Despite the economic downturn, last year there were $2.3 trillion dollars’ worth of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) involving 5,800 separate transactions. The result of this M&A activity is a spate of enterprise application consolidations and migrations. When M&A occur, the resulting enterprise is left with duplicate or overlapping business processes, applications that are supporting these duplicate business processes, and support frameworks for each of these duplicate applications.
It is imperative that overlapping business processes are rationalized and supporting applications are consolidated for cost savings, productivity improvement and establishing a single source of truth for enterprise facts.
A migration transfers business processes from a non-SAP application to SAP. An example of this would be migrating manufacturing business processes from a J.D. Edwards application to an SAP application. Consolidation implies merging multiple instances of SAP applications together to form fewer SAP instances. Consolidation may also involve upgrade as a step to reach the final planned state. These two events may occur when an enterprise goes through M&A or decides to consolidate multiple instances into fewer instances for efficiency and standardization.
SAP migrations and consolidations need to be carefully planned and executed using appropriate process frameworks. Migrations to SAP from other source applications and SAP instance consolidations may impact large numbers of business users and their daily activities. These events are critical and have an impact on the overall enterprise business process and productivity.
Unsuccessful Migration or Consolidation Risks
Unsuccessful migration or consolidation risks
The risks of an unsuccessful migration or consolidation may be incorrect or incomplete data, business processes or inaccurate reports-all of which can lead to significant impact on business continuity. After SAP migrations and consolidations occur, companies most commonly run into the following types of issues: missing feature functionality (reported by users), poor performance (reported by users) and compliance issues (reported by the compliance team).
Typically, this occurs because consolidation projects focus on transactional business processes and functional requirements. Attention and focus should be paid to other aspects as well, such as the following four:
1. Affected user roles/personas, modeled and re-created in the consolidated environment so no business process or function is missed
2. Reporting and business warehouse requirements for the consolidated business process
3. Performance planning, modeling and testing in the consolidated environment
4. Post-implementation support planning for the new business processes
In this article, I will introduce new approaches to dramatically improve specific areas of migration and consolidation, custom code management, testing and post-implementation processes. If these techniques are used appropriately, companies can see the following three benefits: cost of migration and consolidation reduced by 50 percent, program risk lowered by 40 percent, and program time compressed by 40 percent.
The new techniques I will discuss here will help companies to accelerate SAP migrations and consolidations without loss of business process and application performance or business process integrity. These techniques should be part of all migration and consolidation programs.
Automatic Custom Code Consolidation
Technique No. 1: Automatic custom code consolidation
Since migrating or consolidating functionality is occurring, custom code consolidation may be required. SAP Advanced Business Application Programming (ABAP) custom code is created by many developers over a period of time. This code body, often built in different versions of a given SAP application, may have syntax, Unicode, deprecated code and redundant code issues. After consolidation, all ABAP code has to run one target instance. Most of the custom code analysis, transformation and merge is done using a brute-force manual approach. While this is a tried-and-true approach, it is also error-prone, costly and takes a long time to complete.
An opportunity exists to dramatically change the cost, quality and time required to consolidate custom code through automated analysis and transformation. There are new consolidation tools today that enterprises should explore that can manage custom code analysis, transformation and merge. These tools understand the syntax violations, deprecated code and Unicode violations. They can automatically perform the analysis and transformation, cutting down overall risk to the program as it drives efficiency and cost benefits.
Learn and Adapt Test Automation
Technique No. 2: Learn and adapt test automation
During an SAP technical upgrade, nearly 40 to 45 percent of total effort is spent on testing. Migrations and consolidations need a significant amount of testing as well. In this case, not only do modified business processes need to be tested but existing business processes also need to be rechecked.
Today, most testing is done manually using a small core testing team and a large group of business users who work as ad hoc testers. While the core testing team lacks business knowledge, business users lack testing skills, causing an ineffective and inefficient testing outcome. Organizations are stuck in this mode for a long time without looking for reliable alternatives.
Test automation can dramatically reduce the manual effort while reducing the time and cost associated with testing. While it is true that maintenance costs for test automation have historically been prohibitive, things have changed. There is a new generation of test automation tools that can dramatically lower cost of automation and maintenance by performing automated testing using a metadata-based, learn and adapt method. These tools are quick to learn, understand changes to the consolidated system and automate test scripts for these systems. Enterprises should explore these new testing techniques to automate the majority of the scenarios so that the testing cycle can be compressed and costs lowered.
Technique No. 3: Optimized support
Nearly 40 percent of overall SAP program costs are spent in post-production support activities over the life of the SAP program. Using a SAP solution manager and leveraging its key capabilities, post-production costs can be significantly optimized. SAP solution managers are the central cockpit for all SAP operations and are still being adopted in North America.
There is a great opportunity to implement and fully leverage an SAP solution manager during a migration or consolidation program, as it offers many capabilities including change management, root cause analysis and business process monitoring. In this way, a reactive support organization can be transformed into a proactive organization. The planning and execution of an SAP solution manager can be done in parallel with migration and consolidation.
After M&A activity, there is an urgency to get systems consolidated. In a rush to consolidate, companies often bypass the exploration of new techniques thinking it might add additional risk. Contrary to that thinking, by using the approaches and techniques outlined here, SAP migrations and consolidations can be done faster, cheaper and with lower risk.
Raj Rao is Vice President of Global QA and Testing services at Keane. Rao is responsible for driving Keane quality initiatives and solution support activities. In this role, Rao has created several solutions for global 5000 organizations. Rao has 20+ years of experience in the software and communications industries. Rao has worked at SAP, PeopleSoft and Oracle, building successful new product suites and solutions. He can be reached at [email protected].