SAP problem solving approach
Understand the issue/ ask for clarification
Understanding an issue is utmost important step to provide quality & precise solution. Ask for more information if issue description or details are not sufficient to understand the problem. Generally business users provide the actual documents, scenarios. If not, then ask for the same. One can politely ask if user has any test case in lower environment (which we can readily use for our investigation)
Some commonly asked questions by consultants to understand the problem & decide investigation approach are_
- Since when the problem is persisting
- How many users / locations are facing this problem.
- Is there any workaround available?
- Does this problem is specific to any environment / org unit/ vendor / material etc.
Not necessarily all above questions will be answered, but any minute information can lead to faster resolution. Take a broader look at the problem.
Easy problems can be judged by just observation. Confirm your finding and communicate to business.
However, life isn’t easy always, issues could be more complex and required detailed investigation.
Replicate the issue in lower environment
They say, if you can replicate the problem is lower environment, you already solved it halfway.
Try to replicate the problem in lower environment as close as to original one. Try using same (at least similar) master data, org units, transactions. It’s important to choose right master data/ org data. it can give you clue to the problem. Sometimes the problem persists to specific org unit/ master data. Use broader perspective.
In rare cases, even with all similar data the problem never gets replicated, don’t lose hope. Take a different approach. There could be numerous reasons issue is not being replicated.
Make a judgement – very important
By now, you must have your initial judgement ready. Issues can be broadly classified in below areas (I have tried including most common)
- Master data issue – Some recent changes or incorrect master data
- New configuration / changes imported
- Incorrect business/ transaction process followed
- Bug in custom objects
- Standard SAP issue (Very rare)
- Authorization, basis etc
- Not known yet L
Let’s take a closer look at approach one should follow per their classification.
Master data issue: this generally happens when new master data introduced in system. Or some has recently changed the critical master data. Check the recent changes, compare it with time when the problem has been started. Compare master data of successful / non-problematic cases.
New configuration / changes imported: Check changes recently imported to system. Recheck whether these configuration/ custom changes are compatible with all business scenarios. It should not conflict any existing process.
Incorrect business/ transaction process followed: Sometimes users follow incorrect steps/ transactions. If you suspect this, then clarify with business again. Compare it with standard operating procedures.
Bug in custom objects: This will need detailed technical analysis. Take a help of ABAP Consultant. He best way to get maximum out of ABAP consultant is to give them maximum information. Keep successful/ broken test cases ready for comparison. Keep variety of master data ready before you begin analysis. Give additional information about problem and provide your analysis done so far.
Standard SAP issue (Very rare): either your ABAP consultant will confirm it or you judge it by experience that the issue is standard and need SAP intervention. Before raising the issue to SAP, try searching SAP notes, SAP wiki, SCN blogs etc.
In most cases, you will find suitable SAP notes. Communicate the same to your developer. Check compatibility and take necessary steps.
If you don’t find the note, then you can raise a message to SAP.
Confirm your finding
Validating the analysis is another important step. Sometimes we may judge the problem incorrectly, the only way to confirm is to validate.
Run multiple test cases with different master data, transaction data. Try making changes in problem objects and rerun the cases. Make sure the probable resolution will not cause further issues in different areas. Check compatibility of your solution for different business processes. In short, the solution should be full proof.
Communicate to business
Once you confirm the resolution you are ready to communicate your findings to business.If you are following any specific template / format of communication, then adhere the same.
The most common way is to break it in three parts
Cause of issue:
Try to include test cases used for validation, document numbers, screen-grabs. Try to make it crisp, to the point and covering all possible information.
Decide follow up actions
Operational issues can be fixed by providing analysis and resolution steps. However, many issues may require configuration changes, master data changes or ABAP object changes.
Follow the necessary steps defined by your project. It may need to convert/ create change request to implement the resolution planned.