Achieving transparency of the core business processes is one of the fundamental requirements of any large corporation nowadays. The starting point for reaching this goal is the correct and comprehensive documentation of all the business processes. There are many applications like Aris, IBM BPM which helps documenting the business processes into multiple levels like upto 5-7 levels but in SAP Solution Manager only 3 level of documentation is possible. All the business processes are to be broken down into 3 levels namely Scenario (L-1), Process (L-2) and Step (L-3). All other information like transaction codes, programs, test cases etc. are to be assigned to these levels, mostly to L-3 i.e step level. However documenting these business processes can be achieved in various ways like adopting processes directly from the SAP Business Process Repository (BPR) or creating your own documentation. These different approaches of documentation need to be analyzed so as to arrive at the best suitable approach.
The objective of this document is to explain the different options available for documenting the core business processes in SAP Solution Manager. SAP generally suggests 2 ways of documenting that is either directly documenting the business processes as they are being followed in the organization or using the SAP BPR and doing a Reverse Business Process Documentation (RBPD) analysis on it to identify the actual processes being followed in the organization. However there is also a hybrid approach possible utilizing both the above mentioned approaches and arriving at the final documentation. The objective of this document is to explain these approaches along with its pros and cons.
3. Documentation Approach
The 2 main approaches generally recommended by SAP are 1) Customer Specific Documentation (using excel upload or manual approach) and 2) Adopting Industry Specific Documentation (performing RBPD on the BPR content). Both these methods have got its advantages and disadvantages and thus a third hybrid approach can be adopted to overcome the disadvantages of the previous 2 approach. Let’s have a look at all the approaches in more detail.
A) Customer Specific Documentation:
This is the simplest way of documenting the business processes. This approach involves documenting the business processes directly in Solution Manager by creating a Project. You can open the Project in Solar01 transaction and start documenting the business processes by adding the scenarios, process and process steps. Once 3 level documentation is complete you can start adding more information like the transaction codes, process documentation, test cases etc. and update the graphical flow to enrich you documentation.
Documenting the processes in this way is time consuming as at every level you need to save the information in the system like after adding the process steps or after adding the transaction to any particular process step. To make this manual operation faster SAP has provided and excel upload functionality in which you can download the excel template for the particular project and then fill in the 3 level business process details as per the defined format and upload the structure to the Project. Once the 3-level structure is created in the Project various excel templates can be downloaded for updating the other details like transactions, documentations etc. Finally the graphical flow can be maintained for the business processes.
1. Crisp documentation as per the actual business processes being followed in the organisation.
2. Easier and faster documentation using excel templates.
1. Business processes might not be as per industry best practice.
2. Possibility of missing out on certain business processes.
3. No clear information / usage analysis about the standard SAP objects & custom codes leading to the possibility of missing documentation.
This approach can be used when the business process experts are very much sure about the business processes being followed in the organisation and they have it documented in any word or excel format or in any other application like Aris. Also thebusiness experts needs to be very sure about all the custom codes being used in the SAP system so that they are not missed out while documentation.
B) Industry Specific Documentation
Adopting industry best practices can ensure that the business processes followed in your organisation are as per the industry standard. To ensure this SAP has provided the BPR content which includes the best practice business processes being followed across various organisations. The content is directly available in Solution Manager and can be added to the Project by using the F4 help. The business scenarios added in this way has comprehensive documentation like the business processes with its process steps, transaction codes, process description etc. However since this is industry best practice documentation it contains exhaustive list of processes and steps for each scenario with all the possible transaction codes and at the same time will not contain any custom code developed by the customer. To overcome this RBPD analysis can be performed on the project containing the BPR processes. The RBPD analysis will match the BPR business processes with current usage in the managed system and will indicate the business processes which are actually being used in the organisation. The analysis also provides the list of custom codes along with the usage analysis so the business process experts can identify any missed out custom code and add them to the proper business process steps.
1. Head start in documentation as ready to use business process with its assignments are available from the BPR.
2. Ensure your business processes are aligned to the industry best practice.
3. Get standard SAP process documents, configurations objects, test cases etc.
1. The BPR has an exhaustive list of processes and steps so a thorough analysis of the structure is required to decide what is in scope for your organisation.
2. Time consuming activity of defining SQL queries (check steps) needs to be performed in order to get accurate result. All the check rules have to be tweaked as per the customer configurations to get proper results which also requires lot of business process experts involvement.
3. Business process experts need to analyse the custom codes and manually assign them to the relevant nodes after the RBPD analysis.
This option is more advisable for the customers who do not have proper documentation of their current business processes as the BPR content can give them a head start by providing standard documentation.
C) Hybrid Approach
Considering the above 2 cases and to overcome their disadvantages a hybrid approach can be thought of. This involves the documentation of the current business processes which are being followed by the organisation into a Solution Manager Project. Ensure all the process and its steps are documented along with the custom codes which are being used in the managed system. After arriving at this level of documentation perform the RBPD analysis on the Project. This will help verify the current documentation as well as throw up some custom codes which are being used and have being missed during the documentation. There can be possibilities where the documented step might not be currently in use which can then be kept out of scope.
1. More precise documentation closer to the one actually being followed.
2. Time consuming activity of deciding the scope is eliminated (compared to approach ‘b’).
3. Lesser time in assigning the custom codes. (only the missed ones needs to be assigned)
This approach is recommended for the customers who are having some basic documentation of the current business processes. This approach helps them to verify their 3 level structure as well as ensure that no custom object get missed.
Thus depending on the current level of documentation and considering the pros and cons of each approach a suitable approach for documentation can be selected.
About the Author
He is part of TCS RunSAP CoE team having expertise in SAP Solution Manager functionalities from ALM & RSlaF like Solution Documentation, SoDocA, Test Management, BPCA, BPMon, BP Analytic, JSM etc.