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Seize business benefits of using SAP SolMan in ERP implementation, upgrade

The functional benefits of SAP SolMan (Solution Manager) are often underused or ignored, and that's a mistake, writes expert Jawad Akhtar.

During the course of SAP ERP implementation or an upgrade, the implementation partner lays far greater emphasis...

on implementing only the technical aspects of SAP Solution Manager (SAP SolMan) such as ChaRM (Change Request Management), Maintenance Optimizer and Early Watch Reporting. These are all Basis/NetWeaver activities and hence rightly categorized as the technical side of SAP ERP implementation. However, fewer companies are aware of the functional aspects of SAP SolMan.

Often ignored and unused, the functional side of SolMan consists of information, tools and resources that can bring enormous value-additions to your SAP ERP implementation or upgrade project.

Consider how the business process owners can use the following resources available in SAP SolMan to their advantage: 

Implementation roadmap: SAP Solution Manager  consists of comprehensive implementation roadmaps based on ASAP methodology, and provide massive guidance and support in each of the five phases of SAP ERP implementation. These phases are project preparation, business blueprint, realization, final preparation and go-live and support.

SAP SolMan also provides accelerators. Accelerators are Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint samples that help the implementation teams quickly customize the content unique to their project. For example, need a reference presentation when transitioning from one quality gate (checklists to ensure all deliverables specific to a phase are met) of SAP ERP implementation to the next? SolMan not only has relevant PowerPoint templates for this, but also comes with extensive guidelines on the content to fill in. 

Do you need to log issues and risks during the project? SolMan has not only separate samples for these but also comprehensive instructions on how to fill them. There are more than 1,000 accelerators and over 300 URLs for more information available in SAP SolMan.

For more on SAP solution manager:

Learn more about using SAP SolMan to manage custom code

Read how to deploy Solution Manager faster with content accelerators

Learn how to create an SAP Solution Manager roadmap

Business blueprint: One of the important phases of SAP ERP implementation is to create a business blueprint to record all the important business processes that the process owner will perform in SAP ERP. Normally, creating business blueprint documents is a long, tedious and manual activity consisting of writing content, creating flowcharts and adding configuration details. SolMan automatically creates a business blueprint of each SAP ERP component, thus saving massive amounts of time and effort to create them manually.

Test workbench: The business processes agreed on in the business blueprint phase of the project enables SolMan to automatically create test cases and test scripts. Test cases are the business processes that the process owners want to test, while test scripts are step-by-step instructions for conducting each test case. Using these test cases, the implementation team can test scripts during the realization phase (phase 3 of ASAP). SolMan provides the option to record tests results, monitor tests in progress, while the process owners can also scan, upload and save the signed off test scripts in SolMan.

Document repository: Why use any other document sharing tool such as SharePoint when SolMan can be a single source of storing and archiving all SAP ERP project and program-related documentation and instant reference? For example, the implementation team can upload all component-specific documentation on each phase of SAP implementation in SolMan.

Configuration guide: Companies often need to share how the SAP ERP implementation partner configured their system for future reference. SolMan provides the option to automatically create configuration guides for all configured objects.

Project management: SolMan offers a fully functional project management tool, which includes creating a project plan, the option to make updates and easily monitor the progress of the SAP ERP implementation or upgrade project. This eliminates the need to create and monitor your project plan using tools such as MS-Project.

Using SAP SolMan during an SAP ERP implementation or upgrade means process owners will no longer face confusion on what activities each phase of SAP ERP implementation entail; they will find it an invaluable reference source throughout the project. Companies implementing or upgrading SAP ERP must prevail upon the implementation partner to provide greater information and share knowledge on using functional side of SolMan. At the same time, companies should impress upon the implementation teams to use some or all of the functional features of this tool.

About the author:
Jawad Akhtar is the author of the SAP PRESS book Production Planning and Control with SAP ERP. He is the head of SAP delivery in AbacusConsulting, where he focuses on logistics and SCM issues.

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