Q. Peter, how can one solution map offer all customers, at all levels
of IT management, an effective lifecycle blueprint for managing their
e-business infrastructure? It just sounds too good to be true.
Yes, I agree that the Business Technology Solution Map is certainly predicated
on a very ambitious idea: to give our customers, at every rung of the
IT lifecycle ladder, a blueprint for understanding and managing the daunting
number of tasks and technical resources required to manage an infrastructure
for a strategic e-business - from implementation and integration, through
collaboration and reliable operation, and on up to ongoing, continuous
Well, seeing is believing, and customers who have seen and used the Business
Technology Solution Map will attest to its value.1 (Note that the Business
Technology Solution Map is just one of the 23 Solution Maps available
For those who have not yet seen the Business
Technology Solution Map, let me offer a quick overview, and invite you
to draw your own conclusions. The top-level map shows
the five critical lifecycle stages of any e-business application: Implementation,
Integration, Collaboration, Reliable Operation, and Continuous Improvement,
along with the major tasks necessary to effect each of those lifecycle
stages. At a glance, it renders a complete, overarching blueprint for
an effective e-business project.
Beneath each of these tasks are highly detailed drill-downs formulated
to guide the efforts of an IT department. Drill down further, and you'll
see the SAP- and partner-provided technology, methods, processes, and
best practices you'll need to accomplish each task.
Take the implementation phase, for example.
As the structure of Implementation shows, to implement an e-business solution
you must first size, install, and configure your system, then migrate
legacy data to that system, and finally test it. Time and again, the tasks in Business Technology Solution Maps have been
shown to be necessary, unavoidable steps for any e-business solution,
and the drill-down spells out those steps in detail.
Or consider that once the system is up
and running, its reliable operation hinges on manageability, performance,
availability, and security. In that case, the tasks and drill-down of
Reliable Operation show what's involved in addressing
those aspects as well.
Q. Who is the target audience for the map?
Anyone, actually. People at different rungs of the IT ladder can turn
to the solution map for different levels of abstraction. For instance,
a CIO could examine the high-level rendering of a project and its associated
tasks to ascertain the project's status. Departmental managers typically
zero in on a particular track within the project, while first-line managers
and hands-on development and implementation teams can leverage the most
detailed drill-downs. The Business Technology Map is free for download
for everyone - not only for SAP customers.
Furthermore, there are also other SAP Solution Maps available that provide
a process view on the issues at hand. Customers can choose among 23 cross-industry
and industry-specific solution maps. And with the SAP Solution Map Composer,
customers can freely combine them and create their own solution maps,
reflective of the business processes that are specific to their unique
requirements. For all these business-centric solution maps, though, the
underlying IT lifecycle is the same, and is depicted in the Business Technology
Q. Do you mean to say that no matter what line of business customers
are in - when it comes, for example, to implementing e-business solutions
- the tasks they execute to be productive and/or to run the software continuously
are the same?
For all practical purposes, yes. Over the last couple of years, we've
had ample opportunity to observe and correlate the data from the thousands
of customer sites we work with worldwide. The bottom line is this: regardless
of industry or size, cus-tomers go through almost the same procedures
to implement a successful e-business solution, because the same problems
and challenges tend to crop up at the same points along the way.
However, the Business Technology Map does not replace a proper project
plan and the simple but very effective "To Do" lists with task/responsibility/deadline,
etc. The Business Technology Map complements those lists, and ensures
that you don't lose sight of the bigger picture.
For example, whereas the project plan and task list is used everyday,
the SAP Business Technology Map is something for early-stage planning,
and for a weekly "check-in" on Friday afternoons throughout the project.
Assume that a project changes, as it always does. On Friday, you go through
the Business Technology Map, and use it to check:
- Do the changes to the project affect sizing?
- What needs to be configured?
- Is there any additional legacy data/software that needs to be migrated?
- Will it influence testing? What special testing requirements are
needed for this change?
- Is security still assured?
- Is high availability affected?
- Can I manage it?
The results then influence your detailed
project plan. In short, if you look through the map every Friday and can
give a proper answer to the questions it raises, you are right on track.
That makes it a valuable (or dangerous, depending on your perspective!)
tool in the hands of managers.
Q. How is this year's edition different than the Business Technology
Map that was released in 2000?
E-business requirements move at Internet
speed. The critical challenges that customers faced last year are not
necessarily the same ones they face today. In particular, collaboration
among suppliers, partners, and customers has taken on a new competitive
urgency. As a result, this year's map features a "Collaboration" phase,
which is new to this edition and contains recommendations about how best
to achieve this imperative.
Q. Other e-business guidelines are available. What sets this structuring
tool apart from them?
In a word, "knowledge" - or "business knowledge"
to be more precise. As experts in how to apply technology to support business,
we offer an easy understanding of execution, as well as a profound sensitivity
to ROI issues, and draw upon the vast resources, experience, and expertise
Working as closely as we have in supporting
customers' business processes, we have a wealth of business acumen in-house,
and all of that has been poured into the map. Customers can feel confident
that the business knowledge that is the source for this material is solid,
and that the map itself is realistic and achievable. Frankly, I think
it is indispensable in creating an e-business presence, and in helping
our customers plan for and apply personnel resources, budgets, timelines,
Make no mistake about it. This is not just
a pretty set of slides or some clever disguise for a mySAP Technology
sales tool. This map embodies the collective wisdom, experience, and practical
know-how of SAP and SAP's customers to provide proven methodologies around
which you can structure an e-business initiative. With the Business Technology
Map, you can not only make the move into e-business, you can hit the ground
Peter Barth is the SAP AG director of global solution marketing for mySAP
Technology. Prior to joining SAP, he spent two years as a consultant helping
clients to develop and implement successful IT strategies and advising
them on operations issues. A computer scientist by training, Dr. Barth
is also an expert in operations research.