Cockpit for Successful Upgrade Projects

SAP Solution Manager connects to all components of a system landscape, allowing business processes to be upgraded, implemented, tested, and even monitored in an integrated manner and avoiding duplication of effort and information. At the same time, it directly addresses certain upgrade-specific cost drivers, such as project management, test management, implementation of new functionality, and end-user training. Other known cost drivers, like modification adjustments or technical upgrades, can also be attacked by SAP services available through SAP Solution Manager.
SAP Solution Manager addresses upgrade challenges by offering and enabling

  • the integrated suite, including Test Workbench functions (savings in testing effort and costs)
  • process- and role-oriented creation of learning material, as well as an easy deployment, and flexibility to update material at any time (reduction of costs for training material and end-user training)
  • integration of SAP Upgrade Roadmap and with SAP Solution Manager as the central service delivery platform (reduction of upgrade project risks).

A methodology for any upgrade project

Upgrade Roadmap
Upgrade Roadmap

The Upgrade Roadmap is content providing a methodological guideline to assist customers in their upgrade ventures. This roadmap is available as part of SAP Solution Manager (Release 3.1 onward). At its core is a generic, phase-oriented activity guide for upgrading components. These include analysis of the status and targets for business processes and underlying IT infrastructure before and after the upgrade, upgrade configuration, and testing of upgraded processes. Along the way, accelerators link directly to SAP Solution Manager functions, SAP services and other SAP resources to launch supporting contents, such as best practices documents, how-to’s, and project templates that speed the upgrade process.

Upgrade Content
Upgrade Content

By connecting users automatically to the right resources at each phase of the upgrade project, the Upgrade Roadmap allows them to tailor the guide to their chosen upgrade path (such as from SAP CRM 2.0 to SAP CRM 4.0), using predefined, path-specific content delivered with the Upgrade Roadmap. Users navigate directly to supporting upgrade functions in SAP Solution Manager to manage and report on their system landscape, and to document and test their business processes. They may also track their project activities, making extensive use of documentation management, status tracking, and problem message handling. In a nutshell, the Upgrade Roadmap provides access to all documentation sources relevant to technical and functional system adjustments at the time needed.

Phase one: project preparation

With SAP Solution Manager, customers start by creating a new upgrade project in SAP Solution Manager’s project administration screen. The resulting upgrade project bundles all forthcoming upgrade activities and results.

System Landscape Analysis
System Landscape Analysis

In the initial phase of an upgrade project, the IT infrastructure for system components of the SAP solution in use should be specified. Initial system data can be downloaded from the System Landscape Directory, a system directory tightly integrated into SAP NetWeaver. This information can be enhanced in SAP Solution Manager so that users get a complete picture of their system landscape. From SAP Solution Manager’s System Landscape Analysis screen, users can select parameters to report on, for example software components and support packages of the product to be upgraded, related SAP systems that are part of the solution, third-party products, or database software and patch level. This system landscape information can also be downloaded as an Excel spreadsheet, for example, and serve as the basis for the target definition of the IT landscape. In addition, customers should document or verify existing business processes and documentation, such as interface and modification documentation. By ensuring that all such information is uploaded into SAP Solution Manager, they store and manage all documents centrally, for a complete picture of their “as-is” landscape.

Phase two: upgrade blueprint

The next step is to identify business processes and functions that are changed or new in the upgrade release. This information can be retrieved via the Upgrade Roadmap, which is linked to SAP Service Marketplace release notes and to information stored in SAP’s Product Availability Matrix (PAM). In this phase, customers define how to handle modifications and interfaces, create new test cases, or evaluate existing ones for their upgrade validity. Whatever format current test cases may be in, SAP Solution Manager allows to simply upload and store them centrally or to include third-party testing tools. Additionally, initial concepts for training have to be determined. SAP Solution Manager serves as the central point to access, reuse, or create this kind of information – which comes in handy for better managing knowledge transfer from the project team to end users. Existing SAP Solution Manager customers benefit from the centralized documentation of their past projects and can quickly adapt this information to their new upgrade project in a structured manner.

Phase three: upgrade realization

Configuration Settings
Configuration Settings

In this phase, the Upgrade Roadmap assists customers with access to proven SAP technical upgrade tools like the Upgrade Assistant. Configurationwise, instead of going through all the IMG activities, and evaluating each one for the new or additional configuration settings needed, SAP Solution Manager facilitates these steps: Based on SAP component release notes information, all upgrade-relevant IMG activities are automatically determined and proposed for configuration in SAP Solution Manager’s upgrade configuration functions. To prevent overlooking any relevant IMG activity that may be missing, SAP Solution Manager also lists those configuration activities that are not assigned to the upgrade project – to be reviewed as well.
After configuration is complete, upgrade testing can start. Using the integrated testing suite in SAP Solution Manager, including Test Workbench functions, users can generate process-oriented test plans based on the test cases that were verified and assigned back in the Upgrade Blueprint phase. They may split test plans into smaller test packages and assign test packages to testers, who will then perform acceptance tests according to the specified test packages. The test organizer tracks all relevant test activities and status including problem messages, on a single screen using SAP Solution Manager’s test reporting function.

Phase four: final preparation for cutover

Learning Map Builder
Learning Map Builder

System and integration testing finalize the test series to make sure that business processes are running smoothly after the upgrade. To inform end users of the changes resulting from an upgrade is a critical step for maximum user adoption. Based on the training concepts set up back in the Upgrade Blueprint phase, training material can be prepared rapidly and easily with the e-learning environment, namely the Learning Map Builder, integrated in SAP Solution Manager. Training experts can create role-specific Learning Maps. After opening the learning materials, such as SAP Tutor study units, PowerPoint presentations, or other documentation that was included in the project during configuration, training experts drag and drop the appropriate items from their project structure list to their Learning Map Structure. By selecting the “Open in Browser” button, they can preview exactly what end users will see in their browsers. From here, the training experts can distribute Web-based training material to end users.

Beyond upgrades

SAP Solution Manager covers implementation of new solutions and support for operation well beyond these phases and is included in the SAP standard maintenance agreement. All SAP customers can receive the complete SAP Solution Manager package, including upgrade content and the roadmap methodology.
Just as SAP Solution Manager content helps save time and money during implementation, the same holds true for upgrades. Predefined SAP upgrade and scenario content can lower TCO, and a clear upgrade methodology will help reduce time to benefit. Those customers who already use SAP Solution Manager in their implementations will see even more benefits during upgrades – the data stored in implementation projects can serve as the starting point for their upgrade project, and SAP Solution Manager’s monitoring functionality can provide operative solution data, including systems and business processes, for upgrades. SAP Solution Manager provides building blocks that prepare future application management challenges. For example, upgrade projects can serve as the initial basis for new implementation projects. All information may be copied completely or selectively into new implementation projects, so customers do not have to start from scratch. The Customizing Scout – part of SAP Solution Manager’s Customizing Synchronization suite – enables users to cross-check whether all upgrade customizing was transported correctly into the quality assurance and production environment. Upgraded business processes and solution landscapes can be productively monitored using Business Process Monitoring.
Since business is constantly changing – sometimes even before an implementation or upgrade project is finished – customers also need a powerful and sophisticated tool to handle all these alterations: SAP Solution Manager 3.2 addresses these challenges with the built-in Change Request Management functionality.

Source: SAP Insider