SAP Change Control: SAP Solution Manager ChaRM or a Third Party Alternative?

Considerations when selecting an SAP change control technology

Effective and efficient SAP change control has become a hot topic of recent days and so discussion around what is available by way of automated change control technologies is increasing. It was no surprise then that our TechEd experts lounge presentations last month attracted a number of attendees whose organisations were in the process of weighing up the value of a third party technology relative to the free SAP Solution Manager ChaRM.

When selecting an SAP change control technology there are two broad categories to bear in mind.

The first are the higher level strategic considerations around time frames, requirements and actual cost to implement (generic to almost any technology selection process) and the second are the finer detailed technical aspects of the technology that make it work.

1. High level strategic considerations

Here are four key strategic elements to think about. These relate to the not so obvious underlying costs that can be easily overlooked.

   1. Elapsed time to full productive use
   2. Cost to fully implement (internal resource days and external consulting days)
   3. Degree to which the final solution will meet requirements
   4. Ongoing costs such as user training and user acceptance

If a technology is required in order to deliver a major project, for example, and the project start date is fixed, then elapsed time to productive use will carry sign
ificant weight in the consideration process and may even rule out certain options.

2. Technical detail considerations

It’s not just about whether or not a technology can meet the technical requirement, it’s also about how the requirement is met, ease with which it met and to what extent it is met.

Here are ten common SAP change control technical requirements to consider.

   1. Degree and method of automation
          – Transport migrations (and underlying TMS configuration requirements)
          – Transport sequencing
          – Workflow alerts and notifications
   2. Configuration flexibility
   3. Overtaking and / or overwriting protection
   4. Methods of linking supporting documentation with the changes
   5. Ease of adding or subtracting SAP solutions landscapes or SIDS
   6. Ability to enforce use and/or compliance with the process rules
   7. Support for N and N+1 landscape scenarios including procedures for:
          – Cross system locking (objects and configuration)
          – Retrofi
t of N into N+1 stream
          – Cut over
          – Auto BAU change capture for retrofit
   8. Method of support for multiple solution environments
   9. Support for ABAP and non ABAP technology stack changes
  10. Transport dependency management techniques

Depending on the nature of your SAP environment, complexity of landscape and volume of changes each of the above will carry different levels of importance and so, for example, a significant difference between how one technology manages an N and N+ 1 landscape will carry little benefit for an organisation running a simple three tier, single solution (e.g. ECC) environment.

‘Horses for courses’

SAP change teams have varying needs, a wide range of expectations and experiences and different change control requirements meaning any number of technology solutions could suit an organisation’s brief. For many, SAP Solution Manager ChaRM will be a great fit whilst for many others something like Rev-Trac, an out-of-the-box, mature and ready to run solution may be the better way forward for them. The mistake many make however is in not considering the strategic and technical aspects of solutions before embarking on or settling on a solution by default.

Rick Porter
Vice President Business Development           
Revelation Software Concepts