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Some time ago Microsoft was marketing new versions of its Windows, trying to delight customers with more and more fancy capabilities and functions. But then they listened to the market and said themselves: “Ok. Hold on. Let’s stop producing gadgets and spend some time on improving and ensuring SECURITY”.

Microsoft has changed the dimension of the product development. I think this is what SAP has to do with its BI product. Look at what is existing and set the dimensions of its further development. And as for MS Windows the gap was Security, in my opinion for SAP/BI it should be SUPPORTABILITY.

Those who are experienced with SAP/BW are probably highly frustrated with facing and resolving all kind of issues with BW – during development and production cycles.

Getting errors like this:
Who is in trouble: system or myself?!
in fact means that besides system, you are in trouble too.

That’s where I would propose SAP to consider following list of tasks when thinking about Next Big Things for BI:

1) Improve internal development standards for error handling and error messages
BW Error Example
This is a good example of SAP’s error message which says almost nothing. The funny is the ‘Long Text’ button that does not introduce any new information, just repeats the error message

2) Improve meaningfulness of ST22 short dumps and SLG1 application logs.
Although short dumps usually contains a lot of information it is still difficult in many times to get to the point what happened and why.

3) Improve quality of SAP Notes
OSS Notes do not ensure completeness of particular issue overview and it seems that each note is written by particular author in his own way

4) Collect all support tools in one place
It would be excellent to have all support transactions and programs under one umbrella with meaningful interface. It should serve as one-stop-shop for all activities from manual activation of objects (vide program RS_TRANSTRU_ACTIVATE_ALL) to query elements consistency check and repair (vide program ANALYZE_RSZ_TABLES)

Net: I would really appreciate if SAP would choose Supportability as the Next Big Thing for BW and would allow us to increase productivity by reducing time we are wasting on identifying the root cause of each issue and finding the solution to it!!


PS. (added on 19.01.2007) As I just read in “SAP Info” SAP is going to implement SAP Sigma process, that is a SAP’s version of Six Sigma. Let me put here some important statements from that article that is directly related to the main idea of my blog [bolds are mine]:

  • “SAP’s standards of quality are determined by its customers and competition, as well as by its own employees.”
  • “At the core of the approach are constant enhancements to products, processes, and services, which lead to increased customer satisfaction […]”
  • “SAP Sigma […] shed light on the underlying cause of problems, and ensure sustainable improvements

    BWers! Hope is back 🙂 


    PPS. (added on 22.01.2007) Thanks to the hint from https://weblogs.sdn.sap.com/pub/u/21406 [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken] I found an answer to what the Caller means in the error message on the screenshot in pt.1. Here is SAP definition: “Definition: A so-called Caller is assigned to each log time for the monitor. A caller contains a number, that indicates as short information that which is logged. Using this number, you can determine from which processing step a message was transmitted.”

    Nr 09 means ‘Info IDoc (RQSTATE)’ (You can see RSCALLER domain definition in data dictionary for all possible values). 


    PPS. (added on 7.02.2007) Question: What does this error message really means, when you try to save the change in an existing workbook?
    image

    Answer: BEx Transport Request is not assigned to the Workbook’s Development Class (Package). Bingo!


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    1. Kenneth Murray
      I’ve always felt this!  I’m a good developer, but I spend way too much time trying to figure out Function Module Interfaces that aren’t documented, Error messgages that provide not meaningful information or context, AND tools that are introduced that are full of bugs (WAD). SAP has a chance to be a hero by providing developers with a solid foundation in all of these areas!  If the developers are happy and produce high quality applications in less frustrating time then the true SAP customers (Companies) will be really happy and SAP has a chance to change it’s reputation for custom development taking 3 times as long as any other environments.   SAP has a chance to be a hero..  I’m always hopeful!
      (0) 
      1. Anonymous
        hehe.. very true. But if SAP didnt have all these issues, most of us wouldnt have jobs!
        (0) 
        1. Witalij Rudnicki Post author
          It depends. On one hand I know that I am learning how system REALLY works. The most funny part is seeing comments in SAP ABAPs like:
          * It should not work like this
          -or
          * This data model is not effective
          🙂
          But on the other hand – I am wasting my time and customer’s money.
          Believe me – we wouldn’t lost jobs. But some guys in OSS Support working on customer messages.
          (0) 
          1. Vishvesh Bahirat
            Hi Vitaliy,

            Nice blog.I especially liked the ‘long text’ bit.
            Totally agree with you and Kenneth.
            I too have worked on BW support,the cryptic error messages really give a pain sometimes..and we never stop finding new ones 🙂
            –Vishvesh

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        2. Kenneth Murray
          Oh, believe me we would still have jobs.  Although, we would spend more of our time deciding what technology best fits the application, and on the design and implementation of our applications. 
          (0) 
        3. Balint Almasi
          Hi all! I like this blog it directly addresses one of the most important problems we are currently facing in BI. I am one of that ‘guys in OSS Support working on customer messages’ and I can assure you that we also prefer ‘real’ problems in customer defined BI processes to this kind of unusability. On the other side, I dont think that we would loose our jobs here but we even may get a chance to spend more time on the interesting part of our jobs. And this would lead to satisfaction on both the customers’ and our side for sure.
          (0) 
    2. Sunil Morwal
      I also think this area needs to be more descriptive, as said in the blog many a times the long text repeats whatever it was there as a short text.
      (0) 
    3. Bertrand LAFOUGERE
      I could not agree more with you.

      When I came to BI I was horrified by the low quality and overall “fix with tricks” surrounding BI implementation.

      I get used to it but the environement to design and implement is somewhat a hell for us. However, when BI run and is stabilised I have to admit that it works pretty good.

      But now a real effort has to be put in UI to smoothen and relief us during implementation.

      A lot of consultants says that this will made us loose our job but I would say the inverse. It will save us time for architecture and quality implementation instead of chasing the tricks.

      (0) 
      1. Witalij Rudnicki Post author
        Bonjour, Bertrand,
        Thank you for comment. I must agree that “when BI is stabilised that it works pretty good”, but … until next error. I am working as 3rd level of support for the customer’s BW application, so I am getting only weird problems escalated and they are not funny, when you have limited time to investigate and fix.
        Regarding UI – I like what SAP is doing in this area now, at least what I could read in papers describing Muse project.
        Cheers,
        Vitaliy
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      2. Gobinath kandasamy
        Wonderful blog…I’ve faced similiar issues many times around midnight and go crazy…!!!

        SAP should definitely work on improving the error message little bit more detail and ofcourse clean english :-)…and about the OSS part…they should have some generic team reviewing all the notes and approve it to customers…I’ve seen one case where the developers in SAP were writing OSS with lots of steps missing and error – which we have suggested him to correct it through internal SAP guy.

        And we don’t loose our job…infact if the customer is happy…we will get more job for different nice requirements…If that is the case, we should be developing our applications using assembly language.

        Thanks
        Gopi

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    4. AbyJacob Emmanuel
      Hi Vitaliy,

      Good that you highlighted the pain points;
      I fully agree with your concerns below…
      ==========================================

      A) Improve meaningfulness of ST22 short dumps and SLG1 application logs.
      Although short dumps usually contains a lot of information it is still difficult in many times to get to the point what happened and why.

      B) Improve quality of SAP Notes
      OSS Notes do not ensure completeness of particular issue overview and it seems that each note is written by particular author in his own way

      C) Collect all support tools in one place
      It would be excellent to have all support transactions and programs under one umbrella with meaningful interface. It should serve as one-stop-shop for all activities from manual activation of objects (vide program RS_TRANSTRU_ACTIVATE_ALL) to query elements consistency check and repair (vide program ANALYZE_RSZ_TABLES)

      Thanks,
      AbyJacob

      (0) 

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