Response to “Key Questions to Ask During an SAP Implementation or Upgrade”

I’m currently in the ramp-up stage of a technical SAP Upgrade from ECC 4.7 to ECC 6.0. Gary Byrne, Managing Editor of the Financials and GRC hubs of SAPexperts, recently published an article “Key Questions to Ask During an SAP Implementation or Upgrade.” [insert hammer to nail head mental image here] I’m writing in response to his article and to offer some additional “words of wisdom” from a security standpoint on how to manage a technical upgrade.

The greatest challenge a project team will likely face on a technical upgrade is lack of  communication. It is often challenging to understand how the functional consultants and technical resources work together and when each resource is needed. When upgrading an SAP system, some tasks can be tackled simultaneously while others may  require preceding technical work to be completed. Having a clear timeline (typically in the form of a Gantt chart) can aid the team in overcoming communication barriers and keeping the project on track. As Gary mentioned, it is important to understand the timing implications of making functional enhancements during an upgrade project. Often times, outlying issues come to the surface during a technical upgrade, a functionality gap or a spec for a custom report for instance, every project team should have a central repository to track issues and enhancements that can be processed post go-live.

We (the SAP security consultants of the world) are all well aware that the successful execution of a technical SAP Security Upgrade is all housed in transaction SU25. 2A-2D. I got beef with whoever decided that 4 steps was a comprehensive enough approach to such an arduous task. There are various aspects to consider before, during and after the execution of the aforementioned steps in order to pay proper attention to all aspects of the SAP Security landscape. Some of these considerations include the following:

1. What does the current role design look like? Does the client utilize derived or enabler roles? How will the upgrade affect the optimization of the security landscape?

2. With the introduction of new authorization objects comes the ability for increased design around local and global control points. Will these new objects have an affect on existing controls or call for additional controls to be added?

3. Are there any open transport requests that contain roles (customizing requests) or SU24 work (workbench requests)? Work with customer on plan to handle these during the upgrade.

4. Is the customer currently doing SU24 Maintenence? If so, SU24 must be maintained to reflect role changes that occurred throughout the upgrade.

5. Do you have an understanding of the roles that are currently assigned to users? Take a snapshot of security in the CURRENT production system.

6. Do new authorizations correspond to previously inactivated authorizations? Create a plan to work with the business to test effected roles and z-tcodes across various functional areas.

One additional pain point. When working on a SAP Security Upgrade, it’s hard to pinpoint an exact time estimate prior to starting the SU25 work. SU25 could propose 500 or more role changes and  more changes equals more testing and role maintenance.

Happy Hump Day! Weekend’s just around the corner for me. Jetting off to Chicago Friday morning to visit some of the best friends in the world: JN, SZ, AW, KE, MG, JB! Phi or Die(CHI)?

@PostGradSAP

Tracy

 

Join My Webinar: How to Survive an SAP Security Audit Utilizing a 3-Phased Approach

 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EST

How to Survive an SAP Security Audit Utilizing a 3-Phased Approach

In this webinar, Tracy Levine, SAP GRC consultant at itelligence, discusses strategies around surviving an SAP security audit and maintaining compliance objectives long term. Tracy shares her methodology around optimizing your SAP security landscape and utilizing SAP Access Control to prevent reintroduction from risk exposures by taking an audit approach to SAP security. The webinar will be presented in a 3-phased approach, as SAP security relates to a modern-day democracy: The state of the union, political reform, and ongoing legislature.

SNAP Challenge: Week in Review

According to the USDA, it costs $141 per week to feed a family of four and one in five children go hungry every single day.

Yesterday was the culmination of our week living below the poverty line and eating by the guidelines provided by SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). Living on a little over $4 a day was quite the challenge. I have heard that if you follow a well-balanced diet and abide by portion control, that you should wake up feeling hungry. During a typical week, I would often skip breakfast, feeling disgusted at the thought of eating as soon as I wake up. This week however, I woke up famished, for lack of a better word. I could not get sustenance into me fast enough. I believe this was the result of very strict portion control and the fact that Josh and I, almost entirely, cut out snacking from our daily regime. After dinner, I always felt satisfied, but never full. For me, the SNAP Challenge was more than a chance to see how the other half lived, but also an opportunity to better understand the inadequacies in my own eating habits. In my own life, poor meal planning and time management often results in the choice of convenience over health.

I’d like to revisit some of additonal the learning points I made earlier in the week and a few extra:

  • The psychology behind food insecurity can be crippling. Second-guessing everything you eat and wondering where your next meal may be coming from can have both mental and physical side-effects that may result in more than just hunger.
  • Many people who live below the poverty line do not have access to cars and therefore, must use public transporation to retrieve groceries. A weekly 2-hour excursion for you or I, may be a day-long outing for someone on SNAP and be both physically and mentally. We also hear of the term “food desert,” an area where affordable healthy food is difficult to obtain, particularly for those without access to an automobile.
  • Budget planning and time management are key. SNAP recipients receive their allowance once a month. The volunteers and employees of JFS made us aware that many families struggle at the end of the period to eat due to poor planning.
  • Living off SNAP benefits is almost counter-intuitive to money-saving tendencies. You or I may be able to buy bulk quanities of non-perishables and make it last over a long period of time. SNAP benefits are not accepted at wholesalers such as Costco or Sam’s Club and furthermore, SNAP recipients cannot afford to dedicate such a large portuion of their monthly allowance to a single item.
  • The greatest challenge of all is maintaining a healthy and well-balanced diet on SNAP. Fresh vegetables and fruits as well as proteins are typically the most expensive items available for purchase.
  • SNAP benefits do not cover daily house-hold items such as cleanign supplies, feminine hygeine products, hair care, soap, dental products, etc. Buying such items can mean the difference between turning your heat on or going without.
  • Many social outings and gatherings revolve around food. People who live below the poverty line usually live in an impoverished community and therefore, the offerings in such communities are often less than we see in upper and middle-class neighborhoods.

Yesterday, JJ and I had orientation for LEAD (Lead, Educate, Act, Develop), a program which gives participants hands-on opportunities to meet community leaders and learn about the numerous agencies and organizations that make up Jewish Cincinnati. This selective program is designed to prepare future Jewish communal leaders by creating meaningful connections to community organizations and each other, equipping them with relevant information, and empowering them to obtain positions on mutually suitable boards and committees. Coincidentally, the orientation took place at JFS (Jewish Family Service), which is home to the Barbash Family Vital Support Center and Food Pantry. The Jewish Family Service Food Pantry is the source for free kosher food, fresh produce, personal care, and household care items for individuals in the Greater Cincinnati Jewish community experiencing financial difficulties as well as anyone in need living in the 45220 zip code. In addition, Jewish Family Service (JFS) provides coaching and support for clients of the pantry to help improve their situation. Support may include referral to JFS Counseling or Senior Adult Programs, Jewish Vocational Service (JVS), Hamilton County Jobs and Family Services, Legal Aid, and other resources in the community. The LEAD oreintation allowed JJ and I opportunity to explore other ways to get inolved and raise awareness for food insecrity long after the challenge has ended. For more information on how you can volunter please vist their website at www.jfscinti.org.

In other [timely] news, on November 1st, every SNAP recipient saw a reduction in their benefits. That means, a family of four will see their SNAP benefits reduced by 36$ a month. For JJ and I, that would mean living off 59$/week instead of the already difficult 67$/week. That’s a week without chicken. Or a week without fresh fruits or frozen vegetables. For those of you that are interested in this cause, please reach out to your local congressman- our letters can have an impact! Ohio alone has two members (Rep. Marcia Fudge and Senator Sherrod Brown) on the Farm Bill Conference Committie, let’s challenge our leaders to find another way to balance the budget, other than taking food away from already struggling families.

I appreciate the kind words of encouragement from family, friends and my blog followers throughout the week. It has proved to be both challenging and exciting. I hope to continue to learn more about food insecurity and take a more active role in the fight to end hunger.

I leave you with a full belly and a happy heart.

@PostGradSAP

Tracy

SNAP Challenge: Days 6 & 7 in Review

SATURDAY

The perfect egg.

The perfect egg.

Breakfast:

  • Josh: 3-egg omlette with frozen peas, spinach and siracha, hard-boiled egg
  • Tracy: 2 eggs over medium with pepper-jack and toast

Lunch:

  • Josh: Tuna sandwich, rice and beans
  • Tracy: Nothing (we ate breakfast at noon)

Snack:

  • Both: Canned pineapple slices

Dinner:

  • Both: Pasta with frozen green beans, leftover frozen spinach and peas ***Had to buy another jar of pasta sauce for $1.50, $5.58 of emergency money remaining).

Late-Night Snack Post Halloween-Party:

  • Both: Shared a PB&J sandwich and a grilled cheese sandwich

 

SUNDAY:

photo 1 (2)

Breakfast:

  • Josh: Oatmeal and hard-boiled egg
  • Tracy: Half PB&J Sandwich, banana

Lunch:

  • Josh: Rice and Beans, leftover pasta
  • Tracy: Leftover pasta, apple, carrots, applesauce

Snack:

  • Josh: Tuna sandwich

“The Last Supper”:

  • Both: Chicken with honey mustard sauce, sweet potatoes and fresh steamed broccoli

Dessert:

  • Brownies ***spent $3.00 on the ingredients total, $2.58 of emergency money remaining.*** We had heard that in order t- make “skinny brownies,” you can substitute the eggs and oil for a can of diet soda, so we subbed diet coke. The brownies were AWFUL and I didn’t eat them. Note to self: don’t experiment with new recipes when living on a limited budget.
"The Last Supper"

“The Last Supper”

Look for a follow up post about the entire week in review!

@PostGradSAP

Tracy

SNAP Challenge: Day 5 in Review

Breakfast:

  • Tracy: 1/2 PB&J and a banana
  • Josh: Oatmeal and hard-boiled egg

    The Sodium Special

    The Sodium Special

Lunch:

  • Tracy: Egg salad (no bread), applesauce, carrots and an apple
  • Josh: Apple, leftover pasta with veggies and chicken, rice and beans

Dinner:

  • Tracy: Grilled cheese and 1/2 package of Ramen with mushrooms added
  • Josh: Tuna melt and rice and beans

 

The week is beginning to wind down and I’m starting to reflect more on how the challenge has changed me.  Poverty has started taking over my life. I’m astonished to find that I wasn’t looking forward to the weekend nearly as much as I often do. Somehow my typical 2 day refuge seems less worthy without meals with friends and special outings to look forward to. I was shocked to discover how much of our social lives really do revolve around eating. By mid-week, I was looking for an excuse to get together with my girlfriends and all I could think of was taking a walk in the park. I’ve been trying to veer away from shopping this week as  a means to spend the extra time on my hands, so JJ and I have taken to cleaning the house, watching movies on TV and getting to bed early. In regards to food, I am most accustomed to doing whatever is the most convenient at the time. The preparation and level of effort that revolves around meal planning and food preparation when living below the poverty line is unparalelled. No longer am I able to make choices of convenience. If I were to do this long-term, I imagine I would take to planting a garden out back or participating in the cultivation of a community garden, however, I understand that for most this may not be a reality. Throughout the week, numerous friends and coworkers have offered assistance in the form of small snacks or sweet treats, and although I appreciate their support, myself and Josh have both declined such offers. Truthfully, most people who live in poverty, are part of a community that does as well and therefore, we cannot accept any extra sustenance.

JJ planning our last 3 days of meals. And yes, those are my pajama bottoms.

JJ planning our last 3 days of meals. And yes, those are my pajama bottoms.

With only 2 days to go, I find myself over-thinking nearly everything I am putting into my mouth. I find the psychology of the challenge similar to that of an extreme-diet regime, I continue to second guess myself. If I eat this extra banana, will I have enough for the rest of the week? If we prepare chicken tonight, can we survive three days in a row without any protein? If I eat the leftover pasta, will JJ be upset that I was the one who disallowed him from partaking as well? The stresses and insecurities are really beginning to take over.

On a positive note, the 5K is a mere week away. JJ and I ran 2.3 miles today on a 25 minutes run and are well on our way to the finish line!

@PostGradSAP

Tracy

 

SNAP Challenge: Day 4 in Review

Breakfast:

  • Tracy: 1/2 PB&J, banana
  • Josh: Hard-boiled egg, oatmeal with cinnamon

Lunch:

  • Tracy: Grilled cheese sandwich, carrot, applesaurce
  • Josh: Tuna sandwich with american cheese, leftover rice and chicken and veggies, PB&J sandwich (snack)

Dinner:

  • Both: Pasta with marinara with frozen peas and spinach and 2 chicken breasts.

“Dessert”:

  • Josh: Banana

 

I’m not too concerned with my groceries running out before the end of the week, I think we have plenty of food. In particular, we have a good amount of frozen vegetables left, a full head of brocooli, 2 chicken breasts, 2 sweet potatoes, an abundance of rice and oatmeal, a box of pasta and a fair amount of canned fruit. We’ve already run out of tomato sauce (we may use our extra funds to buy another jar) and are running low on PB&J and pepper-jack cheese. I’m mostly concerned about Sunday… we are going to an all-day conference and I don’t know if we have enough “cold lunch options” left. Guess we’ll have to get creative and improvise. Did I mention we have 5/6 packages of Ramen left?

One of the other things I’ve noticed is what I’ve actually been using MORE of this week. Plastic baggies, tupperware, kitchen cleaning supplies, dishwasher detergent (had to run it in the middle of the week!)… none of these items are covered by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. JJ and I are also lucky enough to have a wide variety of kitchen utentsils and cookware, which makes preparing meals much easier. Upon reviewing the blogs of people who have taken the challenge previously, some of them mentioned that their concentration has suffered at work and that they find themselves having a difficult time focusing or have become more irratable. Although JJ and I haven’t experienced these side affects throughout the week, I did notice a change in our positive energy last night. JJ got home from a long day of work, I had been working from home and had yet to get out of my PJs… I asked him to join me to gather the last few finishing touches in order to create our Halloween costumes for a party we are attending this weekend. The outing took longer than expected, turrential downpour coupled with the fact that we made a quick detour to PetsMart for supplies for Mr.Markley and Mrs.Misha. Anyways, it was nearly 9:00 by the time we got home and I wanted nothing more than to stop the car, jump out at our favorite sushi-to-go spot and have a meal prepared by the time we got home. Instead, both of remained “hangry” (hungry+angry) until our bellies were full with pasta, nearly 45 minutes later.

The perks of working from home. I'm naming this photograph "Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful."

The perks of working from home. I’m naming this photograph “Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful.”

I will say, that there has been one major benefit of the challenge (aside from the self-induced portion control). JJ and I have been able to spend much more quality time together. We aren’t running around (proverbally speaking, still running in preparation for the 5K next week) to meet friends or host dinners. With the shopping out of the way, we’ve really been able to relax and enjoy some quality time.

@PostGradSAP

Tracy