From Support Unit to Innovator

Feature Article | July 11, 2007 by admin

New markets, changing business models, and rapid economic developments – companies have to adapt more than just their value-added chains to keep pace with these demands. The underlying IT solutions must also be constantly optimized and enhanced. In order to support innovative business processes and also maintain live operations, it is essential to have a flexible and efficient support unit.
SAP Customer Competence Centers are well-equipped to meet these demands. Their role in a company extends far beyond standard technical support or a basic helpdesk function. Staffed by highly qualified individuals, the competence centers bundle knowledge about SAP applications and support specialist departments as their central contact for all IT issues.
The SAP CCC controls implementation across various organizational units and optimizes support services for live operations. To do this, the competence center may introduce a standard catalog of questions, for example, which allows the user to evaluate the response times and error resolution provided by SAP CCC. These regular surveys provide the competence center with information on how to improve the service and also enable the center to assess its progress. The SAP CCC is also responsible for the central management of contracts and licenses in order to coordinate the acquisition of software licenses more effectively. In addition, the competence center organizes user training and the use of any external consultants.

Contact partner for specialist departments

A SAP Customer Competence Center is more than just a support unit measured solely on the basis of its Total Cost of Ownership. The SAP CCC can develop into a business partner within the company, one which creates tangible and sustained added value. For this to be possible, the expertise of the CCC staff must be complemented by effective organization of the competence center. Its structure must be appropriate to the demands of the business units. For example, it might provide specific contact partners within the SAP CCC to address the needs of specialist departments and implement these in IT terms.
The coordination of the SAP Customer Competence Center with the business units is of central importance, particularly with regard to service-oriented architectures (SOA). In order to develop an SOA, CCC staff must have a comprehensive understanding of the company’s core business. Only then can they actively support specialist departments in creating new business processes. The competence center therefore becomes an engine for innovation and, through the link with Enterprise Services, is able to adapt IT solutions to new business models quickly and flexibly.

From vision to improvement strategies

SAP Business Consulting backs the development of support units into SAP Customer Competence Centers as business partners. To this end, it offers companies three CCC service packages. With the service package “CCC Vision & Strategy”, SAP advisors work together with the customer to arrive at a given objective. The core points of this vision are the work of the SAP Customer Competence Center and its position within the company. The definition of KPIs turns this vision into a strategy. KPIs make it possible to monitor the optimization of support organizations and to drive the process forward along result-oriented lines. Examples include the percentage of error reports successfully resolved by the SAP CCC and the comparison between the number of staff within the competence center and the number of supported users.
The “CCC Assessment” service package allows companies to identify the development status of their SAP support organization and classify it within a CCC maturity model. Working with SAP Business Consulting, the customer can identify areas of weakness and potential for improvement. This information is used to create a catalog of measures necessary for the development of the support unit. These measures might relate to the coordination of business processes with the SAP solutions which support them, for instance, or to the adaptability and response capability of the SAP CCC.

Best practices for all fields of activity

The third service package, “CCC Set Up & Development”, offers companies the opportunity to support the set-up of a SAP Customer Competence Center or the further development of an existing SAP CCC by applying SAP Best Practices. During the restructuring of the support unit, particular attention is paid to those fields of activity that are crucial to an efficiently structured competence center.
In the field “CCC Vision & Strategy”, it is important to establish the extent to which the SAP CCC strategy can also satisfy the demands of the customer in the long term. The remit of “CCC Governance” covers the design of the SAP CCC organizational structure including all forums, reporting lines and the responsibilities of individual sections. “CCC Processes” examines working procedures within the SAP CCC as well as those between the competence center and its customers.
For the “CCC Technology” area of operations, the software used in the SAP CCC is defined, for example SAP Solution Manager as the central solution for supporting implementation projects. Finally, “CCC Culture & Skills” is concerned with determining what knowledge is required in the SAP CCC, how staff gain and share this knowledge, and how cooperation within the SAP CCC can best be organized. This also applies to locally or virtually organized competence centers.

Supervising change successfully

Change Management (CM) often plays an essential part in “CCC Set Up & Development” and in the development of the SAP Customer Competence Center into a business partner. SAP Business Consulting supports an approach proven in many projects for ensuring that changes are supervised successfully and implemented in conjunction with the customer.
This Change Management approach identifies four phases in the change process. The first involves a description of the changes derived from “CCC Set Up & Development” for the various fields of activity. Often, the main focus is on changes to the organizational structure of the SAP CCC, processes within the competence center and the technology used. The description is based on a comparison of the current situation and the proposed future status of these areas.
The second step in this CM approach is an analysis of the consequences of the changes. These effects can be summarized and assigned to various levels of the company hierarchy. If major organizational changes are planned, for example, management may become involved, while operational changes in IT processes should be carried out in cooperation with the individuals responsible for the specific processes.
This analysis lays the foundation for the third phase in which the measures to implement these changes are defined and communicated to all relevant parties. Changes in the organizational structure may include the formation of new departments, teams and individual posts including a new distribution of responsibilities. If these measures are implemented in phase four of the CM plan, ongoing communication and training ensure their long-term success.
SAP Business Consulting’s professional supervision of the entire change process helps customers create a SAP CCC that matches their expectations. The competence center can not only optimize support of live operations but, in its role as business partner, it can also increase the flexibility and innovation of the IT landscape.

Marco Dahnke

Marco Dahnke

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