It is not enough for SAP to deliver scalable, high-quality business applications. To be successful, we also have to enable our customers to use these applications most efficiently. This is the target of the Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) portfolio provided by SAP. Your IT organization has to be able to operate your IT solution at low cost, to adapt the solution quickly to changing requirements (like business process innovations), and to still ensure superior quality for your lines of business.
The ALM portfolio consists of processes, tools, methodologies, and services. With the ALM processes covering the complete application lifecycle, SAP provides best-practices for key IT processes: Solution implementation, template management, test management, change control management, application incident management, technical operations, business process operations, maintenance management, upgrade management, and solution documentation. These processes will be executed using various tools provided by SAP or third-party providers.
Among these, SAP Solution Manager has a particular role. As the central ALM solution of SAP, it not only provides required ALM functionality, but takes care of integrating and coordinating all involved tools and activities. Best practices are provided to share experiences from customers and SAP experts on how to set up and operate the ALM processes. And services are available to support you in implementing ALM in your organization.
A key success factor for efficient ALM is a holistic approach. Even though the individual processes can be run independently of each other, there are many dependencies between them that cannot be neglected. This is why the integrated approach of SAP Solution Manager is so important. And this holistic approach cannot focus on SAP applications only. Let’s assume you have integrated non-SAP applications with your SAP components to run your core business processes (which is typical for most customers of SAP). If your business processes are disrupted by any technical problem, your lines of business will not care if this has been caused by an SAP or non-SAP application. This is why SAP’s ALM approach includes the management of non-SAP applications as well.
So, what is the effort to set up ALM processes with SAP. Basically, this is less than most customers expect. After the basic configuration of SAP Solution Manager, which is done in a guided procedure, many processes are already ready to use. For other processes you have to define some workflows or rules to adapt the processes to your organization. But the same would be true if you use non-SAP tools for these processes. And consider the advantage of the predefined integration of the various functions within SAP Solution Manager as well as the available interfaces for third-party tools: This reduces the integration efforts between the various tools significantly.
On Thursday, April 29, 2010 I will provide you more details regarding the ALM portfolio of SAP in a live webcast. I’m looking forward to this event. It will be a pleasure to discuss this important topic with you.