Worcestershire County Council Finds a Fast SAP Compliant Alternative to LSMW
By Clinton Jones on May 18, 2016
This is the first in a three part series based on several Winshuttle customer presentations illustrating why they felt Winshuttle was a better alternative to LSMW for the business and even IT.
Starting at the beginning
We have to first understand what LSMW’s purpose is and how it works before comparing it to Winshuttle Studio. LSMW is free and comes bundled as part of the ABAP implementation with any SAP system. Free is a word that needs to be used with caution though – anything that is ‘free’ ultimately has a price attached. Winshuttle customers like Worcestershire County Council have told us that this cost comes in the lack of flexibility in how you build, deploy and use automation when relying exclusively on LSMW.
In a Winshuttle User Group presentation, WCC noted they have continuously evolving needs, which is not unusual for SAP customers. If your business is changing, the way you work is continually transforming, and the way you work with systems like SAP needs to change as well.
While a county council rarely engages in a merger or acquisition, these sorts of things happen, and when your business acquires another, you have to figure out how to work with the newly acquired entity on a converged system. Converging systems, retiring a legacy system and consolidating activities translates to many pieces of data that need to get moved around or modified. Since IT doesn’t necessarily understand all the data and consultants come and go, the business is often tasked with getting the data right on an ongoing basis.
A big gun isn’t always effective
Pulling out LSMW in M&A or system landscape optimization or transformation activities makes sense, especially when you are working with millions of pieces of data. But what about cut over activities, messy data, or small sets of data that IT tells the business to recapture manually?
LSMW is like a big gun – it has a large caliber, high velocity and packs a powerful punch but it’s also like a big bulky cannon because it’s not very agile or flexible and can be imprecise. Once you’ve fired your salvo, you have to look at the end result and decide whether all your missiles hit the mark and all your data went in without errors. After the smoke clears, anything that is missed or failed needs to be cleaned up and stripped out from the completed postings before re-processing. The rework can be significant and duplicate results are always a risk.
A fast, accurate alternative to LSMW utilizing Excel
With Winshuttle Studio there are a number of options you can consider. You can use a transaction recording made up of several recordings merged together for execution based on rules around your data and the behavior of the screens in SAP. A smart missile.
You can create a recording based on the classic Batch Input method which only feeds SAP and waits on results – all synchronous but possibly less elegant because batch input screens don’t return all warnings and errors.
You could also use a cascade of scripts which is a pretty common use case where customers run one scenario after another using linkages and dependencies on data or results.
A 4th option is to use a BAPI. This approach is similar to the batch input method and can be equally as effective as the first option.
More importantly, you can run all of these methods from Excel or Access without converting your data to text. All of your success and fail results are completely transparent and shown in the rows of the data in a specialized log column so there is no risk of ambiguity about whether something was loaded or changed.
For IT and the business
The evolving nature of WCC’s business processes meant that IT needed to spend more time on configuration and support, and less time developing data loading scenarios. They also needed to figure out how to load the data and whether or not it was working correctly. They were looking to build one or more integration scenarios that the business could modify or use themselves in a robust, reliable and audit compliant way. This last point is important because with IT running data into the system, special concessions needed to be sought to get signoff from audit that IT wasn’t making unwanted production data changes.
WCC selected a model where IT and special super-users in the business create the scripts, however all the data runs are completed by the business. Occasionally IT will still be involved in data loading but this is normally only under exceptional circumstances. For the most part the business utilizes Winshuttle to maintain data in SAP, reducing the burden on IT.
This is how data maintenance should be in SAP – empowering the business to take back ownership and maintenance of it’s own the data. Winshuttle is also a great alternative to LSMW because it’s pretty hard to do this in LSMW without a whole heap of custom development.
Want to learn more about Winshuttle Studio as a business user-friendly alternative to LSMW? Attend the “A Fast 3 Step Alternative to LSMW” webinar.
About the author
Clinton Jones is a Director for Finance Solutions Management at Winshuttle where he has worked since 2009. He is internationally experienced having worked on finance technologies and business process with a particular focus on integrated business solutions in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and North America. Clinton serves as a technical consultant on technology and quality management as it relates to data and process management and governance for finance organizations globally. Prior to Winshuttle he served as a Technical Quality Manager at SAP and with Microsoft in their Global Foundation Services group.
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