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Choosing the Right Outsourcing Partner: Is Your Provider SAP-Certified?

by Michael Ressemann | SAPinsider

January 1, 2008

Outsourcing your IT systems -- either in full or in part -- can provide a wealth of benefits. But how can you be certain that your outsourcing provider is trustworthy and competent?
 

As more SAP customers explore IT outsourcing — especially for hosting and application management services (AMS) — it's become clear that, depending on customer circumstances, such an endeavor can have substantial benefits. For example, companies that outsource IT processes report decreases in IT operating costs, improvements in execution and service quality, and improved focus of internal resources on their business's core competencies.

However, outsourcing comes with risks too, especially if a company is not mindful in selecting its IT service provider. Providers with inadequate skills and without a link to the vendor whose software they support — which leads to increased escalation costs — are just some of the problems that customers have faced when dealing with outsourcing partners.

That's why SAP is working with partners to mitigate risks like these with the SAP Partner Program Hosting — which is now also augmented by the new SAP AMS provider certification. By working with SAP-certified partners, customers ensure they're teaming up with an outsourcing provider that not only has robust SAP experience, but that has undergone a rigorous quality assurance process to earn that certification.

How to Determine if a Service Provider Has the Right Credentials to Support Your SAP Installation

When looking into IT outsourcing, you need a competent, experienced partner that can host and fully support your company to optimize your outsourcing investment. The SAP Partner Enablement team is working to help customers more easily identify providers with these qualities.

SAP offers two options for those looking for an outsourcing services partner, depending on the scope of the services required:

  1. If you are outsourcing your application infrastructure operations, SAP can help you find a certified hosting partner.

  2. If you are outsourcing the management, ongoing support, and optimization of a business application, SAP can help you find a certified AMS provider.

To receive SAP hosting partner status, IT service providers must pass a detailed certification process to prove their local or global delivery capabilities for operating SAP solutions. To become certified, partners undergo a detailed audit that analyzes many aspects of their service offerings (see Figure 1), such as:

  • The number of SAP systems they currently host and their SAP product experience

  • The condition of their data centers, including their infrastructure redundancy and fail-safe testing (e.g., for power and cooling)

  • Their network topology and connectivity

  • The quality of their IT service management process1

Figure 1
SAP partners must go through multiple steps to earn SAP Partner Program Hosting and AMS certifications

The resulting audit report flags the areas that partners must address and improve. To ensure the quality of the program, SAP also requires partners to recertify every two years.

For those that pass these rigorous standards, SAP offers a rich set of support services to ensure that partners have the latest resources to continuously improve their operations capabilities. The partner management organization and SAP Education, SAP Consulting, or SAP Service and Support teams provide these services.

Is Your Service Provider an SAP-Certified Hosting Partner?

When searching for an IT service provider with proven SAP hosting services capabilities, look closely at partners that participate in the SAP Partner Program Hosting, which has more than 120 certified partners around the globe.

To find out if a provider is a qualified SAP hosting partner, use the Partner Information Center search tool
at www.sap.com/partners/directories/searchpartner.epx. Make sure you set the Partner Category field to "Hosting Partner."

There are two levels of hosting partner certification:

  • SAP Partner — Hosting: Designates partners that offer SAP application hosting focused on local markets

  • SAP Global Partner — Hosting: Includes companies that provide comprehensive hosting services to global customers and that have proven market coverage in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia-Pacific

Don't Forget to Check Your Providers' Credentials for Application Management Services

Because the SAP hosting partner certification has proven to be a valuable tool for companies selecting hosting service providers, customers and SAP ecosystem partners also expressed interest in a certification for AMS and delivery capabilities.

So while the SAP hosting partner program identifies providers that physically host SAP applications, the new AMS certification focuses on IT providers' capabilities for managing the day-to-day administration and maintenance of SAP solutions.

As with the SAP hosting partner program, companies seeking local or global certification must go through an audit process. Candidates must also be either established SAP Services Partners or SAP Hosting Partners, since the AMS certification is designed as a complement to existing partner programs.

For AMS certification, the SAP Partner Enablement team looks at many aspects of a company's service offerings, such as the provider's:

  • Overall quality of AMS services

  • Application lifecycle management capabilities

  • Existing SAP services portfolio2

As SAP partners, AMS-certified companies also have access to SAP's educational and consulting services. Customers can be assured that their solutions are managed by a team with the backing and resources they need to stay flexible and innovative.

Choose an SAP-Certified Provider to Realize the Full Potential of IT Outsourcing

A successful outsourcing project merits a lot of preparation and planning, but its success also relies on the caliber of the IT services provider that a company partners with.

At the end of the day, SAP customers beginning an IT outsourcing project should look for providers that are certified by SAP. Make sure you team up with an official SAP hosting partner, and ask to see their auditing results. Also, find out if your IT outsourcing provider is certified — or in the running — for the new AMS certification.

With the SAP hosting partner program and the AMS certification, SAP is providing its customers with a way to ensure high-quality standards for both hosting and application management services.

For more information on the SAP Partner Program Hosting, please visit www.sap.com/partners/ categories/hosting/index.epx. For more on the SAP AMS provider certification, visit www.sap.com/partners/categories/hosting/amsproviders/index.epx.



1 For a complete listing of the requirements a partner must meet to be considered for the SAP Hosting Partner certification, see www.sap.com/partners/categories/hosting/targets/index.epx.

2 For a full listing of the requirements a partner must meet to be considered for the SAP AMS certification, see www.sap.com/partners/categories/hosting/amsproviders/criteria/index.epx.


Michael Ressemann is Global Head of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Solution Delivery and Partner Enablement at SAP AG.

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