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Author's profile photo Robin Haettich

IT Automation: Background Job Request and Documentation with SAP Solution Manager

An important capability of efficient effective operations and a conditio sine qua non for intelligent enterprise and digital transformation is automation management, aka background job management or job management. The concept and toolsets are by no means new, the author remembers his sessions educating audiences at SAP TechEd a decade ago on SAP Solution Manager Job Management. Moreover, please find a recent overview here. In this article, a list of process variants for background job/IT automation request and documentation management are briefly outlined. The most recommended process variant is further detailed. The presented process instance reflects an actual implementation, some data has therefore been blackened or masked.

Job Request and Documentation Management Overview

End-to-End Background Job Request and Documentation Management enables the IT organization to establish an integrated automation life cycle management. After approval and documentation of background jobs, they are scheduled, monitored (Event Management) and optimized (Continuous Improvement) by the Operations Control Center using SAP Solution Manager Job Management.

Job%20Management%20Life%20Cycle

The general process follows this document flow. A Job Request is used to request Job Scheduling. Business users (Run, aka Ops) or project members (Build, aka Dev) submit basic or detailed job requests when they want to have a new job scheduled, an existing job changed, or an existing job retired. The job request is processed, i.e. approved or rejected. If approved, a Job Documentation is created (if new) or updated (if existing). This job documentation document per background job stores all job relevant information like job description, contact persons, error handling, further attachments and much more and ensures that all the overall solution documentation includes background jobs and IT automation.

Job Request and Documentation Management Details

The job documentation document is the central artifact of this process and its variants. It allows the central management of background processing for your entire system and solution landscape. As a brief recap, the main implementation options for end-to-end background job management in SAP Solution Manager 7.2 are listed below. Please note: Some of these options require recent Support Package (SP) levels.

Job request and documentation management can be implemented with or without integration with a dedicated central scheduling software system. In SAP Solution Manager 7.2, there are furthermore different UI technologies (WebDynpro versus Fiori) and process complexities (simplified versus comprehensive) available.

Process Variant A offers the classic implementation using (nowadays) Fiori UI (for Job Request document and Job Documentation document) and CRM UI (for ITSM Incident or Change Request). The difference between simple and detailed UI refers to the implemented comprehensiveness of the Job Request and Job Documentation document, i.e. number and type of fields to maintain the properties of the requested/documented background job.

Job%20Management%20Process%20Variant%20A

Process Variant B offers a minimalistic implementation, which does not make use of the Request Management functionality (sub-process). Rather, it promotes central Job Documentation only, with a built-in Job Documentation document status management, but without a processing status management governing the change.

Job%20Management%20Process%20Variant%20B

Process Variant C offers a modern implementation, which can be integrated into the request processing (aka processing status management/sub-process) of an external ITSM software system of choice. The documentation repository (aka the document status management/sub-process) is in SAP Solution Manager 7.2, embedded into its Solution Documentation. The overall process is started with a request for a new background job/automation, a request to change an existing background job/automation, or the deletion/removal of an existing background job/automation in the external ITSM system of choice.

Process Variant D offers a modern best practice implementation, which can use SAP Solution Manager’s ITSM or any third-party ITSM software for request processing (i.e. processing status management/sub-process). The documentation repository (i.e. the document status management/sub-process) is in SAP Solution Manager 7.2, embedded into its Solution Documentation E2E. The overall process starts with a Job Request Form e.g. from SAP Fiori Launchpad in SAP Solution Manager 7.2.

Job%20Management%20Process%20Variant%20D

Best Practice Implementation for Job Request and Documentation Management

Process Variant D is at present the favorable choice in many organizations, as it offers a good compromise between lightweight implementation, comprehensive functionality, and recent software innovations provided by SAP. Hence, this article outlines a run through the look and feel of this process variant from a user’s perspective. We assume an SAP Solution Manager 7.2 SP12. We only illustrate the process instance approving the request for creation of new job and do not outline other instances like rejection, change exiting job, decommission existing job, etc. The reader is invited to replay the steps e.g. in the SAP Solution Manager internet demo system (see details at the end of this article).

 

Submit Job Request

To submit a job request, assume persona/role Requestor. Feel free to use template user JM_L1_<SID> in SAP Solution Manager 7.2 for this persona/role.

Use SAP Fiori App Request Batch Job (Job Document + WF) to start the Job Request process instance.

Select Job Request type Create New Job.

Select Job type of choice, in this example, ABAP Job is selected.

Select the managed system which the job is requested for.

SID PRD is entered, the desired Logical Component Group is identified and selected.

Select and maintain additional attributes. Business Area, Region, and Country/Region is mandatory (and can be selected via drop down as per customizing).

Add step(s) of the ABAP job (in this case, job type ABAP has been requested).

Maintain General and Printer Settings (Output Management).

The job step(s) can be changed and rearranged as required.

Maintain Job Description and Business Impact.

Maintain Job Start Condition.

Maintain details for Start Condition and Job Execution. Mandatory fields include Job Frequency and Start Date/Time/Timezone.

A proposal for Job Name can be generated. Job Management proposes the job name based on a Naming Convention as per customizing.

Maintain Further Details. We recommend Restrictions, Spool List Recipients, and Error Handling. Especially Error Handling procedures should be maintained as they are the basis for Monitoring and Alerting, i.e. alert reaction procedures executed by the Operations Control Center. These procedures can be manual (e.g. with SAP Guided Procedures), semi-automated/attended (e.g. with Conversational Artificial Intelligence) and automated/unattended (e.g. with Robotic Process Automation).

Maintain Restrictions.

Maintain Spool List.

Maintain Error Handling.

Thereafter, Submit Job Request. Upon submission, a ticket in the ITSM system is created as per the integration scenario, i.e. optimally automatically.

 

Create ITSM Ticket

After submission of the Job Request Form,

  • the Job Documentation document is in status created (document status).
  • the Job Request ticket (ITSM ticket) is in status new (processing status).

 

Process ITSM Ticket

To process the ITSM ticket, assume persona/role Approver/Processor. Feel free to use template user JM_BPO_<SID> in SAP Solution Manager 7.2 for this persona/role.

Use the user interface of the ITSM system of record to process the ITSM ticket, type Job Request. This ticket has a URL link to the SAP Solution Manager Job Documentation skeleton, which the approver/processor now checks and updates.

After starting to process the ITSM ticket,

  • the Job Documentation document is in status in process (document status).
  • the Job Request ticket (ITSM ticket) is in status waiting for approval (processing status).

 

Update Job Documentation

Review data. Maintain Further Details, i.e. ensure that all details are provided.

In the Job Documentation document, use Validation to validate, i.e. execute checks for, the data maintained so far.

The checks run automatically. Their results are displayed.

Set the job documentation to Validated.

After validation,

  • the Job Documentation document is in status validated (document status).
  • the Job Request ticket (ITSM ticket) is in status approved (processing status).

Please note: The ITSM ticket in this article can be an SAP Solution Manager ITSM ticket (an SAP Solution Manager ITSM document type) or any external ticket. Of course, the status and status sequences of Solution Manager ITSM tickets and external tickets can be different, in reality they very likely will be. This article illustrates a case using an external ITSM solution. Moreover, this article highlights the implementation of a status exchange from document status to processing status (and vice versa). However, this status exchange can also be implemented such that the processing status is leading, i.e. document status change not to update the processing status change. For SAP Solution Manager ITSM, the standard behavior is the latter, i.e. processing status is leading, no deep, bi-directional integration between these two status sequences.

 

Schedule Job from Job Documentation

To schedule a background, assume persona/role: Scheduler. Feel free to use template user JM_TOP_<SID> in SAP Solution Manager 7.2 for this persona/role.

Use the user interface of Solution Manager Job Documentation document. Check the Job Start Condition. In case the job documentation in general, or the job start conditions needed to be changed, this can be done. In this case, the Job Documentation is set back to status in process, and the ITSM ticket back to status waiting for approval. The processor will then change data and validate data again.

Use Scheduling, select the system to schedule the job in, i.e. normally the scheduler finds here the systems of the logical components of the logical component group selected. In this case the development system (DEV), the quality system (QAS), the production system (PRD) of type APAB.

The data from the job start condition can be taken over to the scheduling user interface.

Use the Scheduling UI to check the job data and scheduling data one more time. Edit the Scheduling and change/check RFC Destinations as well as Start Time et al. Use Schedule to schedule the job in the managed system. Save the data.

Use further action buttons, to Change the schedule, Delete the schedule, Cancel a scheduled and running job, etc. Please note: in case the scheduler changed the job data in the Scheduling UI, tis data can be copied into the job documentation.

Set the job documentation to Production. Thereafter,

  • the Job Documentation document is in status production (document status).
  • the Job Request ticket (ITSM ticket) is in status confirmed (processing status).

 

Further Process Step: Configure Monitoring and Alerting Job from Job Documentation

Use Further Actions, Configure Monitoring for <System> (Client). If the monitoring configuration (i.e. the monitoring object) for the background job does not exist yet, it will be created. Confirm the pop-up.

In the Monitoring Object Details UI, edit and use the following tabs to enter monitoring and alerting relevant configuration data for the background job.

  • Identification > Check Identification Data
  • Schedule > Check Start Procedure and Schedule Data
  • Metric Configuration > Configure Metrics/Set Thresholds
  • Alert Setting and Data Collection > Configure Severity, Validity, etc.
  • Incident and Notification > Configure Auto-notification and Auto-incident

There are various metrics and alert types available. Save, Generate, and Activate the monitoring and alerting configuration.

A detailed configuration guide and user guide for Job Monitoring please find here. Thereafter, the job is immediately available in SAP Solution Manager Job Monitoring and Alerting.

In addition, Job Analytics and Dashboards are available out of the box. No further configuration is required. The following screenshots provide an example only.

Please note: Job Monitoring, Job Alerting (Alert Inbox), Analytics (Job Reporting), and Dashboards apps will only display configured background jobs if they ran in the corresponding managed system(s) at least once (such that job execution data is collected into SAP Solution Manager’s operations toolset).

More details please find in the SAP Solution Manager 7.2 Media Center. The SAP Solution Manager 7.2 Public Demo System invites interested parties to log on to an SAP Solution Manager 7.2 and try for yourselves.

 

Further information

SAP Solution Manager

SAP Solution Manager 7.2 Public Demo System

SAP Solution Manager 7.2 Media Center

SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation

IT Automation: SAP Solution Manager Job Management

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      8 Comments
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      Author's profile photo Peter Monaghan
      Peter Monaghan

      Forgive me if this comes off as a lazy question: We've been heavy users of Redwood for over a decade. I am trying to understand the overlap of capabilities with SolMan Job Mgmt and Redwood. In respects to this blog post I recognize the ITSM component and how to tie service requests, approvals, and documentation to jobs. I am interested in the job management capabilities.

      Author's profile photo Robin Haettich
      Robin Haettich
      Blog Post Author

      Hello Peter,

      Thank you very much for the comment indeed. A very good remark.

      First of all, let me refer to another article which – together with the references at the end of the article – outlines a bit more generally what SAP Solution Manager Job Management includes.

      As you can see, the scheduling itself is rather absent from both articles. And this is not a mistake, but part of the answer. SAP Solution Manager Job Management focuses on:

      • Job Request Management,
      • Job Documentation Management (embedded and integrated in SAP Solution Manager’s central Solution Documentation optimally),
      • to some degree Job Monitoring and Alerting (hopefully with business process context and not only technical, embedded in the customer’s OCC (Event Management) optimally),
      • to some degree Job Analytics and Visualization.

      It does not focus on Job Scheduling itself, i.e. SAP Solution Manager is not considered a (central) job scheduler. SAP BPA (fka CPS) by Redwood or Redwood’s central scheduling software products focus on the scheduling part. Of course, Redwood software provides monitoring and alerting and other aspects of job management, so with respect to the detect to correct process, there is some overlap. SAP Solution Manager Job Management can integrate with central scheduling software, see for example SAP Note 2502427 and related SAP Notes or this documentation.

      In the process instance outlined in this article, you see the Scheduling UI, which the scheduling user navigates to from within the Job Documentation document. This Scheduling UI can be tailored to the actual(!) scheduler used, e.g. an SAP ABAP system local scheduler (SM36) or e.g. a Redwood central scheduling system. The latter would receive the scheduling data from SAP Solution Manager (from the job documentation), and subsequently would schedule the job in the managed system.

      So, in essence, we recommend embedding the central scheduling (e.g. by Redwood) in an SAP Solution Manager provided end-to-end job management (aka lifecycle): from request, to documentation, to scheduling (via central scheduler integration), to monitoring (via Solution Manager and/or central scheduler), to continuous improvement, to eventual retirement.

      Yes, you are right, these job request management and job documentation management components we traditionally used the ITSM layer of SAP Solution Manager for, esp. the SAP CRM software component of SAP Solution Manager (this is more or less the classic approach, see Process Variant A). With SAP Solution Manager’s recent improvements and innovations, we recommend a modern implementation which does not necessarily utilize SAP Solution Manager ITSM functionality necessarily, but SAP Fiori applications (see Process Variants B, C, D). Of course, you can still use SAP Solution Manager ITSM functionality, e.g. Incident Management, Problem Management, Change Management, etc. in SAP Solution Manager 7.2, either in its own right or in combination with Process Variant D - as part of your end-to-end job management.

      Author's profile photo Matthew Harmon
      Matthew Harmon

      Great article.  Does this integrate at all with the IT Calendar?  I see this should be used in conjunction with something like Redwood, but curious if there is a way to see job dependencies?  Thanks for sharing.

      Author's profile photo Robin Haettich
      Robin Haettich
      Blog Post Author

      Hello Matthew, thank you very much for the comment indeed.

      Ad IT Calendar.

      The answer is unfortunately no, but I like the idea.

      First, for the actual scheduling of background jobs, SAP Solution Manager’s IT calendar is not relevant/integrated - and that is consistent with the statement that SAP Solution Manager is not positioned as actual job scheduler. As you say, you would use SAP Solution Manager Job Management in conjunction with either the local schedulers in the managed systems or the central scheduler of choice. The latter will have its (own) calendar to manage the background jobs.

      Second, for e.g. the regular review of Job Documentation documents I think this integration could make sense. As you can see, the Job Documentation documents offer the maintenance of a date at which a review of the documents shall happen (to make sure that the information is up to date).

      If there was an out of the box integration with IT Calendar, the review could be maintained and visualized as IT event or better IT task. At present, it is not done automatically, you had to enter manually (or create an enhancement to maintain automatically). To be more precise, you can (out of the box):

      Use Job Management’s own task management, but this task management is not integrated with the IT Task Management (and therefore not with IT Calendar).

        Use IT Task Management (part of Technical Administration), and manually maintain IT tasks which are integrated with IT Calendar.

       

      Ad Job Dependencies.

      Documenting job chains/dependencies is possible (I did not illustrate in the original article to not confuse anyone). If you have created individual Job Documentation documents for background jobs (which of course can have one or more job steps), you can create a Job Chain Documentation document.

      In the example above, I created a chain/dependency which foresees two jobs (instances) running parallelly and, after they successfully finish, three jobs (instances) to run sequentially.

      Please note that this example is just for illustration purposes; this example job chain does not make sense in reality 🙂

      Another option is to use Solution Documentation to visualize process step dependencies. SAP Solution Manager’s Solution Documentation lets you model business processes. You can create processes/variants in which the activities (aka business process steps) are e.g. run in background. This way, the process graphic displays – as steps - the jobs to run in parallel or in sequence.

      An additional benefit of this approach is that you could use the Solution Documentation process graphic(s) to add monitoring data. In the example above, the annotations indicate whether the steps, i.e. the jobs (instances), have been executed correctly (green) or not (red). Of course, this monitoring can be integrated in proper alerting (i.e. your Event Management process).

      Author's profile photo Matthew Harmon
      Matthew Harmon

      Awesome idea!  I co-chair the Solution Manger Influence Council.  If you don't mind, I can submit the idea as an enhancement request.  If needed, I can come back to you here if we need additional information.  Again, this is so innovative and such a great idea.

      Author's profile photo Robin Haettich
      Robin Haettich
      Blog Post Author

      Hello Matthew,

      thank you very much. Yes of course, please do so. Have a great rest of the week.

      Author's profile photo John Breen
      John Breen

      Hi Robin,

      Great blog.  It has been very helpful for us to understand the capabilities.  I have a few questions for you.

      1. For the Requestor, we see two Fiori apps for requesting a batch job.  I believe the difference between the URLs from our system is the Action parameter: Action-SimpleJobReq vs. Action-SimpleJobDef. What is the difference between the two and which one is used in this process?

      2. For the approval step, our validation does not set the ITSM Ticket to approved.  Is there additional ITSM configuration required for this?  If yes, is there any document describing that approval process configuration?

      3. When the job is submitted for approval in our system, we have to define the processor for the ITSM ticket.  Is the processor in this scenario the BPO ID or the TOP ID?

      Thanks for your help in advance.

      John

      Author's profile photo Robin Haettich
      Robin Haettich
      Blog Post Author

      Hello John, thank you very much.

      Ad 1)
      A very good question. Indeed, you can use various apps (or even start the process externally) in SAP Solution Manager to request a job.


      a) Action-CreateDetailJob?APPLICATION=WD_AGS_EJR_JOB_REQ_FPM_APP&JOBREQ_VIEW_TYPE=01

      This is the classic process variant. In the article I refer to it as Process Variant A (Detailed UI). In fact, this variant will create a dedicated (detailed) job request document in Solution Manager, which has to be transformed into a dedicated job documentation document via approval workflow (processing status management).

      b) Action-SimpleJobReq

      This is the classic process variant. In the article I refer to it as Process Variant A (Simple UI). This variant will also create a dedicated (simple) job request document in Solution Manager, which has to be transformed into a dedicated job documentation document via approval workflow (processing status management). In Solution Manager 7.1, (a) or (b) were the only possible options.

      c) Action-SimpleJobDef (this is the one I use in the example above)

      This is the more modern (and best practice) process variant. In the article I refer to it as Process Variant D, which I outline in more detail. This variant will not create a dedicated job request document in Solution Manager but uses different status of the job documentation document, which are set via the processing status management. See the example in the article.

       

      Ad 2)

      Yes, the processing status management needs configuration. In fact, you will have to decide on the process variant – and which (if any) ITSM software you want to use. If you use SAP Solution Manager itself, i.e. for processing the job request in and via either Incident Management or Change Management, this is mainly configuration (and for the experts let me mention that dependent on the SP level of the SAP Solution Manager 7.2 a few limitations may apply). If you use an external ITSM software (i.e. not SAP Solution Manager), you will have to integrate the same with SAP Solution Manager, use case Job Management. This means some development and thereafter configuration (which includes among other things the selection, sequence, and mapping of processing status).

      Job Management comes with its own guided configuration. Detailed documentation for SAP customers I am aware of are these documents:

      Moreover, for the configuration of Incident Management or Change Management in SAP Solution Manager there are dedicated Wiki pages available (and you find information in SAP Help Portal and SAP Support Portal as well). For the configuration of external ITSM software I refer to the vendor’s documentation.

       

      Ad 3)

      Yes, this is generally true. It depends again on which ITSM software you use. If you use SAP Solution Manager itself, e.g. Incident Management, the reporter is the user’s (the requestor’s) Business Partner (not the requestor’s user ID, in my example t JM_L1_<SID>). The business partner creation if part of the initial configuration/continuous administration effort. The processor is a business partner which the requestor/reporter has to enter (i.e. know). This is the individual or team which the job request is sent to for processing. You are right, in my example this is logically the Business Partner of user ID JM_BPO_<SID>. I am not sure right now but maybe this field can be automatically populated (to make it easier for the requestor/reporter).

      Of course, in the article above, I assume an external ITSM software, so the user interface looks different and I populate a Processor ID to send to the external ITSM system which has to be able to make use of it.

      Additional remark: In my example I distinguish between the processor/approver and the scheduler (user ID JM_TOP_<SID>), who would actually schedule the job. Of course, in real life this might not be a different role/persona and hence person at all. You could in this case combine these roles/personas, i.e. you could use the user IDs (if external) or business partners (if Solution Manager) of the combined processor/approver/scheduler users (these user IDs would have all the technical roles and authorizations required). Potentially a valid simplification.