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A fundamental question that CIO’s and CTO’s revisit almost annually is generally around how to do more with either an unchanging or shrinking budget. This is then followed by trying to gain insight into which areas have operational inefficiencies and how can these be improved.

The answer lies in the establishment of a Center of Excellence [CoE), which is loosely defined as a coordinating function [i.e. a team that provides leadership), which enables the consistent delivery of change initiatives in a well organized fashion using best practices and a competent staff complement.

 

 

The main CoE can be sub-divided into smaller CoE’s, for example, for SAP Landscapes, an organization can establish a SAP CoE, where the combination of SAP Solution Manager with a well-structured Operations Control Center (OCC) and Innovation Control Center (ICC), can ensure value realization and strategy alignment 

 

The Innovation Control Center is probably the easiest place to start, as you need to build your SAP Landscape like a factory, before you can run it like a factory. This can be achieved by ensuring your SAP solution is well documented and integrated into your change process to ensure that all changes are well documented and the processes are constantly updated. This results in your process repository being a living document.

For these two areas, SAP Solution Manager offers Solution Documentation (Process Management) and Change Control Management, which can be integrated to other 3rd Party software if necessary.

In the area of Quality Assurance, SAP Solution Manager further offers the Test Suite which includes: Manual Test Management, Component-Based Test Automation (CBTA) Scope and Effort Analyzer (SEA) and Business Process Change Analyzer (BPCA) for test scope optimization, which is where SAP customers will benefit the most and ensure significant cost reduction.

 

Once the innovation has been successfully created, tested and moved to the Productive environment, it then becomes the responsibility of the Production Operations to ensure minimal disruptions to the business. The OCC must, therefore, be established to ensure pro-active and reactive monitoring, but more importantly, pro-active monitoring which introduces a shift in the traditional way of doing things. A team that monitors the environment on a constant basis should perform pro-active monitoring.

This team is critical to ensure minimal disruptions, as they are the first line of defense. They start resolving issues as and when they arise, which will, in turn, minimize the number of critical issues that occur in Production by the use of documented procedures that can be re-used by different people. The use of documented procedures is important because this area of the IT Organization tends to have high staff turnover. This results in a reduction of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) as more and more issues can be resolved by staff with less specialized skill sets as opposed to relying on highly skilled staff to attend to routine or repetitive problem-solving.

The reactive monitoring must be seamlessly integrated into the IT Service Management process to ensure quick and efficient resolution of critical issues. This can be achieved by ensuring the relationship between the technical landscapes and Business Processes is known and can be used during Incident and Problem Management, which will avoid multiple experts unnecessarily working on the same problem or multiple problems with the same root cause.

Deciding whether to out-source or in-source these centers is often debated. Experience tells us that the IT Organizations need to take ownership of the ICC and OCC (i.e. it must be in-sourced with the assistance of a knowledgeable Run SAP partner instead of outsourcing it) as this will encourage a high rate of adoption for the processes and an improved relationship between the Business and the IT Organization.

The data provided by the ICC/OCC cannot be looked at in isolation as purely technical. If this were the case, it would be easy to outsource it, as there would be no need to interpret the data in a business context. The fact that the ICC/OCC is highly contextualized to the respective business, supports the recommendation that it should be owned by the business and operated by the business, and if necessary, in conjunction with the necessary specialized SAP partners.

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