This is the final in the series on simplifying an SAP IT change management audit through automation and this month, I will take a look at the feature set an IT team should consider in its quest to simplify its change control audit through automation.
If one can simplify the change management process and eliminate potential for workarounds then the audit process will be similarly simplified. Unfortunately, with increasing regulation combined with an increase in SAP environment complexity simple change management processes are rarely possible and without significant policing, process workarounds are a constant. Automation can simplify even complex processes, eliminate process workarounds and increase confidence that change management process has been followed for all changes.
Basic feature set
Eliminating workarounds and enforcing process are key requirements for change management automation and so the following feature set should be high on the selection criteria list.
- Use enforcement – so no change can be made without a record being made
- Process enforcement – so process workarounds are not possible
- Approval enforcement – so no change can pass from one status to the next without appropriate approval
- System integration – so the actual system changes match the change management records. Also required for use enforcement
Advanced feature set
Once the basic feature set is understood a range of advanced features add further to the enforcement of process and gathering of records to ensure a simple audit. These include features such as:
- Documentation and field completion enforcement – so any documentation requirements are enforced as part of the change management lifecycle
- Process flexibility – so the processes most appropriate to the type of change being managed may be used
- Segregation of duties enforcement – so specific process policies can be enforced automatically
- Integration with Service Desk, Testing Suite, Impact Analysis – so the complete record regarding a change is available from the one place and the record is the same in all places
The degree of automation, ease of use and flexibility of configuration should also figure highly in selection criteria. The greater the degree of automation, the less the reliance on imperfect human discipline to follow process, complete documentation and comply with audit requirements.
The easier a technology is to use, the less the temptation is for users to work around the technology or to take short cuts – any of which will undermine the value of the technology. Finally, configuration flexibility enables an organization to evolve its processes over time without significant customization effort.
Simplification of the SAP change management audit has been achieved over and over again by users of Rev-Trac SAP change control automation technology. Continual reports of audits that previously took days being reduced to hours are commonplace, along with reports of significant increases in production stability, substantial reduction in costs to manage change and measurable increases in development efficiency.