Transports for Copies: A Love/Hate Affair
For SAP teams, Transports of Copies (TOCs) tend to be a lot like Marmite, the (in)famous UK spread.
Which I suppose I’d better explain before I go any further (though any Australians familiar with Vegemite may already get what I’m aiming at). The point is that Marmite is famous for being either loved or hated. There’s not generally much fence-sitting in the yeast extract-based spread arena.
And TOCs seem to produce a similar response: most SAP pros either love them, or hate them.
For an increasing percentage of our customers - particularly the ones that have switched over to ActiveControl having previously used TOCs as part of other change and release management tools - they generally fall into the former category. They love the fact that they can leave the original transport open (i.e. modifiable) whilst they test the change in QA. And they love the fact that by making subsequent fixes against the same original unreleased transport, they can reduce the number of transports eventually deployed to Production when testing is completed.
ActiveControl, our SAP DevOps automation tool, has long offered a TOCs capability for those TOCs-loving users. It was added back in 2014 to support one of our Utility clients, and has steadily been re-used by newer customers ever since. But it has never been quite as easy to set up new customers over the years as we’d have liked, often requiring User Exits (delivered by Basis Technologies) to achieve the necessary customer-specific workflows. This sometimes slowed down implementation of ActiveControl and made maintenance trickier for end users, and also took time away from our internal development team. So although it was a good feature, the design wasn’t ideal.
To address these challenges, ActiveControl 8.40 - released in January 2021 - introduces a powerful new configuration table to make our customers (and indeed our delivery consultants) much more self-sufficient in the setup of TOC-based processes. The new table enables easier setup of the following optional capabilities:
- Ability to automatically create / release of the TOC based on a particular approval (eg Unit Test signoff or Peer Review signoff of the original Transport Request (TR))
- Ability to automatically create the Transport Form for the TOC - including Type/Group metadata - and a new ability to define whether the TOC is assigned to either the original TR owner or alternatively to the RFC user.
- Ability to automatically lock/unlock the original TR during the TOC process, to minimise the risk of the original Transport being approved prematurely whilst TOC testing is still taking place.
- Ability to restrict the TOC process to certain SAP landscapes, and even to certain types of SAP change, by linking it back to conditions defined within the ActiveControl Rules Engine. (For example, some customers might not want Security or Basis transports to trigger TOCs, or they might only want to use it on Project Change but not Production Maintenance Change within a single-track SAP landscape).
- Ability to define if the release of the original TR on successful TOC testing should be based on either
- a) Approval of the original TR in the Dev Target
- b) Approval of the TOC(s) (eg in the QA Test Queue)
- A new ability to prevent TOCs of TOCs being created, something several of our existing Marmite-loving customers had requested over the years.
If you are interested in finding out more information on how Transport of Copies could help your organisation in your delivery of SAP change, or indeed want to know more about ActiveControl and the new features available in version 8.40, please get in touch with our team of experts, who’d be happy to give you more details.