SAP Solution Manager has long been a critical tool for enterprises running SAP landscapes – and according to Vivek Banerjee, who works in the SAP Governance team at Cintas and is a long-time speaker at SAPinsider events, SAP Solution Manager 7.2 is taking on an even greater importance as organizations prepare to move to SAP S/4HANA.
I sat down with Banerjee on day two of the Basis & SAP Administration 2017 conference in Orlando to chat about his experiences at the conference and the content of his sessions. Our conversation highlighted the connection between SAP Solution Manager 7.2 and an organization’s ability to embark on a digital transformation.
A Starting Point for Digital Transformation
“Digital transformation begins with SAP Solution Manager 7.2,” said Banerjee. This is, in large part, because of the increased importance of solution documentation. As the place where all processes are logged, the solution documentation capabilities available in SAP Solution Manager 7.2 are essential for understanding your environment and plotting your course to digital transformation.
“All these years we were told solution documentation is centric to what we do in SAP Solution Manager, but now it’s at the point where you can’t live without it,” said Banerjee. “Earlier, solution documentation was just some repository. It is now the repository. You don’t have an option two or option three.”
This is one of the many technical considerations that organizations need to keep in mind when implementing or upgrading to version 7.2. Quite a lot has changed from the SAP Solution Manager versions of the past – the gap in functionality from 7.1 to 7.2 is wider than the gaps between previous versions, according to Banerjee. This means that, whether your organization is doing a fresh installation of SAP Solution Manager or performing an upgrade to the latest version, a great deal of thought, planning, and technical expertise must go into the move.
A Process-Driven Approach
At Admin 2017, Banerjee gave a presentation that described his own company’s deliberation over whether to install a new instance of SAP Solution Manager 7.2 or upgrade its current version, so I asked him if he had any insights to share about the decision-making process. Banerjee emphasized that Cintas makes very process-driven decisions when it comes to its IT landscape: “Pretty much every change, every optimization that we are trying to make is driven by highly process-centric SAP personnel. So they aren’t led by folks who exist in an idealistic process management world.” This strictly process-centric focus helped keep the roll-out projects on track.
For the Solution Manager upgrade, the first factors Cintas considered were its current footprint and how best to go about the project without disrupting the user community. Ultimately, the decision to upgrade instead of undergo a fresh installation was driven by the current use of SAP Solution Manager and how those specific functionalities would be affected by an installation versus an upgrade.
Cintas recently reached the decision to upgrade the solution and is now planning the exact timeline for that project. But though Cintas hasn’t gotten into the nitty-gritty of the project yet, Banerjee is no stranger to the process. While working as a systems integrator prior to joining Cintas, he helped three different companies perform upgrades to SAP Solution Manager 7.2. Drawing on his wealth of experience, Banerjee stressed the importance of planning ahead.
“An SAP Solution Manager 7.2 upgrade isn’t a matter of complexity; it’s a matter of maturity,” said Banerjee. “If you prepare for content activation by consolidating the projects and solutions, your transition is very smooth. But you have to prepare correctly. A lot of customers think, ‘We’ll do it when we hit the upgrade.’ But preparation starts today. Consolidate your existing projects and solutions today so that you can have an easier path to content activation.”
Working Together for Success
This is just a brief overview of the in-depth insights Banerjee brings to the attendees at SAPinsider events. When speaking with him, it was clear that he has great enthusiasm for sharing his expertise and helping attendees with their own projects. When asked what brings him back to SAPinsider events year after year, he spoke of the conference’s focus on content over sales.
To exemplify the value of SAPinsider events, Banerjee spoke of one particularly memorable moment that occurred at this year’s conference. He happened to run into someone who he helped years ago, when he was still working as a systems integrator. Banerjee had the opportunity to hear all about the positive impact he had and to discuss where that customer is going today. These interpersonal reactions, Banerjee says, are what keeps him coming back.
“That fact that you have a real presence and can help customers . . . that sense of working together is incredible. And that beats every conference that I’ve been to.”