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Five ways to reduce risk of key personnel dependency when managing SAP

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The longer an employee stays with your team, the more knowledge they’ll acquire. But what happens when a valuable employee becomes sick or leaves your company? Unfortunately, if their insight isn't well documented, your company will lose valuable knowledge.

When an employee becomes unavailable – whether they've became sick, found a new job, or retired – they often leave without an adequate knowledge transfer to their colleagues. This information and experience gap can create productivity gaps and inconsistencies, especially when it comes to managing your company’s SAP systems.

To bridge the gap and ensure business continuity, it's wise to follow SAP monitoring and management best practices. Use these five methods to tighten up your company’s SAP system management experience gap so your company can continue to grow and prosper.

1. Automate SAP monitoring

Not all SAP Basis engineers will have the experience to cover all aspects of SAP technical monitoring which include many areas of expertise such as:

  • Daily performance monitoring
  • Compliance monitoring
  • Security
  • System hardening
  • OS system management
  • DB monitoring

Using a solution that automates industry best practice for SAP monitoring provides not only efficient monitoring automation, but also ensures your organisation will benefit from the experience of other companies in the industry. In other words, you don’t need to solely depend on only the knowledge and experience that has been gained internally.

Using automated SAP monitoring allows an organisation to build and retain experience-based knowledge. By building an automated foundation, that emphasises discovery, you can identify and solve issues regardless of how sudden, or disruptive, they may be. An effective monitoring solution will allow you to add, refine, and customise your monitors to perfectly fit your organisation’s KPIs and needs. You can easily achieve this customisation without the need of consultant’s time and resources.

By automating your IT management software, you're bestowing knowledge power to the machines. This means, when IT staff inevitably transition in and out, you'll have fewer bumps and productivity gaps throughout the process. The experienced administrator will be free to work on potentially more strategic and impactful projects, confident that much of their regular monitoring process is reliably automated. The new hire can rapidly gain SAP monitoring and SAP Basis knowledge by learning from the automated tool.

2. On-board new systems via automation

On-boarding a new system is challenging because you must remember which system performance monitors must be set up for each system and database, for each different type of infrastructure. This can quickly become a mismanaged process due to human errors causing a lack of consistency.

To improve the management of your SAP landscape, try automating the process of on-boarding new systems.

Using an SAP management and automation solution, your experienced IT system managers can evaluate the default best practices monitors and thresholds, and change or add additional monitors. The system then automatically identifies the elements running on each server and applies the correct monitors and thresholds.

Automating the on-boarding of new systems into the landscape will make the undertaking more efficient and enable the more junior members of your IT staff to gain experience from working on the more complicated aspects of the SAP system integration process.

3. Automate report generation

Automating your system status reporting will also help save time and resources in the management of your SAP landscape and allow less senior people (if any) to do it.

While SAP monitoring reports can relay valuable information about your organisation’s SAP systems performance and SLA, having your IT staff manually generate those reports periodically can be a pain-staking demand. Even the most seasoned SAP professional will find the task laborious.

SAP MSPs and Basis teams can streamline their workflows via automating report generation. This can significantly improve talent retention as it removes a monotonous, unfulfilling component of their jobs.

Automating SAP report generation is an SAP monitoring best practice for two reasons. First, it will free up the valuable time of your IT staff and enable them to focus on more impactful and engaging projects. Second, the automated reports capture pertinent data in the most efficient way possible. By creating customised, automated reports, you can cherry-pick and view every metric your team members deem most important.

Even better, some systems provide your team with the ability to give your management or customers a real-time view of their SAP system performance using interactive performance dashboards – without the need to grant them access to the entire system.

4. Proactively identify system problems and issues

If you're able to proactively identify issues with your SAP system, you can protect your SAP landscape from irreparable damage. A best practice is to use a solution with an intrinsic root-cause ability that relies on machine learning to detect anomalies. By having tools to identify and potentially resolve SAP system problems early, you’re adding a safeguard against the spread of errors, and reducing the demands placed on experienced staff. Practically speaking, you turn a reactive system into a self-healing system.

Having intelligent solutions that detect issues early frees the team up to focus on finding and implementing the solution – rather than trying to identify the root-cause of these issues.

Using insights gained from SAP Predictive Analytics can also help to show where you’ll need to add more resources before system performance is affected. This enables organisations to build an effective and proactive problem identification defence.

5. Use root-cause analysis to turn your system into a self-healing solution

A final SAP monitoring best practice to consider is having a self-healing SAP system.

Relying on Basis engineers to remember past issues and solve issues from memory, is a risky strategy that relies upon nobody ever leaving your team. Building a repository of collected insights gained from root-cause indications instead will help to reduce the learning curve of managing your SAP landscape.

Take it a step further by leveraging an SAP performance management tool that is equipped to intelligently identify and analyse thousands of the most frequent root-causes of SAP system issues. Ideally, a tool that continues to learn from root-cause indications so it can become even better at tackling the challenge of solving issues. Hence, when a new issue crops up and is subsequently resolved, you’ll feel confident that any similar situation in the future will be automatically handled. Employing such a tool could accelerate issue resolution time, and maintain organisation shared knowledge.

John Appleby, CEO, Avantra