Areas to be considered for successful execution of SAP Enterprise Portal Projects
SAP EP Setup – Landscapes
Enterprise Portal as a gateway to business software functionalities will be set up in an organization generally having 3 landscapes: Development, Quality and Production. Though it is purely system administration (basis) job, NetWeaver consultant should have broad picture of following points on EP Server setup:
- Protocol to be used : HTTP or HTTPS
- Systems with which portal has to interact: SAP, Non-SAP
- Communication type between Portal and other systems
- SSO setup between Portal and other systems
- Authentication type
- Number of users of Portal
- Portal access from local network or wide network
- Federated Portal Vs Application Integrator
- External Facing Portal
In addition to above points there should be clarification regarding the tasks to be carried out by the Basis team and those by NetWeaver consultant.
Approaches for User Management and Login
This is one of critical area for successful portal project implementation. Comprehensive study and elaborative plan on the authentication scheme to be used for the users to use portal needs to be decided with organization IT infrastructure in mind. Every organization of considerable size will have more than one software products from different vendors used for specific purposes. Having integrated User management will be desirable. Following points in this regard will be of utmost importance:
- Authentication scheme: In most organizations, there will be centralized mechanism for user management and authentication scheme. An analysis on how to integrate existing mechanism in Portal has to be decided
- User Groups: In an organization, there will be set of applications limited to specific group. For limiting access to the applications in portal, the strategy to be used is creation of groups at centralized user management place and referring them in Portal. The details regarding
- How this was managed in existing system
- Can it be reused as it is or rearrangement has to be done
- Any additional properties with regard to group which need to be considered, if needed has to be collected and agreed upon by the client in advance
Standard Content Configuration
As we know, SAP has number of business packages for portal and comes up with new business packages. Most of the business packages are based on the functionalities available in backend SAP system. The following points have to be taken care of for configuring the standard content in the form of Business Packages:
- Business packages to be configured
- Backend system to which business package has to point to
- Type of user mapping to be used for the user account in back end
- SSO type
- Number of users
Customization of Standard Content
SAP provided business packages will have more generic UI. As the case in most of real time scenario customer may not be using all the provisions provided by SAP, he expects customizing the of business packages. For Business Packages customization, having NWDI is now mandatory and is also desirable. Hence following points have to be taken care while considering the option of customization of business package consideration:
- NWDI setup
- Detailed documentation on steps to be followed for importing business packages in NWDI, creation of tracks, setting up dependencies, transport approach
- Developers account in NWDI
Custom development should be the last option to be resorted to, after complete exploration of SAP system for the availability of out-of-box functionality to meet customer requirements. This has to be documented in detail why custom development is needed; this helps customer and maintenance team to realize the importance of custom development.
For custom development, technology to be chosen should be based on the customer’s IT team expertise, the advantages of technology over others and maintenance ease. For custom development, as the requirements will not be completely complete during initial phases of project and development has to be done from scratch; care has to be taken to
- Finalize and freeze the requirements
- Set the expectations right to customer
- Complete the technical design in advance to give clear picture for developers about the approach adopted
- Custom development should be done with keeping in mind about the future enhancements of application
In Portal, following types of content have to transport from one landscape to the other:
- Portal Content Directory objects
- Business packages
- And much more
Transport mechanism has to be decided in advance: the approach should be such that
- Detailed process to be followed should be in place to revert back to as-is which was before transport
- In 7.3, CTS+ based on Java landscape is boon to manage transport in much better way
Change management plays an important role for maintenance and support projects. Strict adherence to change management will be success mantra for any kinds of projects. For the development team, the change management will not look like an important part of project process. But by keeping tabs on the process to be followed and sticking to it will make life easier for development team.
Portal Performance tuning and sizing
This is also important aspect in large organizations with complex SAP System landscape. Having dedicated plan for this topic every year is critical. Portal project implementation needs careful study of performance related aspects and tuning accordingly. Sizing of portal infrastructure is also important. SAP provides number of tools for deciding sizing of portal infrastructure.
Plan for Service Packs Update, Upgrade
SAP comes up with regular updates on its business software. Technical consultant has to keep track of the service packs. We may argue that this belongs to purview of SAP Basis team, but as the advantage is on performance, usability, etc…; it gives edge and opportunity to consultant to add value to the customer. Service Packs update need not be recommended as and when they come up, but following factors have to be evaluated:
- Value addition
- Impact on existing applications
- Impact on deliverables committed
- Mitigation plan has to be in place, in case the service pack update results in unexpected implications
- Step-by-step plan has to be prepared
- Period in year when usage is low has to be selected as update should not impact business of customer.
Upgrade of SAP system landscapes in itself will be project for close to 4-months for completion. Upgrade can be suggested only when the there are lot of advantages which can be harnessed after upgrade.
Plan for Business Packages
This is also an important area which needs to be taken into account.
Plan for implementing new features: Portal on Device, Forum, Wiki, SAPUI5, Unified Framework Page etc..
This activity is one which needs effort to ourselves up-to-date about the developments that are happening in SAP world
Plan for Hybrid model of SAP Portal: On-Premise and on-Cloud
This is new and exciting area which needs to be evaluated based on customers requirements.