Business Solutions with SAP

Using SAP Solution Composer for SAP Scope – Process Alignment

February 28th, 2011 by
SAP Solution Composer

SAP Solution Composer

If you haven’t noticed by now I’ve always been a proponent of using the tools and resources SAP already provides. After all, why should you pay for developing things SAP has already invested in?

Because of SAP’s huge installed base lots of customers before you have tried these tools and SAP has adjusted, changed, corrected, or modified them to improve their use and functionality. On top of that, if you manage to discover a defect or bug, as an SAP customer you can check OSS Notes to see if there is a fix. If a fix doesn’t exist you can open your own note to report the bug and get it fixed. Support for SAP tools is included in your maintenance fees.

One of those early solution prototyping tools I am particularly fond of is the SAP Solution Composer [FN1]. It has a number of benefits and I have defined a number of ways to use it in other posts:

The SAP Solution Composer tool provides a number benefits to help you quickly map processes and solutions:

  • It will map SAP’s software solutions to your business from a business process perspective.
  • It is free to anyone considering an SAP implementation and you do not already have to be an SAP customer.
  • You can publish a “Solution Composer” type PowerPoint scope presentation to mid-level and higher management to ensure their concerns are addressed.
  • It helps with “expectation setting” to reduce surprises that might come up later.
  • Creating process lists for starting some of the critical change management discussions
  • It provides a common language platform for communicating about process options and process change.
  • It comes with several business objectives, metrics, and other information to help you determine which areas of your business to focus on.
  • The SAP Solution Composer tool contains standard and customizable KPIs, business objectives, and other areas of business focus for evaluation.

Together with IDES [FN2] SAP’s Solution Composer provides a great Enterprise Architecture jump start for those who may not have 10, 20, or more years of experience. At least with SAP solutions the complex Enterprise Architecture software options are readily available.


[FN1] Information on the Solution Composer tool, and its use can be found here:

[FN2] See the previous post on:
Global SAP Instance Consolidations

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FIXING Stupid SAP Vendor – Partner Selection RFI – RFP Processes

February 21st, 2011 by
Why SAP Projects Fail to Deliver ROI and How to Change IT

SAP ROI starts with the RFI - RFP

I’m always amazed at how much time, energy, money, and effort companies spend on the SAP Request for Information (RFI) and Request for Proposal (RFP) processes. It is common to spend months, and in some cases even years, evaluating, analyzing, and preparing for an RFI or RFP.

During the RFI and RFP preparation stage senior management and staff are involved, at times a dozen or more employees may be involved. When you add it all up it can easily cost your company tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or with some large companies even millions in evaluation costs. All of this before a single vendor is contacted.

Let the SAP RFI and RFP Race Begin!

After all the analysis you send out your SAP or ERP Requests for Information (RFI) to an initial list of vendors you would consider doing business with. You include details of your initial scope and the key information about the size and complexity of your project in your SAP Request for Proposal (RFP) (see SAP System Vendor Project Success Criteria & Factors 2, Section #10).

After all this time and effort you get the RFI results and narrow the evaluation field to a few finalists. You schedule the proposals and the vendors arrive.

The SAP RFP show is on – Welcome to the Three Ring Circus!

SAP Partners bring in a small army of sales people, senior level management, and maybe one or two key consultants. They start showing lots of slides while their staff “works” the room. Before vendors ever come to the presentation they have strategy meetings and discussions about how to handle various issues and how to set the stage. This is their dog and pony show. A room full of sales people and some senior level employees want to convince you to pick them!

This is their job, this is what they are paid for, this is what they do.

How much of this really matters? At the end of the day are any of them going to actually deliver the business solutions? After all the smoke is cleared and the mirrors are put away how many of the people at the RFP will deliver your SAP or ERP project?

A Simple Fix to the SAP RFI or RFP Processes Increasing SAP Project Success

Based on the number of companies who are dissatisfied with their ERP investments it is clear that the SAP RFI and RFP processes are broken. If they weren’t broken there wouldn’t be nearly as many frustrated customers. After all, it is the RFI and RFP processes that determine the composition of your project team, the consulting project team, the tools and resources that are used for delivery, etc. In other words that early foundational work of picking the right vendor, their consultants, and their project tools is a critical key to your chances for project success.

To be successful your whole focus should be on aggressively addressing the ability of vendors to use SAP functionality for business benefit. Who really cares how great the vendor’s sales staff thinks they are?  That’s what those sales people get paid for.  Ask yourself, during the course of your SAP software project who is going to ensure that your business marketplace competitive pressures are addressed with the solutions they provide? Will any of those grinning sales people or those senior executives work on the delivery of the solution they are trying to sell you?

A focus on the vendor delivery team, rather than the sales team,  should be non-negotiable

Make a real difference in your SAP RFP by focusing on the consultants who will be responsible to deliver project success, for example your SAP RFI might require the SAP partners or vendors to indicate:

  • Average consultant application experience (BOTH in years and numbers of full lifecycle projects)
  • Average consultant business experience before or during SAP projects
  • What is the contact information for the vendor’s last 3 SAP projects (sequentially, not “reference clients”) that were completed?

For the SAP RFP it is critical to ensure you get detailed information on the actual consultants the vendor is proposing. Another key requirement has got to be your ability to interview every single consultant the vendor is proposing. You might even require that the vendor include ONLY customer references from the consultants who are being proposed for your project.  Who cares what the sales guys say — the consultants and project manager will be responsible for delivering the results.  After all, as the research indicates, the level of experience and types of skills needed for excellence can not be underestimated (see  Expert SAP Consulting to Reduce SAP TCO and Improve SAP ROI).

A focus on the vendor delivery team, rather than the sales team,  should be non-negotiable and any vendor who fails to comply must be automatically disqualified. Some of the key requirements of your RFP might include:

  • Consultant special business solutions:
    • What special processing solutions, reports, process changes, automation, or other solutions have they created?
    • What was the difference with the standard SAP solution and their alternative?
    • How or why did they choose any custom solution rather than standard functionality?
    • What business competitive pressures were addressed by these solutions? (Vendor / Supply management, Customer focus, Competitors, New products / services, i.e. operations, innovation, or business growth).
    • What specific business need was addressed and how was this solution innovative?
  • What have the last 3 or 4 clients said about this consultant?
    • Who can you contact STILL AT THOSE CLIENTS (not third parties) who have enough knowledge to speak about that consultant’s skill?
  • What customers or projects are represented by the consultants the vendor will propose (and note that these WILL be checked against the actual consultants proposed).

There are so many “con”sultants with fake, misleading, or insufficient backgrounds or experience it is no wonder customers are often frustrated by the lack of results from their SAP software projects (see Screening and Interview Methods to Find the Right SAP Consultant ).

A Revolutionary SAP RFP Idea

Perform a “game changer” in your SAP RFP processes. Mandate that the consultants who will deliver the project must be the ones who deliver the RFP presentation. ALL OF THE PRESENTATION! What a great way to find out the real skill level of the consultants who will actually deliver your solution. By using this method this is your opportunity to evaluate the SAP vendor’s delivery team skill level. After all consultants with several successful SAP implementations will have developed several key skills that you will be able to directly evaluate during the RFP presentation:

  • clear oral and written communications,
  • solution assessments,
  • problem resolutions,
  • business process design,
  • translation of SAP / ERP speak to business language,
  • knowledge transfer,
  • training,
  • and organizational change.

Their ability to deliver the RFP demonstrates whether or not they possess sufficient experience, how well they handle pressure, and whether or not they can actually solve business problems you might question them about.

If the consultants do not have enough experience to translate techno-speak into plain, understandable business language then how much meaningful experience do they really have? If they can’t deliver the RFP how will they lead requirements gathering sessions and ensure business requirements are captured and addressed? If they can’t answer your business problem questions in ways that you can understand how much experience do they really have?  For more details on critical skills for good SAP consultants please see the post entitled “Screening and Interview Methods to Find the Right Consultant – Part 2“.

If you need help with a business focused SAP RFP, or with the ways to evaluate and screen consultants consider hiring an outside expert for this.  Not just an RFP “expert” who will only help to use the traditional “dog and pony show.”  But an expert who can help to guide you through the important evaluation tasks.

We offer this service at R3Now or you might look for others who specialize in this type of thing like Michael Doane (, Jon Reed (, or for SAP HR or HCM related functions you might consider Jarret Pazahanick (  We are more than happy to partner with some of these and other industry experts to help ensure you get the best possible results.

Contact us today!

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More on Stupid SAP Vendor – Partner Selection RFI-RFP Processes

February 14th, 2011 by
SAP RFI and RFP processes focusing on business success

SAP Vendor RFI and RFP

This is a followup from last week’s post on  Why SAP Vendor – Partner Selection RFI Processes are Stupid.  Next week’s post will provide insight, suggestions, and ideas on how to ensure your SAP RFI or RFP processes achieve the best possible results.

SAP is a COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) business software application.  In the COTS world solid financial statements may indicate an SAP partner or vendor who has mastered the art of “squatting” or “lock-in.”  They may routinely custom code non-mission critical “requests” from the business, where other more standard solutions might have worked. Less experienced consultants (with great margins for the consulting company) will often suggest customized solutions for areas that are not business critical because it is easier than the change management requirements.

Some of these SAP vendors do custom coding under the pretense of “customer satisfaction” and trying to “meet your needs.”  I feel all warm and fuzzy, don’t you?

Is Custom SAP Development Really Customer Service?

After these SAP Partners have “satisfied” your requests for custom coding they stay on to constantly nurse, fix, adjust, and maintain their prized custom work.  There are times when custom development is justified but it must be related to a critical business need and not a “convenience.”  After you go-live with the customized, frequently broken, painfully inadequate “solution” you wonder how did we get here?  You ask yourself, “I thought they said all of this was ‘standard’, and ‘easy’ during the SAP RFI and RFP sales cycles?”

If you are even remotely thinking these types of thoughts the SAP RFI and RFP processes may have been more of a “beauty pageant” and not focused enough on business requirements or items which generate ROI (i.e. Return on Investment) for your enterprise software project.

I don’t care how great an SAP implementation vendor or partner thinks they are, all I want to know is exactly how they will help my business!

SAP Vendors “Pick Me!  Pick Me!” We’ve Got Great Financial Strength and Have Been There FOREVER!

An SAP system partner’s ability to “squat” at your company for years, collecting fees for software engineering, helps them to promote their “financial health” and “long term stability” to the next client –, leading me to ask, how again does this help your company realize the benefits of a Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) solution.  Your application life-cycle costs, or the SAP TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) will go sky high and you may only see negative SAP ROI.

RFI processes have got to focus on just one thing–, business benefit.  Everything else is part of a “beauty pageant.”

Start leveraging the RFI process to ensure that you are focusing on success criteria that is important to you! In the end what matters is that you get the very best consultants, who have extensive application experience and strong change management skills (see Screening and Interview Methods to Find the Right Consultant – Part 2).

The key is to focus on making the SAP RFI and SAP RFP processes about education as much as it is about vendor selection (see Breakthrough Project Success: 2 of 4, IT Vendor Proposal RFP). Make the SAP partner or vendor focus on what they can do for you and your business right from the beginning.

Can the SAP Partner Show You Business Benefit?

That SAP partner or vendor must demonstrate how they have been able to provide real, lasting, and tangible business benefit.  What business value did they deliver?  If they can’t show this then maybe they are profitable in their ability to “game” you during the sales process.  To maintain their financial health and margins they likely have inexpensive “technicians” rather than experts to work on your project (Successful SAP Project Team Composition – Technicians or Experts?).

Stop accepting fast-food taste and ambiance at five star restaurant prices — DEMAND business benefit.

Let me warn you here however, because this demand for verifiable business benefits is fairly new to the marketplace you may struggle to find your implementation partner.  Or you may end up managing your entire project completely on your own by bringing in your own outside contractors.  But until you as a customer and part of the larger marketplace start demanding results SAP vendors and partners will not change.

Your customers demand results from you, shouldn’t you demand the same of your SAP partner or vendor?

Business Focus Produces a More Meaningful SAP Vendor RFI and RFP

What do you want the end results of your SAP system to do for your company? Are you focused on operational excellence?  Are you looking to produce innovative products or services?  Do you want to focus on business and marketplace growth?  What is the ultimate goal of your SAP implementation?

The RFI, RFP, and selection process must focus on the skill, experience, and qualifications of the project manager and consultants. STOP right here and let that sink in. Will ANY of those grinning sales people be there to deliver one single business solution?  Of course not, they are there to make the promises to convince you to pay them for their consultants and project manager.  So I will ask you, why isn’t the entire RFI and RFP process focused more on the consultants and project manager that will be responsible for delivering your enterprise software project?  Shouldn’t you be spending more time learning about, interviewing, screening, and grilling the consultants and project manager than about how “great” the SAP partner claims to be?

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