With plans taking shape now, ASUG connected with Tim Steuer, SAP Vice President of ALM, for a preview of the SAP and ASUG Application Lifecycle Management Summit 2022 (https://www.asug.com/events/application-lifecycle-management).

In Steuer’s view, 2022 saw significant ALM portfolio developments for SAP customers, and 2023 will include additional tools and approaches to accelerate integration, business transformation, and cloud adoption.

This is an edited version of the ASUG interview with Steuer.

Question: Ready to look back? What has 2022 held for Application Lifecycle Management?

Answer: 2022 was special in many aspects. We listened to customers to improve their ALM experience with our most mature product, SAP Solution Manager. We were able to deliver 75% of the requests that customers put in through SAP Customer Connection. All those requests were intended to help customers move to SAP S/4HANA and SAP S/4HANA Cloud faster and more efficiently. Clearly, the topic of transformation has been at the focus of everything we do and support from an ALM perspective on the SAP Solution Manager side.

At the same time, SAP Cloud ALM continued to evolve, delivering more functionality, especially on the operations side. SAP Cloud ALM now covers all of SAP's core solutions, including on-prem solutions such as the SAP business suite and SAP S/4HANA in an on-premise deployment. As a result, today, we can boldly recommend to customers to use SAP Cloud ALM for operations simply because it offers significantly more capabilities than SAP Solution Manager ever could. And it is cost efficient for customers in the cloud.

We are seeing more adoption of this, and more and more customer stories evolve around SAP Cloud ALM. As an example, this year, at the user conference in Sweden, we had a customer tell us how great it was to have SAP Cloud ALM to run their operations. This customer is now presenting at the SAP ALM Summit EMEA 2022. So, SAP Cloud ALM is kicking off significantly, and resonating with more customers.

Q: What are examples of the Solution Manager improvements?

A: I can go into the focus areas. With respect to the improvements for SAP Solution Manager, the focus is to help customers adopt SAP S/4HANA, both on-premise and in the cloud, including helping customers design their to-be solution more efficiently, with solution documentation and process management, and with respect to usability and on functionality.

It is also critical for customers to test the solution before they go live with SAP S/4HANA. Here we included performance improvements and usability improvements.

Once customers have moved to SAP S/4HANA, they do ongoing maintenance and support. For this, we have change control and release management. With this, customers can control changes that flow in from the system, be it innovation that customers build on top of the standard solution, or enhancements delivered by partners. Here we also focused on making this a better experience.

Q: Back to Cloud ALM. What have customers been saying about their experience and results with SAP Cloud ALM this year?

A: Customers have told me they were extremely and pleasantly surprised by how little effort it takes to set up SAP Cloud ALM to monitor their cloud and on-prem landscapes. They were also surprised by the capability it offers. Cloud ALM is now in year three of availability. Customers had not expected such feature richness and such broad support from SAP. They were clearly impressed by that.

Q: Anything else in your 2022 reflections?

A: There is one more aspect, touching on transition and transformation. Of course, we offer different tools all centered around RISE with SAP. What we learned from customers is that they're really not interested in individual tools. Sometimes we have to come up with the right bundling. So, we started rolling out something that we call the Business Transformation Suite.

The Business Transformation Suite is not a commercial bundle, nothing customers can buy. It's how we explain to customers how they can best run their transformation. With Business Transformation Suite, we combine the experience of solution architects designing the solution as it should be as a result of the transformation.

Typically solution architects design new business processes because customers not only want to transform on the technical end but also on the business end to take full benefit of the promise of cloud. They would then use SAP Signavio to design the to-be solution, and that would then seamlessly integrate with the ALM solution. ALM would orchestrate the flow and the communication between the solution architects and the solutioning team.

With the SAP ALM portfolio, which includes SAP Solution Manager, SAP Focused Run, and SAP Cloud ALM, we orchestrate the flow of building the solution. We are very close to the software. So everything that requires configuration, extensibility, connectivity, and custom code is managed, organized, and orchestrated by the SAP ALM offerings. That includes the technical designs, the management of the developments and configuration, and the test execution. For test execution, we have our partner, Tricentis, who delivers test automation for SAP Solutions, which is included with SAP Enterprise Support.

For us, this is really the perfect combination of designing the future by the solution architects and then handing it over to the ALM portfolio to go into execution, all including end-to-end testing.

Q: Now on to 2023, what is your outlook for ALM?

A: 2023 is a crucial year. ALM is at a crossroads. Maybe I’ll go by product. For 2023, I look forward to customers adopting the innovation delivered this year with SAP Solution Manager. This is a two-fold: customers tell us what they expect from Solution Manager. SAP then delivers. But it’s only successful when customers adopt the innovation.

So I look forward to many more customers using SAP Solution Manager to transition to SAP S/4HANA and SAP S/4HANA Cloud. And this is execution happening on the customer side, of course, supported by services from SAP.

What's really going to be a game changer next year are several major developments inside SAP Cloud ALM. I mentioned that SAP Cloud ALM resonates really well for the operation side of the business, to manage business continuity, end user experience, and so forth.

I see a big breakthrough on the horizon with test automation tools from Tricentis being available in the cloud, fully integrated with Cloud ALM. We have that in the works for next year. We also have the complete embedded integration of the SAP Signavio Process Manager into SAP Cloud ALM.

This, also, would be a completely seamless experience in the sense of a Business Transformation Suite, from the solution architects designing the to-be solution in Signavio end-to-end, with all of the capabilities of Signavio. Then on to the development people; the project organization would work on those exact models that the solution architects provided.

SAP Signavio natively embedded and integrated into SAP Cloud ALM also is a big game changer, hopefully delivering the needed value customers expect from us when implementing SAP Cloud Solutions, and when adopting new releases and new versions of those cloud solutions.

In addition, we need to invest more into areas like test planning, reporting on testing, and on change and release management. This also is in the works and we believe this will drive adoption in 2023.

We have designed SAP Cloud ALM not only natively in the cloud with daily deployments, but we also based it on the mindset of being open to partners to integrate into Cloud ALM. Where we cannot deliver a certain capability or where we do not see the need, this leaves good opportunities for our partners to integrate through defined APIs that are published on the SAP API hub, where customers are starting to adopt and embrace this concept to extend the capabilities of SAP Cloud ALM based on customer requirements.

Q: Are there particular developments with partners moving ahead with this?

A: There's a really cool example. Bosch has created an extension to SAP Cloud ALM, by integrating Microsoft Teams. And that's a very cool feature that allows for collaboration and a good example that we do not need to develop everything at SAP. We can also integrate with other big leaders in the cloud world. Here, I think with Microsoft Teams, is one of the best examples that we have right now delivered by Bosch.

Q: Other themes that you see will surface at the ALM Summit, North America?

A: There's always this question. We see lots of excitement around SAP Cloud ALM, but we should never forget that we have 13,300-plus customers active on SAP Solution Manager. So for them, the question is, this all sounds great, and they would like to move ahead and potentially also use SAP Cloud ALM since it's more cost effective and we are able to offer more on this modern platform.

But the questions are: "What does it mean for me as a seasoned SAP Solution Manager shop? What is SAP's recommendation for me? Should I embrace SAP Cloud ALM? What about my investment in SAP Solution Manager?" We will provide clear guidance on what SAP Cloud ALM means for existing SAP Solution Manager customers.

We will conduct sessions with opportunities for attendees to see in action SAP Cloud ALM and provide opportunities to reserve a hands-on clinic slot with an SAP Cloud ALM expert to help customers get started with the required setup steps directly in an SAP Cloud ALM tenant.

Q: And, as you said, you’ve seen a surge in interest to adopt Cloud ALM?

A: Absolutely. This year, we're getting more customers every month to jump onto SAP Cloud ALM. They are productive immediately, in many cases, with the operations scenarios. We also had a customer, Chemours, present at SAP Sapphire this year in Orlando. They shared how they successfully implemented SAP S/4HANA Cloud with SAP Cloud ALM.

We believe we will see more of those customers, not only on the operation side, where we see strong adoption but also on the implementation side, once the SAP Signavio integration and the Tricentis integration become available to support projects.

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