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      4 min read

      It’s all about the preparation - Automated preparation!

      Recently I joined a team to run a ‘Ragnar’.  A ‘Ragnar’ is a running race where you and an additional seven teammates run a course that typically lasts around 24 hours non stop.  Our team joined over 300 other teams running this Ragnar trail course in the middle of the woods in northern Wisconsin.  

      This course consisted of three loops, a 3 mile loop, a six mile loop and a seven mile loop.  We each would run a loop, hand the bib to the next person and they would run the next loop and so on until it was our turn again, each running over 15 miles individually. Also this particular race was not just a road race but run on mountain biking paths.

      The courses consisted of slippery rocks and boulders, lots of hills and not very wide trails. It wasn’t uncommon to fall down multiple times through your run, tripping on roots, getting bruised and twisting your ankles on loose rocks as you tried to maneuver these courses as fast as you can, often in the pitch black of the middle of the night with nothing more than a headlamp in the pouring rain. In the time you weren’t running you tried to get an hour or two of sleep in a tent, grab what you could to eat, warm up and get ready for your next leg of the race. It sounds horrible and unpleasant but of the over 2,000 people that joined this race, we all knew what we were getting into, and that’s where preparation was key.

      For months leading up to the race, my team of eight was in constant communication, always asking questions, making test runs to verify our equipment and double checking on each other's distance training.  

      “I did a trial run last night at midnight around my neighborhood and found this type of headlamp does not work well.”

      “Did some trail running in the rain the other day, this type of shoe had good grip on wet boulders”

      “Who else is training at a 9 minute mile for 7 miles?”

      These were the types of trials, tests and conversations we were having, to make sure we had a successful race. Obviously we couldn’t all get together and actually run a 24 hour race as a trial as we all had families, commitments, etc. So these little trials, on top of our normal training, proved to be invaluable. Prior testing of each variable one by one, meant it could all come together on race day.

      Doesn’t the same hold true for SAP ‘project’ automation?   For example, to automate an SAP refresh, there are all kinds of variables in play. There are user IDs, access to specific tables in the database, perhaps specific mount points on the operating system and so much more.  If you’re running a SAP refresh only 4 times a year, any of those variables may get changed at any time between. If a specific user or access to a specific set of tables are only used a couple times a year, it isn’t uncommon for those to be forgotten about and ‘cleaned up’ and removed without any insight into their importance. 

      Similar to my Ragnar team not being able to run a 24 hour ‘trial’ run in preparation, a ‘trial’ system refresh is probably not available to check all of these variables.  So it’s important to test these variables, run ‘trials’ on them prior, so you know beforehand if they are all configured correctly for the day of the actual refresh, kernel upgrade, etc. The last place you want to be on the weekend of your automated refresh is that of a set of credentials that had been changed and now the entire automation process is stuck in its beginning stages, probably not even noticed until Monday morning.

      This is one of the key reasons why the Avantra SAP automation is an industry leader.  Avantra has automated preparation steps that can be run well in advance that check all of these variables and provide a report of what needs to be fixed prior to the actual automation running.

      Where my Ragnar team said ‘This type of headlamp doesn’t work well at night’, Avantra may say ‘The ABAP credentials needed in QAS are no longer valid’

      Where the team said ‘This shoe has good grip for running on boulders in the rain’ Avantra may say ‘This is the correct kernel package for this SAP system, continue to run the kernel upgrade this weekend’’.

      So as you look at different solutions to start your SAP automation journey, make sure to ask about what preparation automation steps the solutions have. If the solution’s requirement is to have your team check these independently and manually beforehand I would highly suggest proceeding with caution. Do the solutions have intelligence built into them to alert you days in advance to make sure you can resolve any incorrect variables before it runs?  If not, be ready for the automation to possibly create more manual work for the team than would have been necessary without even implementing an automation solution at all. 

      To see more about how Avantra can assist in your automation journey visit us at www.avantra.com