New & Improved Business Process Management in SAP Solution Manager 7.2 – now with an integrated process modelling tool!
The previous Solution Documentation and Process Management functionality of SAP Solution Manager 7.1 was, let’s be honest, far from perfect. When used correctly, it was a valuable asset; it gave customers a central repository to store and share information about the SAP solution and was of great value to the technical support teams, allowing them to understand the processes in use and how they were configured.
However, it didn’t quite meet the goal of establishing a common understanding of the SAP system between both the Business and IT departments. The Business found it too technical to be useful and preferred to use 3rd party products, such as ARIS, to meet their process modelling needs.
SAP have listened to these criticisms and have spent a huge amount of effort reworking the Solution Documentation and Process Management capabilities in the latest release of SAP Solution Manager 7.2. In fact, this is the one area that has seen the most radical transformation. Gone are the previous 3-level modelling limits; instead we now have unlimited modelling capabilities, including a state-of-the-art BPMN graphical modelling tool which provides true integration with other ALM functions such as Business Process Monitoring and Change Control Management.
Below we discuss some of the key concepts and changes:
In 7.2, the ‘Solution’ is now a container for ALL of a company’s systems, applications AND processes. This includes documentation of both the ‘As-is’ (productive) and ‘To-be’ processes (those in work with your IT project and/or maintenance teams) in so called ‘Branches’. This represents a significant step change in how documentation will be managed in Solution Manager 7.2, and (when combined with the other factors below) will significantly improve the possibility of ongoing maintenance from that which we saw in Solution Manager 7.1.
- Productive Branch – representing the ‘As-Is’ processes and documentation that describe the real world usage of the SAP system
- Maintenance Branch – representing the editable version of the process/solution documentation. This can be integrated with the Change and Request Management (ChaRM) functionality to help ensure that the documentation is automatically upgraded as minor software changes and corrections are delivered.
- Additional Development Branches (as required) – Used by your implementation teams as they are in the Explore and Realisation phases of major SAP projects.
This concept allows for the reuse of components stored in the library (see below). The technical objects (transactions, programs, configuration nodes, etc.) are referenced by the different branches so that they can have a productive state and, potentially, several development states. The key takeaway is that these ‘Branches’ allow 7.2 to move away from the confusing ‘Solution’ and separate ‘Project(s)’ concept of 7.1 such that a ‘Solution’ truly can become a ‘Single Source of the Truth’ showing the ‘As-is’ and ‘To-be’ system processes.
Note; the previous ‘light touch’ Project Management capabilities of 7.1 are replaced by the IT Project and Portfolio Management (IT PPM) functionality in 7.2.
Libraries in 7.2 are key to promoting the reuse of components across the elements of our new Solution. Think of these as categorised containers for the different elements of our SAP system.
From the ‘bottom-up’ we have the following types of libraries:
- Development Library – A list of the custom code (‘Z’ and ‘Y’ Programs) added to the SAP systems.
- Executable Library – A list of the programs and transactions that are used during the operation of the SAP systems.
- Interface Library – A list of the interfaces to/from the SAP solution.
- Configuration Library – A list of the configuration activities performed to support the build of the SAP system.
- Process Step Library – The documentation that describes the process steps (e.g. Create Purchase Requisition) in use in the system.
- End to End Business Processes Library – This is where we model the scenarios (using the BPMN modelling tool) and processes by reusing the process steps, interfaces and technical objects held in the other libraries.
As these elements are available in libraries, we can easily select and reuse existing components in our process design and associated BPMN diagrams.
As per the previous Solution Manager 7.1 functionality, none of these library components have to be created from scratch; they can all be reverse engineered from the usage details of your productive SAP systems. Alternatively, if you’ve already invested heavily in Solution Documentation in 7.1 this can be migrated to the new structure through the ‘Content Activation’ process of the upgrade process.
This is probably one of the most exciting new pieces of functionality in 7.2; the integrated BPMN modelling tool (click the image below for a bigger picture):
In SAP Solution Manager 7.1 there really wasn’t a suitable way to draw process flows. Sure, there was an attempt in the SOLAR01/02 transactions and an also some effort went into developing a graphical Business Blueprinting tool – but, simply put, they didn’t work very well. As a result, SAP customers found themselves needing to utilise other 3rd party modelling tools in order to support process blueprinting/design activities. This was not just expensive, but without true integration into the operational tools supporting and maintaining the SAP systems we have frequently seen examples of these diagrams becoming out of date, thus reducing their long term value.
In 7.2 you have a state-of-the-art Business Process Modelling toolset fully available, therefore allowing you to better support the full lifecycle, not just the ‘To Be’ phase. Some of the key benefits this tool will bring follow below:
- Integrated, Web based experience
- BPMN 2.0 Compliant (e.g. we can model processes, roles, events, data objects, gateways, etc.)
- Support for multi-level hierarchies (more than the previous 3 levels!)
- New processes are created based upon the stored library of objects, thus promoting reuse
As mentioned above, one of the key benefits of this new approach is in its integration with other aspects of SAP Solution Manager functionality. From the initial shipment of Solution Manager 7.2, integration will be possible with the following functions:
- Requirements Management
- Project and Portfolio Management
- Change and Request Management
- Test Management
- Business Process Monitoring (see image opposite)
Of particular importance is the integration with the Change Management tools. Through integrating with ChaRM we will now be able to ensure that our process documentation is kept up to date throughout the lifecycle of the SAP solution – not just from a technical viewpoint, but now in a way that both the IT and Business Teams can use to understand the workings of these complex SAP systems.
If you’d like to find out more about the major changes in SAP Solution Manager 7.2, or have specific questions on how the new Process Management tools could help your business, please contact us now. We’re always happy to help.