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SAP Competency Center – Doing Things Right

SAP Center of Excellence – Doing the Right Things

The SAP Center of Excellence approach assumes a dynamic organization that is experiencing a fair amount of change, at a pace that causes the organization to stretch.  This is usually the case with growth oriented companies who are seeking to find new competitive methods and ways of operating in a challenging global climate.

The SAP Competency Center approach assumes a fairly stable business model, without significant market disruptors, and a mature marketplace.  This is generally seen with older companies who compete in commodity spaces.  The SAP Competency Center is sometimes called an SAP Center of Expertise, but without more direct and clearly aligned business integration the organization name does not make it a true center of excellence.

The SAP Center of Excellence Structure and Purpose

For purposes of this post we will focus primarily on the SAP Center of Excellence structure or model (where IT organizations focus on business to SAP alignment).  This Center of Excellence structure first requires building out some of the stability infrastructure that comes from developing an SAP Competency Center.  The SAP Competency Center Framework is used to stabilize the application and business processes immediately after go-live.  The  SAP Competency Center becomes the foundation for the Center of Excellence structure (to aggressively focus on market and competitive pressures).

The basic differences between an SAP Competency Center and an SAP Center of Excellence are related to maturity and function.

The competency center seeks to employ change management strategies to regain system and business stability; the center of excellence seeks to integrate application support staff and support technology into the business for competitive advantage.

SAP Competency Centers are REACTIVE to any business need, waiting for unsolicited help desk tickets or business input.  Competency Centers react to requirements.

SAP Centers of Excellence on the other hand are PROACTIVE and try to find ways to apply technology and resources to value propositions and competitive pressures in an ongoing manner.  Centers of Excellence actively look for value opportunities.

SAP Competency Center – Doing Things Right

From an SAP Competency Center approach there is a strong focus on:

  • resolving day to day activities,
  • preserving existing market share (customer retention),
  • managing help desk requests,
  • and a general focus on stability and structure.

The Competency Center approach is needed for some time after a new SAP implementation goes into production, and it is a good place to start for companies who want to build a true Center of Excellence.  However, as Peter Drucker has noted there is a difference in philosophy around doing things right or doing the right things.  SAP Competency Center management does not seek to achieve a strong, changing, vibrant dynamic within the business.

The Competency Center framework and approach seeks stability, predictability and short to mid-term incremental improvements.  Not too much change and not too much disruption.  The goal of a competency center is to maintain smooth operations after the period of system stabilization.  Long term adoption of an SAP Competency Center framework is for those companies who have a business model that is both change and risk averse.  Otherwise the SAP Competency Center framework should become the foundational building blocks for an SAP Center of Excellence Structure shortly after achieving stable production operations.

SAP Center of Excellence – Doing the Right Things

The SAP Center of Excellence approach assumes a more aggressive business model, one that is dynamic and pursuing market opportunities.  This model and approach are well suited to growth oriented companies no matter what their size.  The idea of doing the right things means that in the process of change some things may not always be done at their optimal level.  Business is not perfect, markets are not perfect, no matter how hard companies may try, products and services are not perfect.  This does not mean they are sloppy, it just means you don’t have the luxury of pursuing the last mile of perfection.

The SAP Center of Excellence structure tries to find the right things to do to continue to be a market maker or a market mover.  This usually means creating a very dynamic and fluid SAP support organization that is more closely integrated into the business (and not just aligned to it). Because of the pace, and the struggles involved in being a market maker or market mover some things can not always be anticipated.

Is Your Company a Good Fit for an SAP Center of Excellence?

Companies that are good candidates for an SAP Center of Excellence are (or want to be) able to change and adapt quickly because of market necessities or because it is part of their business model. Together with many of the items listed for Competency Center focused companies, those who want to implement an SAP Center of Excellence structure have a strong focus on:

  • wanting to gain market share, or wanting to protect market share in a volatile marketplace
  • customer retention and customer acquisition,
  • market intelligence,
  • innovation,
  • market responsiveness (the ability to quickly adapt and change).

The SAP Center of Excellence requires new methods, tools, and approaches for companies to achieve this level of business performance.  The SAP Center of Excellence at its heart and soul is more about business than it is about applications.  So, with a firm SAP Competency Center framework and management foundation,

“a true SAP Center of Excellence seeks to do the right things the right way.”

In the next post we will look at a first pass at a very high level SAP Center of Excellence framework and model.  Many of these components would also be in the Competency Center, but in a Center of Excellence the ability and need for collaboration and change is much more aggressive.


Toward an SAP Center of Excellence or SAP Competency Center – PART 1

Explaining the differences between an SAP Competency Center or sometimes referred to as an SAP Center of Expertise and an SAP Center of Excellence.  As Peter Drucker wrote either Do Things Right or Do the Right Things.

Toward an SAP Center of Excellence or SAP Competency Center – PART 2

A more complete and thorough explanation of the differences between the SAP Competency Center (or Expertise Center) and the SAP Center of Excellence (or the Business Transformation Center).  An understanding the operating differences and how the Competency Center is focused on reactive processing of things like help desk tickets, problem resolution, data correction, and knowledge transfer.

Toward an SAP Center of Excellence or SAP Competency Center – PART 3

Business model application of steps, techniques, and methods to produce an SAP Center of Expertise or an SAP Business Transformation Center.  The major business transformation steps on moving from an SAP Competency Center to an SAP Center of Excellence.


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Bill Wood
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