The Importance of Smaller Steps- Navigating Agile Change Management in Enterprise B2B Software

Being a product manager in the Enterprise B2B software domain, I couldn’t ignore this picture once I saw it:

The philosophy of small steps can be applied in so many areas of life, but today I would like to focus on my professional domain.

Today we see it in every IT organization which applies agile methodologies in their development processes. It became a new standard of building MVPs to be productive as fast as possible with a product that fits the latest modern requirements. The methodology to cut requirements into the smallest possible pieces made the real revolution in R&D, no doubt about it.

But each story has two sides. Being agile and cutting products into small features requires us to take significant measures in quality assurance. Test each feature, test it integrating into a big picture, test it functionally, and let business users test it. No doubt, the effort to test each feature in the right way to secure Going-Live from all perspectives can be significant.

And now, let’s focus this thought on SAP systems today. Although there are methodologies in the world to introduce changes using agile methods, we agree that the vast majority of SAP shops today still work in the old waterfall way. And it is not just a problem for ongoing projects.

From a quality assurance perspective, although test automation for regression testing is set in most enterprises, running the whole regression suite for a single transport is not worth running.
Additionally, there is always this confidence “I know what was developed and am sure about the impact.” This confidence often leads to problems in production and often, these failures are not recognizable by a short dump but only visible after a period of time where possible data inconsistencies created significant damages and a formally known “small change” develops into a big data rescue project.

So, how to overcome this? Here are a few recommendations based on the smaller-steps philosophy:

  1. Maximize your tools and resources: Think carefully about the tools you have, and don’t forget, there is no one tool in the world that is an answer to everything. So, if you have a gap in Change Management, Deployment and Version Control, Test Management, Test Execution (manual and automation), and Impact Analysis tools, don’t hesitate to close it. The majority of tools today can be integrated, just be wise in selecting those tools. Read user experience (i.e., G2). Small steps are important here as well: make sure to find the best solution for each area first and then connect them into a process.             
  2. Emphasize the importance of testing: Even for minor changes, testing is crucial in ensuring the success of your project. Utilize Impact Analysis tools to determine the minimum testing scope to eliminate potential risks. An Impact Analysis tool like Panaya can be helpful in determining what to test. Minimal testing scope to eliminate maximum risk.
  3. Seek the guidance of experts: Hire consultants with good knowledge and experience in different tools and the right development methodologies to ensure the smooth implementation of changes in your software.

In the end, it is not only the current requirement or feature that you deliver today that you invest in quality. Well-measured investments in quality for each transport are a great investment into future projects and technologies. And this is not a prediction – it is the real experience for every organization which is going through digital transformation and S/4HANA projects. Investments are huge but very much predictable for those who pay attention to the small steps.

Small changes, whether planned or urgent, decide how complicated your next major project will be.

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