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Author's profile photo Rick Porter

The Fully Automated (and Integrated) IT “Factory”

If you haven’t yet automated change control, that’s where you can start to “Run SAP Like a Factory.”  Change control processes interact with every other process in your IT infrastructure, from project development to operations, so it’s the natural place to start.

The differences automation makes in physical factories are astounding. Between 1957 and 1964, as mainframe computers brought automation, average factory output nearly doubled.  Every area of industrial production, from ball bearings and battle tanks to bottled beer and barbecues, showed similar improvements. Efficiency went up, production increased, quality improved, and processes became smoother and better coordinated.

To automate IT itself, the question is: Where do you start?  Answer: Start where IT helps the business side keep up when markets or technology or legal mandates shift. Start with change control.

Nowadays change control does much more than shepherd change transports forward toward PRD. For today’s modular, multi-stack, multi-application systems, effective automation is also crucial to governance. If you operate under ITIL, SOX, or other standards-based or regulatory mandates, you need to know where each change is and be able to put your finger on who requested it, why, where the supporting data is, who approved each phase along the way, and more. Governance is about control over processes and repeatability of every step, and that takes full automation because manual steps always add the potential for unpredicted human error.

As an IT manager tasked to “Run SAP Like a Factory,” what will you see when your transition is complete? All ALM data exchanges will be coordinated through Solution Manager’s new Operations Control Center (OCC) dashboard. The SolMan team wants you to functionally integrate all ALM solutions through OCC, whether SAP or a third party provides them, since OCC lets you manage them as if they were all parts of a single process.

That’s helpful but not enough for full, reliable control.  Effective management of system evolution – particularly with multiple complex landscapes − falls to automated change control. Manual steps can lead to human errors and cause knotty problems in any complex process. For example, let’s say a particular change undergoes HP Quality Center testing, leading to a new change request fed into IntelliCorp’s impact analysis software with results fed back to HP Quality Center, which reflects them back to the business-side request generated via BMC Remedy. In this process, your change control software supplies governance and enforces policy, ensuring that all changes match known records from initiation on.

A rough illustration of integrated ALM solutions that “Run SAP Like a Factory,” with change control provided by RSC’s Rev-Trac, looks like this:

As you see, all changes brought through Remedy, Quality Center or IntelliCorp, plus all the BAU changes generated by both business-side and backend processes, plus all changes initiated by special projects, new modules or upgrades, are managed and coordinated via your change control solution. It had better be both fully automated and well integrated into your main SAP IT infrastructure!

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