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Digital transformation and new technology trends are leading to changes in SAP systems. Why do many companies find it so difficult to keep up with innovations?
James Roberts, Basis Technologies
March 5, 2020
DevOps column
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

In his presentation at Sapphire Now 2019, Hasso Plattner explained why it's so important to be able to adapt SAP systems quickly and frequently: "Although I don't know the average exactly, I think the average customer is six years back ... probably more." But he also emphasized how difficult some companies find it to implement major changes to their SAP systems.

For these companies, the increasing number of SAP development projects is a major challenge. These include moving to the cloud, implementing S/4 Hana, and even updating ECC systems before support ends in 2025.

At the same time, the need for shorter response times means that SAP teams need to be more agile - resulting in a significant shift in tasks. Why aren't companies taking the necessary action? One reason is often that managing parallel SAP developments is difficult and complex. This applies equally to large-scale upgrade projects and agile sprint projects.

Parallel development at SAP usually means that multi-track (or N+N) development takes place, with teams working on individual or complex software developments in independent SAP systems without jeopardizing normal operations.

But working in separate, non-networked systems presents its own challenges. Everything must be coordinated, and conflicts must be identified and resolved to minimize the risk of business interruption when updates are deployed to mission-critical production systems.

This complexity and the manual effort required to manage it mean that a multi-pronged development approach tends to be applied to large projects. Or it is avoided altogether by even not implementing projects that add value to the business but are not considered essential, such as the implementation of ECC enhancement packs or new S/4 Hana releases. However, this could result in high opportunity costs.

But not only large projects benefit from parallel development. With new approaches such as an agile way of working and DevOps, companies can respond more quickly to market demands by delivering only comparatively small changes.

To do this, teams have to work on several developments simultaneously in so-called sprints. But then the question arises: How can these rapid agile developments be managed in parallel without compromising security? Here, too, multi-track development can be the right approach for some companies.

One Basis Technologies customer, Swedish telecommunications giant Ericsson, is working with an N+10 landscape so that its Sprint teams can work independently. But if N+1 projects are already so complex, how is development possible with N+10 systems?

The answer to this is through automation. The right approach to automation eliminates the manual effort involved in multi-track development. You no longer need to track every change and potential conflict.

Systems are automatically synchronized - typically over 90 percent of the time - and conflicts are automatically detected. Tests that often slowed down the process can be performed significantly faster, easier and more effectively.

IT leaders who want to, or are planning to, undertake a large transformation project such as a move to S/4 Hana should consider the role automation should play in making the project more cost-effective, faster and with less risk.
James Roberts, Basis Technologies

EN: An expert in SAP DevOps and agile development, James Roberts is director of development and support at Basis Technologies. He has more than 20 years of global SAP development experience.EN: As an expert evangelist on the application of SAP DevOps and Agile Development, James Roberts convinces in his role as Chief Technology Officer at Basis Technologies. He brings over 20 years of global experience in the field of SAP.

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For the second time, E3 magazine is organizing a summit for the SAP community in Salzburg to provide comprehensive information on all aspects of S/4 Hana groundwork. All information about the event can be found here:

SAP Competence Center Summit 2024


Event Room, FourSide Hotel Salzburg,
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Event date

June 5 and 6, 2024

Regular ticket:

€ 590 excl. VAT


Event Room, Hotel Hilton Heidelberg,
Kurfürstenanlage 1,
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Event date

28 and 29 February 2024


Regular ticket
EUR 590 excl. VAT
The organizer is the E3 magazine of the publishing house AG. The presentations will be accompanied by an exhibition of selected SAP partners. The ticket price includes the attendance of all lectures of the Steampunk and BTP Summit 2024, the visit of the exhibition area, the participation in the evening event as well as the catering during the official program. The lecture program and the list of exhibitors and sponsors (SAP partners) will be published on this website in due time.