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Enabling the Successful Adoption of Solution Manager

In this series of blogs, Michal Harezlak and I would like to outline a comprehensive framework for improving your organization’s adoption of SAP Solution Manager. We would like to present to you how to realize quick wins by identifying potential Solution Manager Functionalities which your team may not yet be using to its fullest. We will examine the overall functionalities contained within Solution Manager and map them  to a concept of Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and supporting SAP best practices and finally, to explain how Solution Manager contributes to the IT operating model.

Here is the complete list of the topics we will review:
Part 1: How and why? Adoption of SAP Solution Manager.
Business Configuration
Part 2: Solution Design and documentation of solution (THIS BLOG)
Part 3: Innovation Management
Part 4: Solution Configuration and Template Management
Part 5: Test Management
Business Continuity
Part 6: Change Request Management
Part 7: Incident and Problem Management
Part 8: Technical Operations
Part 9: Business Process Operations
Part 10: Maintenance, Upgrade Management
Part 11: Improvement of solution
Part 12: IT Reporting

Enabling the Successful Adoption of Solution Manager

Before we jump into details on how to create an ALM adoption roadmap,  I would like to highlight how building successful ALM capabilities and taking full advantage of solution manager as whole is only possible with the Organizational Change Management Plan and ASAP 7.2 prescribed deliverables.  While we are not going to go into details as each of the topics of enablement is complex, I would like to give the reader a high level  overview what I consider to be pillars of ALM.

To drive the Enterprise Adoption of Solution Manager, it is important to identify the main actors who will contribute to the adoption of Application Lifecycle Management.  As part of the Organizational Change Management this team building exercise will serve to identify the Solution Manager stakeholders. 

Next, the definition, documentation, and communication of project standards to ensure consistent use of methods and tools for the project and post production support.  This is a crucial step to be undertaken prior to creating the Solution Manager project. 

 Figure 1



Figure 1: Solution Design Focus Topics

Hereafter are some of the more important components for project standards:

Naming Conventions: Projects, Logical Components, Documents, Status Values, etc.

Project Management Standards:

  • Status Values: Project Status and Document Status Values.
  • Keywords
  • Document Types.
  • Document Management process
  • Quality control process for deliverables.
  • Blueprint workshop approach.

Next, the Adoption Plan must be tailored to the needs of the customer.  For those organizations that are new to SAP and Solution Manager, it is important to expand on the dimensions of the ALM methodology to facilitate the Solution Design.  In Figure 2 below, I am showing the Pillars of Application Lifecycle Management which I have created based on a recent ALM consulting engagement.  It shows a comprehensive approach to the enterprise deployment of Solution Manager, structured as 6 pillars which must be satisfied in order to support your organizations‘ adoption of Solution Manager.

 Figure 2




Figure 2: Pillars of Application Lifecycle Management


ALM Delivery Management

  • Oversee demand and supply for ALM functionalities with projects.
  • Corporate Buy-in and adoption
  • Governance Model and Stakeholder Alignment
  • Risk mitigation
  • Balanced Scorecard

 IT Foundations

  • Solution Architecture
  • Landscape
  • Delivery of ALM functionalities
  • Integration validation
  • Risk mitigation

 Center of Expertise

  • Core team of experts overseeing  the usage of  ALM components by phase
  • Support to project 

Organization Change Management

  • Knowledge Transfer Strategy and Tool development
  • Roles and people capabilities
  • Staffing plan and enablement 

SAP Landscape Environment

  • Landscape  design
  • Landscape models
  • Landscape recommendations
  • Impact on Business Roadmap
  • Sizing 

Business Process Architecture & Management in SAP Solution Manager

  • Process Documentation
  • Process Repository and hierarchy
  • Process reengineering
  • Project types
  • Process Rollout
  • Process Roll-in governance 

Once these pillars have been understood by the organization and each of its 6 components have been documented, you may now proceed with Solution Design. 

With that said, first let’s talk about the Business Configuration conceptual part of ALM.   As shown below, business configuration includes:

  • Solution Design and documentation of solution
  • Innovation Management
  • Solution Configuration and Template Management
  • Test Management




Figure 3. Business Configuration in context of ALM

Let’s now look at the first part, Solution Design.

Solution Design

In Application Lifecycle Management, Solution Design is at the crossroads of several work streams involving the Business and IT alike.  Solution Design can be characterized by the creation and comprehensive definition of the project in Solution Manager.  Secondly, there are the Project Preparation aspects of the Solution Design as mandates by the ASAP7.2 Implementation Methodology.  Figure 4 below, depicts some of the ASAP mandated deliverables supporting Solution Design.  For a complete breakdown of the solution design components, please refer to the ASAP project preparation and blueprinting phases.

Also in Solution Design, the business process cycle starts where the BPx expert applies the defined needs and requirements to planning the to-be processes, based on solutions that have been collected. According to this plan, the business process expert will later designs the process flow, and models the process and all of its steps. 

Figure 4 


Figure 4: Solution Design considerations in ASAP7.2

Solution Manager 7.1 affords us with many useful functionalities to support Solution Design.  We will review these in detail within the Innovation Management section of our blog.


Solution Documentation

Importance of Document Management

•   Document Management is an important ALM feature supporting Project Management function. The implementation of good document management practices will benefit the project in many ways:

•   Improves the conduct of business in an orderly, efficient and accountable manner. 

•   Supports compliance with Quality Assurance standards. 

•   It protects the interests of the Company and the stakeholders in the project 

•   It significantly reduces the chance of cost blow-outs, caused by working with superseded documents. 

•   It delivers savings in time and resources thorough the use of a common system that is used by the entire project team with efficient search and retrieval functionality.


Figure 5 


Figure 5: Solution Documentation & Implementation


Rationale for Document Management

The adoption of a best practice system for the management of documents that enables full auditing of documents from creation to approval is an important project management function.  


Figure 6


Figure 6: Rational for Document Management

Documentation of the Solution

Documentation is the basis for many SAP Solution Manager Features. There are three fundamental kinds of documentation stored within Solution Manager.  They are:

  • Technical Landscape Documentation,
  • Business Process Documentation and
  • Custom Code Documentation

The Technical landscape documentation is covered by the basic configuration of SAP Solution Manager in its minimum required level.  The documentation comprises of the availability of system data of all productive systems in the System Landscape Directory and the availability of one or more solution landscapes which contain the productive systems as logical components.  Complete technical landscape documentation is essential for using other SAP Solution Manager functions like System Monitoring, Diagnostics or Change Request Management.

Business Process documentation comprises of the availability of the core business processes in the Business Blueprint and imported into the Solution Directory.  Documented core business processes in the Business Blueprint can be leveraged throughout the entire software lice-cycle.  This increases the value of internal communication as there is always a relation to business processes, for example the relevance of a requirement to your processes.

The third kind of documentation is the documentation of modifications.  Custom Code documentation comprises of a short description of the development and its related development objects, for example programs in the customer name space.  This documentation is especially important for the following reasons:  First, modifications are not subject to SAP quality checks.  Secondly, they can be lost in an upgrade when implemented improperly. 

Defining your Documentation Strategy

Solution Manager has been designed to simplify solution documentation tasks and to create a positive overall experience for users.   Thoroughly understanding of your company’s goals of users and stakeholders and designing the solution documentation practices with those goals in mind are the best approaches to successfully delivering enterprise solutions that will satisfy all Solution Manager  constituents.

In setting your Document Management Strategy, it is preferable to consider prior documentation practices.  This can be done by answering the following questions:

  • Is there a methodology in place for managing documentation?
  • Is the company facing any document management problems?
  • How will project documents move through draft->complete/approved stages?
  • Should approved documents be locked for changes? 
  • Are there any audit requirements such as electronic signature/digital signature?
  • Do you have a solution documentation to align business and IT?                                                                               
  • Is there a standardized documentation to accelerate internal IT support?                                            
  • Do you use standard documentation for collaboration with SAP?
  • Do you use Reverse Business Engineering software to determine your processes in your SAP solutions?
  • Are your core business processes documented in a standard manner following the SAP recommendations?                                       
  • Is there a process in place to keep documentation up to date?                                  
  • Are all critical operation procedures described in detail so that these tasks can be delegated to another person?               
  • Is the solution and system documentation part of the handover to operations?

The Document Management lifecycle can be defined in terms of the following:

  •   Definition of requirement for Document.  This is sometimes called “deliverables” for Document Management

  •   Document Creation

  •   Review and Approval by Document Management team

  •   Distribution of Document as an approved working copy

  •   Subsequent document revision

  •   Re-distribution of revised document to the original distribution matrix

  •   Disposal or archival of superseded document

SAP Solution Manager provides the complete framework that encourages the adoption of good document management standards.  

Who should be concerned about the project Documentation Strategy?

Solution documentation is an important aspect of your implementation project.  The project documents stored in Solution Manager will be essential to the realization part of the project.  Thereafter, they will be important during the run and optimization phases of the ALM lifecycle.

From experience, the project constituents whom have the most influence into the Solution Documentation are the PMO organization, the Project Managers, Functional Consultants, Managers of Functional groups and Business Analysts working in SAP CoE.   

1 Comment
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  • it’s me again…

    I showed this blog to a few collegues and I got a few mails back asking (in summary) “What is this about? Is it about Solution Manager? Or is it about vision? Or about the implementation of software? Or a mixture of all this? I don’t get it…”

    I’m not criticising for the sake of it but because I want to raise awareness. Awareness of the fact, that not many people will get the point of what this is about. I get the fact, that you/SAP need to “sell” the software and hence presales/marketing is involved, I get the fact, that only a certain terminology shall be used. But does this need to be so SAPterminologized, that a “normal skilled person” is unable to understand the meaning of it?

    If this is all so good and so useful for customers, why do words as “orchestration, governance, multi-dimensional deliverables, value management” are to be used? If it is so useful and necessary, why can’t it be explained and shown in normal language – as most customers (only) speak?

    Put it like this

    You (customer) do this –> you will get that (from software) –> which is better than XYZ, because…

    instead of putting page after page of high gloss powerpoints with nice^h^h^h^hconfusing visuals.  Sometimes I wonder if it’s really necessary to do that/confuse people and make them think they are serioulsy silly and living behind the woods?

    Just curious…

    No offense, just a question.