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Right Person, Right Place, Right Time — SAP Workforce Deployment Solutions

by Joachim Förderer | SAPinsider

January 1, 2003

by Joachim Förderer, SAP AG SAPinsider - 2003 (Volume 4), January (Issue 1)
 

Deploying the right people with the right skills to the right position, job, or project is more than just another task to be streamlined — for many companies, it’s a strategic issue as well. As companies compete for customer loyalty and demand higher productivity, the ability to quickly and accurately match the most talented employees to the right roles, especially in customer service or product development, is key to rising above less-responsive competitors.

With the evolution of employee placement from paper- or spreadsheet-based processes to more automated solutions, now is the time to both leverage the information residing in your existing ERP system and take advantage of new state-of-the-art technology like enterprise portals. Adopting these applications means increased flexibility in deploying employees, a faster planning process with shortened reaction times, and better-motivated employees whose individual needs are being met. The result is higher workforce efficiency, significant cost savings through better utilization of the resources, and ultimately, higher customer satisfaction.

In this context, deployment, or “workforce deployment” (WFD), can mean anything from scheduling customer service agents (even in intervals of just a few minutes) to assigning consultants to projects over several months. Although each business scenario has unique industry- or function-specific characteristics, these business scenarios also share some elements — employee skills and availability information, for instance — where HR plays a key role in implementing and supporting any WFD strategy (see sidebar, below).

The HR Contribution to Workforce Deployment Processes

Business drivers for a WFD solution may range from expected call volume, to expected number of customers per hour, to project opportunities — just to name a few. While these drivers are not under the direct influence of the HR department (or an integral part of the HRMS), HR does make a significant contribution when it comes to workforce deployment. After all, information about employees’ skills, work schedules, and availability, as well as basic employee information in master data, are all relevant to the deployment process. Furthermore, related topics like performance management and analytics, career planning, workforce education, etc., should take into account (and influence) the results of a WFD strategy.

HR should hold responsibility for this information and be heavily involved to ensure consistent and well-structured support for all the value-generating processes in the company. The message here is about HR’s contribution to the success of the business — a dramatic shift from the more traditional, pure administration of backend HR processes.

For organizations looking to optimize deployment processes, SAP offers the following five solutions:

  • mySAP CRM Resource Planning Tool — Field Service and Dispatch

  • mySAP CRM Interaction Center Scheduling

  • Collaboration Projects for mySAP Product Lifecycle Management

  • Professional Services with mySAP CRM: Project Resource Planning

  • SAP xApp Resource and Program Management

Figure 1 briefly introduces you to these solutions. This article provides further details about their scope and audience, with a focus on resource scheduling and assignment functions, along with a look at how these solutions will be further integrated in the future.1

Tool Functions Description
mySAP CRM Resource Planning Tool — Field Service and Dispatch Dispatch of service staff to service orders, appointment setting. mySAP CRM Service solution for field enablement and appointment setting.
mySAP CRM Interaction Center Scheduling Shift-scheduling and task assignment for call center staff. mySAP CRM component with strong integration capabilities into CTI (Computer Telephony) for call volume forecasting.
Collaboration Projects for mySAP Product Lifecycle Management Quality-oriented project management with project staffing. Runs stand-alone but is integrated into the PLM backend functionality.
Professional Services with mySAP CRM — Project Resource Planning Acquisition, management, and staffing of consulting and service projects. Uses elements from mySAP CRM, mySAP PLM cProjects, and R/3 Enterprise within the offering for Service Providers.
SAP xApp Resource and Program Management xApp for project portfolio management, enhanced skills tracking and management, project consolidation, and project staffing for internal research and development projects. xApp that runs on top of backend applications in a corporation and can consolidate data from, for example, various project systems.
Figure 1 Five SAP Solutions to Support Your Workforce Deployment Strategy

Solution Overview

mySAP CRM Resource Planning Tool — Field Service and Dispatch

The mySAP CRM Resource Planning Tool supports the full cycle of activities for field service processes — from the assignment of a customer’s request for service, through to execution, confirmation, and billing. In this process, resource planners assign work to service teams, taking into account each employee’s schedule (see Figure 2).

Figure 2 Field Service and Dispatch Screen — mySAP CRM Resource Planning Tool

From the Resource Planning Tool, service employees can access, accept, or reject new assignments, and maintain their availability on their laptop or handheld devices. Paging integration gives resource planners an additional channel for easy communication of new assignments. Once an assignment has been accepted and executed, employees can confirm working times, materials used, and relevant codes on their mobile devices and transfer this data during synchronization back to the service organization’s server.

This closed-information loop ensures that up-to-date and relevant information is accessible to all involved, supporting the business’s efforts to provide the best possible service to its customers.

For further synchronization, the team’s service-related data can also be posted automatically to integrated back-office components of the mySAP.com platform, such as SAP R/3, and to the SAP Business Information Warehouse for reporting and analysis.2

mySAP CRM Interaction Center Scheduling

In contact center environments, finding ways to take full advantage of staff resources and new communications channels, like email and online text chat, is an ongoing management challenge. mySAP CRM’s interaction center workforce management capability was built from the ground up to include multi-channel support, and gives managers easy access to these capabilities from their own role-based portal (see Figure 3).

Figure 3 Manager's View for Interaction Center Workforce Management

Key enhancements for managing call centers will soon be available in mySAP CRM, including forecasts of your contact center’s workload and labor distribution, to ensure you meet customers’ expectations, no matter which communications channel they might choose. Advanced scheduling techniques support multiple sites to ensure that the most qualified personnel perform specific operations when needed. Finally, sophisticated planning capabilities enable managers to staff according to volume, skill sets, activity, corporate goals, and customer expectations.

Collaboration Projects for mySAP Product Lifecycle Management

Collaboration Projects (cProjects) for mySAP Product Lifecycle Management (mySAP PLM) applies to any industry where a defined project setup and execution process is used internally to develop or improve a product. In a nutshell, cProjects enables collaborative project management to efficiently plan, execute, and monitor development cycles.3

The cProjects functions of mySAP PLM support such proven methodologies as “stage gate” and Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP). These are seamlessly integrated into mySAP PLM’s existing collaborative engineering functions, along with program and project management capabilities to enable web-based collaboration in virtual teams. cProjects can easily integrate with the xApp SAP Resource and Program Management (discussed later in this article), thereby realizing additional portfolio and resource management benefits in heterogeneous system environments.

Starting with a template for adding a new project to the system, you then input your project team information and assign roles (“project leader,” “decision maker,” etc.) to each participant. From there, you assign authorizations to individual roles and objects (such as documents) to prevent sensitive project information from ending up in the wrong hands.

A rich project structure allows for phases, tasks, checklists, and lists of individuals responsible for each element. Phase and task deadlines can be entered manually or automatically scheduled by the system. Project elements can also be linked to documents and other business objects (e.g., purchase orders) in other systems. Likewise, additional development-related objects can be assigned to the project, even while it is in progress.

Once a development project is under way, project participants use cProjects functions to confirm the completion of tasks, mark off completed points on checklists, and release individual phases, so you can always see what stage of each phase your project is in.

For safeguarding project planning and execution quality, checklist items must be marked off before approval of a phase. This stage gate function ensures a controlled transition between project phases. The system also provides automated workflows tailored to project-specific needs, along with functions to ensure that processes will go uninterrupted if a team member is unavailable.

Professional Services with mySAP CRM: Project Resource Planning

For consulting firms and other professional service providers, it has never been more important to provide excellent customer relationship management in order to win and retain a valuable customer base, and offer value-added services for increased revenue and ensured profitability. SAP’s offering in this area consists of these main scenarios:

  • Opportunity Management, including sales support, pipeline analysis, and quotations

  • Project Management, including project planning, monitoring, scheduling, and cost tracking

  • Project Resource Planning, including skills management, resource search and assignment, and calendar integration

  • Engagement Management, including contracts, time and expenses, billing, and financials

With Project Resource Planning tools, roles are identified to specify the criteria required for each staff member. For example, in one case, a consulting project could require a project lead with project management experience, particular product skills, and team lead experience. It might also require five project members, each with expertise in a different sub-area of the product. Tasks can then be assigned to each of these six project roles, even if the person to fill the role has not yet been identified.

The search for the right employees (or external resources) can then be conducted based on skills (specific language skills, product knowledge, etc.), organizational data, or availability of resources. From information on previously assigned projects, and from sick leave or leave of absence information in the mySAP HR Time Management system, an employee will be determined to be “available.”

The resource planner then assigns the suitable candidate to each project role. Groupware integrated with employees’ calendars completes this solution, for easy communication of project assignments.

Overall, the Professional Services with mySAP CRM, available as of mySAP CRM Release 4.0, delivers:

  • Increased visibility of sales and project pipeline

  • Optimal utilization of resources

  • Improved billing accuracy and time-to-bill

  • Excellent insight into project profitability, resource allocation, etc. SAP xApp Resource and Program Management

SAP xApp Resource and Program Management

(SAP xRPM) is a new application for optimizing complex projects in R&D and IT organizations. xApps are a new breed of highly integrated applications from SAP. This particular xApp integrates information from your existing project management, HR, financial, and time-tracking systems for a complete overview of an organization’s project portfolio. SAP xRPM enhances steps in the project management lifecycle to help organizations better select, define, staff, and monitor major enterprise projects.

Workforce Management Core (WFM Core) as the Integration Layer

Looking at WFD strategies, the common elements are clear: all scenarios need information about staff availability, skills, and existing assignments. Ideally, an additional component would be a true optimization engine for optimal synergy between these solutions.

SAP recognized the value of this, and created the Workforce Management Core (WFM Core) to hold all relevant deployment information. The WFM Core consists of a central database for demands, resources, and assignments. To support and synchronize employee availability information — working time, attendance, absence information — it provides an interface for time management data for integration with mySAP HR Time Management. Both manual and automatic scheduling (based on heuristics) is possible, the latter with the help of the SAP APO scheduler and liveCache.

Currently the mySAP CRM Resource Planning Tool and the mySAP CRM business scenario Project Resource Planning benefit from the WFM Core concept. In the future, all the WFD scenarios discussed here are slated to adopt the WFM Core for maximum consistency.

By consolidating project data across multiple systems and existing enterprise components, SAP xRPM supports a complete view of project demand across the enterprise. Project data is presented in a timely, role-based manner so executives, project managers, and team members can easily view data and drill down to more detailed information (see Figure 4). As an xApp, SAP xRPM provides all the advantages of role-based intra- and inter-project collaboration among team members. It includes:

  • Project portfolio management capabilities, with a dashboard of relevant project data including key performance metrics on budgets, schedules, and staffing

  • A complete suite of calendar, to-do items, threaded discussions, document management, and role-based notifications across the project team

  • Functionality for assigning staffing resources

  • An advanced skills management feature to maintain up-to-date information on team members’ skills

  • Comprehensive reporting options with project portfolio analytics for continuous process improvement throughout the project lifecycle

  • Workflow features that help guide executives in the creation and approval of new projects

Figure 4 SAP xAPP Resource and Program Management

Because employee experiences and skill sets change over time and from one project to the next, project managers are constantly trying to match available talent to their project needs. SAP xRPM captures and maintains profiles of employees’ project experience and provides an efficient means for project managers to search for the right staff for upcoming projects, and allows employees to opt into projects that advance their careers.

Even before a project kickoff, planning managers can use SAP xRPM to view all active projects. This helps development organizations optimize resources and skills, and reduces the number of redundant or inefficient projects. Competitive enterprises can quickly identify deficiencies and apply resources to increase expertise in those segments. By viewing all resources assigned to each active project — schedules, at-risk elements, and current employee skills — planning managers can better prioritize projects in alignment with corporate strategy.

Conclusion

SAP offers a widespread, comprehensive, integrated solution portfolio that helps companies pursue their WFD strategy. Depending on the business drivers involved, you will find the solutions reside within their respective solution environment — in the mySAP CRM or mySAP PLM solutions, or in the cross-application xApps. The mySAP HR solution then provides all HR-related information, including skills, availability, and master data, to these applications — either directly or, for optimal integration, via a shared database, the Workforce Management Core (see sidebar).

In the near future, look for various applications to share even more common features that will enhance deployment processes across all areas in your organization.


1 Of course, each of these functions is also embedded into its respective solution (CRM, PLM, etc.) as part of other, wider-spread processes that will not be detailed in this article.

2 mySAP CRM Resource Planning has been generally available since mySAP CRM Release 2.0C. Significant enhancements and improvements were added for mySAP CRM Releases 3.0 and 4.0. For further information, visit www.sap.com/crm. SAP customers and partners can also log on to http://service.sap.com/crm for additional details.

3 cProjects shares its project staffing capabilities with the mySAP CRM Capability for Professional Services. However, the main focus of cProjects is staffing product development projects rather than consulting projects, so consulting-specific information about work schedules and absences is less important in this context.


Joachim Förderer is a business development manager within the Human Capital Management General Business Unit at SAP AG. Since joining the company in 1992, he has held different positions in the international area of the HR organization, including development and product management. Joachim holds a masters in business information technology from the University of Mannheim, Germany. He can be reached at joachim.foerderer@sap.com

 

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