Previous blogs describe the Operations Control Center (OCC) as an integral part of SAP’s best practice operational model for IT organizations. Examples of advanced topics and applications relevant in and for the Operations Control Center can e.g. be found in part 1, part 2, and part 3 of this article series.
Intelligent Usage of Data and Information in the Operations Control Center
Any IT organization consumes data and information to govern and manage information technology. This includes not only IT infrastructure and systems, what the OCC refers to as system landscape, but also IT supported and enabled business processes, called the solution landscape. In an SAP context you often hear the terms Application Operations and Business Process Operations. The Operations Control Center requires transparency to analyze and visualize IT processing in the system and solution landscape in scope, hence the author provides an example of using the new* Simplified Business Process Monitoring application in SAP Solution Manager 7.2 for that purpose.
Limitations of Classic Business Process Monitoring Applications
SAP Solution Manager 7.2 and equivalent software products provide classic Business Process Monitoring. Limitations of Solution Manager Business Process Monitoring are:
- Display of business processes for one site at a time only,
- Focus on last ratings instead of measured values for metrics,
- Lack of metrics from Application Operations added to Business Process Operations.
A site is a concept in SAP Solution Manager to separate solution documentation objects, i.e. business process variants, into locations or regions or other units which makes sense in a customer organization. A rating is the result of a comparison of the last collected value of a metric with the thresholds set for this metric. Generally, it is displayed as a rating value and color code (from green via yellow to red, implying imperative action recommended in case of yellow rating and immediate action required in case of red rating). Application Operations offer monitoring of systems (including Cloud tenants), interfaces, background processing and dialog processing, user experience etc.
Benefits of Simplified Business Process Monitoring Application
Simplified Business Process Monitoring is a monitoring application based on classic Business Process Monitoring in SAP Solution Manager 7.2 but extending this application to address its limitations. This means that classic Business Process Monitoring’s, and if you plan to include any Application Operations’ metrics then as well Application Monitoring’s technical configuration and activation is required as prerequisite to enjoy Simplified Business Process Monitoring. Benefits of this latest evolution of process monitoring are:
- Display of information for all sites in one screen,
- Focus on measured values supported by last ratings for metrics,
- Option to include metrics from Application Operations.
Moreover, a simplified visualization of business process monitoring is offered, with configuration options to consider only subsets of business processes, business process steps, and monitoring objects which are relevant for the Operations Control Center.
Features of Simplified Business Process Monitoring Application
The application provides a user interface with simplified business process flows, based on sequences of business process steps which are documented in SAP Solution Manager’s Solution Documentation**. Operators access Simplified Business Process Monitoring via SAP Solution Manager’s Fiori Launchpad, catalog “Business Process Operations”, group “Business Process Monitoring”, and application “Simplified Process Monitoring”.
Simplified Business Process Monitoring consists of an initial screen and three simplified views, that look similar, but display different information:
- Throughout View
- Backlog View
- Exception View
All views show measured values for metrics (also known as key figures) of monitored objects configured for Business Process Monitoring. In the example below, a throughput view is presented. Each measured value allows a drill-down to the respective detail list on the managed system itself using ‘SAP GUI for HTML’ (‘SAP GUI for Windows’ feature is not supported).
The view shows 4 business process steps, from Create Sales Order to Create Invoice. For each step, different throughput metrics are displayed and rated (see color code). The application also offers views for alerts (which makes this application an option to establish a unified alert inbox – explained in this article). Please note, the business process diagrams from Solution Documentation cannot be used in the Simplified Business Process Monitoring app because the latter uses a simplified view of the complete business process diagram, which can be very complex and created for other purposes.
Why is it necessary to configure Simplified Business Process Monitoring? Each customer, in fact, each enduser can decide on which information he or she would like to see in the Simplified Process Monitoring. Configuration options include which business process steps to display, which metrics per step to display (including the assignment of metrics from Application Operations), and where metrics should be displayed, i.e. the categorization into throughput, backlog, and exception. The determination which business processes and steps should be covered in Simplified Business Process Monitoring is based on relevance and is configured via scopes in Solution Documentation.
In particular, Simplified Business Process Monitoring requires:
- a business process and business process steps maintained in Solution Documentation to create the context for displaying your monitoring information,
- a scope created in Solution Documentation containing your business process,
- metrics for steps and interfaces and where to display them, i.e. assignment to Throughout view, Backlog View, or Exception view (unassigned metrics will not be displayed).
In the “Scope” section, a solution, branch, system role and a scope is selected via the drop-down menus. In the “Configuration” section, a business process from the scope is selected via the drop-down list. The steps and interfaces within the business process are displayed. For each step or interface, relevant metrics are selected. For Business Process Monitoring throughput and backlog indicators, there is a check against the metric category maintained i.e. metrics of category “backlog” are automatically assigned as backlog, “throughput” as throughput and “exception” as exception. This automatic assignment can be manually overruled. For Technical Monitoring, all metrics available in the monitoring and alerting infrastructure (SAP Solution Manager MAI) can be assigned to a system via “Assign Technical Metrics” by categorization assignment.
On each page view, there are filter options to focus on specific information, i.e. filter by
- rating – only display metrics which have a red rating, a yellow rating, a green rating, or a grey rating,
- monitor type – only display metrics which are configured for a monitoring type,
- monitor Name – only display metrics which are configured for a monitoring object,
- metrics/key figures – only display metrics for a metric name or names,
- systems – only display metrics for a system or systems.
In addition, there is an option to display alerts. Instead of the measured value the number of alerts is shown. Lastly, there is an option to select time periods. With the time selection, aggregated values for a time frame can be displayed instead of current values.
In combination with modern business process documentation, Simplified Business Process Monitoring offers a unified user experience, even central user interface, for throughput, backlog, and technical information in the context of business processes/functional flows. Its user experience offers views for different operators and fast insights into technical exceptions and business backlogs – enabling the Operations Control Center to address these issues immediately before they become incidents.
* Simplified Business Process Monitoring is available with SP10 of SAP Solution Manager 7.2. However, SP11 or higher is highly recommended.
** Solution Documentation is SAP Solution Manager’s central repository used for maintaining all content for implementing and maintaining both SAP and customer solutions. The Solution Documentation model is based on a hierarchical structure, which uses a solution as the single, central point of access for all Solution Documentation content.