Your company may be looking to purchase software to improve business processes and stay ahead of the competition. With changing needs and innovative new technology options, you need the best solution available, and you need it now. But the reality is that many IT projects run late, over budget, and do not meet planned goals. This unpredictability makes it difficult to effectively plan and implement an IT strategy.
According to IDC, another important factor that has to be taken into consideration is integration. New applications not only need to work with your current IT landscape, they also need to be scalable for future growth and fit into a long-term IT strategy.
As Vice President of the Solution Delivery Center at SAP Consulting North America, Davis Bennett leads the delivery mechanisms for SAP Rapid Deployment solutions. He is responsible for the build out of nearshore centers in North America and for Advanced Delivery Management initiatives in support of the overall SAP Services strategy. insiderPROFILES recently talked with Davis Bennett about how SAP Rapid Deployment solutions are creating a whole new way of driving value for SAP customers.
Solution Delivery Center,
SAP North America
Q: Can you start by explaining what “advanced delivery management” means for those unfamiliar with the concept?
The traditional delivery of ERP solutions typically involves the software provider deploying a team of consultants to a customer site to develop a project scope and execute the implementation based on the customer’s goals. Under Advanced Delivery Management, services are delivered via one of four distinct delivery models. In the case of SAP Rapid Deployment solutions, these services leverage one of our delivery models that embrace the concept of delivering services in largely a remote fashion. In this way, SAP can deliver faster time-to-value based on a standardized delivery approach taking full advantage of engineered services.
Innovative new SAP Rapid Deployment solutions allow our customers to shift away from big projects to packaged services with less customization and lower project costs, yet they are fully integrated and scalable to meet future needs. These solutions are faster to deploy — on average they are fully implemented in less than 14 weeks.
In the case of a specialty window fashion company, this industry-leading manufacturer was up and running with a high-quality SAP Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM) solution that met its exact standards in eight weeks. The SAP Rapid Deployment solution offered an easy way to quickly implement a robust SAP CRM solution that fully met the business’s sales and service needs. The company’s Director of E-Commerce stated, “The rapid deployment allowed us to implement the solution with minimal staff — our dedicated CRM IT employee started two weeks after going live. We now have a quick leg up on CRM and a terrific platform that allows for growth in our use of SAP CRM.”
In short, SAP Rapid Deployment solutions allow SAP to make its customers’ visions of deriving business results as quickly as possible a reality.
Q: What is an SAP customer’s biggest priority during an implementation?
It’s time-to-value. Customers want cost-effective, integrated solutions and they want predictability. When they select an SAP solution, they’re not investing in a piece of software, but rather in the goal of harnessing the business value that software delivers. So the quicker we can deliver that value in a predictable manner, the more productive our customers will be.
To meet this end, SAP developed its rapid deployment solutions, which come with a predefined scope and predefined timetables for delivery. It’s been my experience that scope creep and expanded timetables are what sidetrack solution deployments most often and delay time-to-value. As the scope becomes a moving target, the deployment time drags out and stakeholders begin to lose interest and enthusiasm about the value the solution will bring. But by agreeing on a scope and a timetable ahead of time, customers can plan their strategy to achieve business benefits more accurately.
Q: So you could say SAP Rapid Deployment solutions offer a risk management strategy — they minimize the risk of scope creep?
Yes, exactly. When you implement a new solution, you want to minimize risks as much as possible. You don’t want any surprises. You want to know what you are getting and when. You want to start realizing value out of your investment as quickly as possible.
Projects tend to go off track when various parts of an organization add customizations and expand requirements midstream. It’s a natural occurrence and not a bad thing as long as it’s managed properly within the overall context of the program. With SAP Rapid Deployment solutions, requirements are predefined and locked down at the start of the project. When both SAP and the customer commit to remain true to the course of the deployment, you get predictable results on predictable timeframes at a predictable price point. By keeping things simple, you ensure the investments you make today will pay off in the immediate-to-near future.
Q: Does having the predefined scope limit the customer’s long-term capabilities with a solution?
No, not at all. Customers want to quickly implement new solutions that work with their IT landscape today and provide a platform for the future IT strategy. It’s very common for new ideas to emerge during solution deployment. SAP Rapid Deployment solutions are often the first phase of an overall program in which a project team can prioritize those great ideas and align them with subsequent phases of the project as the customer evolves with the solution. These solutions can also help the business understand how its processes may have to change to leverage that “must-have” functionality before it considers how to further leverage some of the “nice-to-have” functionality.
Sometimes customers find that what seemed like “must-have” functionality initially isn’t actually required once they roll out the base functionality and experience how it can support their business processes and strategies. So following this model, they can quickly touch and feel the solution and understand how it applies inside their business before they move onto other ideas or requirements that come at the start of these projects.
Q: Does the actual implementation process differ for SAP Rapid Deployment solutions?
Much more of this work is delivered remotely, which is one aspect that makes it so cost effective. For an individual customer, our target is to deliver as much as 90% of our rapid deployment implementations remotely and 10% on site. But that’s not to suggest this is a black box. We have project kickoff activities that help set customer expectations and outline what they will be responsible for and what our team will do. So we all have a very clear understanding of accountability when we start the project. We do that very early in the project phase and even in the sales phase so that customers have that vision early on and can marshal appropriate resources on their side.
By nature, the shared vision of the customer’s business value and the mutual accountability built into the project management process ensure that the knowledge transfer from consultant to customer takes place over the course of the project.
Q: Does the rapid deployment model change the type of consultants SAP uses on these projects?
It’s not really about the type of consultants on the project as much as it’s about the approach. SAP Rapid Deployment solutions are based on SAP implementation and industry best practices. They bundle expert design, software, and services, and scale all that into packaged offerings that meet specific needs very quickly. And these projects involve less time from SAP Consulting on site.
These projects offer a very different experience from the traditional model for both the customer and the consultants. Due to the collaborative nature of the rapid deployment solution model, our consultants own the project outcomes with the customer stakeholders. That collaboration fosters an atmosphere of a fine-tuned team focused on the project’s life cycle.
Q: What other adjustments do customers have to make to get the most from SAP Rapid Deployment solutions?
For SAP customers, this is a different mindset more than anything else. Since SAP Rapid Deployment solutions are delivered in a remote fashion, customers need to accept and embrace change very rapidly as speed is central to this approach. Customers need to stay true to the project scope and avoid distractions from other parts of the organization. Again, they need to capture those ideas and not lose sight of them, but table them for subsequent phases.
In terms of measurable KPIs for the customer, SAP Rapid Deployment solutions mean:
- Faster time-to-market of new business capabilities — in days and weeks instead of months
- Lower ratio of service versus license costs, which helps you operate projects more efficiently
- Lower TCO to help minimize operating costs
- Lower ratio of IT budget versus revenue, which helps you do more with less
- Less deviation from initial defined project scope, which helps prove project success
Ultimately, SAP Rapid Deployment solutions provide assurance that the project results will meet the business need in a rapid fashion with predictable results — both in time and implementation cost.
For more information about SAP Rapid Deployment solutions, watch this video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_QaYXIu5WI