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SAP Basis: The Challenges of the New Normal

by Tyler Constable

Published on 04.14.2020

The world, as we once knew it, is changing, and for many technical SAP engineers that means working from home. 

There are two types of people when it comes to working from home - those who are happy with it and those who are not.  For some, working from home means no commute, no office distractions and not having to dress up every day, and working in sweatpants. For others, that means the necessary, natural human interactions of our day-to-day become more difficult, meetings become virtual, involving interruptions from dogs and kids, and the option of going out to lunch with coworkers is gone. Whichever way you think about working from home, it’s completely different than the office and offers a new set of challenges.

 

Managing while distracted

One of the biggest challenges that come up for an employee when they first start to work remotely, are all of the distractions that surround you.  Many people may assume this means watching television, catching up on cleaning or laundry, but for the majority of us, that’s not the case. It’s the distractions that are not so obvious that we need to think about.  The doorbell rings with the delivery of our Amazon package, which in turn gets the dog barking.  Maybe we have a little one at home who’s very excited for us to now be working from home and they insist on checking in on us throughout the day. So while we no longer have the distractions of the office, we have a new set of distractions that can unintentionally interrupt us from our daily tasks - and in the line of SAP technical work, not being focused can lead to disastrous outcomes. 

 

The right tools for efficient operations automation

This is why it’s important to have an SAP management solution in place that ensures the moment something dire occurs (or better yet before it happens) in the system, you are fully aware of it.  Your current tools may send you alarms, most often too many alarms, causing yet another distraction, more importantly, may result in issues not detected early resulting in a major crisis.  An efficient SAP management solution should escalate on scenarios based on predictive growth trends, and can specifically notify integral team members based on the scenario at hand.  We need a solution that uses these intelligent alerts and connects them to automatic resolutions.   

For instance, imagine a solution that recognizes its end users are experiencing poor performance due to a suspended backup (which would further degrade performance).  The solution could run a script to automatically stop the backup from occurring.  This type of automation requires a platform that can resolve these intelligent notifications into actions.  Relying on a solution that cannot automate based on notifications and floods your inbox with false positives leads to an abundance of technical alerts, and results in the frustrating question of  “is anyone working on any of this??”.  This is especially infuriating when you are at home since you cannot turn your chair to your team members to ask.

 

Communication and visibility

This inability to just ask your ‘office neighbor’ is really one of the hardest things to overcome when working from home.  The use of Slack, Google Chat, Microsoft teams, etc… are all great alternatives for direct conversation when you are not physically sitting next to someone - but let's be honest, if you’re heads-down in a production issue, you’re not going to be responding to any text messages or video chat requests.  While you may feel great about the fact that management cannot walk over to your desk and distract you from unraveling an issue, the harsh truth is they don’t have any visibility without your direct input.  

So you have two options, you either need to take a break from troubleshooting to make a phone call, or you put a solution in place that offers 100% customizable dashboards.  This way, when an issue does come up, management can be kept in the loop by looking at specific dashboards that provide the eyes and ears into the issue, while keeping you focused on the issue at hand.

 

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Change process and segregation of duties

This leads right into probably the most overlooked aspect of working from home in SAP operations.  Almost every organization these days has a specific approval process to manage the segregation of duties and track the change processes.  In the office this was no big deal, if you needed quick approval, you just walk down the hall and knock on a door.  When working from home, this means you need new ways of escalating approvals.  

Let’s consider the example earlier of the backup starting when it shouldn’t have amidst an existing issue of poor user performance.  Building the automation to cancel the backup is the correct solution, but it may require approval.  As user performance is dropping, not being able to walk down the hall to escalate this could mean a longer resolution time - even if automated.  

A best in breed solution can build these necessary approvals directly into the automation and track the entire process.  By having a solution that directly ties into ServiceNow (or other similar solutions), we can now use it’s workflow automation to not only track that the issue is occurring, but also send out approvals to the correct team members to begin the resolution automation of stopping the backup - all from the seat of our home office/spare bedroom.  


The new way of working 

While you navigate these new and unique challenges of working from home, remember that you’re not in this alone.  Whether you’re excited or not about this new experience, there are solutions out there to make this transition easier.  That could be new forms of communication platforms, reliance on approval management workflow or new SAP management solutions that become necessary in these environments to overcome automation, operational transparency and actionable insights. 

 

To see for yourself how Avantra can help you in your journey to a remote SAP management lifestyle, download this free solution and you’ll be up and running in less than 20 minutes.

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Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash

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