Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies (FFDB), the drug contract manufacturing division of the camera and camera film company, can now implement SAP service pack upgrades more efficiently thanks to automation software from Panaya.
SAP releases a service pack containing around 3,000 patches every three months. Before using Panaya’s tool, FFDB would have to manually go through each of the patches to see if any of them will change the way the business operates. Rather than applying the service packs wholly, the company focused on applying just the patches that were for key business processes - though even this was time-consuming.
“We need to do them every 12 or 18 months,” said Campbell Kay, IT manager at FFDB. “Last time we did them, we had 12,000 patches. We went from Service Packs 21 to 24.”
The big problem with the patching process was that it needed to fit in with the timescale of the manufacturing department, so that the company’s quality assurance (QA) and Dev systems were not upgraded too far ahead of the production system, and therefore risk being incompatible.
“We want to keep the time difference between the two systems being out of sync short,” Kay said.
FFDB began using the software from Panaya in October 2013. It analyses the changes in the SAP service packs and produces a report to show FFDB what the changes are and what impact they will have on its systems, indicating to the company which patch is essential.
In the former manual process, FDDB would execute paper test scripts, take screen shots, print them out, sign them, give them a document reference number, review the scripts, and any errors in the scripts had to be rewritten and retested.
The Panaya software automates the test execution process, capturing and recording test steps and data with the press of a button, saving FDDB 80 percent of time it used to spend on testing.
In addition, although it is still early days, automating this process has helped FFDB to implement service packs between 20 and 25 percent faster, Kay said.
Write once, reuse
With Panaya, the company can also now reuse scripts once they have been written for other projects, which also saves time.
For example, by reusing existing tests, FDDB completed a server migration project 10 percent faster.
The company is began using SAP in 2008, and is now on SAP version R3 EC6.0 at its Billingham site in the UK. It uses SAP for development, QA (testing) and production. Other SAP software at the company includes Production Planning - Process Industries (PP-PI), Warehouse Management, Material Management, Quality Management, Financials and Controlling (FICO), Sales and Distribution, Plant Maintenance, Project System. It switched off SAP BI this year.
It has around 300 SAP users in the UK office, and plans to roll out SAP to the North Carolina, US office, where there are another 300 users, in October 2014.
It employs just a small team of SAP experts - one SAP manager and three ‘super users’, relying on a contract with Atos to provide extra SAP expertise.
“We can’t hire enough people to manage SAP, so Atos provide support. It costs a lot to train people up [on SAP] and they disappear,” said Kay, who confesses to not be an SAP expert.
In the past, when Atos tested a service pack or upgrade, FFDB found that it wouldn’t get the same answers when it ran tests internally. Now, with both sides using Panaya, these results match up, Kay said.
Last year, Guardian News and Media (GNM) revealed it was able to upgrade its Oracle E-Business Suite to R12 in half the expected time, by using Panaya's automation software-as-a-service (SaaS).