In recent articles, 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, ease of use, degree of automation, enforceability, ease of configuration and costs to implement.
In this issue I drill down into the ‘ease of configuration’ topic and discuss its importance as a key SAP change control software feature.
Topic 4: Ease of configuration
Ease of configuration was the fourth most frequent topic of discussion raised to our booth staff by those interested in or considering an SAP change control software. The questions and discussions centred on the ability of a software to meet an organisation’s own unique change control requirements and the effort required to get it to do so, particularly flexibility and simplicity (ease) of configuration.
There are two main areas of configuration to consider.
The first being the software’s configurability of process rules, process flow and process workflow (process configuration) and the second being the software’s configurability to include (or exclude) additional SAP landscapes, systems and system clients (environmental configuration).
A software’s ability to be easily configured to mirror or improve upon existing manual processes such as the statuses a change must pass through prior to delivery into production, incorporate process rules such as documentation of test results or level of signatory required, and to manage email workflow alerts so the right person is called upon to take action at the right time can make a major difference to the time to productive use, overall useability and ongoing administration costs of the software.
Having been privy to literally hundreds of IT organisation’s SAP change control processes we have found that no two IT organisations use the same change control process, use the same set of process rules, or manage process workflow in the same way. Even within the same organisation it’s not uncommon for different business units or different solution managers to have different approaches to change control process.
So…when it comes to change control software administration, flexibility of process configuration and the ease of configuration are a key consideration.
Running an SAP IT infrastructure almost always means architecture and landscape / system configuration will change over time, and at times quite rapidly. New SAP solution landscapes will be added and subtracted, new technologies will be introduced, and individual systems and system clients will come and go.
With each environmental change comes a need to rethink change control process and therefore a need reconfigure a change control software to recognise the technical infrastructural change and incorporate any process changes simply and easily.
If the technology is not easily reconfigured during infrastructural changes this becomes an additional administrative overhead that adds another element to take into account when considering infrastructure changes and can impact overall efficiency of the IT team.
Things to consider
With change process control being an important component of an SAP IT organisation’s risk management strategy, it is very important that a change control software can flex to easily meet changing requirements in dynamic IT environments.
Therefore, when considering the flexibility and ease of configuration of a change control technology the following elements are worth a thought:
- Is the configuration flexible enough to easily meet changing process requirements?
- How easily are process configuration changes administered?
- How easily can environmental and system changes be incorporated?
- What overhead is software administration likely to add?
In the next issue, I’ll take a close look at the ‘costs to implement’ discussion point.