Being under doctor’s orders to rest and recuperate this month has meant that I’ve had the luxury of time for attacking a stack of books that I’ve wanted to read (or re-read) for months. Thus it was with leisurely pleasure that I curled up with a cup of hot tea to re-read the BPX Community’s Process First and then took some time to reflect on the challenges of bringing the business process perspective to SAP user provisioning. In an It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s.., I discussed the coming launch of our pilot of a web-based access request toolset. The pilot has been underway for some time now, and the pilot users have helped us uncover some hiccups in the solution’s architecture. While the developers of the various components work through the issues, I have an opportunity to reflect on what could be done to ease acceptance of the new process and the toolset enabling it.
We had no shortage of ideas regarding the challenges of the soon-to-be former process and toolset, and we did focus on improving the process long before we decided on the technologies. We knew that we wanted to be better aligned with new hire onboarding, which for us meant bringing the MSS Managers into the process. The only part that MSS Managers had played in SAP access provisioning was their annual review of the access of their direct reports. Having had little to no input into the original provisioning, it was not surprising that many of our MSS Managers had no idea why their personnel had some of the roles assigned to them. Thus roles were disapproved and removed, only to have to be hurriedly reinstated when key business processes ground to a halt. There had to be a better way, and we decided that getting the MSS Managers involved up front in the original provisioning of the roles would, at a minimum, increase the likelihood that, come annual access review time, they might recall why their people had the access currently assigned.
It sounded good to the project team and steering committee. Surely the MSS Managers, given some job aids and short-cuts built into the tools, could be trusted to approve the roles that would meet the needs of their own personnel. However, it was not long into the pilot when our idealized understanding of the personnel management processes met up with the real world, and variations on the scenarios raised some challenges.
Our automated user creation custom program is set to create a user ID, unless the action is specifically blocked, as soon as the network ID is populated into the HR records, up to 14 days before a new hire starts, so that the account can be provisioned and the new hire can hit the ground running. However, we have been reminded that, in some locations, personnel work a 30 day rotation, so timing is everything. If a role assignment or removal request is submitted while the MSS Manager is on his or her 30 days off cycle, it will end up being cancelled, and the process will need to be initiated all over again once s/he is back in the office, or at least has access to the SAP Portal.
Personnel who transfer to a new department can also be caught in the request timing trap. One pilot user called me, perplexed that the request she had submitted had not been actioned by the MSS Manager. I quickly discovered that the employee was still showing as reporting to his former MSS Manager. Either that manager would have to be persuaded to approve the request, or it would have to be cancelled and resubmitted once the employee’s HR records had been updated with the new MSS Manager.
As the pilot continues, I suspect that we will discover more scenarios where the business process in real life diverges from the process on paper. All of these challenges during the pilot will help us improve the training and documentation, and ultimately should result in a more successful rollout. The big challenge will be to continue to uncover the myriad of ways the business really works, and to remind all of the participants of the dependencies downstream when circumstances result in a variation in the business process. Our SAP user provisioning is highly dependent on HR and other processes, so while bringing the business process perspective to a highly siloed global organization is unlikely to happen overnight, I am convinced that it will be worth the effort.