Process Management – SAP Cloud ALM or SAP Solution Manager
Both SAP Cloud ALM and SAP Solution Manager provide Process Management functionality. What is the difference? This question becomes relevant when you decide which ALM tool to use for your SAP S/4HANA Cloud project. Let me share some details. This blog post is part of my blog series ALM for SAP S/4Hana Cloud.
Process Management means designing, implementing, and documenting your business processes as they shall be executed by your business application. You do so by creating models of your business processes and assigning documentation to them.
SAP Best Practice Process Models
You do not need to start from nothing. You can use SAP Best Practices as the foundation for your process modelling. Both SAP Cloud ALM and SAP Solution Manager can access the models in Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) representation. However, they do not use the same repository for this.
For SAP Solution Manager, you download the packages with SAP Best Practices process models from the SAP Best Practices Explorer. There are three packages available for SAP S/4HANA, which can be imported into SAP Solution Manager.
- SAP Best Practices for SAP S/4HANA Cloud
- SAP Best Practices for SAP S/4HANA (on premise)
- SAP S/4HANA Chemicals trial with industry best practices
SAP Cloud ALM uses another repository for the SAP Best Practices: The SAP Enterprise Architecture Reference Library. This is planned to be the central modelling tool and library for SAP’s business and solution processes in the future. SAP Cloud ALM can access the repository directly – no download/upload is required anymore. Unfortunately, not all available SAP Best Practices packages have been migrated to the new repository yet. Besides others, two packages are available today especially for SAP S/4HANA Cloud. They contain 1.165 solution processes:
- SAP Best Practices for SAP S/4HANA Cloud
- SAP Intelligent Enterprise Suite
Custom Process Models
Apart from using the SAP Best Practices process models, you can also model your own business processes. Both SAP Cloud ALM and SAP Solution Manager provide a BPMN modelling environment for this. If one of your business processes is not available as SAP Best Practice process model, you can add it as custom process. And it is not only creating new models. You can change the custom processes. In SAP Solution Manager, it is even possible to create a copy of an SAP Best Practices process and change it (see below).
You can create detailed process models. However, you can also create easy models, that just list the process steps involved in a business process. Just choose the level of detail that fits your approach.
When we talk about copying processes, versioning becomes crucial. If there are multiple versions of a process, you need transparency on which one is the active one. The versioning concepts of SAP Cloud ALM and SAP Solution Manager differ significantly.
SAP Cloud ALM uses lean versioning. There are only two options for a process: Either it is active, or it is in draft mode. Whenever you activate the draft version, it will replace the previous active version. And you can create a new draft version from the new active version again. This might be sufficient for many cases, e.g., for maintenance and easy enhancements.
Process Management in SAP Solution Manager provides a more sophisticated versioning concept using branches (See picture).
Two versions (maintenance branch and production branch) should be enough for the Fix and Enhance change pace (see my blog on requirement and task management). For more complex innovation projects, you can set up multiple branches. The recommendation is to use one branch for importing the SAP Best Practices processes. After selecting which of them you want to use in your project, you copy them to the next branch (Design in the picture above). There you design how they shall be implemented for your organization. After this, they will be transferred to a development branch. You can document all related developments and configuration there. And finally, the model will be transferred to the production branch at the end of the project.
Documenting the business processes is the most important part of Process Management for me. Adding information to the individual Business Processes or Process Steps ensures that all involved project team members understand how the business activities shall be configured and other people understand the configuration later.
In SAP Cloud ALM, you can add requirements, user stories, project tasks, and notes to the business processes and process steps (see my corresponding block post for details). The rich-text editor allows you to not only use written text but also include pictures or tables. And you can add links to documents located elsewhere if these links remain stable. More support for Solution Documentation is planned, but not available yet.
In SAP Solution Manager, you can describe the processes / process steps in written language as well. SAP Solution Manager contains a document management system. You do not need to link to documents stored in other repositories. You can upload and use them directly with the Process Management capability of SAP Solution Manager. This mitigates the risk of getting broken links in your Solution Documentation.
Typical use cases of such documents in Solution Documentation are detailed business process descriptions, functional specifications, technical design documents, test cases, or information regarding involved executables, development objects, or configurations. These types of documents are covered by the pre-configuration provided by the SAP Solution Manager add-on Focused Build. If you define which types of documents are needed in your project, you can check easily if all the required documentation is available.
The availability of re-use libraries is another advantage of SAP Solution Manager in Process Management. The same executable, development object, interface, configuration setting, or even process step can be used in multiple business processes. If you document these objects in the corresponding library, the documentation will be available in the documentation of all business processes that use the object.
This is just a description of SAP Cloud ALM and SAP Solution Manager key differences regarding Process Management. If you want to find out which ALM solution fits better for your needs, here are five questions you should answer:
- Are the available SAP Best Practices in SAP Cloud ALM plus the option to model our own business processes sufficient for us, or do we need more SAP Best Practices processes?
- Are we fine with the lean versioning concept of SAP Cloud ALM, or do we need more than two versions of the same process in parallel?
- Do we need external documents (e.g., specifications) included directly in our Solution Documentation, or is it enough to have the written documentation in SAP Cloud ALM with stable links to further documents located elsewhere?
- When will your project start? Both the functional scopes and the available SAP Best Practices content in SAP Cloud ALM are enhanced rapidly. If you plan to start your project next year, you should not decide now but maybe in half a year.
- What about the cost/performance ratio? Does it rectify to choose the pricy version?
In case you have started creating your decision table about your ALM solution of choice (as proposed in an earlier blog post), just include them as additional rows.
Do you agree or disagree with my arguments? Please add your comments below.
Stay tuned, Process Managements is just one aspect for selecting between SAP Cloud ALM and SAP Solution Manager. I will continue posting blogs in my series ALM for SAP S/4HANA Cloud. Go to: <start of series>, <previous post>, <next post>.