Maximum Benefit, Minimum Risk (1)

June 28, 2004 by admin

“An SAP System is like a racing car,” says Dieter Brecht, Director of Solution Design & Costing at SAP Hosting. “A racing car is at its best if it is perfectly tuned to its particular driver. Likewise, a SAP solution brings the maximum benefit if it is optimized to the specific customer’s usage behavior,” he explains.
This analogy can be extended further. One key factor for success in motor racing is a Formula 1 team at the pit stop that knows exactly what it is doing and makes sure that the car stays the course at peak performance. The driver does not need to do anything but think about race tactics. The same also applies for an SAP solution. If a competent partner takes care of the software and hardware issues, the company using the software can concentrate on its core business. This is exactly what SAP Hosting offers: comprehensive services for the installation, operation, and optimization of SAP solutions.

Using internal resources for operational tasks

Today, powerful IT systems are a key factor for corporate success. However, the setup and maintenance of ever more complex infrastructures costs a great deal of time and resources. At the same time, companies need to channel their energies into operational tasks. It is therefore no wonder that the demand for outsourcing services is growing. For many companies, handing over IT tasks to external experts is an attractive alternative to using their own resources. Dieter Brecht can also confirm this: “More and more companies are regarding IT as a service. They rightly ask why they should carry out these tasks themselves at considerable cost, when they can get the same from a specialized partner with considerable synergies at a fixed, monthly price.”
SAP Hosting’s customers are therefore often companies whose business is growing strongly and who buy in IT flexibility, innovation, and expertise in the form of services. Alternatively, they are companies with special requirements in the SAP environment, who want to implement a complete mySAP Customer Relationship Management (mySAP CRM) or SAP Advanced Planner and Optimizer (SAP APO) system alongside their existing ERP solution, for example, but do not have sufficient expertise for this in-house.
Outsourcing is also ideal for companies that operate on a global level and need a 24 hour service, 7 days a week for their internationally distributed ERP landscapes. The global availability of SAP solutions is therefore one of the most important requirements that companies expect of SAP Hosting, because as an international company, the service provider offers operation and support groups around the world. “If a company works in the United States, we run its applications in the United States, not in Germany with a team working a night-shift. We therefore provide the same quality standard for all users around the world,” stresses Brecht.

Making the right adjustments

SAP Hosting is specialized in SAP outsourcing, and in this area has a unique selling point. As a 100% subsidiary of SAP, the company is extremely familiar with the software vendor’s solutions, and is involved in the development and ramp up of new solutions from the very start. Like the Formula 1 team that knows the racing car inside and out, SAP Hosting knows exactly which adjustments to make to further improve the performance of an application without the need for additional hardware. And this expertise makes it possible to optimize existing, operational landscapes so that they offer the maximum benefit over the long term. The proximity to the software manufacturer and its teams of developers thus gives the company an important edge over other providers.
Thanks to its experience, the service provider knows what notes are important for the running of a CRM solution, such as central or distributed landscapes, the right infrastructure – taking account of service level agreements (SLAs) – and special security requirements for mobile and Internet-based applications. SAP Hosting proactively incorporates these notes into the operation processes and thus avoids errors that could arise without this experience. Many issues that pose a challenge for the individual company are everyday business for the experts. As a result, they can quickly draw up suitable concepts and solutions for individual problems. In addition, SAP Hosting operates in a clearly defined area. The company provides support for SAP applications including add-on products from non-SAP providers, such as email, fax, or archiving, but does not provide support for complete IT landscapes as providers of global outsourcing do. Companies therefore get the maximum benefit with the minimum risk.

Speaking the same language

SAP Hosting creates complete solutions. Customers receive software, hardware and services from the same company, so that they only have one contact person for questions or problems, and always go to the right address. In workshops, provider and customer work out the requirements together. “We want to deliver exactly what our customers need. We therefore conduct a very intensive dialog with them to understand the challenges facing them. That’s the crucial point,” says Dieter Brecht of the process. “For example, a customer may say to me that they need availability of 99.9 %, which is quite expensive. However, in subsequent discussions, it transpires that the warehouse cannot be at a standstill of more than four hours if the system goes down. Therefore, what the customer needs is not 99.9% availability but a maximum downtime of two to three hours for specific business processes. And the costs for this are much lower. However, I can only find out things like this if I talk to the customer and listen very carefully.”
This intensive communication lays the foundations for good cooperation. According to Dieter Brecht, key factors for the success of an outsourcing project include mutual trust, clearly defined SLAs, and detailed service descriptions. It is also important for both parties to speak the same language. As obvious as it may sound, it is important for both parties to know what is meant by database management, for example. This is the only way to avoid the misunderstandings that could jeopardize the project.
To eliminate these misunderstandings, SAP Hosting draws up clear SLAs and detailed service descriptions that contain all the tasks involved in database management, for example. There is a clear definition of the tasks carried out by SAP Hosting and those performed by the customer.

Long-term perspectives

The intensive workshops are also used to define a customer’s long-term IT strategy, because this is an important criterion for the right solution design. For example, if a company plans to expand globally in the next two years, the landscape can be designed in advance to cover these growing requirements flexibly. On request, SAP Hosting can include these additional services and their prices as a call-off option in the offer. The customer therefore knows what IT-related costs would be involved in an expansion. The cost transparency, one of the main advantages of outsourcing, is thus effective from the outset.
Part 2

Further information

Sabine Höfler

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