Change Management in the SAP System Landscape
Before you can use the SAP software to control the business processes in your company, you must first adapt it to your own business needs. This is usually done in an SAP implementation project. Adapting and configuring is usually an ongoing process. Even after you start using the system productively, you still need to make changes to the SAP configuration. This may be due to business or organizational changes in your company, or due to the implementation of new SAP functions. This is often linked to an upgrade to a new SAP Release.
SAP provides various tools for modifying the SAP software. Which tools you use depends on the type and extent of your business requirements. Any modifications that you make with these tools are stored in certain tables in the SAP database.
The most important configuration tool is the Implementation Guide (IMG). You can use the IMG to make all configurations possible in the SAP standard. Any modifications you make to the SAP software in the IMG are known as Customizing settings, or Customizing for short. This includes setting up organizational units (company codes, plants, sales organizations, and so on) and making settings for controlling business processes.
The IMG splits the various Customizing settings into IMG activities and displays them in a hierarchical overview. This overview shows the recommended process flow and assignment to the different applications of the SAP System. The IMG lets you filter out the relevant IMG activities for a particular section of the SAP applications. You can also group IMG activities logically into IMG Projects. These projects are then worked on as an implementation project by a particular team. You can document the requirements of a project and its progress in the IMG Project.
The changes that you make in the IMG are placed in the Customizing tables of the SAP database. The contents of these tables are known as Customizing data. When you use the SAP applications productively, the SAP runtime system analyzes this Customizing data and uses it to control your business processes.
Most Customizing data is client-specific. This means that you can choose different Customizing settings for each client in your SAP System that do not affect each other. Changes to the Customizing settings in one client have no effect on system actions in another client.
However, there is also a significant amount of cross-client Customizing data that is relevant for all clients (such as the factory calendar). Note that if you change these types of Customizing settings, it affects all clients in the SAP System.
If the configuration options in the SAP standard are not enough to meet your requirements, you can also add to the SAP standard functions. SAP provides the ABAP Workbench as a complete programming environment. The ABAP Workbench includes tools for defining data structures (ABAP Dictionary), developing ABAP programs (ABAP Editor) and designing interfaces (Screen Painter and Menu Painter), as well as many other functions.
For example, you can use the ABAP Workbench to develop your own report programs or transactions, or to modify or make your own enhancements to existing SAP programs. These enhancements are known as customer exits. However, this does require experience of the ABAP Workbench and the SAP application where you want to develop.
The changes that you make in the ABAP Workbench are placed in the Repository tables of the SAP database. The contents of these tables are known as Repository data or Repository objects. Apart from a few exceptions, the Repository data is cross-client. As with cross-client Customizing, changes to Repository objects affect all clients of an SAP System.
Change and Transport System (CTS)
The CTS is the central tool for managing changes to Customizing and Repository data that you make in the IMG or ABAP Workbench. The CTS records all changes in change requests. The changes in change requests can be linked together logically, or can be completely independent of each other. Developers in a team can use a common request. You can create documentation for a change request, where you can describe your changes in more detail. This makes it easier to see which data was changed by which user, and to what purpose.
When you have finished your work in the IMG or ABAP Workbench, or have reached a certain stage, you can release the request. The change request is then used to copy the changes from this client to other clients or systems. This automatic procedure is known as a transport. Transports of changes by the CTS allow you to develop in one environment, test your development work in a test environment, and then, if the tests are successful, use it productively. This makes sure that productive operations are not placed at risk by faulty settings or program errors.
Transports of changes between clients and systems are subject to rules that are set in the CTS configuration in the system landscape. One rule may be that changes are transported into a test environment before they can be copied to the production environment. All transports are logged, so that you can see when a change request was imported into a client or system, and whether there were any errors.
In contrast to Customizing and Repository data, application data is not part of the configuration of the SAP software. Application data is the business data that the SAP applications process when you use them productively. It is split up into master data (such as material masters, customer masters and vendor masters) and movement data (such as contracts and financial documents). Application data is always client-specific.
The CTS does not manage changes to application data. It is also impossible to use the CTS to transport application data into other clients or systems.
If you want to copy master data and movement data between clients in an SAP System, or from a non-SAP system into an SAP System, or if you want to set up this data automatically, you can use other tools, such as ALE (Application Link Enabling), CATT ( Computer Aided Test Tool), or use the application interfaces of the BOR ( Business Object Repository).