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Run SAP Like A Factory: Flexibility & Speed

by Rick Porter

July 4, 2013

To stay at your best, you need your change control solution to be both fully integrated into the underlying SAP infrastructure and flexible enough to fit your constantly evolving implemented modules and actual processes, not some outside "ideal" of how it all ought to work.

Here's why. If you find a modified IT process that achieves better results, or maybe an upgrade that modifies how different modules interact for the better, you need change control technology flexible enough to enable these changes to made and introduced quickly. It must document everything including the business or technical reasons for the changes and process followed to introduce the change (to facilitate an eventual audit) without limiting the speed at which the changes are required to be introduced. If you have to adjust your processes to fit a new change control solution, chances are you're already less nimble than you could be.

Rigid change control can be quite damaging to competitive position. Markets are changing faster than ever and they won't wait politely while you catch up. If your organization operates in multiple regions, everything from currency valuations to regulatory environments can flip to something new without much notice. New technology can make today's approaches obsolete almost overnight so you need to stay flexible and nimble enough to respond quickly. For IT, it comes down to how flexible your change control strategy can be.

Here are some factors to keep in mind:

  • If your organization is large or complex, you'll need to adjust processes from time to time to fit new business requirements. You'll increase risk if you stay with a rigid change control method, because it can hobble your ability to respond quickly and appropriately to changes in your business environment.
  • Do you rely on DevOps methods to keep projects aligned with the business side and smoothly coordinated and collaborative on the IT side? The DevOps approach is wonderfully nimble because it keeps all involved parties working together with little conflict – but it requires constant process adjustments. An inflexible change control method can interfere badly with DevOps methods.
  • Flexibility is crucial when you face regulatory changes, especially in highly regulated industries (e.g., Pharmaceutical, Financial) but important also as best practices evolve under guides such as ITIL.
  • Flexible change control lets you adjust your work frequently as it flows through DEV. Frequent fixes are not only agile, they reduce major reworking since small fixes can be made when the person closest to the problem (the IT developer) has not moved on to later work. Flexibility allows a more efficient and less costly approach than waiting to find problems in QA or PRD, when fixing them can require major rework.
  • Even in manufacturing, modern processes have become more flexible than earlier assembly lines allowed. Today's processes can be in constant change – e.g., high tech's engineering change orders, custom make-to-order manufacturing, or configured manufacturing of highly optioned products like computers.

Rick Porter, Vice President of Business Development
Revelation Software Concepts

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