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Author's profile photo Rick Porter

Run SAP Like A Factory: Flexibility & Speed

To  stay at your best, you need your change control solution to be both  fully integrated into the underlying SAP infrastructure and flexible  enough to fit your constantly evolving implemented modules and actual  processes, not some outside “ideal” of how it all ought to work.

Here’s  why. If you find a modified IT process that achieves better results, or  maybe an upgrade that modifies how different modules interact for the  better, you need change control technology flexible enough to enable  these changes to made and introduced quickly. It must document  everything including the business or technical reasons for the changes  and process followed to introduce the change (to facilitate an eventual  audit) without limiting the speed at which the changes are required to  be introduced. If you have to adjust your processes to fit a new change  control solution, chances are you’re already less nimble than you could  be.

Rigid  change control can be quite damaging to competitive position. Markets  are changing faster than ever and they won’t wait politely while you  catch up. If your organization operates in multiple regions, everything  from currency valuations to regulatory environments can flip to  something new without much notice. New technology can make today’s  approaches obsolete almost overnight so you need to  stay flexible and nimble enough to respond quickly. For IT, it comes  down to how flexible your change control strategy can be.

Here are some factors to keep in mind:

  • If  your organization is large or complex, you’ll need to adjust processes  from time to time to fit new business requirements. You’ll increase risk  if you stay with a rigid change control method, because it can hobble  your ability to respond quickly and appropriately to changes in your  business environment.
  • Do you rely on DevOps methods to keep  projects aligned with the business side and smoothly coordinated and  collaborative on the IT side? The DevOps approach is wonderfully nimble  because it keeps all involved parties working together with little  conflict – but it requires constant process adjustments. An inflexible  change control method can interfere badly with DevOps methods.
  • Flexibility  is crucial when you face regulatory changes, especially in highly  regulated industries (e.g., Pharmaceutical, Financial) but important also as  best practices evolve under guides such as ITIL.
  • Flexible change  control lets you adjust your work frequently as it flows through DEV.  Frequent fixes are not only agile, they reduce major reworking since  small fixes can be made when the person closest to the problem (the IT  developer) has not moved on to later work. Flexibility allows a more  efficient and less costly approach than waiting to find problems in QA  or PRD, when fixing them can require major rework.
  • Even in  manufacturing, modern processes have become more flexible than earlier  assembly lines allowed. Today’s processes can be in constant change –  e.g., high tech’s engineering change orders, custom make-to-order  manufacturing, or configured manufacturing of highly optioned products like computers.

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