Panaya offers several SAAS solutions for ERP and one of them is SAP upgrade automation which can be seen as competition for the Solution Manager Change Impact Analysis.
How do you perform an analysis using Panaya?
You extract data from your ERP system (using a delivered report) and upload the data to the SAAS solution provided by Panaya. There the data is analyzed and within 24 to 48 hours you can view the results online.
- It’s really simple, run a report, upload a file and voilà the results are there to be viewed online 24 to 48 hours later.
- Can you trust the analysis result completely? From what I have heard, not yet, there where still a few minor impacts that were not present in the analysis result. I have also heard Panaya is working hard to further improve their service and get rid of those few minor impact cases that are not yet caught by the analysis.
- There could be data governance issues here, what can they actually do with the extracted data (does the tool extract Z program source code?). To what extent are they allowed to use it?
How do you perform an analysis with Solution Manager?
You have to create an implementation project in Solution Manager and define your business scenarios with their respective business processes that are used in your ERP system. Once that is done you create TBOM’s (Technical Bill of Material) of each business process by tracing them through manual execution. Next you download the upgrade or support package stack files and upload them to the EPS/in of your transport directory. You create an analysis project to analyze the impact on the business processes caused by the upgrade or support package stack.
- You can use The BPCA (Business Process Change Analyzer) of Solution Manager for more than just ERP systems.
- The data stays available in your Solution Manager system and as such you don’t encounter data governance issues.
- Your Business Processes have to be created in a correct fashion and have to be maintained and even then your impact analysis isn’t 100% reliable. Maintaining the business processes correct isn’t such an easy task in large enterprises where business processes tend to flow through multiple products and technologies. So here we again see the trust issue that the results might not capture everything. It relies strongly on the correct maintenance of your business processes.
- The tracing itself can also be a problem. If you have products like CRM 7 with very new end-user interfaces and you cannot trace through the product properly (lack of functionality available to do so) you end up with no result or bad results and your impact analysis will be rendered almost useless.
- The process from start to end to perform an analysis takes a lot of time. The steps that have to be performed in combination with the different interfaces, the necessary know-how and the technical prerequisite to create TBOM’s make it way to complicated compared to the very simple process Panaya offers. To use the service from Panaya the end-user doesn’t need any training. For Solution Manager your end-user would need training so that sums it up nicely.
Here it depends a bit how far you want to go. Panaya also offers a solution for automated testing where Solution Manager also offers the possibility to do automated testing and both can provide the necessary feedback which tests should run according to the analysis run.
From what I have heard from customers the Panaya Upgrade Impact Analysis on-demand isn’t exactly a cheap product. The price is based on the size of your ERP system according to what I was told and Panaya knows SAP customers are looking into alternatives to provide them these kind of services. Why? Because it can or should save you money and effort as you should have to do less testing and have less incidents afterwards.
SAP Solution Manager on itself is a free product, of course you have your hardware cost and you should have enterprise support which isn’t actually free of course since you pay a maintenance fee. If you want to go full blown and you decide to start using automated testing, most customers go for a combination of Solution Manager and other products like HP Quality Center and SAP TAO and those aren’t exactly free of charge either.
You can’t really find reference prices for either solutions and more often than not it seems like a product or solution has a price tag that was based on which direction the wind was blowing that day. It comes down to negotiating a better price but in the end the products that come with license costs are not cheap.
Is it worth it?
According to the customer I spoke with, Panaya is useful to see where you can expect impact but since they noticed the results so far weren’t 100% reliable they test everything anyway. They did notice a decrease in incidents compared to previous upgrade runs but since the pricing isn’t cheap either the question is do you reduce your total cost of ownership?
On Solution Manager side I don’t have a reference of a customer that really actively uses Change Impact Analysis. I did attend a webinar from SAP which included a customer testimonial on the business process documentation and automated testing part. According to that customer it does save them money in the end but they also have someone that does maintenance of the business processes and updates the necessary related content a half day a week (note that this was used throughout their SAP system landscapes). The thing is they didn’t use impact analysis. If it was really just another click away they would of course. It doesn’t seem to be a feature that is used often and it must have it’s proper reasons (see Solution Manager disadvantages).
The message is clear: don’t just buy into the marketing lingo for these products. Lines like you can save up to 80% costs should be corrected into you might save up to 80% costs which can also mean you save 5% for that matter or you don’t save any costs at all. No matter which product you choose, it’s not guaranteed full proof. One can be cheaper license cost wise than the other but then it also requires more effort to maintain.
If you want to check out the Solution Manager functionality start by documenting and setting up a small business process and see how everything works before making a decision to go all the way.
Solution Manager on-demand?
So how about SAP creating an impact analysis on-demand service that can analyze the necessary data and give back the result in way less than 24 hours? Surely it should be possible if it would be powered by SAP HANA. As SAAS solution it could also be affordable or even free of charge (those maintenance fees should create value right).
A few weeks ago I saw some comments on “Thought leadership” that there is too much thinking going on these days and not enough action. “Action leadership wanted” was the message there.
I have to agree to a large extent so I also created an idea on idea place to give the thinking more meaning and possibly transform it into action if enough community members decide it should and of course given SAP picks up the idea. SAP Ideaplace is a nice initiative and we should all profit from having it around and we can do that by creating ideas and voting ideas up that we want to see incorporated.
The process to go through to check out the impact of a transport request, support package stack or upgrade on a managed SAP system is too complex and takes too much time.
I would love to see SAP come up with an on-demand solution that can offer impact analysis on a relative short timeframe. This should be possible since there are already existing products from external parties (one of them being Panaya but more exist) that offer similar functionality.
It looks like SAP tried to incorporate too much into the Business Process Change Analyzer. The idea is good but it doesn’t really feel right and it doesn’t deliver what it should deliver. A more simple process that gives you all the impact (even on unused Businesss Processes for that matter) can be more valuable. A resultset based on used transaction and another based on unused transactions can already offer additional value by taking into account used transaction of your productive SAP system.
By leveraging the cloud and powering the impact analysis by HANA such impact analysis should be possible on relative short timeframes and can provide added value for the customers.
You can vote up (or down) the idea here: https://cw.sdn.sap.com/cw/ideas/6470.