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Customers looking into SAP Solution Manager in general and especially Business Process Monitoring (BPMon), often come up with the question what benefits they could gain when utilizing BPMon. Especially when other monitoring tools are already in use, these customers are unsure if BPMon really provides added value to them. In most cases the answer is "yes, additional benefits are provided". In order to understand that, you have to know what functional scope is covered by Business Process Monitoring in SAP Solution Manager, what integration features are provided and which target groups are mainly working with BPMon. This blog should help finding answers to those questions.

 

Functional Scope:

Business Process Monitoring is shipped with around 800 pre-configured key figures coming out-of-the-box. Hence it is clear that this blog cannot cover all those key figures in detail. Instead we just give you an idea about the different main monitoring areas, highlighting some selected key figures. The main areas in alphabetical order are:

  • Application Monitoring (Throughput & Backlog)
  • Background Job Monitoring
  • Cross-Application Monitoring
  • Data Consistency Monitoring
  • Dialog Performance Monitoring
  • Interface Monitoring

In all areas Business Process Monitoring provides drill-down features that bring you immediately to the single failed job or IDoc or outstanding business document on the respective backend system. Hence the root-cause analysis is already in-built within BPMon. Business Process Monitoring allows the automatic creation of SAP Service Desk messages as well as email or text message notifications as auto-reaction methods. Hence the respecitve operator can really just work based on exceptions. For reporting purposes an integration with New Business Process Monitoring functionalities in SAP Solution Manager - BPMon Trend Analysis Reporting (or as of SAP Solution Manager 7.1 SP5 New Business Process Monitoring functionalities in SAP Solution Manager - BPMon Alert Reporting Analysis and the Service Level Reporting in SAP Solution Manager exists.

 

Application Monitoring (Throughput & Backlog):

More than three third of the 750 pre-configured key figures are application specific. For those that follow the blogs on Business Process Monitoring will have already seen blogs on typical ERP Logistic processes like Best Practice: Business Process Monitoring for Order to Cash, Best Practice: Business Process Monitoring for Procure to Pay, Best Practice: Business Process Monitoring for Stock Transport Order replenishment process and Best Practice: Business Process Monitoring for Manufacturing (discrete and repetitive) where selected key figures have been highlighted. Within SAP ERP the following traditional modules are all covered quite comprehensively with dedicated key figures: Sales and Distribution (SD), Materials Management (MM), Production Planning (PP), Logistic Execution (LE), Warehouse Management (WM), Plant Maintenance (PM), Customer Service (CS), Quality Management (QM), Financial Accounting (FI), Controlling (CO)

In a similar fashion SAP Financial Supply Chain Management (FSCM), SAP Extended Warehouse Management, SAP Transportation Management, SAP CRM (with Best Practice: Business Process Monitoring for CRM Sales, Services, Marketing and Customer Interaction Center), SAP SRM (with Self Service Procurement and Sourcing Cockpit) and the most important planning runs within SAP APO are covered.

You can also monitor industry specific Mass Activities, e.g. for IS-Utilities, IS-Telecommunications or IS-Banking. Last but not least there are features for monitoring SAP Consolidation (SEM-BCS).

For dedicated industry solutions like AFS, Retail and Automotive there also exist industry specfic monitoring enhancements.

 

Background Job Monitoring:

One of the oldest and most used functionalities in BPMon is the background job monitoring. Besides standard key figures for monitoring a job runtime or a job status there are additional key figures which are usually not provided by other monitoring or even scheduling tools.

It is possible to monitor for business related Start and End Delays (not the technical Start Delay seen in transaction SM37), i.e. you can define an expected start or end time from a business perspective and you are then able to monitor the respective deviation from these times.

It is also possible to automatically monitor if a certain job log message occurred within the job log. Not only that, you can even monitor for the job log content. An example would be that an extraction job provides the information within the job log that 10.000 records have been extracted. Then you can check whether 10.000 is within an expected range or too high or too low.

The job monitoring already allowed the monitoring of single jobs within SAP BW Process Chains for many years. Since April 2010 it is additionally possible to monitor the status, runtime or delays of complete Process Chains. For details you can refer to the following SDN blog Best Practice: BW Process Chain monitoring with SAP Solution Manager - Part 1

 

Cross-Application Monitoring:

Precisely speaking job monitoring could be seen as one cross-application monitor, i.e. independent of the underlying SAP application (e.g. SAP ERP, SAP, CRM, SAP SCM, SAP SRM) you have monitors at hand that can be used. Other cross-application monitors are for example Application Log, ABAP dump or Update error monitors, where you monitor specific ABAP dumps or Update errors related to specific transactions or programs. You can also monitor any kind of output message in table NAST and check if it was processed successfully or not. As table NAST is bascially only used for SAP ERP output messages you can also monitor the Post Process Framework (PPF) in a similar fashion which is used for SAP CRM, SAP SRM, SAP SCM and SAP EWM.

 

Data Consistency Monitoring:

Often customers find it difficult to find the right standard data consistency check reports as they might be distributed across different documentations (e.g. SAP notes or SAP Help). As these check reports are often just scheduled on a weekly or even monthly basis people tend to forget checking their corresponding output. With Business Process Monitoring this problem can be overcome. The most important data consistency check reports can all be found within the monitoring setup.

You then have to schedule the data consistency check report as a regular background job with variant. The variant needs then to be made known to the SAP Solution Manager and then BPMon will check if the consistency check ran at all and also what its output was. More information can be found in the following New Business Process Monitoring Functionalities in SAP Solution Manager - functionalities For Inconsistencies in SAP Solution Manager.

 

Dialog Performance Monitoring:

Another cross-application monitor that gets its own section because it is very often used is the dialog performance monitor where it is possible to monitor the average response time of a certain transaction code or even one technical level below the function code. As an example you could check what the average response time was over the last 15 minutes for transaction VA01 (Create Sales Order) in general or only for the important save step (function code SICH). Actually this monitor is not restricted to transaction codes only but you can also monitor average response times for processing function modules, e.g. interesting in SAP CRM.

As service provider are most of the time just guaranteeing Service Level Agreements for transaction response times on a weekly or even monthly basis, this monitoring allows identifying real response times even during the day. It also allows reacting on performance problems before the end-users complain.

 

Interface Monitoring:

Just like with the Application Monitoring section you might have already read something about Interface Monitoring as some SDN blogs about New Business Process Monitoring functionalities in SAP Solution Manager – ALE / IDoc Monitoring as well as New Business Process Monitoring functionalities in SAP Solution Manager – qRFC Monitoring have been published. Besides these interface technologies it is also possible to monitor traditional technologies like tRFC, BDocs, Business Workflows, Flat Files or messages of SAP PI.

 

Business Process Monitoring catalog:

You can find a complete catalog with all available key figures on the SAP Service Marketplace under https://service.sap.com/BPM --> Media Library --> Customer Information --> Business Process & Interface Monitoring - Part 2 or directly behind this link.

Besides the out-of-the-box key figures shipped with BPMon there is also a New Business Process Monitoring functionalities in SAP Solution Manager - Customer Exit and Customer Exit: Create your own key figure for BPMon AND Business Process Analytics included in BPMon so that customer specific key figures can be easily added the standard functional scope.

Sample process

Target Groups:

Now that you have a rough idea about the functional scope of Business Process Monitoring in SAP Solution Manager we can briefly talk about the target groups that are usually working with BPMon.

The main target group and driver of BPMon projects is the 2nd or 3rd level Application Support on IT side, i.e. those colleagues in the IT that know the SAP applications very well and are perhaps counterparts of the business process owner on business side.

If your focus is more on background job, dialog performance or interface monitoring then this is often driven by the IT Basis Support team.

The Application Monitoring piece on the other hand usually targets key stakeholders on business department side, e.g. business process or functional owners.

 

In general Business Process Monitoring provides the means to bring IT and business together and bridges the gap between the two departments. But of course this is also one of the main challenges for customers to overcome possible organizational barriers.

 

Integration with other SAP tools:

At the end of this blog we want to mention briefly which standard integrations exist with other SAP tools. Again in alphabetical order, Business Process Monitoring integrates with

  • SAP BW allowing trend analysis for every BPMon key figure, see the following New Business Process Monitoring functionalities in SAP Solution Manager - BPMon Trend Analysis Reporting,
  • SAP CCMS as every Monitoring Tree Element (MTE) of every connected SAP backend system can be integrated within BPMon via Copy & Paste,
  • SAP Central Process Scheduling by Redwood as this central, event-driven scheduler can directly feed BPMon with background job information via a push-mechanism,
  • SAP Service Desk as BPMon can create Service Desk messages with alert content automatically,
  • SAP Service Level Reporting as BPMon alerts and respective measured values can be included in the SLR,
  • SAP Solution Manager SAP is first vendor to provide a comprehensive Job Management Suite as out of the documentation application the monitoring for the respective job can be directly activated,
  • SAP Solution Manager Project Part as business processes maintained within an SAP project can be copied to the Solution Directory and then used for BPMon,
  • SAP System Monitoring as System Monitoring alerts are displayed within the BPMon graphic as well.

 

Summary:

After reading this blog you hopefully have a better understanding of how broad the functional scope of Business Process Monitoring is and how this tool differs from most other monitoring tools. Like so many other customers you might be overwhelmed of what is all out there but that shouldn't keep you away from starting with BPMon. Just pick some areas where you see quick wins for improving daily operations. Getting the first prototypes up and running is usually just a matter of days as many customers confirmed. Only when rolling out BPMon to a larger scale it becomes more difficult, mainly because of organizational alignments needed. You can find much helpful information to get started on the SAP Service Marketplace under https://service.sap.com/BPM --> Media Library --> Technical Information. There you also find a zip-file with a complete Template Solution for BPMon that contains completely pre-configured example business processes which can be uploaded into your SAP Solution Manager via transaction SOLUTION_TRANSFER. This should really give you a head-start with your initial Business Process Monitoring implementation.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Business Process Monitoring and Business Process Analytics are answered under http://wiki.sdn.sap.com/wiki/display/SM/FAQ+Business+Process+Monitoring and

http://wiki.sdn.sap.com/wiki/display/SM/FAQ+Business+Process+Analytics respectively.

 

The following blogs (in chronological order) provide further details about Business Process Analytics and Business Process Monitoring functionalities within the SAP Solution Manager.

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