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Service Virtualization for SAP – You Could Save €240k (and Hit Deadlines)

Service Virtualization for SAP – You Could Save €240k (and Hit Deadlines)

Dean Hanson

Does your SAP implementation involve multiple workstreams? Could 3rd party integration slow your progress? If yes to either, Service Virtualization could help you reduce costly delays and help you keep your SAP project under control.

What is Service Virtualization? A Simple Explanation

Simply put; Service Virtualization is software that mimics components of your solution.

In years gone by you might have used stubs, mocks, and drivers. These were generally quick and dirty development hacks, rarely shared with testing. Often hardcoded, they were flaky and offered little real value beyond unit testing.

Nowadays, companies like Parasoft provide robust, industrialized, and commoditized Service Virtualization solutions. Equally useable by all teams, ‘Virtual Assets’ are easily created, can actively listen for requests, and will provide realistic responses.

Service Virtualization for Your SAP Implementation

You might be aware of Service Virtualization but never considered it for your SAP Project. You’re not alone. Service Virtualization is heavily associated with microservice landscapes and DevOps programs. It’s not widely used within SAP implementations, although there’s a strong case that it should be.

Service virtualization can simplify your approach to SAP implementations; reducing complexity, removing interdependence, and creating simpler testing setups.

It could be your Order-to-Cash, Procure-to-Pay, your Manufacturing solution, or Logistics module that’s proving a challenge. Service Virtualization has the potential to plug that gap (at least for the time being) and allow you to carry on.

Once we’ve looked at the cost of SAP project delays, we’ll delve into two specific examples where Service Virtualization can shred time and money from your project:

  • Example 1 – A Single Workstream is Delaying Your Whole SAP Project
  • Example 2 – Streamlined Integration Testing With a 3rd Party Provider

Average SAP Project Delays Cost €19k+ a Week

According to this survey, ERP projects have an average budget overrun of 24%. Most SAP project budgets are €1m+, this means an average SAP Project overrun of €240k+. Clearly this, not a trivial amount, but I doubt it will surprise many of you.

We generally measure project delays in weeks, nobody likes to tell the board their project is slipping by months. Let’s say your SAP project runs for 12 months and costs €1m euros. That’s a relatively quick and cheap SAP project but still comes in at a budget run-rate of roughly €19k a week.

Of course, you will have peaks and troughs in your projects – resources will ramp up and down at different stages – but €19k a week is a good figure to work with.

Use Service Virtualization to Keep Control of Your SAP Project

The following 2 examples highlight areas where you can use Service Virtualization to keep control of your SAP Project. In both cases, Service Virtualization has the potential to take weeks off your projects – that’s a lot of €19k’s.

Example 1 – A Single Workstream is Delaying Your Whole SAP Project

We’ve all been there; 3 out of your 4 workstreams have completed delivery but the last is taking forever. Integration testing has been halted, your delivery team is starting to get bored and agitated. The project is in danger of losing momentum.

The functional consultant for the delayed workstream isn’t bored but they are most certainly agitated. They’re the focus of every stand-up and progress meeting, the owner of all the defects, the fulcrum of project success. They’re finding it increasingly difficult to make any headway when dealing with all the noise and the need for constant updates.

Service Virtualization can step into the breach. Providing a missing interface, that last finance record, or other key elements. Simulating whatever you need to give your functional consultant room to breathe and get them back to their key tasks.

The major benefit here is an earlier start to end-to-end testing. This will take weeks off your project duration. Rather than playing at being busy, the rest of your delivery team will use the time to fix bugs sooner, ensuring the integration of all workstreams and raising the quality of your implementation.

Using Service Virtualization will not only reduce your budget and hit your deadlines, but it will also maintain traction on your project and keep your team focused on the right issues.

Example 2 – Streamlined Integration Testing With a 3rd Party Provider

As soon as you involve a 3rd party you lose some control, whether it’s the visibility of test results, access to their resources, or differently aligned priorities – despite years of loyal custom, you might not be the center of their universe.

They’re a key partner and you don’t want to upset the relationship. At the same time, however, you need to maintain traction on your project – problems at their end could easily escalate into confrontation or unpleasant conversation.

Service virtualization of your 3rd party systems allows you to test your end of the interfaced solution, without relying on your provider. It gives you control over your timelines and limits the potential for budget overrun – some external providers charge for the use of their interface. It also takes the pressure off your partners, allowing you to maintain your good relationship despite any technical challenges they might be facing.

Drawbacks/Limitations to Consider Before Using Service Virtualization

Service Virtualization can certainly help a lot of SAP projects but there are a few considerations you’ll need to factor in.

Firstly, you will still need to do a full end-to-end test run once the missing piece has been developed. This is potentially effort duplication. Service Virtualization will allow you to do most of the hard work up front, but there could still be some integration issues with your outstanding workstream. You may find defects that require changes to the other workstreams. In this case, you’ve potentially carried out a lot of redundant testing.

Secondly, Service Virtualization will incur a cost, lead time, and potentially additional resources. If your project is already over-budget and in trouble, it might be a difficult conversation. The cost increase could be relatively minor when compared to the likely cost of a budget overrun, but your senior management might not see it that way.

This doesn’t mean that Service Virtualization won’t be appropriate for your project. Rather, when it comes to speaking with providers, this should give you some useful discussion/negotiating points.

Should you get in touch with a provider? Do you have anything to lose?

We’ve looked at two project issues where Service Virtualization can save you time and money: A flagging workstream and 3rd Party integration. You’ve probably experienced both on SAP projects but you probably haven’t addressed them with Service Virtualization.

As with everything, there are drawbacks. The solution isn’t free and there’s potential effort duplication. These shouldn’t stop you from investigating the solution, however. It could be a very powerful weapon in your project armory.

If your about to go into an SAP project why not get in touch with a Service Virtualization provider? You’ve got nothing to lose and it’s useful to have the business case ready. When it comes to ‘crunch time’ in your project, it could help you control your budget and hit your deadlines

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