In December the new SAP PSD Partner Quality Hub got underway with a range of programs and services to support SAP partners in their customer projects. A part of SAP Partner Service Delivery, the newly formed partner quality hub provides a single point of contact for partners seeking resources and expertise to drive success in their SAP implementations.
Some of the programs offered by the hub, such as the Active Quality Management (AQM) partner accreditation, may already be familiar to members of the SAP partner community. However, with over 500 partners already signed up for services and activities, the new hub is expanding these global services to provide even deeper support to partners. The response from the SAP partner community has been very positive. “I think SAP is now getting this type of partner interaction right by helping to improve the partner’s ability to focus on actively managing quality through the full client engagement lifecycle,” says Alan Yates of SCT Service (Pty) Ltd., an SAP partner based in Africa. “Indeed one of our customers takes the AQM Quality Project Snapshot with them to their board meetings.”
Operating under the motto “Quality Built In,” the SAP PSD Partner Quality Hub aims to not only provide targeted assistance to partners, but also to give them the tools and guidance to ensure that they can build up a proactive quality management framework within their organizations to deliver predictable implementations with fewer risks, thereby driving profitability and leading to greater customer satisfaction. Samir Bains, global head of the SAP PSD Partner Quality Hub, details the hub’s value proposition in terms of the support it provides to SAP partners. “We enable partners to build up a robust risk and quality management framework, and provide suggestions on how to manage risks or issues during a project,” says Bains. “Partners can enhance their competency in quality bid and delivery management, and grow their SAP business.”
The cornerstone of the hub’s offering is the SAP 10 Quality Principles. These universal principles are based on SAP’s implementation best practices and experience working with customers from around world in various industries. Practical advice – such as, “agree on what can be delivered, in what time frame, and how timely delivery can be ensured” – can sometimes get lost in the midst complex projects. The services of the SAP PSD Partner Quality Hub are designed to keep these principles at the forefront of the SAP project plan by routinely revisiting them during regularly scheduled quality reviews and project stage gates. For customers the added quality measures provide the reassurance that the project’s risks will be mitigated and its benefits maximized.
Partner quality programs
Through their experience, the SAP Partner Quality Advisors, the professionals who drive the operations of the SAP PSD Partner Quality Hub, have gained visibility into over 450 IT implementation projects. They have found that the most common challenges in implementation projects are related to partner resources, partner skills in project management methodology, and customer challenges due to lack of expectation management. The SAP PSD Partner Quality Hub strives to help partners meet these challenges by providing them with real resources – including project expertise and guidance in the form of partner quality programs, remote quality workshops, and partner quality kits.
The hub offers two partner quality programs, the best known of which is the Active Quality Management (AQM) Partner Quality Accreditation Program. This program is designed to support SAP partners in providing more predictable, profitable implementations through unified quality standards and procedures. Participating partners receive an SAP global quality accreditation for the active quality management of their sales processes and delivery methodologies based on their fulfillment of an annual quality plan and quarterly quality reviews. Begun in 2010, the program is part of SAP’s efforts to further deepen its collaborative relationships with partners and customers and to raise awareness for quality principles.
The accreditation serves partners in two significant ways. First, it differentiates accredited partners from competitors during the bid process because it demonstrates the partner’s commitment to quality management principles and methodologies – resulting in more bid wins. Second, it ensures that a framework is in place within the partner organization to promote project delivery excellence – leading to greater customer satisfaction. For more information on the SAP AQM partner accreditation program, watch this video or read the SAP.info article, “Partners Focus on Quality”.
“Since we work with the AQM framework, our bids are different from the competitors, especially since we offer more value to increase our customers’ satisfaction. This means higher sales,” says Sebastian Bamonde, SAP director at Tecnocom, an SAP partner in Spain that has been in the AQM program since 2010. “From a project perspective we have an improved service delivery, focused on minimizing risks and maximizing results. And the impact: customers have even more confidence in our services.”
Ian Johnston, consulting director at itelligence UK, cites the program’s advantages for his organization, saying, “It is not just the accreditation but the participation that leads to tangible benefits such as the highlighting of potential project risks.”
To achieve the AQM accreditation, partners need to:
• Have a quality plan in place that aligns to SAP’s quality principles
• Fully participate in the AQM program for at least six months
• Complete a minimum of two sales or delivery cycles
• Demonstrate lessons learned for at least two projects
Another program offered through the SAP Partner Quality Hub is the Recruit Partner Program, which is designed to enable newly recruited partners and selected extended business members to build quality and risk management processes within their organization. Through this program, the SAP partner works closely with a dedicated SAP Partner Quality Advisor to create an annual quality improvement plan. This is then followed by regular quarterly quality reviews that support the partner in delivering against this plan. At the appropriate time, the partner is able to move into the AQM Partner Quality Accreditation Program and work towards an accreditation.
Remote quality workshops
The SAP PSD Partner Quality Hub also offers collaborative quality workshops (CQWs), designed to enable partners in critical or high-risk projects to develop a quality management strategy for the project, thereby providing the best possibility for its success. These one-day remote workshops are available to partners who are participating in the partner quality programs.
Swedish partner Datema was among the first companies to pilot a CQW. The feedback from the Datema project team was positive, with one project manager saying that it gave a complete overview and new perspective of the implementation process and specific issues. She noted, “This was a very well performed and useful workshop. I only wish this was done earlier in the project.”
SofOS, an SAP partner based in Latin America, recently participated in a CQW to drive the success of an upcoming project in their region. Following the CQW, SofOS Practices Director Javier Ortiz, gave his feedback: “The CQW was a unique opportunity to obtain expert advice and guidance from SAP to build our project quality and risk mitigation plan.” He also said, “I think the AQM program, particularly the CQW, is a big part of what SofOS as a partner needs from SAP in providing support for our projects.”
Partner quality kits
SAP partners interested in building up their own quality management programs will find partner quality kits available through the SAP PSD Partner Quality Hub. These kits contain tools, templates, and tips to running successful projects, focusing on risk management and project quality management – such as, top-10 tips to managing customer expectations and using the SAP ASAP methodology to deliver projects successfully. Several kits are currently in development and will become available in the coming months.
Ronnie Sung, managing director at SAP partner DynaSys, has experience using the AQM Partner Quality Kit in his projects. He says, “Our customer is pleased that SAP is supporting their partner to deliver the project more effectively, and the Project Status Report from the AQM Partner Kit enables both the customer and partner management team to better acquaint them of the current project status.”
The kit is now a standard part of the implementation practices at DynaSys. “The AQM Partner Kit additionally provides a number of templates which we have incorporated into our project management methodology, for example the Go-Live Checklist and the Collaborative Quality Plan,” says Sung. “This program definitely gives us guidance to handle different phases on ASAP project methodology from a quality perspective.”
SAP Partner Quality Advisors
Partners participating in SAP PSD Partner Quality Hub programs have access to dedicated SAP Partner Quality Advisors for regular collaborative discussions. These advisors provide qualified guidance and advice to partners throughout their implementation projects, as well as sharing news and relevant information in a collaborative open forum. This direct and immediate collaboration with SAP experts helps partners maximize benefits and mitigate potential project risks – thus avoiding costly escalations. It is just one of the many competitive advantages partners will find when they work with the SAP PSD Partner Quality Hub.
“We truly believe that we are acting as differentiators and helping partners to achieve great results in their projects,” says Barbara Reis, an SAP Partner Quality Advisor, based in Latin America. “We feel that they are happy and confident with AQM program. It is great to feel that they really trust us as their advisors and use our guidance in order to achieve high standards in their projects.”
Outlook for 2012
In 2012, the SAP PSD Partner Quality Hub plans to expand the range of offerings it has available, including creating more partner quality kits that focus on specific products and solutions, as well as delivering more remote workshops that target partner needs. As more SAP partners learn about the partner quality programs and services available to them, the hub plans to broaden its offering to meet their needs. Bains says, “Expanding our partner quality management activities across our new service portfolio – partner quality kits, remote quality workshops, and partner quality programs – will drive even closer collaborative quality relationships with our partners as we work together to ultimately increase satisfaction for our customers.”
“SAP partners play a vital role in driving business growth, innovation, and success, and are a crucial component to SAP’s ability to meet the evolving needs of our shared customers,” says Cathal Finnegan, a partner service advisor central to supporting partner SAP operations through SAP Partner Service Delivery. In terms of the value the AQM partner quality accreditation program brings to the SAP ecosystem, he says, “The AQM program, with its quality management focus backed up by valuable tools and resources, ensures that partners have a quality-centric approach providing more predictable, profitable implementations through unified quality standards and procedures. AQM is a real winner for customers, partners, and SAP.”
Regional events drive focus on quality
One way the SAP PSD Partner Quality Hub is getting the word out about its services is through one-day regional events, such as the “Quality Built In” event held in Mexico City on December 15. Over 30 SAP partners attended the event, held at the Westin Hotel. Attendees heard from members of the SAP PSD Partner Quality Hub team, including Partner Quality Advisors, who described the hub’s programs and services, and answered questions about the onboarding process for the AQM accreditation. A lively panel discussion of advisors and partners provided attendees with deeper insight into implementing a quality management program in their organizations.
Overwhelmingly, 94% of the attendees said that they had received information during the event that could help them better manage their projects. Nearly all said that they were interested in joining the AQM Program. In fact, following the event, three SAP partners joined the AQM program and are now on their way to accreditation.
If you would like to learn more about the SAP PSD Partner Quality Hub and find out about upcoming events in your area, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: On Page 1, from left to right: Raul Osorio, Director, BXTI; Blanca Gomez Trejo, Project Management Office, CRYSTALIS; Rodrigo Arroyo, Consulting Director, NASOFT