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The Operations Control Center: For the success of the RSLAF methodology

Run SAP Like a Factory is SAP’s approach to operating SAP solutions in the context of the embracing Application Lifecycle Management methodology and the ITIL best practices. Run SAP Like a Factory guides the customers through the implementation and continuous improvement of the operations for their IT Business Solution.

SAP Solution Manager collects and analyzes alert information from all SAP and non-SAP backend components.  The SAP components are instrumented and already prepared for integration. The non-SAP components have to be manually instrumented to cover business processes end-to-end.

Alert thresholds are configured such that performance alerts are raised even before a critical state has been reached. The central alert inbox in SAP Solution Manager shows technical and functional alerts of all components in one screen.

What does Operations Control Center mean (OCC)?

An Operations Control Center consists of:

  • A set of central monitors and dash-boards, which permanently report the status of the business processes and related IT landscapes
  • An infrastructure, which pro-actively monitors the solution 24x7 without manual effort, and which triggers and correlates alerts in case of problems. The alerts are bundled in an alert inbox.
  • Another line of support regrouping a small team of operators, who work on the alerts in a standardized way:
    • By performing pre-configured simple analysis procedures (Guided Procedures)
    • Or converting the alert into an incident / service request for processing by the next level support.
  • A continuous optimization process to approach in a structured way pain points which are really hurting the business and/or IT by
    • Identifying areas of improvements
    • Establishing KPIS and measurement goals for each area of improvements
    • Managing the necessary optimization initiatives
    • Monitoring the achievements and defining new areas of improvements

What does it take to create an OCC?

Running operations like a factory means operating efficiently, systematically, and by exception - in a controlled yet agile business environment. Thus, implementing an OCC requires much more than simply setting up alerts. The real efficiencies gained in the management of operations come from the OCC approach to managing the alerts. To enable this approach, a number of activities have to take place including:

  • Defining the End to End process for the management of the alerts/events raised by the Operations Control Center until the closure of the related Incidents/Problems/Changes.
  • Implementing the integration between the different tools including Solution Manager and the Service Desk tool(s) used by the customer and potential partners proving support activities to the customer
  • Enabling the Operations Control Center team with appropriate roles and responsibilities, with clear team ramp up, go live and maintenance activities of the monitors based on the changes occurring on the solutions
  • Supporting Continuous Improvement by reporting on monitoring KPIs and defining, managing and monitoring improvement initiatives, for optimizing the quality of the business software, the configuration of the business processes, the technical landscape setup, the performance of long runners, the optimization of IT support processes, or the setup of the central monitors, to name a few…

As for every significant operational change, the activities mentioned above have to be defined in a project including several key steps like:

  • Defining the OCC Charter and Objectives including the Business drivers, the expectations on IT, the key considerations (e.g. hours of operations, teams skills, locations….) and the main goals of the OCC( e.g. reducing downtime, improving performance, transforming IT from a reactive to a proactive organization)
  • Designing  and documenting the OCC detailed activities: e.g. process flows and narratives, ownerships of the monitoring areas, roles and responsibilities, guided procedures, go-live of the OCC including the alert configuration transport management, impact on other ITSM processes like Incident management, and Change and Release management, KPIs measurements, defining and reporting on the IT improvement initiatives
  • Implementing the required changes in the different tools: e.g. adding support teams in the Service Desk tools, testing tools integration
  • Testing the process and the tools to ensure efficiencies in the process
  • Supporting the go-live of the OCC team

What’s in it for the customer?

Overall, the OCC concept will significantly help the customer to change from a re-active operational mode to a more pro-active one, where issues are identified before impacting the business.

Some of the key reasons for creating an OCC include:

  • Improving the stability of SAP environment
  • Ensuring the data consistencies between systems
  • Decreasing the volume of technical errors
  • Associating technical errors with business transactions

Higher support efficiencies are expected from the creation of the OCC. For example, a decrease in the number of incidents should appear that in turn will decrease the total cost of operations.

The OCC team plays a pivot role that will ensure the success of the RSLAF methodology. Monitors of the SAP solution could become shelf ware if not managed and maintained. Isolated alerts with no correlations to other alerts and no trending lose a lot of their potential value.

Implementing an OCC is a matter of getting the best out the RSLAF methodology!

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