Food and drinks firm SHS Group removes 'admin headaches' of large SAP environment with Solution Manager

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ComputerworldUK speaks to John McLarnon, head of information systems at SHS Group and Michelle Armstrong, SHS project manager, about its deployment of SAP's Solution Manager

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SHS Group has deployed SAP's Solution Manager tool to simplify and automate management of its extensive SAP application environment, replacing the 'slow and clunky' Lotus Notes.

The Belfast-based company owns a range of food and drink brands including WKD, Shloer, Bottlegreen, Merrydown Cider and Farmlea.

To support its operations, SHS Group has been using wide range of SAP products since 2006. This includes SAP CRM, BW, Integrated Planning, ECC and more recently BW Hana and Business Objects.

In order to support the maintenance and delivery of its SAP applications throughout their lifecycle, SHS Group partnered with service provider RapidERP to roll out SAP’s Solution Manager.

The Solution Manager platform offered the company a range of capabilities such as business process monitoring and test management.

Part of the attraction was the Change Request Management (ChaRM) feature available in Solution Manager, says Michelle Armstrong, SHS project manager.

“We quickly came to the opinion that one of the most significant areas of pressure for us was the whole areas of change management,” she said.

“So this started to build up quite a significant business case that lent itself to the Solution Manager ChaRM solution.”

The company had previously relied on a Lotus Notes-based third party change management system. This lacked transparency around certain business processes, such as approvals, as the company managed its large SAP environment.

“It was very slow, the documentation was difficult to search and find, and the auditing perspective – going from one side of the business through to IT then back out the other end – it just took a long time," said Armstrong.

“It was definitely hindering the flow of information as rapidly as we had wanted to do.”

John McLarnon, head of information systems at SHS Group, added that the biggest area of impact was the on SHS Group’s information systems team, which sits within the company’s support organisation.

“The old solution was clunky, had too many touch-points, was labour intensive and just wasn’t fit for purpose in terms of our high volume change requests, because you can get buried in the detail," he said.

“We were looking for a solution that was slick, seamless and almost empowered ourselves to do a lot of the work rather than the system. We needed change and so we started to look for a replacement.”

The biggest benefit has been easier management of change requests.

“We can now see how quickly it is to get change requests through," said Armstrong.

“We also can see the analysis through KPIs that are directly in ChaRM to see how quickly ChaRM requests are being approved and being moved through the transport application cycle, and into the production environment. We can see that quite vividly.

“We can go in a lot more clearer to see our app test results, which before we found quite difficult to stem from in Lotus Notes.”

She added that it has been possible to automate service desk requests through ChaRM. “We were able to create a workflow process that automatically updates and closes the service desk request upon the ChaRM transport going into the production environment.

"It stops some of the administrative headache that some of our business analysts had, it takes it away from them and it it is now done through an automatic workflow."

John McLarnon, Head of Information Systems at SHS Group, is speaking at the User Group’s Business Value Through Technology on 22nd September in Dublin.

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