Probably anyone who will read this post (at least those people working as an SAP consultant) will already use SAP Service Marketplace (http://service.sap.com) to search for a SAP OSS note whenever you are looking for a solution for a bug, short dump, BSP error, process related problem and so on. Now, that’s fine. As I participate in SAP Project implementations, but also work a lot as an SAP Support Consultant I regularly have to search for a SAP OSS note. This post is about techniques I use to actually FIND the relevant OSS note, and this in a time-efficient manner. Now, don’t underestimate the effect of being able to find the right OSS note.
As a junior and even senior consultant, you might be a life saver if right before a GO-LIVE, you are able to solve a critical issue due to finding and implementing the solution to a Show-Stopping Issue-preventing to obtain your Go-Live date! Although basically you are just only “searching”...Kind of as you would perform searches in Google..here you are actually adding critical added business value just by finding this particular note.
Your only alternative(s) would be to correct the issue yourself; but as you are likely to NOT change standard SAP coding to solve an SAP bug (at least I hope you follow this approach) this is not really an option. Debugging the issue only helps you identify the CAUSE and therefore probably provide SAP OSS Support with already most of the technical details such as relevant:
- Function module
- The exact position (line(s) of coding that cause the issue)
This merely speeds up the treatment of your message that you can log at SAP OSS support. If you are lucky, your message will be quickly picked up by the suitable department/ 2nd line SAP OSS support (people that actually understand your issue) or even SAP labs. But even in that case you probably have already noticed that although you point out the specific coding issue in SAP standard, and even might have provided the solution (in coding) for the problem, it still can take days or even weeks to get the fix in the form of a new released SAP OSS note. I am not going to generalize this..There are some very high qualified people working at SAP Support, but you just must be lucky to have them work at your problem message.
Step 1: Start your search using Broad Keywords
Usually I am not sure about the specific “application area” I should use. As such, my first attempt will be to write some ‘broad keywords” in the field “Search Term”.
As I work as an SAP CRM consultant, I do however always fill out “CRM*” as I do not want to dig-up SAP OSS notes related to SAP ECC in my case.
Let’s take a practical example:
Within the context of implementing SAP ERMS in our SAP CRM system, we had a lot of problems with embedded images in incoming and outgoing emails. As our end-users use a Signature (with embedded picture) we have seen that in outgoing emails from SAP CRM this signature picture (logo of the Customer) appeared as a RED CROSS. Not very nice if your customers receive this email this way.
So using broad search terms, I probably would first search with terms like:
- “picture in email is not visible”
- “image in email appears as a red cross”
Now using these broad search phrases I have a more concrete idea about the right application area. The second search term already shows the following OSS notes:
If you are lucky, you’ll already find the relevant OSS note this way...but in many cases you don’t!
By the way: if you are working in the latest releases (CRM7.0) it’s best to filter the output based on the field “Released On” as the SAP OSS will probably not date from 2008 J
OK – I now can fine-tune my search by using the application areas that I think will probably produce the OSS note I am actually looking for, using:
Using less keywords but the relevant Application Areas can produce other OSS notes that might be relevant.
Step 2: Pinpoint the cause (technical information)
If you have an available developer or you can debug yourself, you might be able to find suitable technical input you can use as search criteria (this takes more time and effort), such as:
- The relevant Class and/or Method name
- The relevant Function Module/Group
- The relevant program name
Now here is already a good tip: as a functional consultant I am not a very experienced debugger, and as I not always can fall back on an experienced developer who can pinpoint the coding issue, I can still find out a lot of technical details in another way!
If I refer to the previous screenshot, where I did find certain OSS notes that looked relevant somehow, I usually open the details of these notes, and take a look at the “source code corrections” that often are included in these OSS notes.
Taking a look at the first message shows me the following:
Already I have a CLASS /method that I might use as a new input parameter for my further searches.
Now I go a bit further and also take a look at included “Correction Instructions” for my release:
This shows me in this particular OSS note the same information. But often you DO NOT find the technical info in the body text of the message, therefore I ALWAYS look at the details of the Correction Instructions.
Step 3: Use the RIGHT keywords for your search
As I said at the very beginning, using my “broad” search strategy, I used terms such as image, picture, …
Having done some basic searches, I saw that SAP actually uses the terminology “IMAGE” instead of “picture”. Therefore I also use this keyword for my further searches. This is very basic but many people just enter phrase after phrase, keyword after keyword. Look at what SAP uses, and continue your search based on their Output!
Step 4: Use the Component/View Name as input parameter when working in the SAP CRM WEBUI
Having a problem in the SAP CRM WEBUI, might be due to a problem with a certain class/method, function module, report/program but as I said, you do not always have this information to start with.
If I encounter an issue in a certain Component or specific View, I usually also look up the technical details of this page, using the F2 button.
As such I also use as search criteria the Component/View name as a starting point when looking for relevant OSS notes.
I encounter some problem when changing/entering a new Bank Account for a customer using the assignment block “Bank details”.
Using the F2 button for this assignment block shows me the relevant component name and View.
Using this information as input parameter I immediately find several OSS notes that might be right on the Spot!
Step 5: Using the Restriction Option “ Restrict by my SAP System”
This will take into account your product release and Support Packs and potentially other things. As a consequence it will not show you irrelevant message that only are applicable to older releases for example.
I personally do NOT use this option that often, although I think it may be useful. The reason is that I have noticed that sometimes certain SAP OSS notes that “officially” are only applicable to e.g. an older CRM release turn out to be still valid for our current release. Using the restriction option I never would have found this note in the first place.
Step 6: read the tips and guidelines produced by SAP itself
If you look at the relevant input fields, you can see there is a “red arrow” next to most of the fields. This is actually pointing to a HELP file and probably explains some stuff you were not aware of YET.
The SAP University Team