Task and Requirement Management – SAP Cloud ALM or SAP Solution Manager?
Both SAP Cloud ALM and SAP Solution Manager help you manage the activities of implementation or transition projects. Which tool fits better for your SAP S/4HANA Cloud project from the task and requirement point of view? In this blog post, I want to investigate this question. This is part of my blog series on Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) for SAP S/4HANA Cloud.
The functionality to control the achievement of all required project activities is called Requirement and Task Management in SAP Cloud ALM. It is named Project Management in SAP Solution Manager and its free-of-charge add on Focused Build. But I do not want to focus on different names or different user interfaces here. However, this naming shows a first significant difference: SAP Solution Manager offers a complete IT project management solution while SAP Cloud ALM focuses on implementation and change projects only. Which type of project do you want to support with your ALM solution?
To ensure that all required activities are executed successfully, you need a list of these activities first. Both SAP Cloud ALM and SAP Solution Manager rely on the implementation roadmaps provided by SAP Activate. They guide you through the implementation of different SAP solutions.
In SAP Cloud ALM, you can assign the roadmaps as task template to your project. Read How SAP Cloud ALM consumes roadmaps from SAP Activate Methodology for details. There are 8 task templates available currently, including six versions explicitly for SAP S/4HANA Cloud. In addition to the tasks from the SAP Activate Roadmap, tasks from the SAP Readiness Check and SAP Central Business Configuration can be integrated into your project as well.
For SAP Solution Manager, go to the SAP Activate Roadmap Viewer to browse the available roadmaps. There are 18 SAP Activate roadmaps available in SAP Activate Roadmap Viewer now. If you want to run other projects than those supported by SAP Cloud ALM, SAP Solution Manager might be your preferred choice. Read the blog post How to use SAP Activate Roadmaps as project template for Focused Build to understand how to import and use SAP Activate roadmaps in SAP Solution Manager. Tasks from SAP Readiness Check are supported as well.
Tasks have descriptions, links to related tools, and multiple attributes. For example, tasks can be assigned to project phases, due dates, workstreams, deliverables, or solution processes. They can be allocated to teams, roles, or individual project team members. Both ALM tools allow you filtering the task list to easily find relevant tasks. Maintaining the task status is the foundation for analyzing the current project status or doing project reporting.
Besides the activities from the generic implementation methodology, your project will have activities for doing the specific configuration needed to implement your business requirements on your SAP S/4HANA Cloud system. Both SAP Cloud ALM and SAP Solution Manager support the documentation of these requirements and deriving project tasks out of them. However, the workflow for doing so is different.
SAP Cloud ALM provides a standard process for handling requirements. You and the process experts from the line of business discuss how the business processes shall be implemented on your SAP S/4HANA Cloud system. In so-called Fit-to-standard workshops, you analyze good practices from SAP and document needed adjustments as requirements. You can create user stories and project tasks for a requirement for decomposition and clarification. After the requirement has been approved, fulfillment will be tracked via the status of the project tasks and user stories. Creating sub-tasks for tasks and user stories is possible as well. You can use tags to separate different types of requirements. However, the general workflow for handling these requirements in SAP Cloud ALM is standardized.
SAP Solution Manager in combination with Focused Build provides different pre-configured workflow variants to cope with different types of change. There are several types of requirements:
- Gap: A completely new development which needs to be specified in detail with significant ‘as-is /to-be’ evaluation, often with no technical information or idea how to realize it at the beginning. The technical design is fully done by the developer with the help of a technical design document.
- WRICEF (workflows, reports, interfaces, conversions, enhancements, and forms): Typical extensions, where no business background needs to be described. The consultants often know already how to implement and configure. Specifications are often already a mixture of functional and technical design.
- Fit (configuration): For changes without coding adjustments, but only customizing. The specification is often an existing standard configuration guide and only customizing documentation needs to be maintained
- Non-Functional requirements are used for documentation upload or parameter settings without the need to document a functional specification.
And different change paces are supported by SAP Solution Manager and Focused Build (see table below). Focused Build offers different transaction types for running these variants:
|Trigger||Business disruption or standard change||Improvement request||Transformation projects, new solutions|
|Deployment||Unbundled on request or bundled with release||Bundled with release||Bundled with release|
|Time to Delivery||1 day – 1 week||~ 1 month||3 – 12 months|
In SAP Solution Manager and Focused Build, you have pre-configured implementation flows for these requirement and task management options.
Project reporting is another important aspect of project management. Both SAP Cloud ALM and SAP Solution Manager support you on this.
In SAP Cloud ALM, you have the Project Overview app to get quick information about the status of your project, tasks, requirements, and more. You can use Gantt chart views to display the project schedule and dependency relationships between activities. And there are analytical apps like project progress reporting, task distribution, task trend analysis, story points completion trends, or requirement traceability. The values are calculated automatically. You can include them easily in your project reporting.
In SAP Solution Manager with Focused Build, the Solution Readiness Dashboard helps you to manage and track your projects successfully. It ensures transparency on status, progress but also on overdues, risks, and issues. Compared to SAP Cloud ALM, the dashboard provides more information. For example, you can also check the availability of documentation like functional specifications or technical design documents. And you have the option to see not only the status of a single project but of multiple sub-projects at the same time.
The answers to five questions indicate if SAP Cloud ALM or SAP Solution Manager fits better for you from the task and requirement management point of view:
- Do you focus on support for implementation and change projects only or are you looking for a complete IT project management solution?
- Are the available SAP Activate roadmaps in SAP Cloud ALM sufficient for you, or do you plan to use other SAP Activate roadmaps as well?
- Is the SAP Cloud ALM standard workflow for implementing your requirements sufficient or do you need more flexibility?
- Do you need information for your project reporting that is provided by the Solution Readiness Dashboard but not by SAP Cloud ALM or available elsewhere?
- Does the cost/performance ratio allow you to opt for the pricey version?
This will add five new rows to your decision table introduced in one of my earlier blog posts.
Please feel free to add your comments or related questions to this blog post below.
Task and requirement management is just one aspect when discussing if SAP Cloud ALM or SAP Solution Manager is the better ALM solution for you. Find similar discussions on other aspects in my ALM for SAP S/4HANA Cloud blog series. <go to previous post> <go to next post>