SAP S/4HANA and Cloud Applications are the key driving forces for much of the organization’s operations. That is why integrating is a vital element for any organization’s success. However, the process is prone to numerous risks.
So, how can you reduce the risk of failure in your SAP integration? A robust SAP integration process must support the entire SAP development lifecycle processes, including development, testing, and documentation.
What Is the Impact of a Failure?
SAP integration failures may have different outcomes depending on the industry and the type of integration you are implementing. However, in most cases, there are two aspects of SAP integration failure.
First off is productivity. Consider Alice, an SAP integration developer.
Alice has to spend many hours finding, resolving, and transporting software changes to production as a developer. Without a robust SAP integration framework, Alice has wasted precious time that she would have spent on design or development. This can be costly for an organization.
Second is the cost implications when the integration fails. Imagine integrating SAP with an e-commerce storefront, and you find that the order is not getting delivered? Or that the order handling process is working as expected?
How much would it cost you per hour for such a failure in the integration? I had this experience when implementing an integration system for my client. The client warned me about a particular table I was not allowed to delete from the database. When I inquired more, he informed me that the table runs their production and that if deleted, production would fail, costing them 1 Mio EUR per hour.
Imagine deleting such a table? It could take you several days to recover the entries in the table. As such, this is something you do not want to make changes to. This is the actual cost of integration failure. It is not just the IT that fails, but also the overall business processes.
What are the steps
Support Process Risks
The lifecycle for your SAP integration does not start with coding and ends after deployment. Instead, it is an open-ended process that can start and stop whenever necessary. The SAP CPI landscape is constantly changing, and as long as you are using it, you have to continually monitor to support it. This means regularly looking out for errors and handling them.
One way to handle error management is by implementing zero alerts. With zero alerts, you resolve errors each time you find them until minimal issues with the integration process exist. As is the case with any bug-fixing issue, you will find that some errors take more time to resolve than others.
Many SAP integration architects prefer to simply let the system fail and resolve the issue via manual processes. This can take a lot of time to fix, and it would make business sense if you automated the process of building notifications into your flows as mail notifications. An automated tool such as Figaf or SAP’s Alert Notification can help you automate such processes.
Integration Testing Risks
A properly tested SAP integration ensures reliability, high performance, and security. This can further enhance cost efficiencies, time savings, and customer satisfaction. But SAP integration testing can only generate business value when implemented with best practices. For example, developers must perform various integration tests such as:
- Unit testing with Groovy scripts gives developers a straightforward approach to checking if the groovy is correct.
- Testing iFlows, to see if all parts of the iFlow perform as expected. In some cases, you may need to mock endpoints to monitor the application effectively.
- Test performed by the business experts to provide a different perspective about the application.
The idea is that the more you test the integration, the more you achieve in terms of reliability, high-performance, and security. Doing so requires a robust testing solution that makes it easy to perform the tests.
Transport and Approval Risks
One of the important aspects of SAP integration is having a good transport and governance process. There are a few pitfalls that you can run into while using your SAP CPI transports, including:
- Understanding which iFlow(s) are being transported and which ones should move. If you are using file-based transport, you must take care not to move iFlows incorrectly.
- Updating the iFlows correctly. Configuration of the iFlows is important, you need to ensure you are updating them correctly. For example, you need to point to the correct user-passwords, certificates, and hostnames. It would be good if you used the same user-password variable names across the landscape, so you do not need to change them. You still need to change hostnames and other parameters that are related to the iFlow.
- Streamlining approval process. You should streamline the transport approval process to make sure that developers are not moving code/integrations into production.
- Performing code reviews. This helps you to find out whether what is being transported is correct.
- Updating the documentation. This helps you to know why an iFlow has been changed, so the people that support it have an idea about what is going on.
Building a Robust CPI SAP CPI Integration
When you are building your SAP CPI integration, you must ensure that it handles errors properly. Once you define the Flow, you need to ensure it is working properly. Build-in retries using the JMS/Enterprise Messaging or to use other ways to let the iFlow reprocess the message.
- Use the exception flow where errors can occur and fix the potential problems.
- Extract as much information as possible from the error. You can use some groovy exception handling as explained in this example and then save the payload to an MPL attachment.
- Improve the exception handling as you learn and see more exception of your integration during the support process
A word of caution: Use generic processes to handle the exception processing, otherwise you will end up with 305 different ways of processing errors and nobody will be able to support it.
Managed Services Can Help You With SAP Integrations
Evidently, there are many problems bedeviling SAP integrations. While you can leverage manual processes to manage SAP integrations, they cannot address key pain points in the sector like flexibility, scalability, and agility. And even if you have a large in-house team of SAP integration architects, they would spend much time debugging and writing documentation, affecting productivity and competitive advantage.
You can expedite SAP integrations by engaging the services of a managed service company. Such a company can help you monitor your systems and resolve issues whenever they occur. However, you must ensure they have good systems in place to simplify the support process to use such companies.
Eliminate SAP Integration Risks With Figaf
As software development methodologies evolve from monolithic structures to agile practices, so should SAP integrations. Unfortunately, traditional SAP integration methods have remained largely monolithic, leading to many risks involving development, testing, transports, and documentation.
Figaf is an out-of-the-box SAP integration solution that can help you automate such processes to achieve agility, flexibility, and return on investment (ROI) for your SAP landscape. Figaf has the following components:
- Support and alert management with filter rules
- Automatic test case creation of SAP CPI iFlows. It even has the option to create mock of endpoints.
- It has an advanced process for handling SAP CPI transports so you can make sure you know what is being transported.
- It let you transport individual iFlows
- It lets you run the test for the iFlows you are transporting to ensure they work
- Setup configuration for the iFlow in one place for the full landscape
- Gives you a different tool so you can see what is different between two iFlows both visually and in a diff way.
- The approval process of the change that happens
- Documentation of the full transport
It also supports SAP PI/PO and API management much the same way to allow you to reduce the risk.
With the Figaf tool, you can save quite a lot of time for your developers and architects time for each transport. The time that can be used to build new integrations for your business. You can implement it pretty fast.