Many of you will have observed that this isn't the most frequently updated blog around the web. One of the reasons is that I dreamt this site up when I was still a technical consultant, with the intent to use it as a repository for information I might need when on a customer site.
Over time, my career has tracked in a different path and I would now call myself a specialist customer-side SAP Operations Manager. A few posts on SAPdup have gone in that direction, but generally SAPdup has continued based on the content I wrote many years ago.
I've now launched a new site to fit in with the current focus of my career:
The intent of this site is to provide a resource for other managers who are responsible for managing internal SAP operational teams. I have a lot of ideas for useful content, but a lot will depend on whether the site is a 'solution looking for a problem' or is actually useful to people. Check it out and feel free to engage with the conversation (via the forum or posts) and share with your network.
A Friday fun post. Top 40, SAP "Facts":
Things are pretty frantic at Auckland Council. Since we merged all the local councils of Auckland together in November last year we have been struggling to keep up. Now we're finally doing some recruitment.
The first position we're looking to fill is in our logistics area.Â This role is focussed on the support and development of our purchasing solution (using SRM PPS (Procurement for Public Sector) and MM).Â Ideally you'll have several years supporting and developing an SAP Purchasing solution with SRM as part of it.
Next up is a position to fill a gap created by a project that's already in flight.Â We're doing a massive consolidation of our asset maintenance functions using SAP Plant Maintenance and Real Estate.Â So we're looking for someone with these skill sets to step onto the project and then transition it through to support and ongoing improvement.
Finally, we're looking for someone to bolster the ranks across the board.Â Someone who is happy to "float" between various modules.Â The work will range from purchasing to finance to HR and even include elements of workflow, performance management and workload management (queue monitoring) for the team.Â The key to securing this role will be proving a depth and breadth of SAP experience and a willingness to be flexible and agile in supporting the rest of the team.
If you've got any questions, drop me an email at email@example.com.Â But please apply via those links.
Is anyone interested in collaborating in mobile application development?Â I'm interested in teaming up with some developers/mobile app architects to produce some apps for popular mobile devices such as the iPad/iPhone, Android or Windows Phone platforms.
I would provide the user viewpoint and insights into what would sell to customers globally.
Drop me an email if you're interested (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Just a quick note to any SAP Customer out there.Â Are you part of the SAP Customer Appreciation Programme?
If you occasionally host conference calls or face to face meetings with potential SAP customers, then you either are or should be.
For my tenure at my organisation we have regularly conducted demo's and conference calls.Â We're honest with our experiences both positive and negative and I'm sure this honest feedback is of significant value to SAP.Â In the past I have assumed that doing this was just part of our license agreement, but it turns out you get stuff for it.
Over a number of years we had accumulated over 5000 points.Â You can redeem points for training or SAP consulting.Â We decided to redeem them for training and since most of my team are engaged on projects, decided to make it online training.
So we 'purchased' over NZ$8k (~US$6k) worth of training for essentially nothing.
It's not often you really get something for nothing out of SAP, so I would recommend you investigate with your account executive.
This is the first in a series of two posts (can two posts be a series?) about SAP and Cloud Computing.Â In this post Iâ€™ll be talking about services, and specifically SAP Support delivered â€˜from the cloudâ€™.
Before I get too far I think itâ€™s worth throwing a few definitions out there and suggesting a working definition for my posts.
Cloud Computing refers to both the applications delivered as services over the Internet and the hardware and systems software in the datacenters that provide those services. The services themselves have long been referred to as Software as a Service (SaaS), so we use that term. The datacenter hardware and software is what we will call a Cloud.
A style of Computing where scalable and elastic IT capabilities are provided as a service to multiple customers using Internet technologies
An emerging IT deployment, development and delivery model enabling real time delivery of products, services and solutions over the Internet.
Those definitions seem to me to go from a pretty narrow definition where Cloud Computing is the hardware (Berkeley), to IDCâ€™s where Cloud Computing is just a â€˜modelâ€™ where pretty much anything delivered over the internet can be called Cloud Computing.
Iâ€™d like to take a line more similar to Gartnerâ€™s definition.Â Their use of the wording â€˜IT capabilitiesâ€™ also lets me talk about the topic of this post, Support.
In this post Iâ€™m talking about Support, not Services.Â The primary service (other than support) that exists in the SAP world is consulting.Â Having consultants log into your system remotely isnâ€™t cloud computing in my opinion since theoretically consulting isnâ€™t something that should be repeated, so shouldnâ€™t benefit from scalability, agility and long term cost reduction.
It may be useful to divulge my background for infrequent readers of this site.Â After a few years as an SAP Consultant for Hewlett-Packard I took a role in the UK as Service Delivery Manager for one of HPâ€™s clients, Proctor & Gamble.Â For a number of years Proctor & Gamble had outsourced all of their IT support and IT provision to HP, retaining only their data centres (this may have changed since I left in 2008).Â I am now the SAP Support manager for Auckland City Council (approximately 2.5k SAP users).
What is SAP Support
SAP Support is the provision of support to SAP end users allowing them to execute their roles in an efficient, compliant and cost effective manner.Â SAP Support for me is about providing the best support you can at the best price to allow customers to realise their investments in SAP.
While projects are important, the ability to deliver on a projectâ€™s business case depends primarily on the post Go-live support.Â Whether this is internal or external is not necessarily important.
Benefits of SAP Support â€˜in the Cloudâ€™
Firstly, I hate the use of the phrase â€˜in the Cloudâ€™.Â â€œThe Cloudâ€ doesnâ€™t exist.Â It makes much more sense to talk about â€˜SAP Support in external vendorsâ€™ or â€˜SAP Support by IBMâ€™.Â But that doesnâ€™t quite have the same ring to it!
Scalability.Â This is the single most important benefit.Â Regardless of whether any of the other four are valid, this will always be true (as long as you pick the right provider).Â At HP, getting an additional FTE to support a particular module for a month or two was the matter of a few emails and a couple of days.Â Internally, there are business cases to be written and signed off before recruitment can even begin.Â The average recruitment process can take a minimum of eight weeks and then youâ€™re lucky if you even find someone appropriate.Â In those eight to ten weeks, you may have missed the opportunity that was there in the first place.Â Many are the times Iâ€™ve said, â€œsorry, we canâ€™t do itâ€ simply because I live with these realities.
Efficiency.Â The flipside to scalability as Iâ€™ve discussed above is efficiency.Â When support requirements drop, you can drop your FTE numbers.Â Forget redundancies and the associated human capital costs of letting people go, it might even be completely without penalty depending on your contract.
Improved Quality.Â Since youâ€™re drawing from a larger pool of resources, the quality of those individuals should be higher.Â Even if this is not the case, their support frameworks (knowledge management, peer support etc) will usually be better than anything you could foster internally.
24x7 Support.Â One thing Iâ€™ve almost forgotten working for a local 9x5 organisation is the need for 24x7 support from large multi-national organisations.Â Using the likes of HP, Axon or IBM means that you can leverage their global support offices for â€˜follow the sunâ€™ support. Though youâ€™re likely to pay through the nose for it.
Lower Cost. This is one that I find at the top of most peopleâ€™s lists and I find spurious.Â It is possible to make Cloud Computing lower cost, but it must be tightly controlled and the right resources need to be retained in house to drive these efficiencies.
Drawbacks of SAP Support â€˜in the Cloudâ€™
Reduced Control. No list of drawbacks or cons to Cloud Computing would be complete without this at the top of the list.Â With support, this comes down to picking and choosing resources for tasks.Â At HP we had it written into the contract that the resource assigned to specific work could not be dictated by the customer.Â So the customer could only comment on performance.Â This was not a frequent problem since resources all tended to be of a high standard, but our very fast turnover was a frustration to the customer.
Loss of Knowledge. Take the decision to externalise support very carefully, because once you do it and you allocate staff to other areas it is very difficult or impossible (read: costly) to reverse the change.
Support is a Commodity. In the cloud you are just one of hundreds of customers.Â Delivery to each customer is measured against Service Levels and contracts.Â Expect Account Managers to decide they can take a hit on missing your Service Levels to ensure they donâ€™t miss a crucial (read: costly) SLA for another customer.Â This model of support also means that vendors are unlikely to develop in depth business understanding in their support staff.
Security.Â While the majority of Cloud Computing security concerns exist with the actual hosting of solutions, it should be considered in regards to support also.Â At one extreme, consider the defence forces.Â I worked for NZDF once.Â I had to pass a security clearance and then had access to various pieces of information about their equipment, even where and how many sidewinder missiles they had.Â You can bet they wonâ€™t be adopting â€˜the Cloudâ€™ for SAP Support any time soon.Â The same applies for the sensitive corporate information held in every SAP system worldwide.
Cost.Â As I mentioned above, I have serious doubts whether customers who undertake Cloud Computing for a purely cost saving reason will achieve their aims.Â Vendors are not inclined to give their customers â€˜freebiesâ€™ or accommodate Scope Creep.Â So while you may be paying less for the service catalogue you initially started with, the actual monthly bill may well exceed what you were paying for your internal support.
Remote Working.Â I know of a large SAP customer locally who Iâ€™ve also spent a lot of time working at.Â About four years ago they decided to outsource all their IT functions.Â What they quickly worked out was that their organisation didnâ€™t want to work remotely.Â They wanted consultants sitting in front of them and attending their meetings physically.Â The fact they had given the contract to HCL made things difficult for them.Â If your organisation doesnâ€™t like conference calls, virtual presentations and remote working, be very careful about moving towards â€˜the Cloudâ€™.
Iâ€™m still learning about Cloud Computing (as is the rest of the industry) and there are likely to be many benefits and drawbacks in regards to SAP Support that I have failed to identify above.
However I believe the right approach is to take two approaches.Â Firstly, develop a hybrid support environment.Â Develop a core group of business savvy, highly intelligent and efficient SAP experts in your organisation.Â Peer these with an efficiently run and tightly contracted Cloud Computing support vendor (or more than one) and I believe you can have best of both worlds.
Secondly, put a heavy focus on understanding your processes and technology well before you start moving towards Cloud Computing.Â Adopt ITIL if you havenâ€™t already and invest a good amount of time and money in the tools and other resources to get your operations running effectively before changing anything.
I hope this article has helped in your decision making or maybe raised a few questions for you.Â I would be interested in any comments, questions or other feedback.
I've recently joined twitter (www.twitter.com/petecorin) so I'm on the lookout for new people to follow, so it was interesting to see that there's a list of SAP employees who are active on twitter:
Brightalk.com last week ran a great seminar on Cloud Computing in regards to IT Service Management.Â They now have the webinars available for perusing at your convenience.
I like to keep my eye on what's going on in the IT Service Management space and I've really only read around the fringes of the 'Cloud Computing' space so I found them really interesting.
In fact, I may be prompted to write a SAP centric post sometime soon...
In a rather remarkable turnaround, SAP have announced that they will be returning the option ofÂ 'Standard Support' in addition to their preferred option (and for the last year only option) 'Enterprise Support'.
They also announced that despite meeting the SUGEN benchmarks as agreed, they will not be increasing the Enterprise Support costs for existing customers in 2010 but leaving them at 18.36%.
So customers will be faced with a tricky choice of 18.36% for Enterprise Support in 2010 or 18% for Standard Support.Â On $10m of licensing this is just $36k.Â The question that you'll need to ask is whether your choice to 'opt out' of Enterprise Support is a one time only option or can be reviewed annually.Â Because once SAP cranks this up to the full 22% and we're talking about a difference of $400k per year on that same $10m license, that money is a lot more challenging to justify.
Having been pointed to this rather innocuous press release from SAP back in April (so apparently this is old news) regarding their changes to Enterprise Support, it's now time to talk about the fact that SAP have finally back tracked (at least partially) on Enterprise Support.
No, you won't have an option of staying with standard maintenance, but you may in fact get Enterprise Support without paying for it.
There are two key points buried in that press release:
- Maintenance increases for existing licenses will not reach 22% until 2015 (instead of 2012).
- Maintenance increases will not occur at all unless they reach the benchmarks as measured by SUGEN (SAP User Group Executive Network).
To further elaborate on point (1).Â Under the old proposal, if you had maintenance of $1m in year 0 (2008), then by 2010 this would have increased by $28.3k and by 2012 would be $50k.
Under the new framework, in 2010 your increase will be 19k, in 2012 it will be $31k and only reach $50k in 2015.Â This cumulative saving mounts up to a theoretical $65,500, not insignificant even if SAP meet all their KPI's and many of you will have more than $1m maintenance budgets.
From my perspective, this is a great idea, it was unexpected and it's a real shame that SAP management didn't do this earlier as they would have saved themselves the millions of dollars in negative PR and lost sales, not to mention the customers that have made the risky decision to cancel their SAP maintenance.