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Gartner Analyst Michele Cantara Tells SAP That Market Observations Show that BPM Process Templates Are a Common Way to Go to Market for BPM.

This last Friday I had the privilege to host a consulting day with Gartner Analyst Michele Cantara covering BPM services, methodology and tools.

While much of his covered SAP’s own offerings, some of Michele’s feedback is relevant to SAP partners that have a BPM focus.

SAP Partners with a BPM focus should make a habit of following Michele Cantara’s research.  Michele spent quite a bit of time at Gartner researching the IT services market, and vendors.  In the last couple of years, she crossed over to BPM market research, but still remains loyal to her IT services background.  As a result, she has the unique perspective of an analyst that can explain how a BPM approach is leading to changes in the IT services market, and how this better aligns with customer desires for faster realization of value and more flexible solutions.  In fact, I credit Michele’s writings from moving me from being tools-focused to really thinking about the whole application of technology in a BPM methodology.

Michele’s research backs up much of what SAP’s own Ann Rosenberg has been evangelizing for more than a couple of years now – that the old heavy waterfall mode of implementation is not able to meet many customer needs.  And, those IT initiatives that are not driven through line of business alignment are at risk of not realizing the full potential business benefits they should be striving for.

So if you’ve made it this far through my blog, then you probably agree with most of the above statements, and are thinking “Ok Greg, I know all that, tell me something new!”

Here are some observations from Michele that I can share with those of you that either have an interest in running a BPM consulting business, or are a customer of such services:

  • Know your customer’s perspective. BPM as a technology and concept is entering a difficult period in its market development. Early adopters are experienced, but a lot of newbies are coming to the market who may have unreasonable expectations as to what BPM can do, or may have been disillusioned as a result of misapplication of the technology.
  • Follow the method, even if your customer doesn’t want to hear the buzzword “BPM.” The approach does not automatically prescribe the use of BPM tools. In fact, technology decisions should be made during the “to be design” phase, taking in consideration the existing “as-is” assets and specific requirements. But no customer will argue with a focus on business value, and a method for rapid realization, even if you don’t utter the word “BPM”.
  • Understand what that when customers say they want “agile” solutions, they don’t necessarily mean SCRUM-based implementation. What they mean is they want to see results quickly. Don’t go in and propose a 2 year long “big bang” implementation. Instead, your proposals should show them how they can begin seeing actual value in as quickly as 6 weeks, with regular periodic live deliveries every 6 to 12 weeks. It can be a 2 year program, but the customer should see a rolling at least quarterly delivery of process components and updates. This kind of approach also provides a greater chance that a solution will actually meet customer needs and expectations, and result in happier customer references that will enable future sales for your consulting services.
  • BPM-based solution templates are a good way to go. Michele showed that in the market certain BPMS competitors and their partners are delivering solution accelerators with pre-built content that provide a customizable alternative to traditional applications, or cover white space that are not well addressed by enterprise applications. Her caution was that sometimes customers expect that what they are getting is an application when in fact they are only getting a pilot with gaps. So make sure your customers have the right expectations. The next section showcases similar solution templates that some SAP partners are already bringing to market.

BPM Process Templates by SAP Partners

Certain forward thinking SAP Partners have already developed and are actively marketing their own process templates based on SAP NetWeaver BPM.  The ones have engaged in co-marketing with SAP include:

  • Gisa GmbH’s new utility customer connection process for European utilities operators which creates a single end-to-end process for onboarding new customers and quickly coordinating the new service connections across a complex set of company relationships that make up the newly deregulated European utilities markets.

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  • Intelligroup’sPodcast:  Creating Dynamic Product Launch and Re-launch Processes through BPM for large CPG and high tech companies which manages the case-by-case orchestration for the many frequent and highly varied types of product launches these companies do every year. In a sense, you can think of this process template as the latter half of a broader “idea-to-market” process that takes over once R&D has specified a new type of product. (Of course some types of new product launches don’t even involve variation of product, but instead packaging, distribution, pricing, or branding & marketing).
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I can count a dozen other partners that have BPM solution templates they are actively positioning in front of SAP customers, or that are in the process of building them.  I look forward to being able to share these partners offerings when they are ready to go public, or have mutual customer success stories to trumpet.

The benefit to customers for providing these kind of specific solutions includes the following:

  • Faster realization of value since the project starts with a partial implementation
  • Prebuilt business case allows customers to rapidly realize if the prototype solution is close to meeting their business goals
  • Flexibility to meet custom needs since the BPM skeleton of these solutions provides the capacity to change process steps, system integration, and user experience rapidly

And for partners, these solutions are easier to sell because

  • A buyer and their pain points are specifically targeted, making it possible to market and do standardized lead generation
  • You have something to show right away if you have a working pilot
  • You can get started quickly on a project if your solution template includes the ability to rapidly clone customer specific instances

SAP Certification for Partner BPM Process Templates

To spur more of these kinds of templates, SAP’s ICC has recently refurbished the “packaged composite applications” (PCA) certification to also support “process templates.”  Essentially this refers to a standardized working pilot based on SAP NetWeaver BPM that an SI partner leverages as the starting point for a custom implementation.  I will post more about this new development in a forthcoming blog.  Information on this new revised certification is available at the clubhouse at SAP TechEd, or you can contact me at greg.chase@sap.com.

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