Continuous Improvement and Operations maintenance
Running a SAP platform is a very complex and sometimes daunting challenge. This is the experience at a customer with a very demanding plan.
Operations needs to balance different projects and initiatives like:
- New Developments: new functionalities, Software Upgrades, Support packages. These are mayor changes that have undergo extensive development and testing as they heavily affect the platform.
- Production Defects: functionalities in PRD environments sometimes shows unforeseen scenarios or massive amounts of data requires performance improvement efforts. These defects usually are to be addressed very fast.
- Minor Adjustments: fixes, corrections, enhancement or new functionalities with very low efforts/impact.
- Platform Fixes: SAP Notes, Components upgrades
To face these challenges, this customer has decided to align three project lines:
Projects execution plan
As depicted here three new developments go-lives, three tehchnicas go-lives and 3 database fixes can take place in any 12 months period. This is where Landscape architecture comes into play, as there are several initiatives competing to access and modify systems clients.
Urgent fixes needs to get as soon as possible to PRD environment, that is why corrections, defects and SAP notes are applied at “Operations” landscape line. This allows “Current project” landscape line not to be affected immediately by the urgent changes. Now a new challenge arises: “Operations” and “Current project” lines are no longer aligned.
Enter the Retrofit. Changes are sent to the “Current Project” line from “Operations” line within control of project management, so it can be squeezed-in smoothly into the development/testing activities and plans.
Since project timeframes where very tight, a new landscape line was put in place: “Next project”. This line is used to allow new projects analysis and early development and/or configurations to be done, while “Current project” is still in place. Once “Current project” goes to “Operations Line”, Merge process starts, which moves all transport orders from BD0 to BD1 environment. Retrofit can be applied from BD1 to BD0 when necessary. notice here that black arrows shows transportation path within landscapes lines, while blue lines show transportation between landscapes lines (Merges / Retrofits).
Other environment, out of transportation paths, are “Performance” and “CutOver”. These environment are used to validate developments against higher data volumes (close to what they will find at PRD environment). This will help to performance test new and existing processes. “CutOver” environment is used to train the CutOver process, so the team can proof test it and also can find ways to reduce the total execution time.
This very intensive work has challenged development teams, as current and next project overlaps. Re-arranging development teams into: Analysis and Development will allows analysts to focus on requirement analysis, solution design and effort estimation, while Development team focuses on development, test and production support.
project team desing and sizing, governance and project management are key activities to keep complex landscapes to work in fast but controlled paced.