The persistent relevance of LSMW

Jimbo's picture

Despite being 17 years old and having the look and feel of an old R/3 report, LSMW is still used by millions of business professionals every day, but there are whispers of obsolescence from a tiny minority. The only problem with a conclusion of obsolescence is that is LSMW enjoys 100% target market penetration; all SAP customers have it.

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An increasingly-large host of vendors promise an alternative to LSMW that is better, but few come even close in terms of functionality and none come close to the price. Many of these alternatives promise to eliminate the need for programmers by making the process simple and that works as well as trying to eliminate doctors from an operating room by making surgery simpler.

Disclaimer: Unlike all the other content on this website, this article deals with opinions and is peppered with analogies. The purpose of this article is to dispel misconceptions about LSMW the way somebody might talk to a friend who had decided to vote for one candidate in the 2016 presidential election only because the other candidate was so bad.

http://thequotes.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Albert-Einstein-Quotes-9.jpg|http://natepyle.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/einstein.jpg|http://images.slideplayer.it/2/930165/slides/slide_14.jpg|https://nettx.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Slide197.jpg|http://www.kissbdc.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/ein.jpg|https://cdn.meme.am/instances/500x/24679549.jpg|https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/44/b5/ec/44b5ec9978701b512f55fe316ecac38e.jpg|http://brightdrops.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/einsteineverythingshouldbemadeassimple.jpg|http://www.theabmpractitioner.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Einstein-simple_v2.png|http://www.thequotepedia.com/images/110/everything-should-be-made-as-simple-as-possible-but-no-simpler.jpg|http://www.quote-coyote.com/album/small/Motivational-Einstein-Quotes.jpg|http://55quotes.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/55Quotes.com-Great-Wisdom-Albert-Einstein-343x181.jpgLSMW isn't simple.

Many of the 3rd Party products providing a path between Excel and SAP are simple, but it's the sort of simple that makes Apple the preferred brand for Liberal Arts majors while Computer Science majors are drawn to PC and Droid. In this sense, "simple" is a euphemism for limited features and LSMW isn't the real competition for these vendors.

"Yeah, but LSMW wasn't designed for mass uploads!"

The original role of LSMW was to migrate data from legacy systems--it's right there in the name! That doesn't stop business professionals from returning to it like a security blanket when performing straightforward mass uploads despite the fact that the MASS transaction (or any number of secretive and esoteric mass upload programs bundled with SAP) is simpler and actually designed for mass uploads--it's right there in the name!

For complicated mass uploads--especially for data from legacy systems--LSMW is still the choice of SAP professionals. The 3rd Party vendors might make it seem like their products compete with LSMW, but in reality, they are in competition with transactions like MASS, F.80 and KS12N. Many of the mass upload programs included with SAP can be found by searching the text field of the TSTCT table for *Mass*.

http://www.benzworld.org/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=493693&stc=1&d=1359952296|http://www.ee0r.com/gallery/objects/tools/paintopener.jpg|https://img0.etsystatic.com/000/0/5586174/il_fullxfull.265983848.jpg|http://www.moreypee.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/041_QVga.jpg|https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-HdwoXT9Cafg/VPrmQFm-q7I/AAAAAAAAHv4/teOwjhY6oqg/w506-h304/can-opener-5x3.png|http://cdn.grid.fotosearch.com/CSP/CSP990/k10913503.jpg|http://www.homedepot.com/catalog/productImages/400/c1/c1fa7efc-ec2d-4442-ae7a-10f57d6e971c_400.jpg|http://cdn.fibreglast.com/images/uploads/4175_1270_large.jpg|http://refreshmuncie.com/wpnew/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Paint-Can-Opener-1.jpg|http://akamai.edeal.com/images/catalog16754/folder105282/img10770382med.jpg|http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VHXoD6f13pw/TmWSbro41tI/AAAAAAAACdE/eXVNDyY9OGA/s1600/ChurchKey3.gif|http://d2ydh70d4b5xgv.cloudfront.net/images/0/2/true-value-hardware-true-test-paint-advertising-paint-can-opener-tool-vintage-1d9b220a1a48e473aa5f6a6ba79f8bf0.jpg|http://i.ebayimg.com/15/!CBqT6C!CWk~$%28KGrHqN,!lkEz+2Yvd4LBNIkNEVce!~~_3.JPG|https://www.truevaluepaint.com/uploadedImages/TV_SRSH/Projects/HowtoStoreLeftOverPaint/StoreLeftOverPaint_section1_step_02_3.jpgThe claim that LSMW is obsolete because it is being used for something other than the purpose for which it was originally intended is like claiming that a screwdriver is obsolete because it is used to open a paint can. There is a tool specifically designed to open paint cans, but few workmen will throw away their screwdrivers in order to justify the purchase of that tool.

Functionality by virtue of origin

LSMW has an unfair advantage because it is written in native ABAP. By accepting snippets of code, LSMW can natively access functions and natively execute SQL queries in a way that 3rd Party solutions cannot. There are plenty of solutions for extracting table data to be manipulated, transformed or reported externally to SAP, but for on-the-fly validation and reporting, only ABAP will do.

Virtue by origin of functionality

http://blogs.worldbank.org/files/publicsphere/bureaucrats.jpeg|http://www.chelsey.co.nz/uploads/famous_quotes/famous49.jpg|http://jeanpierrecorniou.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8341d81a053ef01b8d162ec32970c-800wi|http://image.slidesharecdn.com/bureaucracy-governmentatwork-130520225155-phpapp02/95/bureaucracy-government-at-work-4-638.jpg?cb=1369090380|http://cdn.quotationof.com/images/bureaucrats-quotes-3.jpgAt the time of writing, this programmer is on a project for a multi-national organization that has outsourced its BASIS to one of the Big 4 firms. That means the development of a simple report takes 15 minutes of programming, 2 days of documentation and a requirement to jump through more hoops than one might find at a Tina Turner lookalike contest. It also adds around USD1000 in bureaucratic overhead in addition to what they pay for 15 minutes of my time.

With LSMW, I can produce the same results in minutes instead of days. When a client wants an additional column or some small tweak, a few more minutes of effort is sufficient whereas a trip back to SE38 costs the same few minutes in addition to two more days of documentation sprinkled liberally with unnecessary, costly bureaucracy.

The only drawback is that my normal users cannot use the LSMW object without minimal permissions, whereas a traditional report with its own transaction code can be accessed by any user. In the past, management has gotten read access for users. Here the clients are content to hand off the requirements and have me run the report.

No obsolescence, perceived or real

LSMW is going to remain relevant so long as SAP does. In fact, with systems like MDG further obfuscating the inner workings of SAP and making updates more complex and more cumbersome, LSMW will likely see even more use in the coming years.

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