The new release of the Vertical Solution Development Kit (VSDK) has broadened its scope considerably from a purely developmental focus to cater for partner needs across the entire solution life cycle. Fewer man-hours go hand in hand with reduced costs and a decreased time-to-market. And SAP-assured quality means reduced investment risk. The latest release of the Vertical Solution Development Kit, version 2.0, has been available since October 2003. With a typical roadmap structure, VSDK V2.0 is divided into 5 phases – initialization; knowledge preparation; development/localization; post-development; sales and service. Each stage in the roadmap provides all the information partners need to proceed to the next stage and ensures that partners fulfill the criteria for post-development solution qualification. The roadmap progresses on beyond qualification, supporting partners with valuable advice on marketing, selling, and servicing newly qualified vertical solutions. The idea is to significantly accelerate the whole development and go-to-market process – from day one through to D-Day. By following the proven VSDK formula, partners can ensure they have the right deliverables and the right quality – without having to reinvent the wheel.
Under starter’s orders
The first two phases in the Vertical Solution Development Kit 2.0 are concerned with preparing partners for development of their vertical solutions. Starting from scratch with the ‘Initialization’ phase, the VSDK provides new or potential mySAP All-in-One partners with background information on the mySAP All-in-One partner program, certification requirements, and an explanation of exactly what SAP expects from a mySAP All-in-One partner solution. Certified mySAP All-in-One partners can then move on to the next step in the roadmap – ‘Knowledge Preparation’, which is designed to provide partners with a thorough grounding in the tools and technology applied during development. Partners have access to a range of documentation and interactive SAP tutorials on technology such as Business Configuration (BC) Sets and the SAP Best Practices ‘Building Block’ technology. This one-stop knowledge library also provides vital information on technical and system prerequisites, development of user documentation, and a variety of other relevant material.
Down to business
The lynchpin phase in the VSDK roadmap is ‘Development/Localization’ and this phase has seen extensive enhancement in the latest release. Three new development scenarios have widened the scope of development support to cover more diverse development needs and differentiate between localization projects, new development, enhancement, or upgrade. The new scenarios also allow for development or localization with or without usage of the Building Block technology. From basic remodeling or localization to more complex enhancements, this VSDK stage provides partners with detailed development guides to suit their specific needs. Partners choose scenarios based on their own particular situation and a number of criteria – the type of development be it localization, new development, or enhancement; the chosen development method either with or without Building Block technology; and the existing foundation for development, such as SAP Best Practices or the partner’s own vertical solution. The specific characteristics of each development project steer partners towards a particular scenario and the corresponding development guide.
The development guides provide step-by-step procedures and standards – taking partners through a development roadmap – from project planning, specification, and design through to development, testing and finalization of the solution. Standard development procedures and guidelines ensure the consistency and quality of partner solutions and make sure solutions are properly set up for support, maintenance, and upgrade. Each guide accompanies the partner through the development process providing assistance with project creation, planning processes, system specification, and design. The guides outline the specific development tasks associated with each type and method of development and deal with issues such as integration, system landscape set-up, and documentation. The final stage in the development roadmap shows partners how to finalize their deliverables, compile training materials, and prepare for the qualification process. Each development guide is also linked to the ‘How-To Reference Guide’, which contains specific guidelines on how to use essential tools like SAP Smart Forms, BC Sets, or the Data Conversion Workbench during development.
Stamp of approval
After development is finalized, the VSDK is on hand to help partners through the two final stages of the solution life cycle – ‘Post-Development’; and ‘Sales and Service’. The post-development phase is concerned with SAP’s qualification of the partner solution and the final assembly. It is at this stage that partners present their solutions to SAP for qualification or approval and where the advantage of following VSDK guidelines comes into play. Partners have access to the qualification guidelines that SAP use to evaluate each solution and can run through the guidelines to check that they have fulfilled the necessary criteria. Partners who have made use of the guidelines in the preceding VSDK phases should be well prepared for this moment and be able to proceed through the qualification process quickly and without incident. The final part of the post-development stage is assembly of the qualified mySAP All-in-One solution. This basically involves assembling and transporting the system and preconfiguration settings onto a deliverable medium such as a CD or a DVD. Detailed documentation takes partners through the process using either the change request or client transport method.
Once the solution has been successfully packaged and parceled, attention turns to the final stage in the Vertical Solution Development Kit roadmap – ‘Sales and Service’. The aim of this phase is to increase the effectiveness of the partner’s sales and marketing efforts by providing useful standard messaging material, information about current marketing campaigns, sales kits, competitive data, and pricing information. Partners can also refer to SAP’s partner branding guidelines and the specific branding guidelines for SMB partners. In addition, the final VSDK phase prepares partners for support and maintenance of their vertical solutions and outlines the full range of support services on offers to SAP’s mySAP All-in-One channel partners.
The SAP Vertical Solution Development Kit V2.0 is available online on the SAP Service Marketplace at www.service.sap.com/smb-developmentkit. An offline version of the toolkit will be available from the end of November 2003.