An Alternative to ChaRM

  • by D. Russell Sloan, Implementation and Governance Specialist — SAP Solution Manager, IBM Global Business Services
  • July 9, 2012
Using the approval workflow of STMS_QA with Solution Manager as the domain controller enables organizations to establish approval workflows without the complexity of setting up Change Request Management (ChaRM). Explore how the STMS_QA process works and how it can help coordinate the activities of developers, leads, and business owners to deliver changes in a managed, documented way.
Key Concept
Setting up Change and Request Management (ChaRM) can be complex and too rigid for some organizations. A workflow-based extension of the SAP Correction and Transport System (CTS), STMS_QA offers an alternative to implementing ChaRM that provides a workflow to manage approval activities and generates an audit trail that meets most organizations’ requirements. STMS_QA uses standard Transport Management System (TMS) functionality with an added workflow that communicates tasks to participants via the SAP Business Workplace Inbox functionality.

Change and Request Management (ChaRM) is a robust, comprehensive solution. However, it is sometimes too complex and restrictive for organizations that need to move quickly or need to manage multiple teams at different stages in the application life cycle. Many companies have opted to manage transports via spreadsheets. While this provides for the ultimate in flexibility, it leaves a great deal to be desired in the areas of audit, approvals, and historical record keeping.

How do you get to a process that is controlled, provides high flexibility, and can offer work management with approvals and audit trails? By taking a chapter from the playbook of the past. STMS_QA is an old-school capability that you can use to set up an auditable, controlled transport release process managed by Solution Manager that is better than managing by spreadsheets and is easier to set up and use than ChaRM functionality.

STMS_QA is a workflow and approval engine that you can configure on top of the standard Transport Management System (TMS) to help enforce approval processes, track transports through the landscape, and provide standardized audit trails. Conceptually, the use of STMS_QA is the same as when doing transports manually with a few exceptions. You still set up the transport paths, create and release transports, and execute imports into target systems.          

The difference is that STMS_QA adds the ability to approve and document the approval of each movement through the landscape and reduce errors by automating the import process when a transport is approved. While I’ve yet to test this in Solution Manager 7.1, I know from first-hand experience it works in Solution Manager 7.0 as late as Support Package 19.

D. Russell Sloan

D. Russell Sloan is a specialist in project and program governance for IBM. He focuses on the use of SAP Solution Manager for global rollout projects for IBM’s largest customers, having worked with SAP software since 1996. Russell has degrees in accounting and information systems and has been a team and project leader for SAP projects for more than 14 years. He has been developing and deploying software systems for over 30 years.

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