De-mystifying DevOps: Integrated Quality Management ‘Shifts Left’ Operations Readiness
Integrated quality management is driven by key roles, proven methods and powerful tools that ‘shift left’ operations readiness. Continuing from the previous blog in this series, we discuss how the Quality Manager for Integration Validation and the ICC do it.
The Innovation Control Center (ICC) is one of three control centers in the SAP Control Center Concept. During the ‘Explore’ and ‘Realize’ phases, the goal of the ICC is to help ensure cost-effective, modification-free implementations that enable IT to build SAP solutions like a factory. By helping to minimize customization and meet business requirements on standard SAP software code, it is possible to reduce IT complexity and lower maintenance costs while maintaining the agility to capitalize on innovative new solutions that can be integrated with your standardized environment.
Integration Validation is the focus of integrated quality management during the ‘Realization’ phase and during integration testing, the Quality Manager for Integration Validation is accountable for the technical readiness of end-to-end business processes. Testing integration, function, performance and security are among the key activities to mitigate risks for a smooth and successful go-live. Moreover, it is a proactive approach that ‘shifts left’, or, addresses operational concerns earlier in the application management life-cycle. With the support of the Innovation Control Center (ICC), interfaces are checked for technical readiness, addressing scalability, performance and data consistency. Per business process scenario, the following are investigated and analyzed:
- Transactional data consistency. This includes checks that transactions are posted completely or not at all, whether they are in a single system or component, or posted to several components at the same time.
- Exception management ensures that all exceptions (technical and business) are logged adequately (with enough context information). Exception management also covers atomic (single location) exceptions, and process flow-driven (multiple location) exceptions.
- Business process completeness checks determine whether all business process instances of a business process type comply with the business process type-specific pattern.
- Exception management procedures are checked. For example, validating that exceptions are documented by guided procedures, identifying whether an alert, incident, or notification is generated, and whether required resolution steps for common exceptions exist in the form of guided procedures supported by knowledge articles.
- System integration and queues in distributed systems are checked end to end for; consistent business transactions (across system components), forward or backward recovery of business transactions, inconsistency checks, and restart procedures for batch driven integration.
- Performance and scalability are ensured by checking that end-to-end trace and business process KPI tools are implemented, monitored and captured by Business Process Analytics and Business Process Monitoring.
- End-of-Day and volume processing is validated by checks determining whether end-of-day jobs and processing are completed on time, taking account of the dependencies between processing steps.
During the ‘Realization’ phase, the Quality Manager for Integration Validation plays a key role in the management of Quality Gates. A Quality is a control point defined between project phases to verify all key deliverables and actions have been completed in compliance with best practices. Quality gates minimize project risk while improving transparency of the project by; formally assessing the quality and integrity of the project deliverables, using formal checklists throughout the life of a project, requiring formal sign-off and acceptance at each gate, ensuring the status of a business process in implementation are communicated to the correct stakeholders during the project.
Here again, ‘systems thinking’ is embodied in integrated quality management. The Quality Manager for Integration Validation has not only to be concerned with preparation for tests and technical readiness of business processes, but is also responsible to contribute to the success during the subsequent ‘Deploy’ and ‘Run’ phases. During the ‘Realization’ phase, the Quality Manager for Integration Validation does this with a focus on transport management and operational readiness.
During the ‘Realization’ phase, the Quality Manager for Integration Validation is among those responsible to prepare for transport management. The main objective is to ensure the SAP Standard for Change Control Management is established. The ‘systems thinking’ outcome is that transports are executed with the appropriate level of approval, in the proper sequence, and compliant to best practice in order to avoid transport errors, transport failures, and high numbers of resulting incidents.
During the ‘Realization’ phase, the Quality Manager for Integration Validation is also responsible to ensure that the current IT operations practices are documented and updated. That includes ensuring solution documentation are made available to operations teams. Moreover, the measurements and checks performed during the integration validation activities inform the technical KPIs, operations handbooks, and tools for application operations and business process operations, as outlined in the SAP Standards for Solution Operations.
The Quality Manager for Integration Validation provides input to quality gates on these key deliverables established in the ‘Realization’ and ‘Deploy’ phases. And in doing so, shortens the feedback loop on the solution quality, avoids the transport of defects downstream, and ensures operational readiness.