For the past 120 years, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company has been at the forefront of a continuously changing mobility industry. It has achieved this by leading with innovation in its products and services for customers, as well as in its internal systems and processes. Today, the company employs approximately 64,000 associates and sells 159 million tires around the globe each year. The business has continued to innovate in recent years by updating its system landscapes, undergoing a digital transformation, and expanding its SAP footprint. Goodyear, which has been running SAP software since the 1990s, has grown its environment to include over 350 instances across SAP ERP, SAP Supply Chain Management, SAP Supplier Relationship Management, SAP Extended Warehouse Management, SAP Customer Relationship Management, SAP Global Trade Services, among others, and most recently SAP S/4HANA — all being managed by SAP Solution Manager.
“We have an SAP roadmap we are working on to migrate to SAP S/4HANA and are following the implementation trail of where SAP is innovating as technology becomes available,” says Matthew Harmon, Senior IT Section Leader for Global Tools at Goodyear, who is also the chair for the Americas’ SAP Users’ Group community’s SAP Solution Manager Influence Council. “As an organization, we’re continually defining what digital transformation means to Goodyear and how and where SAP Solution Manager fits into that roadmap. Currently senior leadership is working with the different teams to fold that in and to understand where we can help with that. For us, SAP Solution Manager is the technology that supports our people and processes in the SAP environment. It brings clarity and transparency to the organization and is key to our SAP S/4HANA digital roadmap.”
According to Harmon, Goodyear’s commitment to improve and innovate means that its software tools and processes need to get easier, perform better, and enable more rapid solution delivery. The global technical SAP system monitoring and change management processes have become progressively important, and the North America and EMEA regions of Goodyear specifically have seen an increasing trend in working with SAP Solution Manager.
We worked very closely with folks from SAP both at the development level and at the leadership level to get the project execution time down, complete the upgrade over a weekend, and have the system available on the Monday morning when users came in to do work.
— Matt Harmon, Senior IT Section Leader for Global Tools, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
“We try to be very tied in to our SAP user community from around the world, and year over year, we conduct user surveys to understand some of the pain points and areas we need to focus on as a team,” says Harmon. “A couple of those areas that were a repetitive message were system performance and usability.”
For these reasons, the business decided to undergo an upgrade project and join the more than 6,000 companies that are currently live running SAP Solution Manager 7.2.
History with SAP Solution Manager
Goodyear has been using SAP Solution Manager for more than a decade. It first implemented version 3.2, utilizing only the solution’s main features for support package installation and project documentation. Then during a project in EMEA in 2008, the business upgraded to version 7.0 to expand its use of SAP Solution Manager and take advantage of advanced features such as change request management, which is the act of documenting changes and getting the appropriate approvals from various groups to make sure that the change is documented, communicated, and executed. Additional upgraded features included test management and project documentation. Previously, Goodyear had been using a custom-developed database that involved a labor-intensive process flow where during testing, for example, different people had to enter and confirm when tests were performed.
“At that time, the full path of change management from development to production that was done on the back-end SAP system then had to be documented manually in the custom-built database, which was completely de-coupled from the development and configuration that we did,” says Rainer Grosse-Gehling, Business Process Leader and upgrade Project Manager at Goodyear. “The improved SAP Solution Manager change management functionality delivered enhanced visibility and a better handle on that. The beauty there was the integration with the SAP back-end systems.”
In 2012, due to the success of the EMEA project’s advanced use of SAP Solution Manager 7.0, the business decided to standardize all regions on a single global instance of the application. An upgrade to version 7.1 was a prerequisite for the global project. “That way, each of the other regions could get onto that single instance without a lot of heavy lifting for configuration, set-up, or requirements gathering,” Harmon says. “Each region was able to extend that solution into their regions to then accelerate that project and that project implementation.”
After a four-year project to implement SAP Solution Manger 7.1 around the globe, all regions were successfully combined onto a single instance, and their regional applications were retired to help accelerate that project. The next step was to raise the level of user acceptance even further by upgrading to the most current version of the solution to maximize its usefulness.
Upgrading to Version 7.2
Goodyear’s primary drivers for the upgrade to SAP Solution Manager 7.2 were usability and performance enhancements. “We wanted to take advantage of the user interface improvements with all the SAP Fiori applications that were available,” Harmon says. “As part of our upgrade, we had a performance tuning service with SAP to make the system perform faster. Those were key contributors to that upgrade decision to go to 7.2, with the anticipation as well to set the foundation for our SAP S/4HANA migrations in the portfolio for Goodyear.”
For an implementation of version 7.2, SAP offers two deployment options: a new installation or an upgrade. “Rather than perform a new installation, which would have been easier and faster, we quickly decided that the only option was an upgrade because we had so much data in the system that we wanted to keep, and there was no straightforward way to migrate data,” says Grosse-Gehling.
The improved SAP Solution Manager change management functionality delivered enhanced visibility and a better handle on that. The beauty there was the integration with the SAP back-end systems.
— Rainer Grosse-Gehling, Business Process Leader and Upgrade Project Manager, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
Migrating the data involved some technical challenges due to a fundamental change in the structure of SAP Solution Manager 7.2, as it required moving data from a dual stack in 7.1 (with Java and ABAP code contained in the same system) to a split stack in 7.2 (two systems, one each for Java and ABAP code). Goodyear’s landscape included two systems: development and production. “We set up a new system as a copy of production and used that one to upgrade and perform tests, and we kept the old environment to support our production system to the last moment before go-live,” says Grosse-Gehling. “Meaning, we had two development systems — one on 7.2 where we set up and tested the new environment, and the old one on 7.1 that we used to bring any necessary changes to production. Then only after we upgraded our production system did we drop the old development system and replace it with the one we used for the project.”
Following this strategy, the project team was able to support end users during testing and training on the upgraded system and could continue to deliver break-fix-type changes and enhancements to the user community, according to Harmon. “If we had gone the traditional route of upgrading our dev system and only having a two-system landscape, we would have put the organization at a standstill in terms of change because the systems would have been at two very different release levels. Any type of break-fix change either would have been impossible because of a hard-freeze or done directly in production, which of course we want to avoid at all costs,” he says. “Maintaining our current release levels as a dev/test/production system while having our separate 7.2 system set aside for testing and training definitely gave us the availability and flexibility to support our end users during the entire upgrade project.”
This meant that during go-live, the implementation team could roll back to the previous state by simply restoring the old environment in case of any no-go issues. However, that was not the situation, and the go-live was a success. The overall project took 18 months to complete, and the go-live happened over a weekend.
Along with the dedication and commitment of Goodyear’s internal team, Harmon credits the company’s relationship with SAP MaxAttention as a critical factor in the success of the project. “We worked very closely with folks from SAP both at the development level and at the leadership level to get the project execution time down, complete the upgrade over a weekend, and have the system available on the Monday morning when users came in to do work,” he says. “SAP MaxAttention coordinated SAP go-live resources to be at the ready if and when we needed them.”
The Goodyear Blimp is any one of a fleet of airships operated by The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company: the first non-rigid airship (blimp) “The Pilgrim” launched in 1925, and the first of the new semi-rigid models “Wingfoot One” was christened in 2014
According to Harmon, some tangible business benefits of version 7.2 include better processes, improved efficiency and resource allocation, enhanced visual representation, and a less restrictive content documentation structure. As a baseline to measure results, Goodyear looked at the end-user experience monitoring feature in SAP Solution Manager 7.2. In the previous environment, regional systems were automatically creating change requests continuously every day and documenting that performance, such as creating request for change (RFC) records. “Because the RFC process is a primary area where our users touch the system each day, we wanted to make sure that we could increase the speed there,” he says. “Coming out of the performance workshop after our upgrade, we had about a 65% improvement in terms of system performance tuning.”
Another benefit of the upgraded system involved the content documentation — that is everything created inside SAP Solution Manager regarding documentation for SAP solutions, projects, scenarios, business processes, and change management. This content was historically organized by tiered folder structures with a three-level hierarchy for a business process, a process step, and then a transaction or program. With version 7.2, SAP completely rebuilt the user interface and underlying structure and moved away from the strict, locked-down number of folders and levels the system would allow, according to Harmon. “SAP lifted that restriction and went to an unlimited columnar view of the structure so now users have an unlimited number of levels within their solution documentation to document their processes,” he says.
To activate this documented content in the new system, Goodyear had to migrate the data and convert the documentation from the old structure to the new one. The migration and activation process was split in two phases, with the second phase running only after the technical upgrade to the 7.2 system was complete.
Along with the unlimited structure to document processes, SAP also introduced the capability for business process modeling with the new version. Previously, Goodyear used third-party tools to document and represent processes visually. But with 7.2, it’s all folded into one toolset for users. “Now that we have the core foundation of 7.2 established, the next evolution this year is to take processes out of those third-party applications and bring them back into SAP Solution Manager,” says Harmon. “Rather than having users bounce around different toolsets, which is always a challenge and increases the time it takes to get their work done, we are looking at streamlining those processes into a single all-encompassing application wherever we can.”
In addition to the area of visual representation of solution documentation, Goodyear is also starting to investigate using the enhanced functionality of SAP Solution Manager 7.2 to replace third-party tools where possible.
Hypercare and Beyond
The project team had documented what success would look like — even before going into the upgrade — and it called out testing as a crucial factor for a successful project. The Goodyear team spent a lot of time organizing the testing, making sure there were day-over-day, week-over-week, and month-over-month metrics to identify any critical defects, according to Harmon. “Knowing your key business processes and how the users interface with the system is very important to the success of a project like this, as well as having key stakeholder engagement, alignment with senior leadership, and a very solid communication plan,” he says.
After go-live, Goodyear underwent a month of hypercare, and upon conclusion of this period, it was able to successfully exit and go into steady state support. “After hypercare and today, the system is running smoothly,” says Grosse-Gehling. “Now, we are looking at ways to continue to streamline processes, for example, using the Focused Build approach for SAP Solution Manager, which is an add-on to help the teams implement solutions faster and ensure we are delivering our end users the right things at the right time.”
Harmon credits the users for the project’s ultimate success. “Without their collaboration, the whole foundation would crumble,” he says. “As a team, we want Solution Manager to be successful at Goodyear, but it truly takes a village to build success. The project team, stakeholders, Goodyear’s and SAP’s leadership, and most importantly our users all deserve special thanks for their dedication and commitment to this project.”