One of the strengths of the SAP ecosystem is the ability for SAP partners to deliver the latest innovations and services to customers. As the list of partners expands, so do the options for SAP customers to find the right solutions for their specific business challenges.
Anja-Christina Bruehling is one of the people responsible for ensuring the health of SAP’s partner community. As Vice President of SAP’s Active Global Support organization, she heads the Global Partner Management and Training team. One of her primary responsibilities is the interaction with and enablement of SAP services and IT outsourcing partners — the partners most often on the front lines of customers’ SAP projects.
Recently, insiderPROFILES spoke with Anja Bruehling to find out how SAP ensures that its partners have the tools and best practices they need to work together with SAP to help customers navigate today’s highly innovative business environment.
Q: What do SAP customers cite as the most prominent challenges they face today?
Sophistication is rising while time frames to deliver innovations and solutions are decreasing. Today, more than ever, customers feel extreme pressure to deliver more value at higher quality levels while reducing the overall cost of ownership.
In the IT department, the top challenges for the CIO include:
- Ensuring business continuity
- Driving business process improvement
- Protecting investment and innovation without disruption
- Reducing total cost of operations in the IT organization
- Accelerating innovation within IT and across the business
That’s a very full list for the CIO to address. Best-run IT functions effectively balance the cost of running SAP software with supporting and rolling out innovations.
Q: What role does SAP, together with its partners, play in helping CIOs meet these challenges?
The role of SAP and our partners is vital in helping CIOs overcome these challenges and transform their business. This
happens in several ways:
- Standardizing processes: Partners help customers adopt SAP best practices and leverage resources
- Establishing an application lifecycle management (ALM) platform that addresses the entire IT environment: Partners help customers make the most of their SAP Solution Manager implementations
- Reducing TCO: Partners can introduce industry-specific efficiencies to SAP customers who can, in turn, pass those benefits onto their own customers
To help customers achieve the most effective and efficient implementations and ongoing operations possible, SAP Active Global Support has introduced a new methodology called the “control center approach,” which is only available through SAP MaxAttention or SAP ActiveEmbedded support. The control center approach includes these components (see Figure 1):
- The Innovation Control Center (ICC), which supports implementation and innovation projects with industry best practices, allows customers to “build SAP like a factory” and avoid unnecessary modifications
- The Operation Control Center (OCC), which handles orchestration and operations of the SAP solution, allows customers to “run SAP like a factory”
- The Mission Control Centers (MCCs) support the ICCs and OCCs of the linked customers, providing support for innovations, implementations, severe issues, and proactive measures
Q: How does SAP help partners in these efforts?
There are many ways, but specifically I’ll highlight the Run SAP Partner Program and the two customer centric certifications — Run SAP for Operations and the newly launched Innovation Partner Certification program. The newly launched program and both certifications together give partners an edge in their market by arming them with the tools and capabilities they require to support their clients and create success stories that make them go-to partners for SAP (see Figure 2).
The Run SAP Partner Program is geared toward SAP services partners and IT outsourcing partners. We would like to build a community from the SAP Active Global Support side and enable them around support-related topics. Through the program the partners have access to crucial components (see Figure 3):
- Run SAP Partner Academy
- SAP Solution Manager as a managed service
- SAP Solution Manager testing and ramp-up
- Go-to-market and business development
- SAP Active Global Support Delivery Partner Program
- SAP Active Global Support strategic topics such as Advanced Customer Center of Expertise and the ALM Roadmap service
Q: What is the incentive for SAP customers to seek out and work with a Run SAP Partner?
Customers want to know that their business is in the most-capable hands. Knowing that SAP stands behind the Run SAP Partner because that partner complies with certain quality standards, including training and methodology alignment, and leverages SAP best practices, tools, and methodologies, provides incentive for customers to work with these partners.
Q: Would you expand on the collaboration between your team, the Run SAP Partner Program, and the ICC through SAP MaxAttention and SAP ActiveEmbedded engagements?
The ICC concept is just being rolled out to our customer community and, likewise, to our partners. The intent of the ICC concept is to move SAP customers away from the expensive approach of supporting custom functionality. By identifying custom functionality that can be reverted to the standard and preventing further unnecessary custom code, the total cost of future maintenance can drop significantly and risks can be reduced as well. As the full rollout of the ICC concept takes shape, so too will the rollout of the OCC concept.
Q: What role will SAP partners specifically have in the OCC concept?
The OCC concept is based on running SAP like a factory. The important information on how the customer’s business processes are running is collected via SAP Solution Manager and presented in dashboard views and monitored by a minimum number of resources in the control center. The partner’s role in the OCC depends on what body of work they provide for the customer. And that body of work dictates what best-practice standards should be operated, what KPIs should be defined, what skill sets are required, and what processes and procedures are in place. Together, these components will define the new criteria for the Run SAP Operations Certification.
The shift of focus to the customer reflects the overall fundamental change in the Run SAP Program for 2013. We will check, customer by customer, how the partner is contributing to the ICC and OCC concepts at each company. Once a certain volume of customer ICCs and OCCs have been checked, that partner will then qualify for the new Run SAP certifications.
Q: How does the Run SAP Partner Program help partners keep up with the growing focus on SAP HANA, cloud, and mobility?
Our customers are very focused in these areas, and our program rolls out the latest trainings from SAP experts in these topics to enable partners in this ever-growing and changing field. We educate partners on how they can leverage SAP Solution Manager, run SAP like a factory, integration validation, and end-to-end integrated application lifecycle management to operate and standardize at the fast pace that their clients demand. We will do this customer-specific enablement through our SAP MaxAttention and SAP ActiveEmbedded engagements.
Q: What is on the horizon for the Run SAP Partner Program as we move through 2013?
Our focus in 2013 is our customers’ success. By further aligning the Run SAP Partner Program with the goals of SAP Active Global Support, including our current integration with the SAP Active Global Support control center approach, our partners are even more equipped to deliver results to customers.
For more information on this topic, please email SAPAGSRunSAPpartner@sap.com.
Vice President of Global Partner Management and Training
SAP Active Global Support