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In last year’s four-part series on running SAP “like a factory,” I talked about automation as the final frontier for realizing greater productivity.  Now let’s consider the other side of the automation coin – integrating all the links in the change control automation chain. See figure 1.

Integration

Demand for integration between critical software applications has grown during the past decade as organizations move away from single-vendor application strategies in favor of a mix of best fit applications. Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) software tools, such as SAP’s Netweaver PI and WebMethods, allow separate applications to work together, with data flowing seamlessly and automatically. No doubt your own chain of IT is probably like that – different applications or components from different vendors, implemented separately but integrated.

Although forecast by Gartner five or six years ago, integration between Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) tool sets is just beginning to materialize. In the SAP world, the availability of SAP Solution Manager, its inbuilt ALM toolsets and the growing acceptance of best of breed third party ALM tools, are generating thought around the benefits of integration to maintain a single source of truth across the enterprise systems.

Change control software as an integration facilitator

Due to its powerful enforcement and automation capabilities, organizations using Rev-Trac to handle their SAP change control are at an immediate advantage. Acting as an EAI facilitator automating data exchange between ALM tool sets, Rev-Trac becomes the central repository for all change related information and data flow. Users can be assured no information is mistranslated, left off or forgotten about and a single audit trail from beginning to end is visible for future reference or auditability.

Integrating the tools and enforcing a process around each tools’ various task, confirms that solution delivery is occurring with all of the necessary steps being accounted for. A good integration will ensure all relevant data is consistent, guaranteeing the technical reality, i.e. the changes within the SAP systems, match the records. Something auditors are very interested in.

Often, different teams are responsible for different parts of the change cycle. For example, project development, code and regression testing, basis, and BAU support, may be managed by different service providers. Things like cross development team communication, task hand off and so on create opportunity for human error and inconsistencies to creep in, or for short cuts to be taken. Effective integration between tool sets eliminates most, if not all, human data handling and resulting human error.

The overview discussed here makes it clear that ALM component integration saves work and hassles. If you are interested in talking in greater detail about this, get in touch with me at.

Next month I’ll take a look at Code Control and its importance both to automating change processes and integrating new solutions.

Figure 1.

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