Even when facing evolving business demands, many companies still succeed, accelerating their growth and disrupting their competition. A key asset is the adoption of scalable technologies such as generative AI. 

Drive innovation with premium engagements

But what really makes the difference is access to high-quality expertise and best practices that optimize the value of those technologies for sustainable business success. For more than 20 years, top SAP customers have acquired this advantage through a strategic long-term engagement with the SAP MaxAttention program. 

Kurt Bauer, who is globally responsible for SAP MaxAttention, is continuously in contact with many of these industry-leading companies from all over the globe. He recently spent an afternoon in the office reflecting on the challenges companies encounter and the transformations they are driving with the support of SAP MaxAttention.

Q: Over the past 12 months, you have met more than 100 customers. What are your observations?

A: This experience has been an intense time of exceptionally valuable insights into the challenges and driving forces that companies face worldwide. 

Business transformation journeys are influenced by numerous factors, such as target operating models, organic or inorganic growth, and consolidation of legacy structures, including business process redesign and custom-code management. In addition, our customers’ efficiency and agility targets are leveraging the potential of the cloud to help ensure resilient supply chain operations.

On top of that, companies face a range of economic and geopolitical shifts, new data privacy regulations and cybersecurity needs, generational workforce demands, and sustainability priorities.

CIOs have a lot on their plate, all of which requires more long-term planning and expertise.

Our customers are navigating this world of complexity by transforming and modernizing their digital landscapes with technical advancements such as SAP S/4HANA Cloud. Some use the RISE with SAP or GROW with SAP offerings to benefit immediately from innovation deployments, and various integrated cloud solutions from SAP to amplify the value of end-to-end processes. Nevertheless, they’re focused on overcoming a staggering number of challenges to drive future growth, enhance business agility, and improve sustainability performance.

But this is easier said than done. How do they manage it successfully? 

Such journeys can only be successful by realizing them step-by-step along a master plan based on end-to-end enterprise application architecture. The plan must be maintained and remain flexible to adapt to evolving business priorities and technologies.

We provide a North Star service based on enterprise architecture capabilities, methodologies, tools, and best practices jointly developed and maintained with the SAP Product Engineering organization. For our top customers, the service helps ensure continued success with SAP, maximizing the value of their SAP solution investments with a long-range view into their future needs and opportunities.

Achieving such a North Star architecture is a prerequisite to developing and realizing the master plan. No company can accomplish everything all at once. Many constraints and risks must be considered, yet nothing is written in stone because conditions can change. Together with our customers, we develop and maintain their adoption road map. And as mentioned, we need to keep the enterprise architecture current to reflect strategic and technological moves. 

As customer-specific demands remain the focus, does standardization help organizations accelerate technology adoption while minimizing risks?

Absolutely, and all customers I spoke to strive for it: achieving clean core process standardization and leveraging the power of cloud solutions. Many customers have enhanced their ERP-centric business functionalities, especially when building their continuously evolving digital landscapes on legacy ERP, such as SAP R/3 or early versions of SAP ERP Central Component. It was a common approach to develop everything perceived as needed. 

The fundamental DNA of SAP has always been to standardize, innovate, and scale business process capabilities by leveraging the full potential of the latest technologies. Meanwhile, standardization and completeness have climaxed. This has led to public cloud solutions with frequent and more consumable innovation deployments, allowing companies to approach the next level of interconnected company business networks and supply chains — intelligent enterprises.

How do these companies attain standardization? 

It’s not easy, but well worth the effort. Business AI is a notable example of how these new capabilities will be made available continuously to the business for instant adoption. 

Most companies have started changing their mindset. They’re moving from an indisputable need for building individual functional enhancements and toward reengineering their processes to fit to standard and complemented by the extensibility capabilities of SAP Business Technology Platform. Understanding the benefits of rapid innovation adoption in the cloud requires a massive shift in change management and support practices. 

SAP MaxAttention supports SAP solutions across deployment options and their integration with other SAP and third-party systems. How is this broad bandwidth supported?

Throughout every engagement, a technical quality manager (TQM) serves as an embedded on-site expert with a chair at the CIO’s table, learning, understanding, and analyzing business and IT challenges. TQMs maintain the service plan, pulling in the right engineered services from a portfolio of 160 services delivered by our center of expertise and, when needed, backed up by SAP Product Engineering. 

Essentially, TQMs are like family doctors: They take care of each customer’s long-term well-being and connect them to additional specialist consultations and treatments when needed. Our 160 engineered services cover everything from architecture and fit-to-standard process design to safeguarding the realization and enabling hybrid operations for end-to-end processes.

Our tools, methodologies, and on-the-job training encourage customers to build up foundational expertise, making them more self-sufficient. But that doesn’t mean that we let our customers walk alone. 

As the strategic service engagement, SAP MaxAttention is teaming up with SAP partners to augment their value with best practices gained from engagements with industry-leading companies and close collaboration with SAP Product Engineering.

Are premium engagements such as SAP MaxAttention available to smaller businesses?

Businesses, regardless of their size, face complex business challenges that translate into complex IT requirements. For that reason, premium engagements from SAP offer different engagement levels. 

SAP MaxAttention is a strategic, multi-year engagement that includes one or many full-time TQMs, an intense service volume. We have scaled our premium engagement experience to meet the needs and expectations of smaller businesses through the SAP ActiveAttention program, which provides part-time TQMs and requires lower service volumes.

Both long-term engagement offerings offer access to the same services on demand with the agility to adjust based on customer priorities. Additionally, SAP MaxAttention has certain non-purchasable benefits that reflect the engagement’s strategic nature, such as the global SAP MaxAttention Summit with members of the SAP Executive Board, regional expert forums, virtual innovation workshops, or SAP Product Engineering sponsors.

While front-running companies often leverage SAP MaxAttention, we also have customers that are not yet large enterprises but on a fast growth trajectory. They want to benefit from the expertise and best practices we gained from industry business leaders across the globe.

Once they get acclimated to the experience, our customers often renew their engagement for many decades. They tell us they enjoy the value SAP MaxAttention brings, and we love supporting them with all our expertise. A recent Forrester study on the total economic impact of SAP MaxAttention confirms that the payoff is substantial and maximizes the value of SAP solution investments no matter the size of the company leveraging it. 

However, businesses sometimes require support for just a one-off, purpose-framed challenge. The SAP Value Assurance program addresses this need by providing a TQM and a more-prescriptive service plan to resolve the situation.

Whatever the experience, getting started and heading down a path toward a long-term premium engagement can be an enjoyable experience. We have regular connecting points with our customers to exchange information about enhanced or new contractual models and the evolution of our services to stay relevant in changing times. 

A common principle for us is to productize our best practices to scale and share them with our customers, making them more self-sufficient and allowing us to focus on the next digital challenge.

In an era marked by exponentially accelerating technology evolution, we do not rest. The SAP Cloud ALM solution, SAP Solution Manager, advisory and execution services for intelligent custom code management, and near-zero downtime services are just a few examples of how we productize our expertise.

At SAP, we never let customers walk alone as only our customers’ success is our success.

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