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Leveraging SAP Enterprise Support Services: A Journey to Lowering Costs

by Ross Wainwright and Greg Pike | SAPinsider

October 1, 2009

The drivers, outcomes, and benefits of leveraging SAP Enterprise Support services are well documented — yet some companies have not yet leveraged them, most not knowing where to begin. In this Q&A, SAP's Ross Wainwright and Greg Pike alert SAP customers to services included with SAP Enterprise Support that deliver significant savings or benefit, but that all customers may not be aware of.
Ross Wainwright
Executive Vice President
SAP Field Services
Greg Pike
Senior Vice President
SAP Active Global Support

Q: Can you give us examples of services that are available to customers as part of their SAP Enterprise Support maintenance agreement that deliver significant savings or benefit, but that all customers may not be aware of?

A: Access to five days of SAP software architect services to help implement the latest SAP enhancement package — that one often takes customers by surprise. It helps customers deploy new functionality in the most efficient manner. There is a service check that lets customers avoid unnecessary work by analyzing a proposed modification and letting them know if the functionality is already included within the standard SAP solution. This has tremendous value. It results in one less item customers have to maintain and support.

Another example is our continuous quality check (CQC) portfolio. The depth and breadth of checks that are now available may not be known to all customers. There are currently 20 CQCs, and the portfolio is still growing (see Figure 1). Exercising a quality check before you tackle an activity can make you aware of any risks that may cause a problem.

Figure 1 Continuous quality checks (CQCs) are remote services to investigate risks or deliver specific improvements; customers should choose the CQC that best helps in a given pain point area — SAP Enterprise Support and the SAP Support Advisory Center can help you with this process

Take an upgrade, for example. The CQC for upgrades can include a “downtime assessment.” Customers who take advantage of this check can significantly reduce their downtime. One customer we recently met with reported that they reduced their downtime window from 19 hours to 5. Another good example is Ecolab. They implemented SAP’s recommendations from a CQC, including parameter changes, application of patches, and sizing adjustments. The result was a successful, on-time go-live.

We’re seeing the same types of results for customers who leverage other CQCs that focus on optimizing performance and reducing data volumes. It is important for customers to be aware of and take advantage of these key services.

Q: We’ve also heard about new methodologies and standards that come with SAP Enterprise Support. Can you elaborate on this?

A: SAP methodologies and standards are not new. But they do operate at a whole new level within SAP Enterprise Support. In fact, the first indication of this is the term “enterprise” in SAP Enterprise Support, which includes standards for end-to-end solution operations — not just operations that begin and end with your SAP systems.

SAP has indexed a total of 16 standards that focus on key operations processes within a company’s business and IT units. These key standards and practices address the needs of business process experts — the stakeholders responsible for the design and execution of business processes — and of IT departments charged with ensuring that the services SAP solutions provide are available for business users.

With a standardized approach to operating an SAP-centric environment comes reduced cost of operations. This drop in costs results from less investment in configuration and testing, faster problem resolution, and increased business process availability.

This is especially important today because customers operate complex environments. They may encounter a problem that manifests itself somewhere within a core SAP application, but the cause of the incident may be rooted elsewhere — in a third-party solution, in a database, or buried in the underlying technology platform. It is not uncommon to see performance-related problems originate from key integration points. Implementing SAP standards affords you the means to detect the root cause of an incident in a systematic way.

Our solution operations standards are game changers. Any customer who is not now adopting them should do so. Otherwise, you run the risk of not only inflating your TCO, but surrendering opportunities to reduce it. The standards by themselves are not enough, however. Customers also need guidance on how to best implement these standards within their organization. SAP Enterprise Support now includes the Run SAP methodology to help you optimize the implementation and ongoing management of your solution operations. It’s a roadmap that will support you in defining the scope of the operations to be implemented — and then guide you as you prepare a detailed plan to set up and run your SAP solutions. Run SAP helps you find the right strategy and tools to implement end-to-end solution operations.

For customers who are looking for additional support, SAP Active Global Support (SAP AGS) and SAP Consulting offer a full portfolio of “Run” services for setting up, optimizing, and executing your Run SAP roadmap. Run services are defined by three phases:

  • Evaluating the efficiency of your Run phase through an operation maturity or TCO assessment
  • Implementing the recommendations that result from these assessments
  • Delivering follow-on services to optimize your operations processes and solution landscape

All of SAP’s Run services focus on helping you drive operations excellence at a lower TCO — and helping you realize the full value of your investment in SAP products and solutions. Run services include long-term engagements like SAP MaxAttention, SAP Safeguarding, and Application Management Services, as well as expert consulting-oriented services like operations maturity assessments, testing services, service landscape optimization, post-production support services, and information lifecycle management services.

Q: How can customers know which SAP Enterprise Support services are appropriate for their needs? What’s the best way to start?

A: There are three steps to get started. The first step occurs in two parts. The first part is to shore up your Customer Center of Expertise (Customer COE) and divest of the go-live mindset. There is a natural tendency for many customers to focus on go-live. But the real cost of any mission-critical application lies in its ongoing operations. This is an area where optimization of support activities can have significant impact on reducing TCO. Your Customer COE is the foundation for this type of approach. The COE is where we see companies building the SAP skill sets necessary to not only react to problems, but to proactively protect investments, identify areas for process improvements, reduce costs, and all the while ensure business continuity.

The business value and potential for cost savings of a quality Customer COE cannot be overstated. Our benchmarking has shown that organizations with strong Customer COEs operate at 20% lower costs. Vertex, for example, credits a nearly 25% improvement based on the benefits that an end-to-end standardized support approach brings to their organization. For more information on boosting the business value of your Customer COE, see Colleen Speer’s article this issue of SAP Insider.

The second part of step one is to have your Customer COE engage with the SAP Support Advisory Center and request an SAP Enterprise Support Report (see Figure 2). This report provides a comprehensive view of how you are currently using SAP Enterprise Support across your SAP operations. It then provides a roadmap for engaging the right services for your enterprise. It will show you where you are in regards to taking advantage of all that SAP Enterprise Support has to offer, including your use of continuous quality checks and solution operations standards.

Figure 2 Sample of an SAP Enterprise Support Report’s Balanced Scorecard

The second step is to get SAP Solution Manager up and running to support your current initiatives and projects. SAP Solution Manager is the service and support platform that allows you to unlock the full value of SAP Enterprise Support. Customers who do not actively take advantage of this platform — and who do not fully leverage its capabilities — are operating at a profound disadvantage. Activities such as monitoring, testing, root-cause analysis, remote support, and problem resolution are all enhanced through the use of SAP Solution Manager. Fully leveraging this platform is the surest, swiftest path to lowering TCO, minimizing planned downtime, and avoiding unplanned downtime.

Additionally, you should really be using SAP Solution Manager on every deployment or upgrade project. This is a key factor in ensuring better operations at go-live and long after. Insist that your service provider uses SAP Solution Manager, too. We often see situations where a partner has just helped with a deployment project. After the project is over, the consultants leave. Then what? Insisting that the partner fully leverages SAP Solution Manager during deployment ensures that knowledge about the deployment doesn’t walk out the door with the partner. If deployment teams faithfully document the project, you will have important configuration and implementation information at your fingertips when you need it. Then, if there’s a problem, it can be quickly and effectively diagnosed and remedied by having a complete view tracing how the solution was configured. Additionally, if you want to change the solution in some way, you have the right information at hand to move forward, and you do not have to re-document and blueprint the solution.

Step three is to follow the prescriptive advice of the SAP Enterprise Support Report and leverage the Run SAP methodology to implement SAP’s standards for solution operations. With a solidified Customer COE and SAP Solution Manager in place, you’ll have the right organizational structure and tools to do it.

Q: If customers follow the roadmap laid out in the SAP Enterprise Support Report, what benefits can they expect to see?

A: Perhaps the best way to frame the ensuing benefits is to break them down into four categories.

The first is business continuity — less downtime and fewer problems. This means you’ll see an increase in the number of days without an outage, reduced average time to resolve issues, a reduction in overall incidents, and so on. A leading technology company offers us a great example. They had a situation where 400 users in sales were not able to access certain reports that were essential to their month-end sales processes. The right foundational support elements were in place, so the problem was resolved before it could exact a heavy financial toll on the company or jeopardize their month-end activities. Another example is Navarre, who’s use of SAP Solution Manager diagnostics has increased their ability to pinpoint the location of issues, enabling them to better utilize their resources while reducing time-to-resolution.

The second is business process improvement. It is imperative for all our customers to prevent cost-intensive system or business process downtime. By utilizing a CQC for implementation, Sony Electronics experienced a 50% decrease in the runtime of their delivery status report after implementing the recommendations provided.

The third is accelerated innovation — faster deployments and upgrades, and in the long term, adoption of new functionality without upgrades. Many customers report upgrades now finishing ahead of schedule due to the reduced downtimes and testing efforts resulting from their SAP Enterprise Support deliverables. With the help of SAP Enterprise Support, a leading consumer products customer expects to realize up to an additional $11 million in annual operating income as a result of its successful SAP solution deployment.

And finally, there is lower TCO. The biggest impact, however, can’t be found in any one of these benefits, but rather in their sum total. When you can streamline deployments and standardize ongoing operations, it frees up time, money, and resources that can be funneled into business growth and innovation. That is what SAP Enterprise Support’s Application Lifecycle Management approach is all about.

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