Senior Vice President of
SAP Active Global
Many SAP customers
don't take full
advantage of the resources available to them
under the terms of their maintenance agreements.
As a direct result, they incur higher operating
costs, greater risk, and less flexibility.
For some, it's a simple matter of not
being up to date with all that's
available. For others, it's a symptom of
an internal support strategy that is out of sync
with the solutions it is intended to safeguard.
Properly exercising maintenance agreements and
sound support strategies are key prerequisites
for optimizing the business processes, performance,
and stability of an SAP landscape. This interview
with Greg Pike, Senior Vice President of SAP
Active Global Support, explores the need to engage
Q. What portions of customers' maintenance
agreements are underutilized, and how does this
impact the performance, stability, and operating
costs of their SAP solutions?
Many of our customers are not getting the full
value they have coming to them through their
SAP maintenance agreement, even though they have
invested heavily in it. There are a number of
reasons for this, but neglecting to take advantage
of three important offerings quickly comes to
The first is SAP Service Marketplace. Only
50 percent of our customers are regularly using the
Service Marketplace. This online resource reflects
information from our support and development arms,
as well as knowledge gleaned from hands-on engagements
with thousands of our customers. SAP customers who
habitually leverage SAP Service Marketplace routinely
have lower operating costs, period. This claim is supported
by a 2004 Gartner Group study, which states that e-support
tools decreased support expenses by between 12 and
For those of you who haven't visited the SAP
Service Marketplace recently, you'll find it
now has personalized tools and proactive notification
services, so it's easier to navigate and routinely
check this resource.1
The second is SAP Solution Manager. Solution
Manager is another resource that yields very high dividends
to those who frequently use it. This platform delivers
centralized content and tools that provide users with
transparency, control, flexibility, and efficiency
in their SAP solutions. It also offers direct access
to, and works in conjunction with, SAP Service Marketplace.2
SAP Solution Manager
The support functions
in SAP Solution Manager are the ones most
underutilized by our customers. These include:
- Support desk — SAP
Solution Manager offers a complete infrastructure
for organizing and operating an on-site
help desk that covers your entire solution
landscape. As of SAP Solution Manager 3.1,
the new support desk is based on integrated
customer relationship management (CRM)
functionality. This facilitates the management
of service-level agreements, automated
workflows, escalations, and interfaces
to third parties.
- Message handling — SAP
Solution Manager connects to the SAP Notes
database and SAP Service Marketplace, as
well as integrates support tools, such
as the SAP Note Assistant tool, an SAProuter
enhancement, and Microsoft NetMeeting.
- Message posting — Any
user can post error messages quickly and
simply with just a click of the mouse.
The posted message then appears in the
corresponding area of the support section
of SAP Solution Manager.
- Problem resolution — SAP
Solution Manager provides access to an
integrated message-handling system. For
serious problems, you can forward a message
to SAP, where a team of experienced developers
and application specialists is ready to
solve your problem immediately. Changed
status information is transferred directly
into your SAP system.
- Issue tracking and reporting — SAP
Solution Manager comes with issue tracking
and top-issue reporting functions so that
you can preventively support your projects,
from implementation through development
to service delivery.
The third consists of the products and services that
we deliver around key events like implementations,
upgrades, and all sorts of continuous improvement
start from the beginning, with the planning and execution
of an implementation. SAP Best Practices — fully
documented and reusable prototypes that are stored
in SAP Service Marketplace and accessible through SAP
Solution Manager — can
be readily leveraged to jump-start things and quickly
get a solution up and running and into production.3 Right
off the bat, you shave significant amounts of money
off your implementation cost. In fact, studies show
that you can reduce time-to-solution by 10 percent
and decrease problem resolution time by up to 20
percent. More important, in my mind, is that you
incur far less risk. The solution will be implemented
right the first time and enter production ready to
deliver high value. Invaluable lessons drawn from
one implementation after another are reflected in
our best practices, and with your maintenance agreement,
they're there for
If you look at post-go-live scenarios, where you need
to really maximize the performance and throughput
of your system, leveraging SAP Support services makes
sound business sense. For example, optimization services
have been able to decrease one customer's transaction
processing times by 87 percent. Another increased their
overall system performance by five percent, and yet
another US customer was able to increase their workload
by 100 percent without any additional hardware. These
three examples illustrate different measures of performance
and different optimization services, but regardless,
the business benefits are obvious.
Notice that I led with planning and implementation.
There's a myth that abounds about support — that
it starts after go-live. If you subscribe to this notion,
it's a sure sign you're not leveraging
your maintenance options to their fullest. Support
starts right from the very beginning, and I advise
every customer to develop a support strategy that aligns
with the solutions it's meant to serve right
from their inception, not after the solutions enter
production. That's the most effective way to
heighten their value and keep the cost of operations
Q. Is it your view that the internal support
strategies of most SAP customers are not properly
aligned with the solutions they've got in place?
As customers' business application landscapes
move to a services-oriented architecture, support strategies
have to move, too. If your organization is changing
its IT infrastructure to drive faster information delivery,
faster decision making, faster time-to-market, and
so on, support organizations need to be prepared. The
implication to our world — the
world of support — is that you have to be fast-to-support.
You need a strategy that enables you to readily institute
changes, without degrading system performance, and
in a way that does not saddle end users with any negative
consequences. If you're not prepared for this,
then your support and business process strategies are
not properly aligned.
A simple, surefire way to meet these support goals
is to leverage the best practices, skills, and tools
that are made available to you within SAP Standard
Support. These resources are designed expressly for
this purpose. Use them (you've already paid for
them) and you increase the supportability of your solutions
and at the same time reduce risk, reduce TCO, and build
more flexibility into your landscape so you can address
change. Make sure your support strategies and processes
lag behind. An IT support organization needs to enable
change, not hinder it.
Q. How would you like to see customers interact with
the SAP Support organization?
The best thing our customers can do is continuously
and critically examine their support strategy and team
to be certain they're leveraging the SAP Standard
Support offerings to their full advantage. If customers
need more information about what SAP Support can do
to increase their system performance and reliability,
they should engage their SAP account team.
For the vast majority of our customers, there's
a lot of value in their SAP Support relationship that
they're still not getting, which could make their
operations more effective and less vulnerable. For
our part, we'll
continue to invest in these support components and
create value for our customers. It's a win-win
that more of our customers should take advantage of.
Do You Know You're Underutilizing
Your SAP Maintenance Agreement?
1. Do you understand all of the free services
you receive under your SAP maintenance contract?
2. Can you name the top 10 SAP tools used
to reduce risks?
3. Do you regularly use SAP's
library of best practices to
reduce your training and operating
4. Do you know how to use SAP
Solution Manager to reduce your
implementation and operating
5. Are you confident your SAP
support staff can support your
core business processes?
6. Do you know how to maximize
the performance of your SAP system?
7. Do you know that SAP's
knowledge base is contained within
SAP Service Marketplace?
8. Do you know how to minimize
the problem resolution time with
If you answered "no" to
one or more of these questions,
it's a sure sign you are
underutilizing your maintenance
agreement. Call your SAP contact
and review these areas.
1 - To learn more about SAP Service
Marketplace and how you can use this easy-access
source for your business needs, visit www.service.sap.com.
2 - For more information on SAP
Solution Manager, see "Looking
for Ways Your IT Organization Can Contain Costs Without
Sacrificing Services? An Introduction to SAP Solution
Manager Tools" by Cay Rademann in the January-March
2005 issue of SAP Insider (www.SAPinsider.com).
3 - See "The Secret to Accelerated
SAP Implementations: SAP Best Practices" by
Peter Neuer and Marian Maravilla in this issue