As companies compete for customer loyalty and demand higher productivity, the ability to quickly and accurately match the most talented employees to the right roles, especially in customer service or product development, is key to rising above less-responsive competitors.
With the evolution of employee placement from paper- or spreadsheet-based processes to more automated solutions, now is the time to both leverage the information residing in your existing ERP system and take advantage of new state-of-the-art technology like enterprise portals. Adopting these applications means increased flexibility in deploying employees, a faster planning process with shortened reaction times, and better-motivated employees whose individual needs are being met. The result is higher workforce efficiency, significant cost savings through better utilization of the resources, and ultimately, higher customer satisfaction.
In this context, deployment, or “workforce deployment” (WFD), can mean anything from scheduling customer service agents (even in intervals of just a few minutes) to assigning consultants to projects over several months. Although each business scenario has unique industry- or function-specific characteristics, these business scenarios also share some elements – employee skills and availability information, for instance – where HR plays a key role in implementing and supporting any WFD strategy (see sidebar, below).
For organizations looking to optimize deployment processes, SAP offers the following five solutions:
- mySAP CRM Resource Planning Tool — Field Service and Dispatch
- mySAP CRM Interaction Center Scheduling
- Collaboration Projects for mySAP Product Lifecycle Management
- Professional Services with mySAP CRM: Project Resource Planning
- SAP xApp Resource and Program Management
mySAP CRM Resource Planning Tool – Field Service and Dispatch
The mySAP CRM Resource Planning Tool supports the full cycle of activities for field service processes – from the assignment of a customer’s request for service, through to execution, confirmation, and billing. In this process, resource planners assign work to service teams, taking into account each employee’s schedule.
From the Resource Planning Tool, service employees can access, accept, or reject new assignments, and maintain their availability on their laptop or handheld devices. Paging integration gives resource planners an additional channel for easy communication of new assignments. Once an assignment has been accepted and executed, employees can confirm working times, materials used, and relevant codes on their mobile devices and transfer this data during synchronization back to the service organization’s server.
This closed-information loop ensures that up-to-date and relevant information is accessible to all involved, supporting the business’s efforts to provide the best possible service to its customers.
For further synchronization, the team’s service-related data can also be posted automatically to integrated back-office components of the mySAP.com platform, such as SAP R/3, and to the SAP Business Information Warehouse for reporting and analysis.
mySAP CRM Interaction Center Scheduling
In contact center environments, finding ways to take full advantage of staff resources and new communications channels, like email and online text chat, is an ongoing management challenge. mySAP CRM’s interaction center workforce management capability was built from the ground up to include multi-channel support, and gives managers easy access to these capabilities from their own role-based portal.
Key enhancements for managing call centers will soon be available in mySAP CRM, including forecasts of your contact center’s workload and labor distribution, to ensure you meet customers’ expectations, no matter which communications channel they might choose. Advanced scheduling techniques support multiple sites to ensure that the most qualified personnel perform specific operations when needed. Finally, sophisticated planning capabilities enable managers to staff according to volume, skill sets, activity, corporate goals, and customer expectations.
Collaboration Projects for mySAP Product Lifecycle Management
Collaboration Projects (cProjects) for mySAP Product Lifecycle Management (mySAP PLM) applies to any industry where a defined project setup and execution process is used internally to develop or improve a product. In a nutshell, cProjects enables collaborative project management to efficiently plan, execute, and monitor development cycles.
The cProjects functions of mySAP PLM support such proven methodologies as “stage gate” and Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP). These are seamlessly integrated into mySAP PLM’s existing collaborative engineering functions, along with program and project management capabilities to enable web-based collaboration in virtual teams. cProjects can easily integrate with the xApp SAP Resource and Program Management (discussed later in this article), thereby realizing additional portfolio and resource management benefits in heterogeneous system environments.
Starting with a template for adding a new project to the system, you then input your project team information and assign roles (“project leader,” “decision maker,” etc.) to each participant. From there, you assign authorizations to individual roles and objects (such as documents) to prevent sensitive project information from ending up in the wrong hands.
A rich project structure allows for phases, tasks, checklists, and lists of individuals responsible for each element. Phase and task deadlines can be entered manually or automatically scheduled by the system. Project elements can also be linked to documents and other business objects (e.g., purchase orders) in other systems. Likewise, additional development-related objects can be assigned to the project, even while it is in progress.
Once a development project is under way, project participants use cProjects functions to confirm the completion of tasks, mark off completed points on checklists, and release individual phases, so you can always see what stage of each phase your project is in.
For safeguarding project planning and execution quality, checklist items must be marked off before approval of a phase. This stage gate function ensures a controlled transition between project phases. The system also provides automated workflows tailored to project-specific needs, along with functions to ensure that processes will go uninterrupted if a team member is unavailable.
Professional Services with mySAP CRM: Project Resource Planning
For consulting firms and other professional service providers, it has never been more important to provide excellent customer relationship management in order to win and retain a valuable customer base, and offer value-added services for increased revenue and ensured profitability. SAP’s offering in this area consists of these main scenarios:
- Opportunity Management, including sales support, pipeline analysis, and quotations
- Project Management, including project planning, monitoring, scheduling, and cost tracking
- Project Resource Planning, including skills management, resource search and assignment, and calendar integration
- Engagement Management, including contracts, time and expenses, billing, and financials
With Project Resource Planning tools, roles are identified to specify the criteria required for each staff member. For example, in one case, a consulting project could require a project lead with project management experience, particular product skills, and team lead experience. It might also require five project members, each with expertise in a different sub-area of the product. Tasks can then be assigned to each of these six project roles, even if the person to fill the role has not yet been identified.
The search for the right employees (or external resources) can then be conducted based on skills (specific language skills, product knowledge, etc.), organizational data, or availability of resources. From information on previously assigned projects, and from sick leave or leave of absence information in the mySAP HR Time Management system, an employee will be determined to be “available.”
The resource planner then assigns the suitable candidate to each project role. Groupware integrated with employees’ calendars completes this solution, for easy communication of project assignments.
Overall, the Professional Services with mySAP CRM, available as of mySAP CRM Release 4.0, delivers:
- Increased visibility of sales and project pipeline
- Optimal utilization of resources
- Improved billing accuracy and time-to-bill
- Excellent insight into project profitability, resource allocation, etc.
SAP xApp Resource and Program Management
SAP xApp Resource and Program Management (SAP xRPM) is a new application for optimizing complex projects in R&D and IT organizations. xApps are a new breed of highly integrated applications from SAP. This particular xApp integrates information from your existing project management, HR, financial, and time-tracking systems for a complete overview of an organization’s project portfolio. SAP xRPM enhances steps in the project management lifecycle to help organizations better select, define, staff, and monitor major enterprise projects.
By consolidating project data across multiple systems and existing enterprise components, SAP xRPM supports a complete view of project demand across the enterprise. Project data is presented in a timely, role-based manner so executives, project managers, and team members can easily view data and drill down to more detailed information.
Because employee experiences and skill sets change over time and from one project to the next, project managers are constantly trying to match available talent to their project needs. SAP xRPM captures and maintains profiles of employees’ project experience and provides an efficient means for project managers to search for the right staff for upcoming projects, and allows employees to opt into projects that advance their careers.
Even before a project kickoff, planning managers can use SAP xRPM to view all active projects. This helps development organizations optimize resources and skills, and reduces the number of redundant or inefficient projects. Competitive enterprises can quickly identify deficiencies and apply resources to increase expertise in those segments. By viewing all resources assigned to each active project – schedules, at-risk elements, and current employee skills – planning managers can better prioritize projects in alignment with corporate strategy.
SAP offers a widespread, comprehensive, integrated solution portfolio that helps companies pursue their WFD strategy. Depending on the business drivers involved, you will find the solutions reside within their respective solution environment – in the mySAP CRM or mySAP PLM solutions, or in the cross-application xApps. The mySAP HR solution then provides all HR-related information, including skills, availability, and master data, to these applications – either directly or, for optimal integration, via a shared database, the Workforce Management Core.
In the near future, look for various applications to share even more common features that will enhance deployment processes across all areas in your organization.