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Announcing ActiveControl 8.0: SAP Certified on S/4HANA

People often say that the opening line is the most important part of any story, so in this one I’m going with the following: “[We] treat Basis Technologies as a trusted strategic partner.”

That quote, from a long-standing user of Basis Technologies’ automation software, sums up our approach to customer relationships. We always strive to work closely with our clients so that we can deliver value on a long-term basis, not just as a one-off.

A big part of that process is listening to what SAP users need and making sure our products evolve in response, so I’m delighted to confirm the announcement of ActiveControl 8.0, the latest version of our powerful SAP change automation software.

Before we get into the detail of what ActiveControl 8.0 offers, let’s talk about SAP S/4HANA. I think most people would agree that managing the transition to S/4 effectively is going to be one of the biggest SAP-related challenges for some time. What’s more, it’s rapidly becoming a problem of today rather than tomorrow (Gartner predict a ‘tsunami of S/4HANA adoption between 2021 and 2023’). That’s why ActiveControl 8.0 is already fully SAP Certified for use on S/4HANA, ready to support both the transition and on-going changes once you’re up and running. (It’s also SAP Certified on Netweaver for those still getting ready for the move.)

But aside from being S/4-ready, what does ActiveControl 8.0 offer? New features include:

  • New approval functionality, including a powerful rules engine;
  • New and enhanced DevOps analyzers;
  • Extended Web UI functionality;
  • Integration with Eclipse ABAP Development Tools;
  • Air Gap Solution;
  • Enhanced use of Transports of Copies;
  • HP Service Manager integration;
  • Enhancements and extensions to custom fields and audit reporting; new utilities.

Let’s take a closer look at some of them.

New approval controls; powerful rules engine

Approvals might seem unexciting but they have a big impact on the efficiency of SAP change processes. They can also come back to haunt you further down the line – such as when you can’t find that specific e-mail trail or critical piece of documentation at audit time. That’s why so many users love the approval automation ActiveControl provides, and why they often ask for it to do even more!

In version 8.0 we’ve obliged with some key new features. First and foremost is a powerful new rules engine, which supports the creation of sophisticated, flexible approval workflows. The rules engine provides a central point for definition of client-specific approval processes based on the attributes of projects, business tasks and transports – something that’s extremely useful in complex landscapes and change processes. Best of all, it’s built on an extensible framework so there’s scope to extend it to other areas of the SAP change management process in future.

On top of the rules engine we’ve improved two other key areas of approvals: skipping (automatically bypassing of approval points based on defined rules) and control levels. Skipping rules have become more user-friendly and versatile, while new reusable skipping templates can introduce much-needed clarity by massively reducing the number of rules needed. In addition, approval controls can now be much more granular. Different individual approvers can be defined at specific points in your workflow, according to a number of criteria like SAP module, whether changes are related to BAU or a project, type of change (e.g. BAU vs incidents vs emergencies), and so on.

We plan to publish another blog soon that will dig into more details about the rules engine and new approval controls, so watch this space!

New and enhanced DevOps analyzers

The concept of ‘shift left’ is critical to a DevOps approach, which ActiveControl is designed to enable, so version 8.0 improves on its popular suite of out-of-the-box analyzers. New analyzers – Impacted Batch Jobs and Version Comparison – combine with enhancements to existing favorites.

The clue is in the name for Impacted Batch Jobs: it provides visibility into the batch jobs that will be impacted by objects in the transports you plan to import into Production. Version Comparison, meanwhile, highlights other in-flight versions of objects being changed to warn about potential conflicts.

We’ve updated our integration with SAP’s Business Process Change Analyzer (BPCA) to support the latest functionality available in Solution Manager 7.2, provided greater control and granularity over the output from our SAP Code Inspector integration (note that SAP now consider Code Inspector to be part of ABAP Test Cockpit) and extended the Deep Impact Analysis to include BW and Gateway objects.

Extended Web UI features

ActiveControl’s Web UI is used by more and more of our customers, especially those working across geographically distributed teams where client-less, browser-based access to the tool is a major benefit.

Changes to the Web UI in ActiveControl 8.0 make it even easier to use and navigate, and a number of key functions have been added that were previously only available via the Windows client application. Based on user feedback, these include the ability to add External Transports, see historical Analysis Check results, maintain Transport Dependencies and access the ‘Add to Import Queue’ functionality (used to allow users to reapply transports into systems).

Integration with Eclipse ABAP Development Tools

An increasing number of SAP teams are looking to take advantage of the latest technologies and adopt new ways of working, so we’ve added a new integration with Eclipse ABAP Development Tools.

This supports SAP Cloud Platform development by allowing ABAP development carried out in the cloud to be automatically registered into ActiveControl transport forms for full control and visibility.

Air Gap Solution

We’ve been talking about this for a while, and now it’s officially part of the latest ActiveControl release. Check out this blog for more details.

Enhanced use of Transports of Copies

Transports of Copies (ToCs) are becoming a standard part of the change and release process for many of our customers (some have used them to reduce the volume of transports created during development by up to 30x).

New ToC functionality in ActiveControl 8.0 adds extra help for teams who want to increase the overall quality of transports being imported into Production, and reduce the total number of transports in the landscape. ToCs can now automatically be generated from the transports that a developer creates, with any errors found during testing of the ToCs being automatically integrated back into the original transports.

HP Service Manager integration

ActiveControl 8.0 includes a number of features designed to increase efficiency. Our new HP Service Manager integration provides yet another way to reduce error-prone manual re-keying. HPSM tickets get automatically created in ActiveControl, and selected updates are automatically written to the Business Task to avoid duplicate manual effort.

And there’s more

In addition to these key updates, ActiveControl 8.0 provides a variety of other improvements, including enhancements and extensions to custom fields, new reporting capabilities and some additional utilities.

Last but not least, finding time to safely install the new version won’t be a problem. The ease and simplicity of ActiveControl’s installation process mean that the upgrade can typically be completed in just a few days.

ActiveControl 8.0 will be available in May 2019. If you’d like to find out more about what it can offer, request a free demo.

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