As consultants we have all experienced that dreaded moment when we realize that an issue needs to be resolved with the help of SAP. Most customers, and many consultants have a negative reaction to having to open a message with SAP because it is most often associated with inefficiency, intentional delays and standard SAP answers that don’t seem to help. However, that fear can be eliminated by learning the method to managing SAP messages as detailed below. I have seen too many customers who complain about a message not being resolved timely, but only to find that the messages themselves were ill-written and mal-prepared.
An incredibly important but totally under-emphasized skill for good SAP consultants is knowing how to work the SAP support system. The person managing a SAP message is vital to how fast the solution comes about, which can be very critical to the timeline of a project. And in order to be efficient in managing SAP messages, one needs to know the exact problem, how it is produced, as well as how it fits into the end to end solution.
For example, we had a problem with PI’s communication channel monitoring at a client. The monitoring dashboard displays nothing besides a warning message that says to check the trace for details. When looking at the trace, there are no errors or warnings related to the monitoring dashboard. This issue only happens sometimes, so it cannot be reproduced consistently. Just because someone knows PI and communication channels, it doesn’t mean that he/she knows how the monitoring dashboard is managed, and how to check what sort of actions would trigger the warning. This is exactly why the person opening a SAP message needs way more than just specific technical knowledge.
Here are our steps to efficiently obtain solutions on SAP messages:
1. Ensure System Access is Available Externally
Generally, all systems info and connections are already maintained in the Service Marketplace if you’re working at a customer site. The connections are usually maintained and opened by basis administrators. There should be service IDs that can be provided to SAP. All of this needs to exist before a message is opened.
2. Understand the Problem
Get a solid understanding of the issue if you are not the original reporter of the problem. This includes knowing where and when does the problem occur, the error message received, all the actions that lead up to the problem, what is the expected result, any incoming and outgoing connections, does it work one way and not another, what user ID is used, etc.
3. Re-create and Document the Problem
Recreate the problem and take screenshots of every single step from logging into the system to clicking on a button. Organize the screenshots in a document with a description for each screenshot step. Note down anything interesting or non-obvious that SAP may want to know, such as “clicking on Submit sends the data to back-end ECC system and calls the web service <service name> to perform data check operation”.
4. Download the System Trace
Note the time frame down during reproduction of the problem, and obtain the system trace for that time period. If there are connections to other systems during the recreation of this issue, obtain the traces for those systems in that time period as well.
5. Download the System Info
Obtain the versions information for the system, including the kernel, the database, as well as the components deployed on the system.
6. Open the Message in the Correct Component
This is an extremely critical step to getting timely feedback. When opening SAP messages, one of the first fields that is required is the Component field. This tells SAP on what specific component of that system does the problem exist. Getting this wrong means that the problem will not be looked at by the right team and needs to be forwarded to a different team, and that means more delays.
If you have no idea what component to choose, note down the components of the SAP notes which were most relevant to your issue during prior research. Then simply copy that component into your message’s Component field.
7. Attach Documents
Be sure to attach at least the following in your initial submission, or risk at least two weeks of wasted time:
- Step by step reproduction of the error with screenshots and descriptions
- System traces
- System info
8. Open Message with High Priority
If at all possible, open the message with at least High priority. SAP replies to High priority messages at least twice as quickly as Medium priority messages, that is on average a 3-day improvement per reply. Forget about Low priority completely, you might as well not open a message if opened as Low. Simply enter High in the priority field, then describe in sincerity that the problem is holding up testing and impacting the project timeline.
9. Add Relevant Contacts
Don’t forget to enter the people who may want to receive emails on SAP’s communications in the Contacts & Notifications section. This also improves efficiency when you’re busy or unavailable, and someone else on your team can handle the message.
10. Be Polite but Firm and Clear
The language that you should use in a message is polite and clear. Be very organized with your approach to describing any steps you tried, and be clear in questions you may have. Avoid asking 10 questions in one reply, and avoid describing steps with block paragraphs. Use lists and numbered items. Always use “please” and “thank you”. I find that saying “We really appreciate all your help” goes a long way. SAP’s support teams are comprised of human beings, too, so treat them like human beings.
Over the years, we have seen so much wasted time on software problems all because messages are poorly managed. Most of the issues come in the form of bad communication and organization skills, and a lack of understanding of the structure of SAP messages. Utilizing this guide is important because it can help contribute to a successful project that is on time and on budget. Check out my instagram at sap_nerds, or find me on LinkedIn Juichia Che.