own organizations document templates > tech specs, test scripts, etc.
Thank you for the question!

Giso vP wrote: Hello Michael,
We have started implementing SAP using a consulting house. We have SolMan in place and have planned that all relevant documentation be stored there. Of concern is the configuration documentation, or configuration rationale that we r equire to understand the customising that the consultants do after we go into the support phase. The traditional place to store this is in the img project. We have not yet found a way to ensure that all customising done is documented. The documents in the img also have a disadvantage compared to those in SolMan in that there is no version or status control there.
Where is the best place to store the configuration rationale, img project or Solman? How can one ensure that all configuration done is documented, or measure which img nodes have been modified and compare that to the documentation?
Regards, Giso

Michael Pytel wrote: Giso – Great question and a very common challenge.  Unfortunately – there is no “record button” when it comes to forcing project resources to document the IMG activities they have completed.  But you are on the right track when it comes to storing IMG objects in Solution Manager along with any Business Process Procedures, Test Scripts, Documentation, etc.
Within Project Administration we can create a Project IMG.  Then ask our project resources to access the IMG from within Project Administration using the ‘Configuration’ tab in SOLAR02.  When used correctly – this enables us to capture what items were executed.
During the project – you could then use SOLAR_EVAL to find business processes without IMG activities documented and get those project resources to go back and document before GoLive!
Best of luck!


FrankLehmann wrote: Hello,I got a question related to Template Management in Solution Manager. What would be Best Practice in Template relase management. Is it advised to have a dedicated Dev and Q system to develop the template, and have on the other hand an ind epended system landscape in place to devlop implementation projects which are independend of the template development project?

Michael Pytel: In my experience - I'm a proponent of using a single Production Solution Manager to manage all projects - Template and Implementation.  Then limit access using standard auth objects in security.  I hope I understood your questions correctly.

Gabriel Pardo wrote: Dear Michael,
We're in the middle of an implementation of Financials (FI/CO) and we are not yet using CHARM for end-to-end change management;  Is this something you typically recommend doing post go-live or have you seen CHARM being used as part of a project?   We struggle with approvals in transports as we have a manual process in place, and we'd strongly consider using CHARM if it makes sense. Many thanks.
Additionally, how does the BPML work with ChARM and is this something that plays a role in the end-to-end change management process?
Last question, in order to get the CoE certification, one of the questions in the assessment is "Top Issues are created and maintained in Solution Manager". Do you know whether this relates to the Service Desk functionality?

Michael Pytel:
re: BPML & ChaRM - Yes - we can use the tool to track changes to business processes not just transport related items.  For example, you might change how items are moved within a warehouse.  We're not changing config - but how we execute standard SAP transactions.  ChaRM was built to support these types of changes as well.
re: CoE Certification - I would have to assume SAP is referencing Service Desk.  But those of you who have seen me speak (or read my presentations) know that I'm big on u sing Service Desk during projects but leveraging your in house Helpdesk systems like Remedy, Heat, etc after Go-Live.  Having started my career on a Helpdesk - I see the value is a central helpdesk tool for all IT issues, not just SAP.  Again - my opinion only.
I think SAP is looking for you to explain that you follow standard ITIL Incident Management processes.  Does that mean you cant get CoE certified if you don’t use Service Desk but do use another great tool?  I don’t know but will ask around.
Thanks for the great questions!

Scott Priest wrote: Can you give a quick overview of the release strategy for SAP Solution Manager 7.0 and 7.1.  Is the new release a factor in deciding when and where to use Solution Manager for project management?

Michael Pytel: Scott! My Melbourne Australia travel buddy!
In terms of the next release of Solution Manager - 7.1 - from what I've ready the production is built on CRM 7.0 and continues to focus on SAP's ALM strategy.  And from the lab previews I've seen - there is a big focus on Service Desk (funny - you see my previous post on SD?)
In terms of Project Administration - there is no reason to wait for the next release to begin using it.  The tool is stable , mature, and can add 'real' value in mutiple ways.  Is there another tool where you can link the Functional Spec > Tech Spec > Object > Transport?  Not that I know of.
Bottom line - Project Administration and running projects in Solution Manager is production ready.  No need to wait for 7.1 since we dont even have a solid release date yet.
Giso vP wrote:
We have set up our Solman so that the consultants are accessing the img from there a s you suggest. If I understand you correctly, the consultants should be doing the documentation in Solman on an appropriate template and that SOLAR_EVAL can identify which of the configuration links were actually used ( the project was created very widely, including many aspects that will not be used) and compare this to those which have documents linked. Is that correct?
When we suggested that they do the config rationale documentation from Solman the consultants were concerned that the same img branches were sometimes being accessed from more than one place in Solman, which would make it difficult for us to find the appropriate document later. The configuration of work centers formulas might be an example, which already has some 20 spots in the img where it can be done. If I want to understand a formula later, where do I start searching?
Regards, Giso

Michael Pytel: I love more questions!  Keep them coming!
Giso - SOLAR_EVAL would be able to help you answer this question: Are there any business processes (or process steps) in my project where someone did not specify the IMG object used to configure that process?
Unfortunately, it does not validate did they use the right IMG object or even what IMG object was used.  It would be used to help you understand if someone actually documented something.
Helpful?  I hope so.
And your point about several IMG objects performing the same configuration - you are absolutely correct.  We can do the same thing in several places.
In the end - the Configuration tab will help your team understand what IMG was used to configure that specific node in the project.  Its up to them to input it - and I dont know of a way to re-document what has already been done.  Sorry I couldn’t help more!
StephenLawson wro te: One of our developers is asking if Solman does not allow us to add user-exit names, ABAP objects, etc?  Thanks.

Michael Pytel: Stephen - You can add all of those objects and more.  Here in my lab I'm running Solution Manager SPS22 - see screenshot below of the object types I can select from the 'Development' tab in a project:
Laura Casasanto wrote: Hi Michael,
Testing has been a big issue for our readers, but I'm a bit unclear about Solution  Manager's role in testing. Can it handle test planning and the testing phase of the project?
Thanks! Laura
Michael Pytel: Hi Laura!
Absolutely - Solution Manager Project Administration has tight integration with Test Workbench.  We can use Test Workbench for test case planning, building our test catalogue and managing test case execution.  I think some people have stayed away from Test Workbench because they feel as though it means they need to have some sort of test automation tool.
It's actually a great tool to manage manual test cases!  Workflow, test sequencing, email notification - it's all there!
Some great demos here
Igor Fil wrote: Hello Michael,
we are planning an upgrade project on a Solution Manager 3.2 that currently used only for project documentation management.
From your point of view, is it better for us to upgrade 3.2->7.1 or a fresh 7.1 installation with manual documentation moving is a better way?
Is it possible to export/import entire project between different Solution Manager releases?
Michael Pytel: Igor - I quickly checked the Product Availability Matrix (link) and I dont even see the option to upgrade from Solution Manager 3.2 to Solution Manager 7.1.  This could be because Solution Manager 7.1 is still in ramp-up.

I do know that upgrading to Solution Manager 7.0 EHP1 is possible - but several of my clients did have issues with Service Desk and ChaRM during those upgrades.  I'm unaware of specific notes/issues related to Project Admin.

re: Transporting between releases - I've transported between support package stacks.  I'm checking with my contacts in SAP Labs if its possible.  Will post updates here.
MuraliSrinivasan wrote: Hi, We are using solution manager for all monitoring and alerting and RCA features. We have latest stack level for EHP1. We are going to start a new release implementation for SRM (P2P). Where do we need to start using solution manager in terms of utilizing project management features (like blue printing/testing/documentation etc) and can we avoid using CHARM for this?
Thanks, Murali

Michael Pytel: Murali - That's the question I get most - where do I start?  If you attended IT2011 you can reference my session on Maximimzing SAP Blueprint with Solution Manager - or use this link to register and get it for free.


Register here to download the full presentation

In the presentation - I go thru the project setup and configuration. There are also some demos on SDN.  Here's a quick list of what you'll need to get started.
1. Good system information in SMSY from the SLD
2. New project configured in SOLAR_PROJECT_ADMIN
3. Secur ity roles/profiles built from standard roles in Solution Manager Security Guide
4. Documentation templates, document statuses, keywords defined in a project
5. Project team training - how to use the tool
re: ChaRM - You do not need to use ChaRM when using Project Administration.  The dependence is actually the reverse - you cannot use ChaRM without a project :)
Good luck!
Michael Pytel
Yosh Eisbart (NIMBL) wrote:
GREAT INSIGHT MICHAEL! Thanks so much for the real value.
How do you see Solution Manager's integration with Business Objects manifesting itself both today and in the future? Do you have any case studies proving actual integration scenarios?
I'll take my answer off-line. 

Michael Pytel: Case Study?  Working on one right now with @jay_riddle - Integrating Business Objects with CTS+ on Solution Manager.  As far as we know - we are one of the first to attempt to manage Web Intelligence report changes using transports in CTS+.
Whats the value?  When using WebI to report against SAP BW datasources - we need to ensure the SAP BW content moves thru the development lifecycle alongside the BO objects.  With SAP's CTS+ integration with BO Lifecycle Management - we can do it...or at least we are attempting to now.
More content to come on this topic at SAPPHIRE!
Kristin Bent:
Thanks again to everyone who joined us today, and to Michael Pytel for fielding all our SAP Solution Manager questions!

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