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Dirty Nappies and better SAP Change Management

The birth of my second daughter this week has definitely reminded me of the importance of good timing and the value of sleep.

I really couldn’t have timed my paternity leave better, arriving as it did at the start of a period of excellent weather here in the UK and also at the same time as lots of late night television coverage of the US Masters.

On the downside has of course been the lack of sleep, i.e getting woken up at irregular intervals through the night to the cries of a newborn infant wanting fed or their dirty nappy changed or perhaps simply because they are upset that Sandy Lyle had (yet again) missed the weekend cut at a Major.

Being awake at ungodly hours this past week has also rather ironically reminded me of various points in my career when I was performing various Service Management roles for a large SAP consultancy.

Around seven or eight years ago, I worked as an SAP Change Manager at a large public sector company.

Amongst my various responsibilities was that of coordinating weekly releases to Production. Each Thursday afternoon, I would organize all the necessary change approvals via email, put all the associated transports into a sequenced spreadsheet list and send that list off to the Basis team to import after business working hours.

They’d kick off the import using STMS around 7 PM, and invariably around 8 or 9 PM the same evening I would receive a phone call from them telling me there was some sort of problem, normally relating to an unexpected RC8 import error.

After some scrambling around trying to get hold of the consultant whose transport it actually was, the conclusion would inevitably be either:

  1. Basis had accidentally imported the transports in the wrong order
  2. The consultant had forgotten to perform some sort of manual activity in the Production system prior to the transport being applied… or perhaps worst of all…
  3. A dependant transport that the consultant knew nothing about had not yet got to Production and that what was causing the issue.

I normally got to bed around 11 PM or midnight most Thursday nights during that period of my career.

Roll on a couple of years and I was doing an Incident Management role at the same customer.

This time I didn’t get a call from Basis on Thursday night to tell me there had been an import error into Production. Instead, I got a call from the Service Desk on Friday morning to tell me that a High Severity incident ticket had been raised by the business.

Again, there would be scrabbling around for a few hours whilst the appropriate consultant identified the root-cause (invariably it was one of the SAP Changes being deployed incorrectly the previous evening), created a fix and pushed it through the SAP landscape.

If I was lucky, it got to Production by the end of the day and I got to leave the office on time for the weekend, albeit with the dark cloud of having to write a Major Incident Report hanging over me until the following Monday.

Fast forward another couple of years and I found myself doing a Service Delivery Manager role at another customer.

This time I was not responsible for getting SAP Changes into Production or for dealing with any resulting Incidents. I was the person responsible for getting it in the neck from the customer’s SAP Competency Centre team when they got it in the neck from the business end users about how long it was taking us to resolve critical business issues.

Unfortunately, this company was a global company, and so these business issues often occurred outside of UK working hours.

I recall many conversations in the middle of the night, trying to cajole exhausted consultants to work just a little bit longer to try and fix issues within SLAs.

I also remember having many parallel conversations trying to convince the tired and grumpy customer that everything was under control when quite honestly, it often wasn’t.

Reading back through this post, I already know that ActiveControl addresses and avoids 95% of the issues I refer to.

ActiveControl not only automates the process of moving transports through the landscape, it also eradicates the possibility of dependant transports being leapfrogged or manual steps not being performed at the appropriate time.

Worst case scenario and testing somehow miss an issue and results in a high severity Incident in Production, ActiveControl’s BackOut function could be used on Friday AM to revert out the change and get the business back up in minutes and avoid all those sleepless nights and awkward conversations with an irate customer whilst trying to get the business back up and running.

And the other 5%?

Well, unfortunately, ActiveControl does not have the functionality to roll back the years for aging Scottish golfers or indeed to automate the process of changing dirty nappies.

That said, it definitely can help reduce the number of times you end up in the brown stuff because of poor SAP Change Management.

To learn more about ActiveControl, book a demo

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