Company snapshot

HQ Sydney, Australia
Industries Energy, utilities
Services include Electricity generation, electricity retailing, natural gas retailing

AGL has been at the forefront of energy innovation in Australia for over 180 years. To service the demands of its business and customers – a reported 3.6 million in 2017 – AGL’s SAP environment grew increasingly complex.

Over the years the utility’s retail system of records swelled to seven (parallel) SAP delivery landscapes – 1 BAU (N) and 6 project (N+1) that ultimately feed the same production system. Such a complex system involves massive volumes of change.

Managing significant quantities of change in multiple landscapes is a challenge. Risks associated with retrofitting, managing concurrent changes and transport sequencing can contribute to rising costs and threaten production system stability.

To meet the challenge, AGL rolled out its SAP Extreme Delivery initiative. This involved landscape consolidation to speed up its SAP enterprise core and eliminate effort and the level of risk to the business. As part of the transformation efforts, the utility wanted to progress SAP changes to production in five days or less. For the project to succeed a transparent and consistent change management strategy was crucial.

Automation improves application delivery times

AGL deployed Rev-Trac – a sophisticated SAP change management automation platform to enforce best-practice processes and policies, manage transports and reduce effort.

When Rev-Trac was implemented AGL had numerous development systems across multiple landscapes, all with their own path to production. The utility relies on Rev-Trac’s object locking functionality to effectively manage the massive volumes of change and control parallel development to help prevent overtakes and overwrites.

“It takes about half an hour to learn the basics of Rev-Trac. For most users, it’s pretty simple and straightforward.”
Brett Campbell, SAP Development Achitect, AGL

Rev-Trac’s locking system ensures that all transports impacting a particular object are associated with the same Rev-Trac request. Authorized users can override the restriction where required if permission for parallel development (in another Rev-Trac request) is given.

Brett Campbell, SAP Development Architect, AGL said the utility had a BAU support landscape that had been live for over 10 years which had up 3-4 development systems.

It was important to ensure that the different development teams were not independently making changes to the same object at the same time. Object locking alerts developers that the object is already locked in a particular landscape and permission for parallel development is required for teams to proceed.

“We have a process that we expect our developers and dev leads to follow. If they are going to organize a parallel development communication has to be key,” Mr. Campbell said.

AGL also uses Rev-Trac’s dependency capability to eliminate conflict with shared objects. This allows it to coordinate changes to the same object from different teams to avoid overtakes and overwrites.

With parallel development managed and controlled in a more efficient manner, AGL can maintain production system stability and respond quickly to changes in business demand.

Streamline retrofit effort and S/4 HANA migration

Another valuable feature is Rev-Trac’s request-cloning capabilities which allow AGL to keep its BAU landscape with 3 – 4 development systems (N+1) in sync.

Rev-Trac can automatically clone requests approved for production ensuring all BAU changes are considered for reapplication into (parallel) project tracks. This prevents potential overwrites when N+1 work is migrated to production.

Mr. Campbell said previously when an SAP change made it to production it was only active in the landscape it was migrated from.

“Now under new cloning rules, when a Rev-Trac request is ready to migrate to production the changes are cloned to all relevant development systems. These changes then get reapplied on a regular basis by the owners of each system,” he said.

Reduced retrofit effort through less manual handling of transports and more controlled parallel development are not the only benefits of implementing Rev-Trac. AGL is using the platform to streamline its migration to S/4 HANA in another part of the business. It has already migrated corporate financials to S/4 HANA and plans to move its ISU and CRM within the next 24 months.

To simplify the S/4 HANA migration, AGL quantified all the custom requirements for the applications to be adopted and then created a Rev-Trac request for each one. Every Rev-Trac request which delivered each function was transparent and known. AGL can easily track the history and reason for every object modification from the creation of the system while accelerating the build of the new system.

Leveraging Rev-Trac as a change consolidation and transport management tool allows AGL to speed up its SAP environment and mitigate risk. Consistent and enforceable processes ensure transports don’t get lost, missed off a list or out of sequence. Conflict is avoided and with more controlled parallel development AGL can deliver faster and safer SAP applications and enhancements.

“As our processes have matured with Rev-Trac, our production code overwrite issues have continued to reduce,” Mr. Campbell said. “There have not been any such issues for more than 12 months. We use Rev-Trac as a transport management tool and as long as you follow the rules issues which threaten production stability can be avoided.”

Rev-Trac automates and enforces SAP change management processes enabling AGL to accelerate its transformation and realize its rapid delivery and agile objectives.