SAP NetWeaver - Your Foundation for Enabling and Managing Change

With SAP NetWeaver technology platform, you can align IT with business requirements. As the technical foundation for a service-oriented architecture (SOA) and SAP Business Suite, SAP NetWeaver helps you evolve your existing IT infrastructure into a more cost-effective platform that improves efficiency, insight, and flexibility. The platform enables you to consolidate heterogeneous systems, applications, and data to simplify the IT environment and reduce operational costs, freeing resources to focus on strategic, innovative solutions.

SAP Solution Manager: Implementation, Upgrades, and Beyond

by Doreen Baseler, SAP AG

SAP Solution Manager is clearly not for just one phase of your SAP solution life cycle - it covers implementation of new solutions and support for operation well beyond these phases. What’s more, SAP Solution Manager is included in the SAP standard maintenance agreement, so all SAP customers can receive the complete SAP Solution Manager package, including upgrade content and the roadmap methodology. Those customers who already use SAP Solution Manager in their implementations will see considerable benefits during upgrades - the data stored in implementation projects can serve as the starting point for their upgrade project, and SAP Solution Manager’s monitoring functionality can provide operative solution data, including systems and business processes, for upgrades. Just as SAP Solution Manager content helps save time and money during implementation, the same holds true for upgrades. Predefined SAP upgrade and scenario content can lower your efforts and your TCO, and a clear upgrade methodology will help reduce your time to benefit.

What’s more, SAP Solution Manager provides building blocks that prepare you for future application anagement challenges. For example:

■ Upgrade projects can serve as the initial basis for new implementation projects. All information can be copied completely or selectively into new implementation projects, so customers do not have to start from scratch.
■ The Customizing Scout - part of SAP Solution Manager’s Customizing Synchronization suite - can be used to cross-check whether all upgrade customizing was transported correctly into the quality assurance and production environment.
■ Upgraded business processes and solution landscapes can be productively monitored using Business Process Monitoring.
■ Since your business is constantly changing - sometimes even before an implementation or upgrade project is finished - you also need a powerful and sophisticated tool to handle all these alterations: SAP Solution Manager 3.2 addresses these challenges with the built-in Change Request Management (built-in ChaRM) functionality.

For further information on upgrade content and features from SAP Solution Manager and the Upgrade Roadmap, please visit solutionmanager for general information on SAP Solution Manager upgrade functionality, and roadmaps for accessing and downloading the HTML version of the Upgrade Roadmap.


Support Upgrade Projects with SAP Solution Manager

by Doreen Baseler, SAP AG

While the Upgrade Roadmap is the framework for keeping track of your entire upgrade venture, SAP Solution Manager comes into play when you need to plan and execute your upgrade project (see Figure 2). So exactly how do SAP Solution Manager and the Upgrade Roadmap work together? For example, how would they help an SAP R/3 4.6C customer - one that already has SAP Solution Manager in place - upgrade to mySAP ERP and speed the process along?

Phase 1 - Project Preparation, with Documentation and Analysis of Your Current Landscape
With Solution Manager, you start by creating a new upgrade project in SAP Solution Manager’s project administration screen.5 The resulting upgrade project - which we’ve named Project UP_DOR in our example - bundles all forthcoming upgrade activities and results. In this initial phase of your upgrade project, you must specify the IT infrastructure for system components of the SAP solution you are using. SAP Solution Manager downloads information for selected SAP components and systems.This information can be enhanced in SAP Solution Manager so that you have a complete picture of your system landscape (see Figure 3). From SAP Solution Manager’s System Landscape screen, you can select parameters to report on, for example:

■ Software components and support packages of the product/system to be upgraded
■ Plug-ins, add-ons, and other additional software
■ Related SAP systems that are part of your solution
■ Third-party products
■ Database software and patch level

This system landscape information can also be downloaded as an Excel spreadsheet, for example, and serve as the basis for the target definition of your IT landscape. In addition, you must document or verify existing business processes and documentation, such as interface and modification documentation. By ensuring that all such information is uploaded into SAP Solution Manager, you store and manage all documents centrally, for a complete picture of your “as-is” landscape.

Phase 2 - Upgrade Blueprint: Defining Target Solution Requirements
Having documented the current, as-is situation, you can now start planning where you want to be after the upgrade. Your next step is to identify business processes and functions that are changed or new in the upgrade release. This information can be retrieved via the Upgrade Roadmap, which links you to SAP Service Marketplace release notes and to information stored in SAP’s Product Availability Matrix (PAM). In this phase, you also define how to handle modifications and interfaces, create new test cases, or evaluate existing ones for their upgrade validity. Whatever format your current test cases may be in (Microsoft Word or Excel, for example), SAP Solution Manager allows you to simply upload and store them centrally.You also have the possibility to include third-party testing tools. Additionally, in this phase you determine initial concepts for training. As you do so, SAP Solution Manager serves as the central point to access, reuse, or create this kind of information in your upgrade project - which comes in handy for better managing knowledge transfer from the project team to end users. Existing SAP Solution Manager customers benefit from the centralized documentation of their past projects and can quickly adapt this information to their new upgrade project in a structured manner.

Phase 3 - Upgrade Realization: Implementing and Testing the Upgrade
Having completed the blueprint, you are now ready for the technical upgrade of your non-productive systems. In this phase, the Upgrade Roadmap assists you with access to proven SAP technical upgrade tools like the Upgrade Assistant. But when it comes to upgrade and delta customizing, how do you know which configuration activities are needed - and which are unnecessary - for your upgrade project? You could go through all the IMG activities, and painstakingly evaluate each one for the new or additional configuration settings needed. Instead, SAP Solution Manager helps automatically answer this question by presenting upgrade and delta IMG views for each component to be upgraded (see Figure 4). Based on SAP component release notes information, all upgrade-relevant IMG activities are automatically determined and proposed for configuration in SAP Solution Manager’s upgrade configuration functions (those checked under “Upgrade Flag” in Figure 4).To prevent overlooking any relevant IMG activity that may be missing, SAP Solution Manager also lists those configuration activities that are not assigned to your upgrade project, so you can review these activities as well. After configuration is complete, you can now begin upgrade testing. Using the integrated testing suite in SAP Solution Manager, including Test Workbench functions, you can:

■ Generate process-oriented test plans based on the test cases that were verified and assigned back in the Upgrade Blueprint phase
■ Split test plans into smaller test packages
■ Assign test packages to testers, who will then perform acceptance tests according to the specified test packages The test organizer can track all relevant test activities and status (e.g., TEST_OK), including problems and error messages, on a single screen at any time using SAP Solution Manager’s test reporting function (see Figure 5). For all testing activities, you can get an overview at different granularity levels - package level, test plan level, entire project, whatever is needed.

Phase 4 - Final Preparation for Cutover: Completing the Upgrade
System and integration testing finalize the test series, so you can make sure that business processes are running smoothly after the upgrade. Often overlooked is how to inform end users of the changes resulting from an upgrade - a critical step for maximum user adoption. Based on the training concepts you set up back in the Upgrade Blueprint phase, you can prepare training material rapidly and easily with the e-learning environment, namely the Learning Map Builder, integrated in SAP Solution Manager. You can create role-specific Learning Maps based on documents generated during the project that are relevant to end-user training (see Figure 6). Simply open the learning materials, such as SAP Tutor study units,PowerPoint presentations, or other documentation that was included in the project during configuration, then drag and drop the appropriate items from your project structure list to your Learning Map Structure. By selecting the “Open in Browser” button, you can preview exactly what end users will see in their browsers. From here, customers can distribute Web-based training material to end users. Returning back to the Upgrade Roadmap, you can complete the upgrade of your productive system landscape, then move into the final phase - production cutover and support.

The Upgrade Roadmap: A Methodology for Any Upgrade Project

by Doreen Baseler, SAP AG

The Upgrade Roadmap is content available from SAP that provides a methodological guideline to assist you in your upgrade ventures.This roadmap is available as part of SAP Solution Manager (Release 3.1 onward). At its core is a generic, easy-to-follow, phase-oriented, step-bystep activity guide for upgrading components to facilitate any upgrade project (see the Roadmap window in Figure 1).These include analysis of the status and targets for business processes and underlying IT infrastructure before and after the upgrade, upgrade configuration, and testing of upgraded processes. Along the way, accelerators link directly to SAP Solution Manager and other SAP resources to launch supporting functions - tools and services for best practices documents, how-to’s, and project templates, among others, that speed the upgrade process. By connecting you automatically to the right resources at each phase of the upgrade project, the Upgrade Roadmap allows you to:

■ Tailor the guide to your chosen upgrade path, such as from SAP CRM 2.0 to SAP CRM 4.0, using predefined, path-specific content delivered with the Upgrade Roadmap (see sidebar below)

■ Navigate directly to supporting upgrade functions in SAP Solution Manager (shown in Figure 1) to manage and report on your current system landscape, and to document and test your business processes

■ Track your project activities, making extensive use of documentation management, status tracking, and problem message handling In a nutshell, the Upgrade Roadmap provides access to all documentation sources relevant to technical and functional system adjustments at the time you need it.

How SAP Solution Manager Can Smooth Your Next Upgrade Project

by Doreen Baseler, SAP AG

An upgrade project always begins with great expectations of improved efficiencies. And done right - with well-crafted project planning and analysis, clearly defined processes, a comprehensive picture of the current environment, and proper testing and training for your end users - an upgrade can meet those expectations and reap the full benefits of the new solution. Done poorly, with missed steps or ill-planned requirements, an upgrade can be unnecessarily costly and whittle away at expected returns.

SAP customers will be moving to mySAP ERP over the next months and years, and although there is still significant mainstream maintenance for both mySAP ERP predecessors, every SAP customer must start considering their upgrade strategy. So whether you have a project on the boards, are looking forward to upgrading to mySAP ERP or other mySAP Business Suite solutions (including CRM, SRM, and SCM), or are about to start replacing a component or two in your current application landscape, SAP Solution Manager can help. The same platform used for implementation and operation can also help you plan and execute your upgrade ventures.

SAP Solution Manager connects to all components in your system landscape allowing business processes to be upgraded, implemented, tested, and even monitored in an integrated manner - avoiding duplication of effort and information, and streamlining your upgrade activities. At the same time, it directly addresses certain upgradespecific cost drivers, such as project management, test management, implementation of new functionality, and end-user training. Other known cost drivers, like modification adjustments or technical upgrades, can also be attacked by SAP services available through SAP Solution Manager.

What’s more, SAP Solution Manager ships with an Upgrade Roadmap; by using these in tandem, your upgrade process is streamlined, more organized, and highly efficient, to prevent missing critical steps and avoid duplicated effort at each phase of your project.This article focuses on those areas where the Upgrade Roadmap and SAP Solution Manager directly support your upgrade activities, for greater ease and efficiency in the upgrade process.


SAP Financial Closing cockpit

Empowering SAP ERP Financials for a Fast Close

The SAP Financial Closing cockpit enables superior financial close performance by standardizing the closing cycle into a series of repeatable, centrally managed, tightly controlled process steps.

Responding to the constant struggle of corporations to complete a timely and reliable financial period-end close, SAP and Redwood have collaborated to provide a world-class closing solution tailored for SAP ERP Financials customers.

The SAP Financial Closing cockpit incorporates job scheduling technology jointly developed by SAP and Redwood Software. It enables customers to achieve a fast, reliable close by managing and monitoring close processes across the entire enterprise.

A Powerful Improvement
While a fast close is the focal point, the closing cockpit also addresses deeper aspects of the financial closing process:

1. Reliability: Having a robust closing process capable of generating reliable information for reporting and auditing purposes is the cornerstone of every world-class financial closing process.
2. Speed: Reducing the number of days to close facilitates additional time for analysis of results and variance reporting.
3. Efficiency: The cost effective use of manpower, systems and processes is critical for working within both resource and budgetary constraints.
4. Compliance: Monitoring of internal controls is essential for generating accurate financial reporting and complying with various regulatory guidelines.

A Reliable and Transparent Financial Close
SAP Financial Closing cockpit can shorten your financial period-end close by up to 50%, provide more transparency and reliability in period-end closes, and give senior management more time for decision-making based on financial information they can trust.

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SAP CO Module - Other Configuration

After the Controlling Area, Number Ranges, and Plan Versions have been defined and maintained, then settings for the other components in the CO(Controlling) Module should be maintained. (Cost Center Accounting, Cost Element Accounting, Activity-Based Costing, Internal Orders, Product Cost Controlling, Profitability Analysis, and Profit Center Accounting.)

The Account Assignment Logic allows configuration for Validation and Substitution Rules whose purpose is to check certain input values as defined by the User.

More specifically, Validations allow for business transactions to either post or not post documents based on the criteria defined in the validation rule. Certain input conditions are checked as defined by the User and if those conditions are met then the document(s) are updated and/or posted in the system. If the condition is not met, then an error message is generated to the User with a brief explanation of the error. These messages are defined in Configuration and can be identified as a warning, error, or a note. You also have the option to deactivate messages.

Substitutions on the other hand, checks input values and replaces the values with another value if the criteria as defined is met.

Maintaining Currency and Valuation Profiles allows for the definition of valuation approaches to be used in accounting components . These valuation profiles are checked in the system when activated in the Controlling Area. Certain rules apply if there is a need to maintain the currency and valuation profiles: (1) Company Code Currency must be assigned to a legal valuation approach, (2) Valuation approaches must also be maintain in the material ledger, and (3) Profit Center valuations can only be maintained if you are using Profit Center Accounting.

The CO (Controlling) Module has multiple configuration steps that must be followed for complete implementation of this module. Each sub-component of the CO (Controlling) Module has it’s level of configuration requirements. Once you have defined your business needs in the Controlling Area, a determination can be made as to what should be configured and what you do not need.

SAP CO Module - Number Ranges

Configuration in the CO (Controlling) Modules requires maintenance of number ranges for documents generated from business transactions. A systems’ generated document number is assigned for every CO (Controlling) posting. These numbers are sequential and are required to be assigned to number range groups. The number range groups consists of two number intervals, one for internal document numbering and one for external document numbering. The SAP R/3 system keeps track of those document numbers that are externally generated and fed to SAP via batches and User manual input, otherwise, the system generates the next internally assigned document number for the transaction posted.

As previously stated when defining the Controlling Area, you have the ability to copy the Standard SAP Controlling Area “0001” which already has the number ranges defined eliminating the need for maintenance of number ranges. Keep in mind that you also have the flexibility to change number ranges and number range groups to meet your business needs. As a caution, never overlap number intervals in a group . For example, if you decide to assign number range interval 10000000 thru 199999999 to the number range group “05”, you can not assign it to number range group “06”. Number ranges should never be transported for data consistency purposes, therefore create these manually in each system.

Within the CO (Controlling) Module, you can configure Plan Versions. Maintaining Plan Versions allows for set-up of planning assumptions and determination of plan rates for allocation and plan activity purposes. The SAP Standard Version “000” is created for a five year fiscal year plan. It is recommended that the standard version be utilized for your plan/actual comparisons if you do not require multiple plan versions. SAP always allows the flexibility to create additional Plan versions by coping the Standard Version “000” and changing certain fields as required. There is also the option of defining and creating a totally new Plan Version.