In this ever-changing world, organizations face more complex IT landscapes than ever before. Whether you have customers to make happy, or suppliers to keep in line with your internal processes, engaging with the external world has dramatically evolved, becoming increasingly digital.
Large organizations are struggling to keep pace with the demand for better products and services while fierce competition from disruptive startups with no legacy IT landscapes has seen the fall of large enterprises unable to adapt in time to their new competition. We only need to look at the rapid rise of Facebook, AirBnB, Uber, and Netflix to understand how quickly the industry can change.
Becoming and staying innovative is key as well as highly dependent on technology solutions that are scalable, reliable, and flexible enough to ensure that IT departments can deliver business value fast in this highly competitive market.
Companies of all sizes face these challenges on a daily basis, and large organizations that adopt complex ERP systems for their mission-critical operations put their businesses at high risk while trying to find a balance between ensuring the quality of those systems is not compromised and simultaneously coping with the demands of remaining competitive. The premise is simple – if you want to stay innovative and competitive, you must keep up with the pace while safeguarding the quality of your mission-critical systems while you do so.
The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new- Socrates.
This is a challenge that most SAP customers today are facing. Moreover, SAP systems and IT architectures are increasing in complexity. New technologies allow organizations to distribute goods and services in a multichannel ecosystem, e.g. a webshop, social media, mobile, and even IoT extending the digital tentacles of IT systems and increasing the chances of failure. It is then paramount that organizations test the quality of their applications extensively using production-like data and reducing the risk of increasing the frequency of changes into their mission-critical systems.
Challenges to test and deploy changes to SAP systems
As mentioned previously, change is inevitable – at least if you want to stay competitive in business. The question remains on how frequently your organization can change especially when having complex IT systems such as SAP. So, what are the challenges faced while introducing change?
IT organizations typically follow a five-step process to implement changes to their SAP systems:
- Prototype changes in a sandbox environment that isolates the new code from production.
- Unit test those changes in a development environment to ensure transactions are working within each affected module – S/4 Hana, BI, FIORI, ECC, CRM, etc.
- Release the changes that pass unit testing to QA for integration testing to ensure transactions align and flow properly across ECC, CRM, SRM, and other SAP systems. For example, if a sales order is received, it might need to trigger an inventory check, plant notification, etc.
- Validate new features and changes in the pre-production environment, involving key users (User Acceptance testing - UAT).
- Once UAT is complete and successful, promote changes to production for implementation.
CHALLENGE 1: Change Can (and Will) Disrupt Operations
What we typically see in our customers is that their SAP implementations run the majority of their core business processes, if not all of the core business processes. This means that any downtime or disruption can have far-reaching repercussions. If the right quality measures are not implemented during the change process, this can result in a severe impact on ongoing business operations potentially losing revenue and providing a poor customer experience.
Failures at the core business processes that drive an organization are simply unacceptable.
CHALLENGE 2: The Dependency on Data is Real; And It’s High!
Being able to introduce changes in SAP landscapes has a high dependency on the quality of the data in your systems – in SAP terms, master data. Companies face constant challenges in having up-to-date data in SAP systems. Moreover, customer data increases in size exponentially over time, introducing unnecessary infrastructure costs that could be otherwise eliminated.
Customers need to have relevant, valid data that can be copied quickly and effectively across a variety of platforms. They need to provide instant sand-boxes to let developers create and test new and innovative software and applications. Many companies face a backlog of development as developers fight for limited test resources. The cost of setting up databases for testing is prohibitive and time-consuming.
The time and effort it takes to perform a regression test is also expensive. On top of that, data compliance is not just a hot topic but also a legal one. Customers demand to be able to immediately mask or scramble critical and confidential data to ensure all privacy laws are being met.
CHALLENGE 3: Manual Operations are Slow, Costly and Untenable
Changing business processes and moving data across your systems’ landscape are very resource-intensive endeavors. These activities need to be repeated at every change event. The more frequent the change cycles are, the more effort the organization will incur on their employees – this is just not scalable.
All in all, conducting these activities manually introduce challenges on:
- System downtime (both source and target systems)
- Error-prone manual operations and coordination
- Resource & effort-intensive to deliver an SAP environment
- Automation is no longer a nice to have, it’s a necessity for being competitive.
Our Fully Automated Solution: Copado
Copado (formerly Qualibrate) deeply understands those challenges and delivers an end-to-end solution to help address the pain-points faced when introducing chance in SAP landscapes at high speeds without sacrificing quality in the process. The integrated solution helps organizations deploy fully tested, fully documented SAP non-production environments with scrambled, anonymized data in hours instead of months.
The integration of Copado offers:
- Full orchestration by automating operations for SAP data copies, reducing the chance of errors during execution
- Ability to create templates for moving data across the landscape
- Reduce the risk by validating target for data and functional integrity
- Selective extraction of production data to reduce data-footprint on non-production environments
- Scrambling and masking to ensure GDPR compliance on non-production systems
- Ability to copy entire systems or selected client
Use Case 1: Production Emergency Fixes
Several studies prove the fact that finding and fixing a defect in later stages of the SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) can cost up to 30x times more that if found and fixed during the early phases of the delivery process. The high cost of emergency fixes is due to the long time needed for highly-skilled and expensive developers to duplicate production data in a test environment before remediation can even begin.
This integrated solution offers customers the ability to easily and rapidly provision a test environment by isolating and importing production data into a new test environment. Developers can then quickly reproduce the issue, implement a fix, test it, and redeploy a patch in production.
Use Case 2: On-Demand Test Data Management
In a production environment, the life cycle of the data stored in the system is very well controlled and managed. However, the same is not true for non-production systems like quality and development environments, where data creation and deletion is often out of control.
This introduces several issues with data integrity and inconsistency, especially on test environments that require pristine sets of data to be used for regression or acceptance testing.
With Copado you can refresh data snapshots as many times as you want and transform your test data to a state that teams can easily manage.
Use Case 3: GDPR Compliance
Managing production data is a risky business, especially in the context of new regulations around protecting sensitive data from any people that interact with your organization and systems.
Copado offers capabilities to ensure that any sensitive data moved from a production system to a non-production landscape is always anonymized by using masking and scrambling techniques.