Choosing a better tool for deployment data migrations

Legacy System Migration Workbench

Clinton Jones, Winshuttle

ABAP skills are still in high demand, and they’re not cheap, which can make creating scripts for SAP’s Legacy System Migration Workbench (LSMW) a costly business. And though LSMW might work well for single instance data migrations, it was simply not meant to be the hammer that IT departments uses to nail every integration scenario – but there is a better alternative for more complex data integration needs, as Clinton Jones discusses here.

When tens of thousands of users switch from using technical developer targeted tools like Legacy System Migration Workbench (LSMW) to Winshuttle Studio – it’s safe to say the need for an easy to use, flexible and robust replacement is high. That’s not to say LSMW is a bad application or unsuited for a particular job. There is certainly a place for tools like LSMW, it just isn’t the tool to use for integration scenarios that involve a dozen or more data records to be created or maintained. LSMW was built by SAP as a tool for IT to utilise during deployment data migrations, and works great as a single instance tool. In my opinion, the issue is that LSMW has become the hammer that every IT department uses to nail every integration scenario that starts with data in a spreadsheet. This can become a problem not only for the end user, but ultimately for everyone – auditors, the business and in the end, even IT.

Getting started

Part of evaluating any integration solution should start with determining what you’re trying to achieve and how long it will take to deliver. Based on numerous conversations with SAP customers across the globe, the consensus is that ABAP skills continue to be in demand, and although the compensation rate is not nearly as high as it was in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s – ABAP skills still aren’t cheap. You don’t necessarily need an ABAP developer to create your LSMW scripts, but it doesn’t take long to understand LSMW isn’t designed to be used by end-users – in fact it should rarely be used in production data management scenarios, unless you are working with exceptionally large amounts of data. LSMW’s highly technical process to upload bulk information to SAP is time consuming and complex. Because LSMW typically requires developer-level authorizations, only a limited number of business users can use the tool to complete SAP data processes.

WSSweetSpotIf you’re considering Winshuttle as a more powerful and easier alternative to LSMW, (the Winshuttle Studio Transaction module in particular) you need to look at the integration sweet spot. The data in this range is more than a dozen records and up to about 50,000 – 100,000.  In this context, LSMW is viewed as a ‘Big Solution’ or ‘Big IT Solution.’ Start thinking about Winshuttle as the pick-up truck for your general SAP application data management tasks that allows you to avoid needing a specialist to help you build Excel to SAP integration.

We recently pulled some usage statistics and found that in the last five years alone, Winshuttle customers have uploaded or maintained over a billion SAP records using the Winshuttle Studio Transaction module spanning hundreds of different SAP transactions from MM01 through FB50 and more obscure transactions. You can find out what automating an SAP transaction with Winshuttle Studio might be worth in time savings by looking at Winshuttle’s ROI calculator.

Winshuttle Studio allows business users to work within the familiar Excel interface to create and update data in SAP. It handles highly complex SAP transactions in three simple steps that would have taken hundreds of hours of development time in LSMW, enabling you to get up and running quickly, with faster data creation and process execution. Creating a script for a process is as simple as launching the Studio recorder and walking through the data creation or change steps. At the end of the transaction walk-through when you save the data and commit it to SAP, the recording is downloaded to the Windows desktop client and can be manipulated by adding more business logic like IF conditions and Loops.

In more advanced cases, you can use chains or linked scripts and even build data validation rules into the script to ensure that any changes you make to SAP data or any SAP data that you create, conforms to your business rules. Customers report that script creation can take anything from just a few minutes to a couple of hours, including testing.


The difference between Winshuttle and LSMW comes with deploying and running the integration scenario. Using LSMW means you either have to package an LSMW session as an ABAP program or you have to have the data-file handed off to IT by the business to run. IT running the data-file is often not considered a good approach by audit because the data creation or change is not directly attributable to the responsible business user because IT or system account credentials are used. A massive and cumbersome paper trail needs to be maintained for these types of situations.

With Winshuttle, your script is completely portable, and can be embedded directly into the workbook by any user with the workbook and a Winshuttle Runner or Winshuttle Studio authoring license and SAP credential, allowing you to push, pull and change SAP data for a defined scenario. No ABAP changes, SAP authorisation changes or transports or SAP change management is necessary in order to get started with working with SAP Application Data from an Excel environment almost immediately.

Learn more about the specific differences between the Winshuttle approach to data integration as compared with LSMW by downloading the An Easy, Flexible Alternative to LSMW for Business Users white paper.

This article is sponsored by Winshuttle.

Clinton Jones is a Director for Finance Solutions Management at Winshuttle where he has worked since 2009. He is internationally experienced having worked on finance technologies and business process with a particular focus on integrated business solutions in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and North America. Clinton serves as a technical consultant on technology and quality management as it relates to data and process management and governance for finance organizations globally. Prior to Winshuttle, he served as a Technical Quality Manager at SAP and with Microsoft in their Global Foundation Services group.

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