Saturday, 23 January 2010

Just keep rollin' on

I've not had time to post in the last couple of weeks. I wish I could say that everything is going well and life is calming down. I wish I could say that.

In fact the last couple of weeks have been pretty chaotic, with various problems. With the amount of time that has been taken up by the SAP project, a lot of other tasks have been pushed to the back, and I had hoped that now we are live we might be able to start getting some of these jobs done. In fact, the SAP work seems to be taking over all of the time that we have, and at the moment, we seem to be still fire fighting rather than being proactive.

Among the issues we have at the present are a large number of items that we have been waiting for the consultants to address for ages now. The system has suffered a number of crashes and some of the ABAP dumps have been collected and sent off for analysis. In one specific case, SAP support identified that the code had been changed and that they were not responsible for dealing with problems caused by personalised code.

I can understand that, but the reality is that we haven't changed a thing - none of our staff would know how to. I have a rough idea, but I wouldn't want to try to change anything at this stage. It's obvious that one of the consultants has made this change - the problem is, we don't know who, they won't admit to it, and they have kept no records of who changed what or why. There have been several other crashes that I have not yet sent off to SAP - I intend to do this on a regular basis as it seems it is the only way to identify what has been changed.

Here is a classic tale - I went into the sales office earlier in the week to look at a problem with one of the staff. Whilst she was talking to a customer, I was looking around the office and saw one of her colleagues hard at work. The person concerned had an invoice printed off on her desk, and was working in Excel. While I watched, she added a logo, some lines and started to put numbers on the page - then I realised that she was recreating the invoice in the spreadsheet. I had to ask what she was doing - it turned out that the customer needed the invoice but that it was coming out with the wrong amounts / values. The only way around this was to create a invoice thru Excel.

Back at the beginning of the project, we gave the consultants a list of the output documents that we needed along with samples and designs. They had 3 people working on this over an 8 month period and we still don't have all that we need. We have several that should give us similar information, but filtered and sorted in a slightly different way - but in fact give us completely different information. It also has to be said that we've found that we cannot rely on many of these documents as they just don't produce data that is even close to being correct.

Now to be fair, we do also have a problem of our own creation. We uploaded values for the sales prices last year just before we went live. However, we now find out that some of the prices uploaded were in fact incorrect - one of the sales staff responsible for dealing with certain key customers had given us the wrong data and we actually uploaded the incorrect values. That has been made worse as we now need to change those prices, and he should have given us the data for the beginning of the year. Instead we finally got the files on Monday - but with part of the data missing. He had gone through the data and removed all of the key index information so we now have no way to tie the new prices to the correct products.

I've also experienced a problem with our internal Project Manager - he has worked incredibly hard over the last couple of years. However, he has also picked up bad habits from the consultants. He has access to the profile "SAP_ALL" which gives him the permission to whatever he wishes. Now I have no problem with that in the development system, but not in the production system.

He was shown by the consultants how to unlock the production system and instead of making changes in the development system and then transporting those according to the correct SAP procedure, he has made the changes directly in the production system. This lead to a major problem as he had created a new transaction, but I couldn't assign to a role, as it didn't exist in the master system. On top of that, he regularly creates new SQL scripts and tests them in the production system and it causes problems for everyone else as the script is poorly written and ties up system resources. He just won't accept that what he is doing is wrong.

One other thing that I would note - in the past couple of years, I have had almost no contact with SAP apart the Support desk. Since Jan 1, I have 3 separate phone calls from different personnel at SAP. They seem really eager to sell me more services!

6 comments:

  1. As I read this weblog, it strikes me that you are at an environment which is target rich for some Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) attention.

    To begin with, if you deploy weekly Early Watch Alert (EWA) reports in Solution Manager, you will find that this will address more than half of your problems.

    The EWA will help you arrive at the Root Cause of your problems by providing detailed information about:-
    - your maintenance levels and SP levels
    - the number of transports coming through
    - users with dangerous security access
    - details of all short dumps
    - details of all crashes
    - top 10 users by CPU
    - top 10 transactions by runtime
    - Top 10 SQL statements
    - database growth
    - and much, much more.

    The other problem I feel is through a lack of co-ordinated testing. Perhaps you need a regression test system where you can test new SQL scripts and uploaded Sales Prices before 'testing' in production. You might look at TDMS for reduced system copies and TAO for automated regression testing and recording test results. The need for SE06, SCC4 and SAP_ALL in production will then disappear.

    Lastly, you may want to look into deploying some neat Adobe forms on your J2EE stack. This will give you that professional edge and win you many friends with the Sales Staff.

    I have started a series of ALM blogs which may be of service to you.

    http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/sdn/alm

    My upcoming ALM blog will cover some of the great details delivered by the EWA reports.

    Tune up before rolling on, Tony de Thomasis.

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  2. I've been following this blog for several months and recommended it to many colleagues in the SAP world. I'm delighted to see that many of my SAP Mentor colleagues are showing up and giving good advice from their fields of expertise. (Being more a development-from-scratch than an implementation guy, I will gladly share my advice once you start coding ABAP. ;))

    It's good to read that you have made discoveries and tapped resources that help you get emancipated from "the consulting firm from hell". Have you invested some time to explore SCN (SAP Community Network) yet? It's definitely worth your effort, maybe even more than the trainings.

    You will find it at http://www.scn.sap.com/. SCN is SAP's free community portal. Most of the content - blogs, forum posts, wiki entries - is generated by customers and partners, and it is an immensely valuable resource. You can post questions in the forums and receive replies from the world's top experts on the respective topics, and you can search through an ever-growing of blog entries, articles, and eLearning videos ranging from how-to-style cookbooks to smart meta-level discussions.

    Cheers,
    Thorsten

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  3. Tony,

    I know exactly what you mean - and when we get our Solution Manager system up and running, we may be able to do some of those things. It's just a shame that it wasn't installed in the beginning as it would definitely have made a difference.

    Thorsten,

    We have have actually been using those resources and they have helped us - I note that the consultants also seemed to make use of them!

    As always guys, I really appreciate the comments. I have to be honest - I am astonished that people are still following this blog as I never expected that anyone would even read it.

    Many Thanks

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  4. 單純喜歡你的部落格 要繼續發表好文章喔.........................

    ReplyDelete
  5. As promised, I have compiled an SDN weblog covering the benefits of an Earlywatch Alert report - http://tinyurl.com/yftxoqz.

    Your blog has caused a ripple with me and inspired me to put together one of my most comprehensive SDN weblogs.

    Keep on rolling, Tony de Thomasis.

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  6. SAPmeSideways--it's great to see a number of well-respected SAP Mentors following you and offering their advice. Keep up the excellent blogging--and know that you speak for many clients who go through the same problems.

    I tried to email you, but it bounced back.

    Andy.Klee@ERPtips.com

    ReplyDelete