They tell me it’s not uncommon, for example, for someone to have broken into PRD to make slight change to an object and then forget to replicate this back in QAS and DEV or for an object to make its way to QAS and for some reason get stuck there.
Good change control process and automated change control technologies can certainly help manage the flow of objects from DEV to PRD in an orderly sequential manner and so is a very good place to start. Change control ensures there is a process around making changes, the workflow and approval requirements for each and so makes an immediate difference to the quality around object version control.
What about the current state of play though?
Although object version information is held within SAP in various places, unfortunately there are not a lot of technologies available that enable developers, team leaders or project managers to quickly get at this information to compare versions and make decisions accordingly. The amount of times one comes across an object version spread sheet or an access database as a version control method, even for extensive and complex SAP environments is surprising. The problem with this is the database or spread sheet accuracy relies on human discipline and so comes with no guarantee of accuracy.
What is required is a tool that allows you to easily, simply and very quickly compare custom objects across multiple SAP systems allowing project team members to quickly see which objects are different in DEV, QAS and PRD and then to drill down to see just what these differences are. Such tools will provide confidence (or not) in existing change control procedures as all differences should be accounted for by a good change control technology.
The good news is that technologies are being developed by third party software vendors to assist with this type of system and object version visibility. Keep an eye open on the SAP EcoHub, TechEd exhibit halls and vendor promotional materials and searches using terms such as “SAP custom code version tools” should throw up a range of options for consideration.