Okay, okay, so my last blog on this subject - Money wasting tip of the week, the BW-IP Performance review - was a little negative. But there is a flip side to what I was saying: that a BW-IP performance review can add a great deal of value. It’s just a question of managing the various people involved in the process effectively.
The IT Manager
This poor guy or girl is really getting it in the neck from the business, who have escalated the poorly performing planning application and want results, fast. Internal IT has tried everything it can, but this is simply too specialist an area. The IT Manager will then be faced with getting in outside help, which may be costly, and they will need to make certain assurances about the effectiveness of that outside help before a budget for it is released. This person is key and they need to realise this – they are going to have to manage the expectations of the business users, ensure that they are getting good quality advice from their SI, and push through any changes advocated by the SI. But they can succeed by taking a strong position and setting expectations from day one.
Firstly, they will need to prepare the way for some difficult decisions, such as a hardware or system patch upgrade. They should remind the business that their budgeting/ forecasting process is business critical and deserves an IT solution that matches that criticality. Perhaps the Netweaver BW environment has simply been used for reporting until the go-live of the planning solution. Reporting users are far more tolerant of poor performance than planning users, as planning users will be interacting with the system far more than reporting users, entering data, hitting <enter> and waiting for the results of their change to be processed. Therefore, decent hardware and an up-to-date patch level are essential. Perhaps the system did not have a patching strategy before, but it certainly should now. That will require business buy-in, as they will need to regression test it regularly, perhaps every 3 or 6 months, depending on the strategy.
IT Infrastructure Team
If upgrading to new hardware is part of the solution, then these guys will need to be quickly aligned. The poor IT manager might initially receive a volley of objections around the lead time for hardware, the cost/ difficulty/ risk of implementing the new hardware. If your IT infrastructure team are third-party, expect this push-back and the cost to be exacerbated. These are issues that will need to be worked through. Additionally, the poor IT manager will be pressed for assurances that the new investment in hardware will have the desired effect.
You want to get good value out of these guys. Firstly, check the credentials of who they are proposing to send. Do they understand planning, and IP? Do they understand BW? Do they have the know-how to look at your hardware, operating system, database and BASIS parameters to make some sensible recommendations? How often and where have they done this before? Ensure that the deliverables from the review are clearly specified.
Discuss up-front what the SI can do to help you. If they are going to suggest a hardware or patch upgrade, will they be able to replicate your system on their hardware with an appropriate patch level that will enable you to go back to the business with some hard numbers? Will they be able to work with your IT infrastructure team to work through roadblocks? Will they be able to quickly assemble resources to implement an application level performance fix and work within your governance structures to promote this through to production?
If you don’t get satisfactory answers to these questions, then walk down the road to the next SI.