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Most frequent SAP change control technology topics at SAPPHIRE NOW – Concern No 2: Degree of Automation

In recent blogs, we have been discussing the five most frequent SAP change control technology topics of discussion brought up with the team at RSC’s ‘Simplifying SAP Change Control’ booth at SAPPHIRE NOW Orlando 2011. To recap, these were:

No. 1: Ease of use: Most frequent SAP change control technology topics at SAPPHIRE NOW – Concern No 1: Ease of use

No. 2: Degree of Automation

No. 3: Enforceability

No. 4: Ease of Configuration

No. 5: Cost to Implement

In this issue I drill down into the ‘degree of automation’ topic discussing its importance in SAP change control technology and its value in reducing the risks and costs associated with delivering change into SAP Production systems.

Concern No 2: Degree of Automation

Degree of automation was the second most frequent topic of discussion raised to our booth staff by those interested in or considering an SAP change control technology. The many booth visitors who spoke to us about the topic seemed to be concerned about two key areas of automation.

The first being the automation of SAP Transports deployment (technical automation) and the second being the automation of the approval and workflow alert process (process automation). Depending on the degree of automation, both areas have the potential to significantly impact the value of an SAP change control technology investment.

SAP Transport deployment automation

Firstly, an SAP change control technology that fully automates most or all elements of transport deployment ensures that transports are deployed to the correct systems and clients automatically, including N and N+1 reapplication requirements, and that transport dependency and/or sequencing requirements are met without the involvement of human hands along the way. To have any of these elements partially automated or not included in the automation can result in system / client deployment errors or production incidents.

The key areas of automation should include relieving Basis resources of all manual deployment tasks from DEV through to PRD, include relieving IT teams of system / client deployment decisions and include automatic deployment safety mechanisms.

Approval process and workflow alert automation

Secondly, a technology that fully automates the approval process and the corresponding workflow ensures change progresses through all predetermined approval status steps in an efficient and steady way. To have these elements partially automated can result in user workarounds, missed approval steps or missed workflow alert messaging.

One of the key benefits of implementing an SAP change control technology is an assurance that all approval steps have been met and each change task has been completed. If a technology only partially automates this aspect of the change control process then it may not provide the returns as calculated.

Things to consider

With maximized automation, many manual tasks are eliminated along with much of the risk of human error and because different technologies automate to varying degrees each’s ability to reduce risk and human error also varies.

Therefore, when considering the degree of automation available consider the automation of the following elements:

  • Degree of Transport deployment (including N and N+1 reapplication requirements) and removal of manual Basis tasks
  • Degree of transport dependencies and / or transport sequencing requirements automation
  • Automation of safety elements such as overtake and / or overwrite protection
  • Degree of approval process automation and approval notification workflow

Next blog

In the next post I’ll take a close look at the ‘enforceability’ question.

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