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Tips to develop effective SAP change management processes

In this news roundup, Gartner outlines ways companies can improve their SAP change management processes, and SAP announces new augmented reality apps.

A new Gartner Inc. report recommends several steps for easier and more agile application change management.

In How to Optimize Your SAP Change Management Processes, Gartner analyst Derek Prior makes the following recommendations:

  • Review all SAP change management requests

SAP support managers should make sure to categorize all change requests according to change type. Those categories include emergency fixes, problem resolutions, the implementation of SAP support or enhancement packages, small enhancements and large projects.

"It is vital to use highly experienced SAP technical and functional experts for the review, and to be highly responsive to all change requests. Document your existing SAP change management process, and measure its overall effectiveness," Prior wrote. "Turnaround times should be measured and reported."

  • Simplify and automate SAP change management processes

For emergency fixes, which tend to be more technical, companies should delegate approval and execution to senior technical and functional experts in the company's SAP Competence Center or similar unit. SAP Competence Centers deal with "reactive" requests and tasks that involve tracking and solving help desk tickets and resolving other problems, data correction and knowledge transfer.

SAP impact-analysis and automated testing software tools should be evaluated to determine if they can help in these situations.

  • Make speed a priority for small business-process enhancements

Smaller change requests -- anything apart from large projects, essentially -- should all be covered under the SAP Competence Center's budget to avoid battles over who should pay for the change.

Gartner suggests Competence Centers take a frequent look at their own performance, due to the scrutiny that change requests get from upper management.

"They are often frustrated with how long it takes to get basic information out of existing SAP systems, so it makes sense to optimize your reporting and analytics strategy to streamline report enhancement requests," the report stated. 

  • Improve turnaround times of large business projects

To minimize the time needed for testing or larger changes, Prior suggests that SAP users employ a "holistic release-management process in the form of a rolling 12- or 18-month plan" that shows peaks and fluctuations in project activity on a biannual or quarterly basis.

"The release management plan should include chosen SAP software maintenance packages, other essential non-project changes and all planned downtime windows," he wrote.

Augmented reality comes to the warehouse

In other news, SAP announced the development of two new apps, SAP AR Warehouse Picker and SAP AR Service Technician, which can take advantage of augmented reality (AR) technology by integrating so-called "smart glasses," such as Google Glass.

"The new augmented reality mobile apps from SAP are intended to simplify and enhance user experience by providing access to enterprise information from anywhere while helping users stay focused on their work and environment," said Rick Costanzo, executive vice president and general manager of global mobility for SAP.

With SAP AR Warehouse Picker, workers will be able to receive instructions and enter data by scanning or voice recognition, and all by using the glasses, which can also show where the inventory is located, along with other relevant product information.

With SAP AR Service Technician, workers can visualize product instructions and connect with off-site experts when they need more information, among other features.

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