Implementation of SAP, for most customers, is a major IT event. The breadth and impact of SAP is company-wide, but there are always other systems and databases (some formal and some “off the books”) that continue to function and need to get data to and from SAP. For large, critical systems the approach is often to develop a strong interface that involves a middleware solution to provide security and auditability. However, when the data management requirement is either a single or infrequent happening (such as a master data update), or a less important data set, the solution will be either the use of existing tools or manual data entry.
Challenge and Issues:
SAP-provided tools (such as LSMW, CATT, SE16, etc.) are designed for data management by SAP customers but their use may lead to issues for IT:
- Data management requests unrelated to IT/Development
- SAP tools too complex for business users
- Risks associated with unregulated mass data processing
- Increased Cost of Regulatory Compliance
- Lack of data knowledge in IT
- IT staff availability
Approach and Solution
Engage IT or Change the Paradigm:
Data management with traditional tools means IT needs to be a major player to satisfy the technical requirements. This will work, albeit begrudgingly in many instances – working with data is not a high priority for most IT groups, nor is it a task that is welcomed. Engaging IT in data management is difficult, but is it necessary? With Process Runner IT is relieved from data management as business users, the data owners, can easily and efficiently import data into any SAP transaction or pull data from any table or view (based on their user profile) with full SAP security and governance.
Business Tools for Business People:
Okay, there are some business users that are good ABAPers, but they tend to be few and far between. So based on the assumption that the business community (aka the data owners) doesn’t have the requisite technical skills to create/support SAP tools such as LSMW, there are two options: use an unwieldy IT/business combination with SAP tools, or introduce a data management tool that is geared to business users. Process Runner is engineered to remove the complex technical requirements of data management and have your data owners perform data management.
Include Controls with your Data Management Tool:
Data Management run by business users (data owners) is a great concept, but it also need regulation. Well intentioned users may mistakenly make erroneous data updates, or could negatively impact your SAP system by doing an update at the wrong time. Innowera Control Panel provides the central control you need: in additional to complying with traditional SAP security layer, our web-based control panel layer further restricts what users can do with Process Runner. Innowera Control Panel can restrict access in many ways and can bring sensibility and control in deploying a mass processing tool to the larger data management user base.
Minimize the Cost of Regulatory Compliance:
Regulatory compliance has always been a fact of business life but used to be one of those behind-the-scenes activities that was little more than an annoyance. We all know this is no longer true – just say “Sarbanes-Oxley” and everyone pays attention. When IT runs any business transactions in production, they have to perform additional steps to stay compliant (Virsa FireFighter, ZVFAT), this brings unintended delays, extra cost, multiple hand-offs between IT and business, and each of these touch points requires documentation and control to be compliant. Process Runner allows data management completely by business staff, and the compliance effects are significant: a leading oil and gas company reduced the number of touch points on their master data management processes from an average of 45 to just 15 by eliminating the need for IT participation when they moved from LSMW to Process Runner. This led to sizable cost and time savings in data management.
Use IT for Value Added Activities:
Traditional data management tools require IT personnel, who don’t know the data, to work with business data owners, who don’t have the technical expertise to use the tools. This is not a value-added exercise with many extra hand offs, meetings, and throw-away activities involved. Process Runner keeps data management completely in the business users community, allowing IT resources to focus on value-added activities.
Process Runner allows business users to manage their own data with impressive results… from a leading oil & gas company: “We had spent a lot of money with the IT organization, writing LSMW scripts, changing them, or running them. With Process Runner we got rid of 95% of our LSMW costs.” Also, the speed of introducing changes improved dramatically: “Where we were making a change for the first time, with no previously written scripts, it was taking from one to three months on average for that change to be implemented. Today with Process Runner we can do that change in three to five days, end to end.”