Many companies using SAP have been struggling to keep up with SAP’s accelerated release schedule for new updates and functionality in recent years, particularly when migrating to S/4HANA. Limited collaboration, clunky change processes, and poorly planned testing are common complaints, leading to compliance issues, business disruptions, project delays, and budget overruns. In some worst-case scenarios, deployments at Revlon and Haribo failed so miserably that they made the news.
SAP customers can avoid making similar high-profile mistakes by reading up on the current trends, strategies, and solutions to common issues in SAPInsider’s 2022 Benchmark Report.
SAPInsider surveyed 154 IT professionals around the world about DevOps, their SAP change management and testing goals, challenges, and tools. Respondents completed an online survey and provided feedback in customer interviews.
Highlights From the Report
Companies continue to face big challenges in delivering high-quality software rapidly, particularly when it comes to transforming their SAP change delivery and testing processes, mindsets, and introducing new tools and methodologies.
Here are some of the most interesting findings from the report:
Many organizations are dissatisfied with their change management and testing functions (40% of respondents), citing the following failures:
- Poor requirements planning and roadmaps (37%)
- A lack of appropriate tools and delays in provisioning test data for dev and testing (34%)
- Immature Agile/DevOps capabilities and ineffective collaboration among teams (33%)
David Lees, Chief Technology Officer at Basis Technologies, says that a lot of SAP customers still struggle with fundamental issues that prevent them from fixing their change management and testing functions.
“They need to improve their current quality and change governance,” he says. “Even things like auditability, separation of duties, and more traditional challenges. These need to be dealt with before they can meet new demands.”
SAP S/4HANA migration plans have a catalytic effect on change management functions, including pushes for:
- An increase in the use of test automation (50%), integration testing (47%), end-to-end, process testing (45%), and usability testing (31%)
- The implementation of Agile or DevOps before or during the SAP S/4HANA migration (28%)
Before taking up the mantle of CTO at Basis Technologies, David Lees worked as the global SAP program manager at Procter & Gamble. He witnessed first-hand the titanic shift that can occur within a company during a SAP transformation.
“P&G underwent a major SAP upgrade in the mid-2000s with no automation,” Lees says. “They decided to run the old SAP landscape and the new landscape in parallel as they were building it out, but they didn’t have the right tooling in place at that time, and they lost control of which changes needed to go in.” Ultimately, P&G had to restart the project multiple times.
P&G would later upgrade their SAP system again in 2018 to S/4HANA, but this time Lees suggested they use ActiveControl, Basis Technologies’ automated change delivery technology.
“The biggest benefit of using ActiveControl was its dual maintenance, which allowed them to manage the changes between the old and new landscapes with automation,” he says. This resulted in a far more efficient and consistent system post-transformation.
“Companies can use S/4HANA migration to improve on a lot of systems. Day-to-day change, governance, reduction in risk, increasing automation, increasing efficiency, reduction in errors, etcetera.”
More organizations are implementing an Agile or DevOps strategy for SAP (42%) by:
- Enabling early collaboration across SAP and non-SAP IT and business teams (32%)
- Introducing Agile or DevOps strategies in SAP S/4HANA Cloud (57%); business apps (52%); SAP S/4HANA (50%); analytics, business intelligence, and data platforms (45%); and SAP Fiori/SAP UI5 (42%)
“About 5 years ago or so, no one was doing Agile in SAP,” David Lees says. “It’s definitely lagging behind what we would expect to see in other industries, where there’s no question about using Agile or DevOps strategies.”
There is a lot of evidence to suggest that Agile and DevOps are much more efficient approaches to implementing software changes, and SAP teams are starting to feel the pressure.
“Integrating these approaches into how we orchestrate changes between the SAP and non-SAP worlds is an aspiration for most of our customers,” says Lees.
A significant portion of organizations continue to use outdated tools, but that’s beginning to change:
- Spreadsheets are still in use for change management (42%) and testing (40%)
- Most respondents are either implementing or evaluating AI/ML tools, especially for testing (51%)
- Modernization in change management is happening with CI/CD or pipeline orchestration tools (48%); Agile process/backlog tools (43%); change/release management tools (41%); and ABAP source/version control tools (37%)
“SAP grew up in an era prior to test automation, and a lot of other things that more modern software packages take for granted,” says Lees. “It can be difficult to change these old ways of thinking.”
Lees sees a definite correlation between implementing best-of-breed tooling, such as automation that eliminates repetitive manual tasks and retaining high-quality developers. The more SAP teams lag behind, the less attractive these jobs are to potential employees.
Modern tools also help reduce delays and confusion when employees leave the company. “In SAP teams, it’s common for certain employees to be the glue that holds a whole process together,” says Lees. “If they leave, the team is scrambling. But when knowledge is codified in a workflow automation tool of some kind, there’s less risk should the company lose one of those developers.”
Top Report Recommendations
What do all of these great insights mean for your company? SAPInsider boiled down the advice and insights from survey respondents into four top recommendations:
- Use SAP S/4HANA implementation as an opportunity to modernize change management and testing functions
- Make a deliberate push to retire old, manual tools (including spreadsheets) that can no longer meet the demand for rapid, high-quality deployments
- Improve collaboration among IT teams and between IT and business with processes and collaboration tools
- Upskill teams in Agile/DevOps, AI/ML, process mining, and enable bottom-up modernization for maximum adoption across SAP and non-SAP teams
“At the end of the day, each of these improvements is about making the lives of developers easier,” says Lees. “Implementing automation, upskilling, improving collaboration; they make the whole process more enjoyable for everyone involved.”
Read the Full Report for More Insights and Recommendations
Download SAPInsider’s full Benchmark Report to get further insights into the survey data and really dig into how SAP professionals around the world are improving their processes.
About Basis Technologies
Basis Technologies provides automated change delivery technology engineered specifically for SAP. Our market-leading software enables companies to reduce costs, improve agility and lower risks. With release automation and governance, fully auditable change processes, and support for major SAP projects, like the move to SAP S/4HANA, customers can readily adapt to changing priorities and market demands. Contact us today to find out how your team can achieve tangible business benefits with modern SAP change automation.