“When developing a regression test plan, the data received from LiveCompare allows us to more accurately tailor each plan to an individual release. Instead of testing everything we test only what’s impacted.”
Ray Berry, Application Development Lead
The Coca-Cola Company
How The Coca-Cola Company Refreshes SAP ALM With LiveCompare
Relying heavily on SAP ERP, The Coca-Cola Company was challenged by SAP application lifecycle management (ALM), especially with testing, support packs, master data management, synchronization and overall quality control. In addition, The Coca-Cola Company aimed to benefit from new SAP technology, thereby maximizing its investment, but had to do so while simultaneously reducing risks.
Custom Development Analysis
“Our situation is unique: instead of just assessing SAP support pack transports, we’re also analyzing our own custom development transports,” explained Ray Berry, application development lead for the SAP platform at The Coca-Cola Company.
“We have to scope-out testing for internal releases, as well as for SAP support packs. Therefore, we needed to reduce the time, money and resources necessary to handle such high volume, frequent, system activity.”
In Gartner’s ERP report, Squeeze Your SAP Lifecycle Costs with the Right Impact Analysis Tool, Derek Prior commented on similar industry issues faced by SAP customers. He explains, “gaining consensus and budget approval can be challenging, much like the job of executing these changes to existing, highly complex SAP landscapes. Regression testing is a large part of this work.”
Guarantee System Stability
The Coca-Cola Company understands how difficult it can be to guarantee system stability during functional and operational ALM activities. The beverage guru bundles internal development into several planned releases per year. IT struggled with the overwhelming amount of manual analysis necessary to identify every object and coinciding executable process change. Too much time was being wasted: too many people were being utilized: too great a risk to the SAP system was being taken. IT struggled daily to balance project and time management with efficiency and accuracy.
“It’s essential to do a comprehensive SAP system analysis, but it’s not practical to do it manually,” said Berry. “We were burning resources and weren’t guaranteeing data integrity, putting general business operations at risk. We knew automation was the key to this process and we began the search for a solution to empower IT to more effectively manage SAP ALM.”
Tricentis LiveCompare Bubbles to the Surface
SAP is at the heart of The Coca-Cola Company’s functional operations, so the quality of releases gets very high internal visibility. “It’s a top priority with the CDO and CIO,” remarked Berry. “There is strong emphasis on quality management and stable releases.” Berry and IT had to improve SAP ALM. Tricentis’s LiveCompare software was the answer. “LiveCompare ensures we’re testing the right things and spending resources in the right places,” said Berry. “When developing a regression test plan, the data received from LiveCompare allows us to more accurately tailor each plan to an individual release. Instead of testing everything we test only what’s impacted. That has translated into a direct resource savings of 30-40%.”
Regression Testing, Validation & Scope Analysis
For every release, The Coca-Cola Company runs LiveCompare to understand what will be impacted with the next SAP version. Data generated is used for regression testing, test validation and scope analysis, making IT more efficient and enabling Berry to focus on the more strategic aspects of maximizing SAP. “We use LiveCompare as a sanity check before and after the test cycle,” noted Berry. “Once we’ve made changes to address defects, we simply launch LiveCompare again as a total landscape audit. Now, we catch everything and there are no surprises.”
- Testing scope of support packs reduced significantly
- Up front knowledge of which transactions are affected and need to be tested
- “Test everything” approach replaced with a smart, focused testing strategy
- Maintain data quality in development systems
- Troubleshoot transport issues before and after they happen
- Perform ad-hoc analysis as and when the business requires
Optimizing Test Strategy for Support Packs
IT at The Coca-Cola Company is advanced in leveraging innovative technologies to improve operations. It has made LiveCompare a standard practice in its SAP ALM strategy. “Drilling into every object to find every process it touches would involve lots of manual analysis if we didn’t have LiveCompare,” said Berry. “It’s just not cost-effective to do that. Automation is critical.”
A key example of LiveCompare’s usage at The Coca-Cola Company is around support packs. In the past, IT would shut off the path to production so any maintenance was conducted in a separate “break-fix” environment, which was on the same release and SP level as production. As for development, IT would have to redo it on the development system and ensure the changes weren’t lost when the normal path to production was turned back on. For The Coca-Cola Company, that meant IT was doing double the maintenance work and exceeding budget, as well as human resource efforts.
“Many clients tell us they need better tools not only to determine what to test, but to determine what not to,” continued Prior in the Gartner report. “In the absence of this insight, they have to err on the side of caution. They do too much testing rather than too little.”
“Managing SAP support packs was a major challenge for us and our risk adverse approach was to test all critical business processes,” explained Berry. “IT had to find a new methodology for identifying and mitigating the impact of implementing support packs, as well as custom development in The Coca-Cola Company’s SAP environments.”
“The knowledge we gain from LiveCompare allows us to minimize the double work and test only what needs testing. That saves time, costs and risks, and also gives us more SAP system flexibility.”Ray Berry
Application Development Lead, The Coca-Cola Company
With LiveCompare’s smart impact analysis capabilities, The Coca-Cola Company can identify standard and custom reports/transactions that will be affected by a support pack installation, dramatically reducing the testing effort while increasing test plan coverage. LiveCompare tells IT whether or not a specific change is safe to make and that insight has increased the business’ confidence in maintenance, as well as the overall release process. “The knowledge we gain from LiveCompare allows us to minimize the double work and test only what needs testing,” said Berry. “That saves time, costs and risks, and also gives us more SAP system flexibility.”
Validating Change in SAP Environments
As a part of IT’s SAP ALM strategy, Berry is always finding new uses for LiveCompare. While it’s used primarily in the ERP, BI and HCM systems, LiveCompare can be used anywhere. “We ran across an unauthorized modification to a table, which created quite a stir and once we restored it we needed to be sure it worked and everything else ran as expected,” recalled Berry. “IT used LiveCompare to assess the transport and table change, and determine the scope of impacted processes. This allowed for efficient, effective validation. The software is like a security blanket.”
Berry also spoke of an ad hoc Unicode remediation that had to be tackled for a system conversion. There were three transports IT wanted to evaluate to get a sense for the scope of all included objects and the effort to test them. LiveCompare was used to quickly assess the situation and more quickly identify the impact of changes to thousands of objects than could be done if analysis was manually conducted.
“LiveCompare is great for simple ‘bread and butter’ operational usage, as well as for strategic SAP ALM,” said Berry. “LiveCompare helped us see the impact of those objects and run them against the usage statistics in the production system, and then call out what would have been affected. It reduced both our remediation workload as well as testing.”
“LiveCompare is great for simple ‘bread and butter’ operational usage, as well as for strategic SAP ALM.”Ray Berry
Application Development Lead, The Coca-Cola Company
Data Consistency & Master Data Synchronization
IT frequently uses LiveCompare’s Quick Compare Wizard functionality. Deep within SAP at The Coca-Cola Company lives a list of tables that are maintained centrally and distributed to other areas. Data across those tables must be consistent and IT doesn’t want to rely solely on risky manual entry when changes are made. Berry has been using the Quick Compare Wizard as a safety net. IT selects only what needs to be compared, and chooses tables across multiple systems to check that master data is synchronized. “With LiveCompare we can maintain high data quality in our development systems and confirm that we don’t miss anything from a distribution perspective,” said Berry. “It’s a very straightforward tool that just needs the input to ‘do its thing’ and that takes a lot of pressure off of my staff.”
The Coca-Cola Company continues to extend its usage throughout the SAP landscape.
“LiveCompare automatically identifies what is changing and what’s the impact of each change across SAP lifecycle activities in multiple environments,” said Berry. “For The Coca-Cola Company, quality has improved in our last three SAP releases and LiveCompare is definitely a part of the reason.”
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