SAP Cloud ALM (CALM) is a powerful solution developed by SAP for Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) in hybrid SAP environments, combining both on-premises and cloud solutions. Of course, there are other products and tools for project management, process design, testing, and documentation, but as a SAP product, Cloud ALM has a special advantage by being part of the SAP landscape already. Cloud ALM can support the implementation process of S/4HANA, binding together many tracks and streams, and still be used together with other well-established products.

BearingPoint has experience in using SAP Cloud ALM in large S/4HANA transformation programs. We have used SAP Signavio for process design, and then continued with Cloud ALM for scope and requirements and further to agile implementation until deployment. The full project lifecycle is very much doable in Cloud ALM, supporting all aspects of project and solutions.

Cloud ALM is aligned with SAP Activate methodology

In the SAP Activate project methodology, during the Explore (design) phase, we collect the requirements (i.e. EPICs) for Cloud ALM. At the end of the Explore phase, when the design should be ready, the handover is made to the Realize phase for implementation. What exactly needs to be ready from Explore varies and must be decided by the project. Sometimes it makes sense to continue from solutions’ design (“blueprint”) to functional design documents, and even further to more technical RICEFW specifications. This is also what SAP Activate recommends to consider. However, usually in Realize Sprints detailed design is finalized, and User Stories are created per each Requirement. Finally, at the end of Sprint, we need to collect Features, and transports are done to test/quality environment for Sprint closing demos.

Feature in Cloud ALM context means in practice a container that collects requests, to handle transports to subsequent environments. Release management is important to do already during the Realize phase, as further test phases need to be planned, and production build planning should be initialized along with cut-over planning.

Everything is linked together, and SAP Cloud ALM can help on managing build, testing, and documentation. Testing needs to be supported with quality data, data migrations done on time, and the test phase must be supported with practical release and transport management. Cloud ALM has Releases and Deployments, and it supports agile delivery, for example utilizing Sprints and User Stories.

Track the progress with Cloud ALM

For project management, Cloud ALM gives dashboards and Gantt charts, and when consultants and developers update their tasks and other deliverables, management gets an almost real-time view of project progress. Of course, this can be very powerful for transparency, to enable success, and to avoid usual pitfalls and risks.

However, tools are always only one part of it. On top you need to know how to use the tools, and the entire project team must understand the approach and practices. Planning and instructions must be done, and training given. Cloud ALM itself is a self-taught tool, but the project needs a clear approach and agreement on how it will be used. For which purposes, and how in detail, for example how statuses and tags are used, and how the delivery process is followed using the tool.

Especially, if we use other tools together with Cloud ALM, like Tricentis for testing, we need to plan how these should work together. One option is to use standard template-based test cases as a source in Cloud ALM, and then conduct actual testing outside Cloud ALM.

Expand with new features

SAP Cloud ALM is a fairly new offering, and new features will be released throughout 2024 and further. As it is a cloud product, updates are in use immediately. The project just needs to update its approach and inform if anything new will be introduced during the ongoing project. Usually, S/4HANA transformations take substantial calendar time, and the use of tools needs to be constantly monitored and practices updated when seen as beneficial.

BearingPoint is able to help you based on real-life experiences, introducing SAP Cloud ALM to your SAP landscape and project usage.

Think and plan end-to-end

  • Preferably, use Cloud ALM full scale
  • Update rigorously, for example, every week tied with status reporting.

  • Prepare: be very clear about how you are going to use Cloud ALM, and what are the expectations

  • Start preparations well before the Explore phase: when the Explore starts, everybody should be familiar with the practices and the tool itself.

  • Agree on templates, process hierarchy, and documentation practices early, and finalize during the Explore for the Realize phase.

  • If you use parallel tools, be even more clear on what is the role of the tools and how these are integrated.

  • Appoint an Agile Coach and a Release Manager to support the project and the use of Cloud ALM

Author:

Tapani Tuoma 
Senior Business Advisor, ERP team
BearingPoint Finland

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