SAP OSS Notes: An Overview
SAP OSS Note
OSS stands for Online Service System and as the name implies, the service is accessible thru internet. SAP notes are part of SAP service portal. In simple terms, it is SAP’s Knowledge Base that specifically addresses known issues in SAP system. It is continually updated as SAP customers report issues in SAP system and SAP releases note with detailed instructions on how to fix / address the issue.
Most issues get fixed when SAP releases next version of the same component and hence it is very necessary to see applicability of a note with respect to the version where an issue is being addressed. Each note applies to a version and mostly all its predecessor version.
When to look for SAP Note
In a typical support environment, notes is the first place a consultant heads to when faced with an issue with SAP standard behavior. First step, when an issue is raised in SAP system, is to look for the source where the issue is observed. If one succeeds in locating the code causing issue, SAP notes come into picture if and only if the code where the issue is occurring is SAP code. Even if it is SAP Code, consultant should do sufficient analysis to ensure that there is no custom code that could be disrupting the info flow for regular SAP code like thru some user exit, BADI etc.
Once all custom code errors and data errors are ruled out, consultant can take a first level quick search in SAP OSS notes database by keying in the symptoms.
Note: To access SAP Service place, SAP S-User ID is required. A certified consultant usually has own S-user ID. However, when we are checking issues for a specific system which is associated to a client, it is better to use S-User ID by getting it from BASIS team.
Many SAP Notes will be retrieved based on the symptoms sorted by relevance. Consultant has to review notes to see if any of the notes are available for the issue faced. Once found, check for the release versions that the note applies to and ensure that the system where issues are observed are same or predecessors. Later versions will have the issue fixed.
If no SAP note is obtained, customer can always log an issue with SAP which will be addressed by SAP support but these are subject to SAP support contract etc. and hence always advised to be done after consulting BASIS support team and ensuring issues are logged with customer’s S-User for which support is available.
Understanding an SAP Note
An SAP note is available on SAP support portal but more often downloaded by consultants as PDF file either from SAP Portal or from SAP Transaction SNOTE. The Note has the issue details followed by the fix to it. Further it has certain header level info provided which, though appears trivial, is the first info that a consultant should look for before getting deep into it.
SAP Note No.
This is the SAP Note number that uniquely identifies the note in SAP OSS notes database.
This applies when viewing note from SNOTE. For a note that can be implemented, this gives info whether it is completely implemented or not.
This is a critical info for any note. This tells if the note contains any code corrections that needs to be implemented in SAP system or just contains info and / or instructions to circumvent the issue when observed. The note that has status ‘Can Be Implemented’ is the one that has code corrections in it and applying that will resolve the issue. How to apply the corrections is discussed in sections below.
The note that has status ‘Cannot be Implemented’ implies that there are no code level corrections that can fix the issue. Either SAP advises to avoid / take certain practice / steps to ensure the identified error doesn’t occur or just explains the system design and why the error occurs. Either ways, there are no code level changes and hence no action required per the note. Notes of this category are not discussed further in this document.
Summary of the issue that is being addressed in the note is mentioned here.
This specified SAP component that this note applies to. This is useful to rule out note usage for certain issues – for example if the note is for specific area and the observed issue is not in that area, this info helps to rule out any help from the note. So a note to fix IS-Oil component will not be of use if the system is not IS-Oil.
This section details out the symptoms, often accompanied by an example scenario, followed by the details of the error.
Reason and Pre-requisites
This tells why the error occurs and what the conditions that cause the error are. When given an issue and analyze if the note works for it or not, this helps to see if the conditions that cause the error are part of the issue making it a valid scenario for note.
This outlines and then details out the solution approach. For a note that can be applied, this is a list of codes that need to be updated followed by the code that has to be added/deleted/changed.
This is very critical. SAP clearly mentions the component version for which the note is applicable. The reason – SAP will fix known issues in future release and hence the issue described will only be observed in specified versions or earlier versions. More often, consultants end up digging up notes that are irrelevant because the notes are for older versions. This takes the issue off the focus as we tend to assume it is SAP Code issue than to look for real cause. Hence this has to be carefully checked before working on the note details.
In simple terms, SAP notes are correction instructions from SAP for known issues in SAP system. The corrections can be mainly categorized into two categories – Implementable and Non-Implementable. A note’s header section clearly mentions out if the note can be implemented or not.
If it is an implementable note, first, go to transaction SNOTE.
Click search button on top and enter the note number. If the note is already downloaded, system will point to it. Else, there is one additional step to download it.
If note is already available, ensure it is latest by clicking on ‘Download Latest version’ from menu as shown below.
- To download a note, go to menu option Go To à Download SAP Note.
Enter the note number and execute to download.
Once downloaded, search for note again and then double click note number to navigate to note details screen.
It is easy to notice various icons next to note numbers. They visually indicate implementation status for each note. The grey diamond indicates that note cannot be implemented. A play button indicates note can be implemented.
Notes that can be implemented, the best way to implement is thru SNOTE.
Thru SNOTE, we can check the implementation status of each SAP note. If the note says ‘Can be implemented’, then after ensuring that the note is required and can fix the issue, click execute button on top. System applies the note and updates the status whether the note was successfully implemented or not.
The code correction technical details can be obtained from the info tree on left. Select folder ‘Corrections’ and expand it. It lists the code corrections that will be done to fix the issue. Each correction mentions a code section from system followed by code changes in terms of insertion of code, commenting (deleting) the code or both.
Some notes need manual intervention and the note mentions how it has to be done – step by step. For e.g. if system requires to add a new data element or some entry in data dictionary followed by code changes then the note explains the same.
Note: When code changes are to be done manually, an access key is required to make changes to SAP code. This needs help from BASIS team as the object ID for the code being altered (e.g. include name) needs to be updated in SAP service place and then the key is generated. This key has to be entered in order to edit SAP code.
The purpose of doing this – each SAP installation is registered with SAP and hence SAP keeps track of which SAP code was altered and this comes handy during an upgrade or during a support request to SAP.
IMPORTANT: Since these are SAP code corrections, Transport Request will be requested while system applies the code changes. Be prepared to create/provide TRs – mostly workbench requests.
Uninstalling a Note
When a note is applied thru SNOTE by clicking execute, system allows to uninstall it as well. Technically it revert the code to original state. To uninstall a note, select ‘Reset SAP Implementation Note’ from menu as shown below.
This doesn’t apply if codes are changed manually by a developer and hence it is advised to keep a copy of code being altered either in system or as document in a safe place. Reverting note changes in this case is to again edit the code and put back old version, preferable from a system where the code is not altered or from a backup system.
Things can go wrong when implementing SAP Note. There are many ways to trouble shoot. Please note that the best way is to uninstall, if allowed, and apply again.
Other way is to perform a code comparison and see which sections of the code were changed. Now pull up the advised code changes from SAP Note – corrections folder and see what’s gone wrong and apply the changes manually.
Best practices while implementing an SAP Note
As we all know SAP clearly identifies SAP’s own code and customer’s code and treats them totally different. The SAP code was developed by SAP AG and is hence maintained by only SAP. When a code correction is applied per a note, the code that is affected is considered as altered.
Applying is SAP note is an easy task but there are certain best practices that can keep you safe and revert system in case the note doesn’t work or issues occur.
- Ensure note applies to the current version of system
- Prefer SNOTE application than manual application
- Create a backup copy of the code before applying note
- When applying manual note changes, clearly document the code changes so that it can be reverted if issues occur
- Never attempt to add any code other than what is in note when applying note manually.
- Never attempt to alter code / write code in own naming convention etc. than what is mentioned in note.
- When applying note automatically, ensure that the TRs (Transport Requests) are ready or the ID thru which note is being applied has sufficient rights to create TRs.
Notes are to fix issues but are still CODE CHANGES. Hence the functionalities need to be thoroughly tested after note application no matter how trivial the change is.
End of Document