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SAP Contract Requirements for a Center of Expertise

July 2nd, 2012 by
Deliver SAP Excellence

Deliver SAP Excellence

If not all, most new SAP contracts and agreements contain provisions which require customers to create a “Center of Expertise” (or CoE). This is a customer’s, and SAP’s, first line of maintenance support. The CoE terms and conditions define a great aspiration that your organization will support “efficient implementation, innovation, operation and quality of business processes and systems” based on the Phase 6 RUN SAP ASAP Methodology. Good luck with all that!

However, back on planet earth, the RunSAP Methodology is a good starting point. Although SAP references the need to go further the delivered methodology only covers basic technical operations. As we look at SAP Enabled Business Transformation for IT Leadership it is apparent that the RunSAP Methodology is all about Internal IT Focus. The SAP delivered CoE requirement doesn’t deliver much on How To Navigate the SAP Business Transformation Journey around Enterprise Integration or External Business Drivers.

What ARE SAP Center of Expertise Requirements (as defined in their Terms and Conditions)?

For background and insight, here is an actual SAP Terms and Conditions excerpt from the SAP ENTERPRISE SUPPORT SCHEDULE (“Schedule”):

4. Customer Center of Expertise.

4.1 Role of the Customer Center of Expertise. In order to leverage the full potential value delivered as part of SAP Enterprise Support, Licensee is required to establish a Customer Center of Expertise (“Customer Center of Expertise”, or “Customer COE”). The Customer COE is designated by Licensee as a central point of contact for interaction with the SAP support organization. As a permanent center of expertise, the Customer COE supports Licensee’s efficient implementation, innovation, operation and quality of business processes and systems related to the SAP Software Solution based on the Run SAP methodology provided by SAP (for more information on the Run SAP methodology, refer to http://service.sap.com/runsap). The Customer COE should cover all core business process operations. SAP recommends starting the implementation of the Customer COE as a project that runs in parallel with the functional and technical implementation projects.

4.2 Basic Functions of the Customer COE. The Customer COE must fulfill the following basic functions:

  • Support Desk: Set-up and operation of a support desk with a sufficient number of support consultants for infrastructure/application platforms and the related applications during regular local working hours (at least 8 hours a day, 5 days (Monday through Friday) a week).
  • Licensee support process and skills will be jointly reviewed in the framework of the service planning process and the certification audit.
  • Contract administration: Contract and license processing in conjunction with SAP (license audit, maintenance billing, release order processing, user master and installation data management).
  • Coordination of innovation requests: Collection and coordination of development requests from the Licensee and/or any of its affiliates provided such affiliates are entitled to use the Enterprise Support Solutions under the Agreement. In this role the Customer COE shall also be empowered to function as an interface to SAP to take all action and decisions needed to avoid unnecessary modification of Enterprise Support Solutions and to ensure that planned modifications are in alignment with the SAP software and release strategy.
  • Information management: Distribution of information (e.g. internal demonstrations, information events and marketing) about Enterprise Support Solutions and the Customer COE within the Licensee’s organization.
  • CQC and other remote services planning: Licensee regularly engages in a service planning process with SAP. The service planning starts during the initial implementation and will then be continued regularly.

4.3 Customer COE Certification. Licensee must establish a certified Customer COE upon the later to occur of the following: (i) within twelve (12) months after the Effective Date; or (ii) within six (6) months after Licensee has started using at least one of the Enterprise Support Solutions in live mode for normal business operations. To obtain the then-current primary Customer COE certification or re-certification by SAP, the Customer COE undergoes an audit procedure. Detailed information on the initial certification and re-certification process and conditions, as well as information on the available certification levels, is available on the SAP Service Marketplace (http://service.sap.com/coe).

What the SAP Center of Expertise (or CoE) is NOT

As previously noted, even though there are several great aspirations in the CoE requirement the details are all about a focus on technical competence. In many respects this makes sense to SAP, you make sure your internal resources are the first line of defense. You cover your own maintenance and then only if you really can’t resolve the issue internally you turn to SAP.

Several critical components of a good Enterprise level integration program are completely missing from the real detailed requirements:

  • Governance (although it is referenced in the RunSAP methodology)
  • Program or Release Management
  • Enterprise Architecture
  • Business / IT convergence or integration

It is unfortunate that the RunSAP Methodology only covers the entry level stage of support. To move to something I call the “Center of Excellence” rather than the “Center of Expertise” you must focus on much more than just the CoE step 1 of 3 Development Phases for SAP Center of Excellence Maturity. To move past the first stage requires moving from an SAP Service Provider to Business Peer Through Center of Excellence Maturity.




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There is Life after the SAP Go Live

June 25th, 2012 by
SAP Support

SAP Support

One of the areas rarely addressed in the academic literature, by consulting firms, or by many of the system integrators is the organizational acceptance, and finally full use and assimilation of the SAP package. To the extent the system integrators or consulting firms do mention post production support it is generally in the context of managed services or outsourcing. Little is done to help companies develop a thriving production environment with your own resources.

One of the biggest problems I see anywhere is a failure to blueprint and ultimately design and then deliver SAP for usability. There are several hurdles which make this difficult, some of them include:

  • The SAP User Experience is one area which is overdue for attention.
  • A lack of in depth change management including training at the business process level.
  • Very few SAP consultants have much (if any) SAP support experience and have no idea about how their design and blueprint decisions will affect end users.
  • There are not enough functionality pilots demonstrated to the affected end users during the course of the implementation project.

After designing for usability the next critical issue involves Organizational Change Management Inside the SAP IT Support Organization. For long term direction Using Your SAP Steering Committee for Business Transformation can not be overlooked either. Finally, the user community, including training, change management, and ongoing super user development must be addressed.

Build a Thriving SAP Enabled Business Community and SAP Support Organization

Work to put the broader business community in a more accepting posture for your SAP / IT organizational changes by using Change Management Strategies and Knowledge Transfer Processes for a Successful SAP Project 1. Then work diligently toward Creating a Knowledge Centered Learning Organization for Business Transformation for IT Leadership. Whether you are already live with SAP, in the middle of a project, or just starting out, I would strongly encourage you to get serious about Organizational Change Management Inside the SAP IT Support Organization.

As an academic study I recently reviewed noted:

It is during [the post-implementation stage] that the effects of uncontrolled problems in previous stages appear due to the fact that users start the exploitation and evaluation of the system. During the implementation stage, users are usually limited to learn the basic functionalities [which support going live]… As a critical mass of users start mastering the system and they see its advantages on their work and its capabilities, they start using it in a more creative way and exploring its more advanced functionalities and requiring, even more functions… These are… signs of the system’s acceptance and assimilation which is… essential for the system’s success (Kouki, Poulin, and Pellerin, Ppg. 3-4).

SAP Certified Center of Expertise

Many of today’s SAP contracts include a provision that customers must create a Center of Expertise. In plain terms this means you are required to create your own internal support organization. This works well for SAP by putting your internal IT employees on the front line of defense but does little to ensure longer term acceptance, adoption, and even assimilation of the new system into the broader organization. Do not get confused by the terminology here either, the type of support SAP wants to see which constitutes a “Certified Center of Expertise” is related to you becoming less of a burden on their support organization, and in turn reducing their support costs for your company.  While this independence helps SAP it also helps to ensure you develop sufficient internal competence with the application.  In turn it is not enough and is just the beginning of the changes you must make.

The very basic components of building an Center of Expertise is contained in the Phase 6 RUN SAP ASAP Methodology. But as I’ve previously noted, this is just the first step of a critical path and process in Business Transformation for IT Leadership.

Understand the Series on SAP Competency Center or SAP Center of Excellence to gain the important insight for ensuring long term enterprise application success. Without a greater focus on the end user you may never fully realize business benefits or it will take longer than necessary, cost more than it should, and yield limited mid-term results.

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Kouki, R., Poulin, D., and Pellerin, R. (2006). ERP Assimilation Challenge: An Integrative Framework for a Better Post-Implementation Assimilation, CIRRELT Working Paper DT-2006-DP-1




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3 Development Phases for SAP Center of Excellence Maturity

May 14th, 2012 by
SAP CoE Maturity

SAP CoE Maturity

Before we get into the substance of HOW TO build a next generation IT organization that is integrated with business a quick review is in order.

Last week’s post on SAP Service Provider to Business Peer Through Center of Excellence Maturity proposed the direct maturity of the SAP IT organization.  The key principle is there are three stages or strata of Organizational Change Management Inside the SAP IT Support Organization These stages create clear distinctions between SAP Service Delivery versus Value Delivery

This week is an overview of the development and maturity details to use SAP as a Change Enabler through SAP Enabled Business Transformation for IT Leadership.  Please keep in mind this organizational development overview is just one component of the Series on SAP Competency Center or SAP Center of Excellence.  The need to continue your Steering Committee Governance for an SAP Center of Excellence cannot be ignored.  Properly formed and instituted your SAP steering committee is a key enabler for business to IT convergence. 

To achieve SAP IT Convergence Beyond Business to IT Alignment requires a senior leader change champion to make this a deliberate and accountable effort.  This is not intended to be a theoretical discussion but instead it is an action plan.  The entire initiative is as a project and needs a project plan, deliverables, key milestones, assigned resources, etc.   All of the structure and processes will need to be defined within your IT organization to move this forward.

SAP Center of Excellence Maturity Development Level 1 – Internal Focus on IT Operations (Service Provider)

Internal focus is an “all hands on deck” effort.  If internal focus, or basic IT service delivery is suffering then everyone within the IT organization must work to ensure your systems are meeting business needs.  You will not gain enough trust of the business community to become a partner or peer until the basic infrastructure works. Some of the key development in this phase includes:

  • A skills matrix
  • IT staff training and development plans
  • Clear SLA requirements
  • Consistent and regular feedback and coaching

Typical activities for service delivery include:

  • Help desk functions
  • Data maintenance
  • Security and authorizations
  • Technical infrastructure (servers, system performance, database maintenance, network, etc)
  • System access (desktop, remote, mobile, etc).
  • Hardware procurement
  • Knowledge (information) base development (Wikis, SharePoint, collaboration tools, etc.)
  • Knowledge transfer to the user community (formal and informal training)
  • Super user development

Skills development focuses on SAP or technical domain competence

  • Application module specialties (SD, MM, PP, SRM, CRM, FI, APO, BObj, etc)
  • Programming languages (ABAP, Java, PHP, etc.)
  • Infrastructure (Cisco, routers, VOIP, IPv6, DHCP, LDAP, etc.)
  • SAP Solution Manager use
  • Effective presentation skills

SAP Center of Excellence Maturity Development Level 2 – SAP IT Integration With the Broader Business Enterprise (Business Partner)

At this stage, depending on the size of your SAP or IT organization, there are 2 levels of leadership here: 1) delivery management, and 2) process management while developing methodologies, tools, templates, and controls.  A key part of the process management is the development of KPI indexes.  Typical activities for business (enterprise) integration include:

  • Requirements gathering
  • Blueprinting
  • System & solution architecture
  • Business case development (cost and value)
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Subject matter expert training
  • Super user training
  • KPI and PPI* development with analytics
  • Project management
  • Team and project leadership
  • Basic supervisory tasks
  • Mentoring, coaching, and staff development
  • Budget adherence
  • Sourcing and supplier management
  • SAP Solution Manager setup and maintenance for project delivery as well as BPM

Skills development focuses on project delivery and management.

  • Facilitation, meeting, and time management skills
  • Project management (training and certification)
  • Managing conflict
  • Supervisory & leadership
  • Negotiation skills
  • Organizational Change Management
  • Total Quality Management
  • Business Process modeling

SAP Center of Excellence Maturity Development Level 3 – Strategic Development Around the Marketplace and Competitors (Business Peer)

Split development track for leaders – 1) product or service engineering support (i.e. the “innovation” track) or 2) sales and marketing (i.e. customer focus).  Typical activities for value added strategic technology convergence include:

  • BPI* development and analytics
  • Marketplace analytics with solution proposals
  • Customer analytics with solution proposals
  • Value analysis – ROI assessment and benefit compliance
  • Cost analysis – TCO assessment and cost savings
  • Business case review for strategic fit
  • Technology roadmap for system & solution architecture
  • System architecture integration with business process management
  • Program management
  • Program & project budget development
  • Project audits / QA’s
  • Mentoring, coaching, and development of level 2 participants
  • Vendor management

Skills development focuses on business drivers, marketplace competitive pressures, sales, and senior leadership.

  • Advertising principles
  • Business statistics
  • Market research
  • Sales management
  • International marketing
  • Sales models
  • Organizational development
  • Coaching and leadership
  • Delegation
  • Strategic planning

Conclusion on SAP Center of Excellence Maturity Development

This analysis provides a framework for development of a world class, fully integrated SAP IT organization.  However, this framework only scratches the surface of a much broader and more important topic–, Organizational Change Management Inside the SAP IT Support Organization.

Communication is One Key to Business and IT Integration

One of the most critical components of a change management program is not listed above in any of the bullet points – developing communication channels.  Maybe this is naïve of me but I would expect that actively and aggressively developing clear and open lines of communication between IT at all levels with the business would be assumed.  Developing an overall communication program and plans is a basic part of any change management initiative.

There is a significant amount of additional guidance for developing your SAP Center of Excellence in the Series on SAP Competency Center or SAP Center of Excellence.  A systematic approach, including key milestones to measure progress against are important elements to success.  To that end I hope this framework contributes to the dialog and direction of future SAP IT organization maturity.

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* An upcoming post in the future will look in detail at this concept of “KPI, PPI, and BPI” as Key Performance Indicators, Process Performance Indicators, and then finally Business Performance Indicators.




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