Building a SAP Support Model
Today, let’s close the loop on the topic of building an SAP Support Infrastructure. We explored Centers of Excellence in the last two articles. I consider COE’s the main building block. There are additional considerations that need to be explored from a strategy perspective in building the SAP support model.
Just to level-set. You have implemented SAP and have recently gone live, or you are in the process of implementing and are thinking about the post go live environment. You now need to focus on a strategy and plan for building the support model. Below, are some tips, recommendations and general thoughts for building the SAP support model.
Steps to Build a Support Model
Step 1 – Patner with the Right Consultancy
From experience, I have seen companies try to do this entire process in-house and the end results were not pretty. There is a whole methodology/process and minimum level of expertise needed to do it right. If your company is large, consider compiling an RFP for building an application support model. You want to include vendors that have a strong track record in the support arena.
Step 2 – Conduct a Scoping Exercise with Management Team
You need to discuss the overall objectives and goals, current strategy and plans, as well as review the current organizational structure and vision. The consultancy will lead the discussion on SAP best practices, and lessons learned, in the area of support. From these discussions, the overall project scope should be finalized and documented in a Statement of Work.
Overall, the scoping session should focus on strategy. Specifically, it should touch on:
• Issues regarding the design and implementation
• Scope of the support processes
• Roles and responsibilities, which will help define the new Support Model, and related support team
• Any risks and assumptions
• Functions to be fulfilled by the support organization
• Geographical distribution
• Organizational structure
• Outsourcing plans
• Relationship between support organization and Program Management
• Overall support governance
• Timelines and future plans
Step 3 – Define the Support Requirements
Here, you are going a level down with key managers and resources. In this step, you should conduct business workshops to determine what support procedures/processes are required, along with potential future support requirements. Once the requirements are gathered, you will need to document and analyze. The results of this effort should be used in the blueprinting effort for the design phase.
In this step, you should address specifics. Things like support Management, location, availability, service levels, functions, procedures, and staffing. Also, change control and SAP development requests should be addressed. Things like regional and global change control, management and quality assurance, testing, standards and data management.
Step 4 – Design the Model
Based on information obtained in the previous two steps, you should be in a position to design your support model, which will include support processes, organizational structure, and staffing.
Typically, the activities and milestones of this step include:
• Education from the consultancy on the relevant Support Models that are commonly used today
• Define the services that IT will provide and support – For example a RACI Chart of Services
• Define the support processes and support model
• Perform Gap analysis and resolution
• Formulate an organizational and staffing plan that supports the processes and objectives of the organization. Typically, this is the foundation for the COE, as discussed in previous posts
Step 5 – Implement the Model
In this step, you should prepare a final report summarizing recommendations on the support model and rollout, as well as the implementation plan. Included should be a summary of gaps, identification and assessment of significant issues or constraints as well as any risks associated with the implementation phase. Critical success factors of the impending implementation should be included. A summary of estimated implementation costs and resources should also be included. The consultancy should be the leader in this step but they should work side by side with the key internal resources to roll out the model.
Step 6 – Build a Skills Plan
In this phase, you should prepare a list of recommendations surrounding training, knowledge transfer, and skills assessments for the support folks. The consultancy can help you with this aspect as they should have tools and processes to expedite this process, and deliver training where required.
Overall, the aforementioned steps and approach will uncover key issues and help map out a strategy and high-level project plan for the implementation phase. Without a strategy and plan in place, it will be difficult to manage the implementation from both a scope and resource perspective. The ramifications of which may lead to poor budgeting, and the possibility of cost overruns.
Besides potential cost implications, there are practical reasons and benefits associated with the outlined approach. These can be summarized as follows:
• Visibility of potential issues regarding the implementation.
• Clearly defined project scope and implementation strategy should give management estimated costs, resources, and plan of action for the implementation.
• Using a consultancy to help, you get an unbiased third party recommendation for implementation feasibility
• Visibility on roles and responsibilities, which will help define the new support organization and related teams
• Visibility of risks and key assumptions of the implementation
In summary, your organization can realize significant long term benefits in performing the Application Support Design and implementation. These go hand in hand with the COE discussion and the notable benefits include:
• Leverage Support Infrastructure to extract value from the SAP Investment
• Deliver operational support excellence with fast response times and low costs
• Provide an environment to foster highly motivated employees
• Deliver sustainable service levels that are geared to business goals yet are cost justified
Next time, I will outline some fundamental tips and philosophies for designing, implementing, and building world-class support Teams. I consider these lessons learned critical success factors for building best practice support models.
I won’t have access to a computer next week, but will reply to all posts the following week. If you have any thoughts on SAP support strategy, or models, please feel free to post comments.