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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