New CEO brings changes…..why are people acting surprised?

So in the next couple of weeks a new CEO brings a lot of management changes at SAP. But what is all the surprise and concern all about in the press?

A change  at the top always brings change to any organisation, so why should any change at SAP be expected to be any different? What is important is what does that change bring and how does it effect all the stakeholders. Let’s analyse what we know. From my perspective as one of SAP’s customers – change is only a concern if it brings change that impacts them adversely. As a customer those are things like higher costs, lower service, lower quality and directions that generate conflict with their individual business direction and strategy.

Costs – as an existing customer are they seeing increases?  At first you might think not, but actually yes a lot of them are with the gradual increase to Enterprise and Standard support – but this has been in place since 2008 and can’t be pinned on the new singular CEO as this started before his reign. In fact he has publicly stated that he has to effect change without impacting his loyal customer base – but maybe he should effect change by impacting customers and stopping any further rises now – that would be perceived as a positive gesture by the loyal base.

Lower service? Already SAP offer an SLA for Severity 1 support activities – as far as I know, still the only software vendor to do that – and certainly the only one to offer a full suite of products support organisation in their singular AGS team. In fact with the Customer connection program a further strengthening of the support offerings. Will a new CEO change that? Wouldn’t have thought so given how that immediately touches existing customers and with nothing to indicate so, as the solid leadership in this area remains active and intact.

Quality lower? Not aware of any immediate indication of that, and in very simple terms – those that are there today who do the delivery of products and services remain in place. Lay-offs in this cadre of the organisation isn’t apparent and certainly isn’t on the cards at the moment – in fact with the new CEO moving with family to the heart of the operation in Germany (not an insignificant undertaking) a sign to the contrary at this stage.

Change in direction? Well actually there is change in direction – but this isn’t a surprise, mobile, cloud and in memory. This is not new it started with Sybase, and was complemented by Successfactors, Hana and Ariba over a number of years – what is new is the increased determination to deliver this direction, but again a clear statement not at the expense of the existing customer base. That reflects an awareness of the way these directions can be adopted by customers – that in the new cloud and mobile based era we live in,  the whole premise is easy adoption and an almost seamless connectivity of business processes, whilst maintaining options for flexibility, scalability and rate of adoption.

For the new CEO there is a challenge – what differentiates SAP from it’s competitors? The reality, in all the areas there are competitors, the “me-too” products are out there.

I would offer some thoughts. To succeed a business needs to offer difference that it’s customers want and can digest. For any customer to improve its market positioning there are only three things a business can do, cost less, sell more or charge more. In today’s competitive market to charge more is just not an option anymore (even Apple are realising that) so that leaves cost less and sell more. So any offering from anybody offering something, be it software or food products has to entertain those two deliverables. A great example here is the current rumblings of, in fact, food retailing in the UK marketplace so long the domain of the big 5 retailers, where the new upstarts of Aldi, Lidl and Netto are costing less and selling more and more, disrupting the market place in a way that has permanent benefits for them and their new customers. Even Apple have looked inwardly and done the same with the two versions of their series 5 iPhone to try to safeguard their market position.

At the end of the day the choice will come down to the leadership within SAP and the decisions they make – let’s hope they make the correct ones!

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Solution Manager 7.1: Can it be a solution to all life’s ills?

TechEd Las Vegas has seen the launch of SAP Solution Manager 7.1. SAP intends this to be a major step forward for Solution Manager, intending to give us users an improved user experience, optimised performance and documentation of events and, most importantly, failures. Organisations within the User Group that have taken up Solution Manager have seen some great value: 7.1 should do nothing to change this.

Unfortunately, what needs to change is the slow uptake of the product to date. If it remains like this then neither SAP nor we, the users, will ever see Solution Manager’s full potential. If SAP can educate users on the potential that Solution Manager brings, and find ways to dispel the belief that implementation is difficult, then we could see users taking it up en masse. Then, analyst claims that this is a “semi-mature product” would soon be a thing of the past.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that the next Application Life-cycle Management Special Interest Group Meeting is only 3 weeks away! This SIG is taking place on Thursday 13th October 2011 at SAP Clockhouse Place, nr Heathrow. This event is focused around the latest version of Solution Manager (7.1) which will shortly be available on general release.

To book your place at this event please follow this link.

The Agenda has been designed to give you a flavour of the new functionality that will soon be available, how to upgrade and the afternoon will focus on one specific area – ‘Technical Operations and System Monitoring with Solution Manager 7.1’. In addition we will be joined by at least one customer who have taken the opportunity to be involved with the Ramp-up of Sol Man 7.1. The content of the day has been built around the feedback we received from the recent webinar, this will be followed up with Solution Manager speakers at the forthcoming conference and the ALM & ALM-Testing SIGS next year.

Clair Walton from SAP will present an Introduction to SAP Solution Manager 7.1. With SAP Solution Manager 7.1 now in unrestricted shipment Clair Walton from SAP UKI will present the highlights and new features of this release.This will include a Q&A session and a guide to where more detailed information on Solution Manager 7.1 will be given at forthcoming user group events.

Andy Lawrence from SAP will deliver Upgrading to SAP Solution Manager 7.1. Customer’s usage of Solution Manager is varied and ranges from the minimum needs right up to full end-to-end application management and monitoring. With this spectrum of use, it can be difficult to assess what the optimum upgrade approach to Solution Manager 7.1. Andy Lawrence from SAP UKI will provide an overview of the functions affected by this release change and also the methods that need to be used to ensure the new Solution Manager functionality can be adopted smoothly and effectively.

Andy Lawrence will also deliver the presentaion Technical Operations and System Monitoring with Solution Manager 7.1. Solution Manager 7.1 has delivered an entirely new engine to monitor and manage an SAP Landscape. The engine to process alert data and the user interfaces to visualise this data have been built from scratch to deliver an intuitive and responsive monitoring environment that allows a customer to understand at a glance the health of their SAP environments. Andy Lawrence will provide insight into this technology, how it can be deployed easily and then used to streamline operations. He will also demonstrate some of its key capabilities. The session will conclude with an open Q&A.

Paul Williams from Kingfisher Plc will share his experience of SAP Ramp-Up Program. What it is like to participate in an SAP Ramp-Up program? What motivates a customer to do so and what benefits can they expect to realise from this? These are questions many customers can ask themselves when considering this. Paul Williams from Kingfisher plc will provide an overview as to what motivated their participation in the Solution Manager 7.1 Ramp-Up program.They will outline their experience of the program from the support they had from SAP to what they have gained from their participation.

Paul Williams will then speak about Real World Use of SAP Solution Manager Technical Operations. As part of Kingfisher’s participation in Solution Manager 7.1, they deployed the new Technical Monitoring Solution to support the rollout their new Forecast & Replenishment functionality. As this functionality was new to Kingfisher and critical to their business, there was a focus to ensure that technical operations were in place on the right platform from the initial go-live. Paul Williams will share what motivated Kingfisher to use Solution Manager 7.1 for this purpose and the experience they have had in deploying this into their business so far.


Continuous Improvement: making sure requests don’t enter the void

For a long time, a complaint from SAP users has been the lack of visibility and influence they have in the product development process.

SAP’s Customer Connection program for Continuous Improvement , of which the UK & Ireland User Group is a part, is a big step towards dealing with this issue. The thinking is simple: each quarter, SAP and its user group community will identify four focus topics, from vertical markets to specific functions, under which improvement requests will be collected. This will then provide SAP with more informed insight, whilst also preventing user development requests from disappearing down a black hole. A further benefit will be a reduction in the time that product modifications come to fruition. The aim is for it to only take 9 months from request collection to execution which is a considerable improvement on before!

So what does this mean for User Group members? We’ll be asking you to identify potential improvement requests and nominate “subscribing customers” through our SIGs. There will be a central Idea Place portal, where all participating user groups can post requests. So please, let your SIG chairs know what issues you’d like to see addressed even if they don’t necessarily meet that quarter’s specific topic. The SIG chairs will be in touch with members directly to pool requests, so make sure to get involved.

If you need any further information on the Customer Connection programme then do get in touch with the User Group team.

Making the right support decision

You may have seen the recent announcement from SAP and SUGEN regarding the new Enterprise Support engagement methodology and the creation of a searchable, online repository of customer benefit cases and best practices (http://bit.ly/dg8z32).   

 As part of SUGEN, the UK & Ireland SAP User Group is pleased to see continued collaboration with SAP regarding its Enterprise Support offering.   For SAP customers in the UK and Ireland the September 30th deadline is fast approaching for them to decide which support option – Standard or Enterprise support – will best meet their organisations’ needs over the next year. 

 As we have said all along, a one size fits all approach doesn’t work when it comes to support, as different organisations have different support requirements.  So it is therefore important that customers have all the best possible information available to them in order that they can make an informed choice.

 So if you are a SAP user still unsure of which support route to go down, please get in contact with the User Group and we can help put you in the right direction of the information and resources you need.

SAP puts Standard Support back on the map

Nearly 18 months since SAP removed Standard Support from its ERP offerings – it’s back. Following much discussion with SUGEN SAP has relented and given some choice to its customers……..existing customers that is. If you are a new customer or buy new licences then you will pay the full 22% and contractually get no choice but to have Enterprise support.

If you are an existing customer you have the right to go back from your enforced ES…..but you have to make a choice and it’s not straightforward, because if you go back to standard and then you find you want to go to ES then you will pay the full 22% straight away. So the question is:

Do you need ES and if so do you need it before 2016?

If the answer to this is yes then do the sums and see what adds up best for you.

In the meantime SUGEN will continue to work on the value of SAP  ES through the benchmark program so the expectation is that demonstrable value will be acheived.

Press coverage of User Group Conference (Updated)

A  fantastic conference with great speakers, great discussions and great people – some coverage below:

Silicon – Users tell SAP we need to talk more
 
Computer Weekly – Durex maker gets satisfaction with SAP
 
Computer Weekly – In bed with SAP: the future for enterprise software?
 
Computer Weekly – SAP user groups make ‘great progress’ working with SAP
 
 
 
 
SAPinfo – SAP UKI User Group: How innovative is SAP?
 
SAP user group ‘proves its worth’ it tells members
 
ComputerworldUK – SAP not delivering on innovation user group told 
 
ZDNet – SAP users start to flex their muscles
 
ZDNet – Fawning over Chatter and how SAP missed its chance
 
CIO – SAP user group ‘proves its worth’ it tells members
 
CIO – SAP not delivering on innovation user group told
 
InfoWorld – SAP not delivering on innovation user group told
 
Industry Standard – SAP not delivering on innovation user group told
 
IT News – SAP set for vital KPI announcement
 
YouTube – Cloudy issues: Alan Bowling SAP UK&I UG (Dennis Howlett video interview) 
Computing – SAP criticised for slow pace of innovation
 
V3 – SAP set for vital KPI announcement
 
Computer Weekly – SAP at odds with user group over prices
 
Computer Weekly – SAP vows to get closer to its users

 

Conference just 2 weeks away!

As expected the number of delegates continues to swell – we’ve beaten 2006 already, look set to beat 2008 early this week, and are still ahead at this stage of our best ever in 2007.  With over 90 speakers and over 70 exhibitors it really does look set to be the biggest conference we have ever run. If you are going to go and haven’t booked your place yet then get in quick as there really is limited seating in the auditorium.  Book on the website.