Technologies & Products

Why dynamic backlog and release planning is fundamental to Continuous Delivery in SAP

More and more of our customers are moving towards Continuous Delivery in their SAP environments. As I’ve talked about in previous posts on this subject, automation, dependency management, and an integrated toolchain are essential steps in moving towards this goal.  

But one area that tends to get overlooked, at least initially, is the ability to manage the backlog and in-flight requirements effectively.  

In the perfect agile world, we create epics and stories – effectively chunks of requirements, which would all be bundled up together in a more traditional waterfall project.  These form your backlog, which goes through a regular prioritization and refinement process that defines which stories are fed into sprints for development, testing and deployment.  But, of course, real life rarely works in such a regimented fashion. What generally happens in real life is a lot messier – requirements get re-prioritized, unexpected new requirements emerge at short notice and business priorities can change in an instant. They unexpectedly become dependent on each other or become redundant altogether. This means that our nice, orderly, movement of requirements through the deployment process can be disrupted and it can be difficult to understand the impacts these scope changes will have when we eventually deploy to production.

This means that backlog management is a real challenge, as in the end there’s not much point in a process which allows you to regularly change development tack if doing so causes a whole bunch of new problems.

So, a tool that can cope with the reality of how the deployment process actually works and allows dynamic requirements management is an essential part of your CI/CD pipeline. But of course, it isn’t good enough just to be able to drag and drop requirements around in the backlog, or even while they are in-flight, from one sprint or release to another. Because in the complex world of SAP, this can have serious detrimental effects – transports can be applied to systems in the wrong sequence or dependencies between requirements not fully understood. A simple change, such as moving a story from one sprint to the next can cause serious issues.

ActiveControl – the market-leading SAP automation solution – allows companies to perform these scope changes with a simple drag and drop interface, but most importantly, enables them to analyze the effect of the change, before actually performing it.  

So, for example, if you want to move a story from one sprint to the next, or a change from one release to another, ActiveControl can run a set of analyzers to ensure that making this update will not cause any issues that could affect production stability or cause business outage.

It will check to make sure the transport sequencing has not been compromised, or that the requirements left behind are not in any way dependent on the one being moved. These types of automated checks give peace of mind that the scope change being made will not lead to problems in the future and allows customers to dynamically adjust their sprints or releases instantly, as business requirements change – whilst still preserving the correct approvals, governance and audit processes that are critical, no matter what pace you operate at.

So, however ‘messy’ the real world becomes, dynamic backlog and release planning is not just possible but can be performed with ease and certainty.

If you want to know more about dynamic backlog and release planning, please watch our webinar recording on this topic.

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