SAP INFO: Why did you devote an entire book to the service and support offerings of your company?
Oswald: A primary goal was to present a compact and complete overview of our services for the entire life cycle of a customer project, including the implementation, operation, and upgrade of the SAP systems within an enterprise. Over the years, we have developed many services for various project phases, but have announced and introduced them individually. However, the whole is more than the sum of its parts.
SAP INFO: The subtitle of your book is Continuous Customer Satisfaction. How do SAP service and support offerings contribute to that goal?
Oswald: It’s more than just a matter of software today. Once companies have invested in IT solutions to support their business processes, they more than ever need a targeted service and support strategy, much like the one already present in the SAP maintenance agreement. The service and support offerings enable customers to get the most out of their solution and, in many respects, to improve continuously. And these abilities contribute to customer satisfaction. Accordingly, service and support are an important supplemental aspect of our work with customers and, in many ways, differentiate us from our competition. Our support and service have arisen from the experience we have developed in direct exchanges with customers and partners in more than 60,000 installations throughout the world.
SAP INFO: What are the components of the service and support portfolio from SAP?
Oswald: One important pillar is SAP Safeguarding as part of comprehensive risk management. At the very start of an implementation, we clarify whether our software can fulfill a customer’s wishes. We also calculate the technical risk – safeguards against failure, and availability.The second key topic is SAP Solution Management Optimization services. In this area, we offer customers services that they can use to operate their applications economically with a lower cost of ownership.The third pillar is SAP Empowering. This program provides customers with the knowledge they need to set up an efficient support organization and to operate their systems economically and according to their needs. Empowerment includes special training methodologies, such as e-learning, training, and so on.
SAP INFO: Part of your book treats communications between SAP and interested parties, customers, and partners. How much do your services support the SAP community?
Oswald: That’s a very important point. With SAP Service Marketplace, we have created a central information platform that enables customers to purchase services from SAP and SAP partners and to collaborate or exchange knowledge with other members of the SAP community.SAP Service Marketplace is linked to SAP Solution Manager, a local platform that provides customers with knowledge, services, and functions for the operation of their enterprise solutions. SAP Solution Manager uses SAP Service Marketplace to create more simple and more targeted communication with SAP. It also uses SAP Service Marketplace to recommend the right information and services (at the right time) that are needed to perform important tasks. Feedback from our customers and the number of users for this service tell us that the service and support offerings of SAP create the right benefits for customers – now and in the future.
SAP INFO: Can your services also benefit customers who do not use SAP products?
Oswald: Because we have an open system, we are structured to include other providers. For example, consider software components with partner status or certification. In these cases, we offer monitoring of the interfaces or data transfer, and we have already completed the first projects successfully. In addition, we can also integrate other products into our monitoring services (even products from our competitors) if they have created open interfaces.
SAP INFO: Your book uses practical examples from corporate practice to highlight the benefits of SAP service and support. Should the examples stimulate companies?
Oswald: The practical examples concretize the services described in the first chapters of the book. They clarify the benefits to customers and what customers can suffer when they fail use SAP services. In this case, some questions remain open. “How do I secure my operations?” “How do I analyze my cost of ownership?” “How do I consolidate my systems?”
The book’s concern is to move our customers to comprehensive use of the existing offerings of SAP – offerings to which they have a claim. It’s also directed to readers who do not yet operate an SAP system. We want to make it clear that we offer a lot more than software on a CD. Customers should know that they do not need to search the market for someone to implement and maintain software in their companies – SAP itself can provide these services.
SAP INFO: How do you evaluate your service and support strategy in light of return on investment (ROI) and total cost of ownership (TCO)?
Oswald: To make use of a specific service, customers must consider how it fits into their ROI. What do they invest in a service infrastructure (and the maintenance effort involved in it), and what ROI do they see from their investment? I treat these topics in the book.
TCO is another important issue, especially regarding lowered operating costs. How can you positively influence operating costs, which many projects tend to ignore? There are many options here, all of which I address in the book, but focused services always occupy the center. Our numerous projects have shown that our service and support can significantly lower operating costs.