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Tracking what SAP users use in the system

I (working in SAP’s Office of the CTO) just started to do some research on the topic of measuring which functions in an SAP system users use. That could be done at various levels of granularity (probably the best would be which transactions and what reports are used by how many users how often, maybe also by type of user) and would greatly benefit from some good canned analytics (e.g. usage patterns over time and along business processes, high/low lists of what is used often in the system).

Sure, there are transactions like STAD and ST03, but these are not for a business manager who wants to determine whether crucial SAP functionality is broadly used or not (and what to do to get users actually use it).

My questions to you are:

1) Do you do usage analysis in your system?
2) What tool(s) do you use for this?
3) What benefits do you derive from doing usage tracking, or which do you wish you could achieve?

Thanks for your thoughts,
Oliver

19 Comments
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  • I have seen SAP partners use custom built programs that scan the system for usage data in a batch mode, and then present the data in business friendly dashboards. This is commonly used before upgrades,harmonizations, divestitures etc but I have not seen myself a case where this was used for routine decision making by business in a stable system. However, IT uses STAT/STAD all the time for all kinds of reasons.
    • Hi Vijay, thanks a lot for your feedback! When you say “SAP partners”, do you mean consultants like yourself who did this as a one-off for a client, or do you mean standard software by one of SAP’s software partners? Best, Oliver
  • In BW it is very common that business wants to know how system is used (especially when multiple departments are paying for shared BW system). Although SAP made some dramatic improvements in BI Statistics in 7.0 Release comparing to 3.x, still it is far from being perfect:
    1) There are no business friendly reports, so IT has to spend lots of time (from my own experience) to get data business wants to see in a way business can understand.
    2) Data between BI Admin Cockpit, ST03N and RSDDSTAT* tables are difficult to match, although it should be the same.
    3) Usage of BW Accelerator is not easy to collect in a meaningful way to the business.

    Good luck with your project.
    -Vitaliy

    • Hi Vitaliy, thanks a lot for your feedback. It really helps me to hear about these issues of data mismatches, focuses me on where the biggest issues are. Best, Oliver
  • We use usage statistics for custom reports or  functionalities in user exits etc. to keep track on how often they are used. Basically we have a fairly straight forward function module that we plug into any code easily and with that track the usage. We can report the data by report/functionality, company code and month or even down to a cost center level (based on the costcenter, that the executing user is assigned to).
    We use the statistics to validate whether roll-outs of certain tools and functions are in fact successful or which company codes or regions are not taking advantage of certain things yet. We also at times use the statistics to ask specific departments in certain company codes that turn out to be frequent users for feedback to improve the functions further.
    Also – even though we didn’t have to do that yet, we can decide with these statistics when it’s ready for a functionality/tool to be retired, based on it not being used much anymore.
  • Hi,

    In BI7.0 the stand content gives lots of detail, you can activate standard reports or write custom BW query which may meet your requirement. We took this cube and modified to fit our requirements (including our fiscal calendar, application, etc.). We have some custom report which gives who is using what, how frequently, no. of times, etc. also we download into xls for nice graph.

    SAP should provide equal data extraction & cube for R3 usage. Currently we have custom program which updates ztable for usage.

    Regards
    Ramesh

    • Hi Ramesh, thanks a lot for your reply! Would there be a chance for me to look at what you guys did in BW (via web sharing), just to get a feeling for what worked best for you? Which company did you do this for? My email is oliver.mainka@sap.com.

      Best, Oliver

  • This almost sounds like the tealeaf type solution that was developed for e-commerce.  I believe that product was built by some former folks at SAP labs.  Perhaps SAP could learn from its own spin-off 🙂

    Take care,

    Stephen

    • Yep, Tealeaf was the first real spin-off from SAP when Robert Wenig took his work at SAP and made it into his own company (with SAP’s blessing and support). I think Tealeaf is very nice and it could indeed provide some inspiration.
  • Oliver,
    We have two custom programs for monitoring what users do.

    As a mitigating control on Firefight access for developers and other application support personnel (including SAP support), we have a custom program that monitors the activity of user IDs that have any of a configurable list of Firefight roles in validity on their ID. The program gets its information from the Unix statistics files collected by SAP, for each of the (currently) 20 servers in our ECC PROD. Since activity levels are high due to so many concurrent users, and there are limits on how big those files can get before they are overwritten, we pull the data hourly to prevent loss of data. The custom program monitors their activity and analyzes if access to the executed transactions came from their “everyday” roles or from the Firefight role. These results are reported nightly via email to the user’s MSS Manager. (The reports on SAP support IDs are forwarded manually to the approving manager.) The MSS Manager is required to review the email and confirm their review of the activity report by reply to the SAP Security team. SAP Controls personnel periodically review the activity to ensure that the managers are doing their reviews timely.

    The other monitoring program is primarily used by role owners and approvers to determine which tcodes are being used by a given user, or which users IDs executed a tcode or program. This program takes the aggregated statistics from the database; this report can be run for a day, week, or up to one month, on any user or any transaction. The purpose of this program is to help role owners decide if a transaction is really required in a role, or if a user really requires a role assignment.

    Gretchen

    • Hi Gretchen, thanks a lot for the answer!

      I wil show my ignorance here, but what is “Firefight”? In terms of reviewing which tcodes/programs a user accessed, would it be possible to talk to you for 20 minutes on the phone to get some realistic examples of what kind of practical impact that has had?

      My email address is oliver.mainka@sap.com

      Best,
      Oliver

  • We use BI Stats cubes/Multiproviders which show query and processes timing.   Its worth looking into.  All you have to do is turn it on.  You can create queries based on this information.