I would like to share a real business case why the Business Rule Framework is ignored as a tool that can save your company a lot of money.
I use the “five why” technique. This method is very effective when analysing a specific problem. As you answer the first “why” question, you diver deeper and get closer to the root cause. Quite often you need to ask “why” five times to discover the true root cause. Then you can find potential solutions to solve the issue.
Let us imagine that we are attending a steering committee meeting. Sarah, the CIO, is examining the productivity of the SAP team, lead by Mark. The key performance indicators show her that there is a larger deviation between the estimated and actual development lead time. One specific change shows that it is more than nine months overdue. She received complaints from the user community about this delay and there is no workable solution in sight.
The following discussion between Sarah and Mark leads to the following realisation:
- Why is the lead time so much greater than initially forecasted? Because the more complex changes are difficult to predict.
- Why is this change so complex? Because every time new test scenarios were added for the acceptance testing, proving that additional changes were necessary.
- Why are there new test scenarios added afterwards? Because this change has an impact on many different business processes.
- Why is it not possible to know all affected business processes beforehand? Because we have no overview of the core business processes that we can use as a checklist.
- Why do we have no overview of core business processes? Because the knowledge previously documented was never updated, and therefore outdated.
- Why is the documentation not up-to-date? Because there is no process step that prevents deployment when the documentation is not updated.
The next months they resolve the omission in the deployment process, but still, this specific change keeps on getting postponed. Now the analysis takes a totally different turn:
- Why is the lead time so much greater than initially forecasted? Because the more complex changes made the code unstable.
- Why is the code unstable? Because the many different business cases make it almost impossible to translate into code that developers can understand.
- Why is the code difficult to follow? Because too many exceptions to the rule need to be built in?
- Why can’t we handle these exceptions in code properly? Because they need to be addressed in many different locations in various different programs.
- Why can’t we make the handling of these exceptions more efficient? Because we can’t.
This ended with an unsatisfactory conclusion. Sarah and Mark do not know how to tackle this predicament.
But months later you heard about this status quo. And you are aware of the Business Rule Framework. This free SAP tool can solve the stalemate by providing a different answer to the question “why can’t we make the handling of these exceptions more efficient”?
Because you can with BRF+.
Use the tool to make functions, in which the complex decision making is done outside the regular ABAP code. You can easily add all the exception handling within BRF+, without the need to change a line of code in the calling program, as long as the input does not need adjusting. The developers need to assume that the returned result is always correct so that they only need to take care of the processing of that result. The responsibility for the decision making is in the hands of the functional SAP consultant, who can simulate the decision making with the key users to ensure that the outcome will pass the acceptance testing. The key users will get more involved, also learning how complex the solution will become when you add a lot of exception handling. But still, being able to see the decision-making results during simulation sessions will boost the confidence that the resolution will be fit for purpose.
So now the discussion between Sarah and Mark changes:
- Why is the lead time so much greater than initially forecasted? Because the have not integrated the SAP tool, called the Business Rule Framework, into our process.
- Why is the tool not yet used? Because we just only became aware it exists?
- Why did we not heard of this tool before? Because SAP is not actively promoting this tool?
- Why is SAP not promoting the Business Rule Framework? Because it is a free tool, not triggering licence income for SAP.