5 Things to Know about Critical Success Factors for SAP-centric Transformations
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In my previous blog post Five
Successful IT transformation investments in SAP systems establish an effective mechanism to ensure governance and balance throughout the life-cycle of the transformation, and beyond. Balance between short-term benefits, and long-term benefits. Balance between what will benefit the SAP project at the expense of the enterprise, and what will benefit the enterprise at the expense of the SAP project.
We have identified 5 critical factors without which organizations embarking on an SAP-centric enterprise transformation project are not likely to succeed:
1. Deploy a system of engagement for SAP
Systems of engagement are systems built to connect users, mobile, the cloud, the web, partners, social media, and the internet of things (billions of devices) to the systems of record which contain business data, business logic, business processes, and transactions.
Since SAP applications provide user interfaces and some notion of "process", most SAP implementations use the SAP transactional backbone, that is, SAP system of record, as their default system of engagement for the vast majority of their business processes.
This less than optimal approach marries the business processes of an organization and the associated business policies to a less than user-friendly platform that is bound by the constraints of IT Application Life cycle Management (ALM). In most enterprises, this life-cycle typically spans three to six months and in some cases a year or more. Yet a wide range of business changes should optimally be implemented in a matter of days or weeks, not months.
Externalizing at least some degree of SAP process control accelerates business-led change, enabled by a flexible process layer in the system of engagement. It can deliver dramatically enhanced flexibility, agility, and control over the traditional SAP implementation approach.
2. Balance SAP with application independent, industry-leading integration platform
SAP has been extending its offerings beyond the traditional scope of packaged enterprise application software into the area of integration middleware, including enterprise integration, business process management, mobile, portal, development life-cycle, business intelligence, database, and so on. These middleware offerings are typically well integrated within the SAP business application suite, but are often not adequate for integrating SAP and non-SAP systems.
Organizations adopting SAP software should not assume that all the middleware products that SAP offers are equally proven in the industry and are equally robust. Instead, governance process for architecture decisions should be used to evaluate and choose enterprise-class software infrastructure to support all application environments.
SAP has remained one of the most integration-enabled platforms for the last 20 years. It integrates well with robust third party integration middleware software such as the software provided by IBM.
3. Establish governance for architectural decisions
SAP adoption is a complex endeavor which involves multiple stakeholders, partners, vendors, technology alternatives, and so on. When a massive investment is directed towards a single vendor such as SAP, organizations have to establish an effective mechanism to make key architectural decisions in the best interest of their enterprise and not just follow vendor bias.
Establishing a governance mechanism for making balanced integration and process management technology decisions in the enterprise own best-interest is very important. It should prevent architectural decisions regarding application infrastructure to be driven by a vendor to push appl
4. Avoid custom coding
The long-term ROI on SAP implementations is directly linked to the level of SAP customization. The premise of SAP application investments is "buy not build". Organizations with significantly customized SAP deployments incur a much larger upgrade cost when compared to a more standard SAP installation.
IBM Smarter Process technology provides appl
5. Reduce business and IT risk with best-in-class enterprise middleware platform
Successful SAP adopters reduce business and IT risk by combining the value of pre-built SAP integration within the SAP domain based on SAP middleware ("integration you buy"), also known as Inner Ring, with best-in-class IBM enterprise middleware for custom integration in the enterprise which needs to be developed for an SAP-centric transformation program ("integration you build"), also known as Outer Ring. IBM uses the concepts of Inner and Outer Ring to mean: what happens inside SAP stays inside SAP, but what happens in the enterprise goes through IBM middleware.
Yaro Dunchych is an Executive Architect in IBM Software Services. Yaro leads IBM software deployments at IBM clients, including internal adoption of IBM software in the IBM company in such areas as smarter process, mobile, integration, and cloud technologies. Yaro leads delivery of IBM software solutions for SAP based on the IBM Reference Architecture for SAP, a large scale asset that provides a comprehensive blueprint of IBM software capabilities for SAP. During his 15 years with IBM, Yaro created multiple cross-brand solutions from services engagements that led to several innovations. Yaro holds a Ph.D. degree in Electronic Engineering from Air Force Engineering Academy in Moscow, Russia. Yaro is the lead author of the IBM Redbooks publication IBM