Having recently returned from a series of IT events, both SAP specific and generic, where in both conversation and formal presentation it was clear that application management and maintenance costs are of growing concern to IT management. Surprisingly, even though application management automation tools have been available for the past 10 years or so, most IT organizations, large and small, still manage their IT applications using manual methods developed during the 80’s and 90’s – a clear area for immediate cost reduction.
Consider for a moment the many manual tasks involved in managing changes to an IT application. Each manual task comes with a cost – both in human effort and in risk to IT system stability. Here are just some of the manual, human effort cost and risk points:
- Managing change transports from source system to target system
- Checking for change transport sequencing errors
- Checking for object version conflicts
- Obtaining paper approvals
- Policing change control process
- Linking service desk records to technical change records
- Fulfilling auditor requests for information
- Managing change releases and projects
- Communicating status of change to the business customers
- Production down time due to human error
In addition, the more complex the IT system architecture and the higher the volume of change, the higher the total costs and overall risks of change. In the end, the change record does not match the system reality and the auditor has a field day.
Eliminating human change management tasks through change management automation can see an immediate reduction in application management costs. Examples include:
- Elimination of manual transport handling
- Elimination of change sequencing checking
- Elimination of manual conflict checking (and reparation after the event)
- Elimination of approval collections and lost paper work
- Significant reduction (from days to hours) involved in change management audit
- Elimination of change management policy policing
- Elimination of change record duplication
- Elimination of manual reporting to business stakeholders
It is not uncommon for an IT team to require a person responsible for maintaining extensive transport record spread sheets, another person or persons responsible for manually migrating transports from source to target systems and another person responsible for policing the change management process – each of which can be immediately redeployed upon implementation of change management automation.
Since change management automation tools are not free, the ROI comes from a range of significant assurances and improvements available such as:
- Process compliance assurance
- Change management task completion assurance – resulting in quality assurance
- Quality improvements and system stability assurance
- Developer efficiency improvements
- Concurrent project management improvement
- Shorter project delivery timeframes
In the end, change management automation not only reduces the cost of managing change, but increases change quality, better assures production stability and increases the amount concurrent change that can be managed.
By implementing an SAP change management automation toolset strategy, IT organizations can benefit not just in hard time and cost reductions but also through a range of less tangible benefits including efficiency, quality and compliance improvements.