10 Jul 9 Key Questions to Ask your SAP Support Provider
It’s Time to Look “Under the Hood” of your SAP Support
The initial question to ask yourself when analysing an SAP Support Provider is: Am I getting good value out of my service? Perhaps you are assessing alternative service providers and SI’s, or simply you or your business users are unhappy with your existing service.
SAP support offerings are often based only on what the provider wants to offer and therefore it is difficult to validate against your service needs and outcomes. You may think that Support is overly commoditised, however, this is far from the truth, as you will discover when stepping through the following list of questions to challenge any prospective supplier.
- Is support conducted on-shore or off-shore. If Off-shore what percentage?
Undoubtedly, provision of support by a local team will have better outcomes. Many support providers look to offshore the support service to lower costs and raise profits however, this often results in a deterioration of the support service. If they do have some offshore consultants press them on what percentage of the team that is and how support is structured to guarantee outcomes. Also, how will consultants ‘out of country’ access your precious data and systems?
- How many Service Level measures have been missed in the last 12 months?
It is doubtful you will get an honest answer here, but it is a great pressure question to understand how they respond to being probed. They may think you have inside knowledge or know someone from their current customers-base; therefore, you may get additional information. Ask them why the measures were not met and what was the nature of the issue encountered. You can then pursue the questioning to ask what improvements and systems have they put in place to avoid future breaches. This information will give you an insight into how receptive the supplier is to improving their offerings.
- Is your first response when engaging support automated?
A common measured quote in SLA’s is the initial response time to a ticket being raised. Ask, whether this is just an automated response, email, or phone service, or whether there will be a consultant at the other end of the phone. To reduce costs while meeting SLAs suppliers will use automated services that provide little value while allowing them to hit SLAs.
- Is support conducted by project consultants or a dedicated team?
There are two approaches likely to be presented here;
- Where a supplier has a dedicated support team you need to understand how they ensure the team is across new developments and bringing opportunities for enhancements to the SAP landscape and improve a customer’s outcomes?
- Where a supplier uses project resources to deliver support, how do they ensure delivery to service measures, whilst also balancing the needs of project delivery? A bias towards a project or support can work for or against you, so the answer is key to understanding your support engagement.
Irrespective of the method of service delivery, it is key to understand the quality of the resources who will be delivering the service, therefore the follow-on questions are key; What level of training do your consultants undertake to remain up-to-date with latest trends and how is that knowledge passed on to the customer? And what certifications do the vendors teams have and are they up to date?
- What SAP support functions does your current service provider take responsibility for?
A basic concept, but understanding where the supplier views the scope of their service responsibilities is key to understanding the service you will receive. The SAP landscape is extremely diverse and covering all areas effectively is almost impossible, therefore understanding where third party organisations are used and how the engagement model operates in reality is key.
- How many support customers do you currently have?
As a guide more customers under a managed service is an indicator that the organisation has developed some robust systems and processes. This may allow for some economies of scale through a large consultant base, which may result in lower cost for the customer.
- How do you manage the service to ensure customer focussed outcomes?
The supplier will likely talk about reports, tools, SLA measure etc. the reality is that this confirms you are delivering to the contract, whereas you need to understand how the supplier will engage with you and your teams to ensure requirements and issues are clearly understood, how solutions are validated and delivered. The reports and meetings should be confirming the outcomes from the undertaking of work and not being the indicator of success. Ideally reports and information should be available to you in real-time and always accessible.
- How do you help me to get a good return on my SAP investment?
As a minimum this would be as simple as having a defined and agreed solution roadmap, with regular touchpoints to check on-going business requirements are understood and discussing new enhancements or solutions which can bring benefits to both parties either through reduced cost of operation or ease of support. The support team should know your business, and thus should be proactively suggesting improvements, enhancements and automations to your SAP solution.
- Do you offer services beyond the support service?
Most vendors will provide affiliated services such as functional and development consulting, the key is to understand the scope of these services and ease of engagement. This question should be considered when reviewing questions 2 and 5, as the location of the resources and how well they know your business will be key to efficient and effective engagements.
As an expert in SAP for nearly two decades, I have had the pleasure of enabling IT and latterly support operations across multiple continents, and multiple scenarios as a consumer of support services, as an SAP HR consultant in projects and support, and for the last 15 years in the management of SAP Projects and Support. In that time, the questions and scenarios raised earlier have been covered on many occasions and I can honestly say that the variety of customer requirements and options for engagement are rarely repeated.
Here at Acclimation we are dedicated to improving the support experiences of our customers through the continued strengthening of our customer base and tailoring of our support services to meet our customer needs. Using improvements in processes and procedures, toolsets, and our team of Certified consultants to support our key aim of “Support Done Right”.