Delivering quality services
Hello SCN community
The blog bug has gotten to me and today I want to write about delivering quality services. SAP offers many services, for example SAP Support Services which reach from go live checks to business process optimization checks to business function prediction services.
As a consultant, I also offer services to CTAC customers and even to customers of customers. I also strive to deliver quality. It is also important when you need to put your name under the final result of a service you provided and ensure your customer of its correctness.
From a customer perspective, services are features which give a sense of comfort and bring added value to the table by seeing the results of that service. Results which can have many forms, recommendations for improvements, an implementation of a product, a “go” to go live and so on.
I’m aware I cannot cover everything in a single blog so I’m aiming at attention points which I feel are important to deliver quality services.
Knowing which service to request
For a customer it can already prove to be a difficult task to know which services exist and which one is they should request. An important measure to tackle this point is making sure your customers know which services are available.
I’m glad to see SAP is doing an effort, by for example implementing the SAP Service Blog Talk Radio. If you are interested you can read about it in the following blog: The new SAP Services Blog Talk Radio show is off and running
Information and communication
A few days ago I saw a reference in a blog on a service which I did not yet knew at the time, called Business Function Prediction. Even though the service seems to already exist for some time I was not aware of it, neither were two of my customers.
They were happy to receive the information. First of it’s important to communicate with your customer which services are available and second point is that SCN can bring added value as I would not have known if I had not seen the information on SCN.
If you are interested in how I experienced SCN to deliver added value you can read one of my previous blogs: SAP Community Network as added value in the daily work environment
Aligning with customer expectations
A very important point to deliver quality services is aligning what will be delivered with the expectations of your customer. This should be done before the actual service is delivered to avoid misunderstanding, disagreement and disappointment. It is important to know what the customer is trying to achieve, making sure the service you will provide is indeed the correct service for what the customer expects of the end-result.
In time on budget
Two major factors in daily life, time and money, also in business life these are two major factors. I know it’s hard to sometimes set a correct timing on an operation (especially if you don’t have experience on the operation). The timing of some SAP Basis Administration related operations (for example installation of diagnostics scenario) depends heavily on what is already in place in a correct fashion.
If you have an operation that heavily depends on what is already in place, ask questions, communicate with your customer so see how much more effort is needed to perform the operation. If it is too complex to communicate in classical ways (mail, phone) request to visit the customer, check what is in place and what not and align the expectations with the customer.
Depending on the service type or possibilities exist. Setting a deadline and a fixed price for the delivery of the service can be one of them; another example is giving a best case, worst case scenario (between 3-5 days) depending on issues encountered along the way.
As a customer I expect to get what I requested before the deadline that was agreed and with the price that was agreed. Not only does the end result have to be there, I also expect it to be of quality.
The package can also be important, why are some things more expensive while they offer the same functionality as something that is a lot cheaper, because of the package. A report delivered in plain text in notepad without headers, without proper layout just doesn’t look as professional as a word document with headers, logo’s, pictures, graphics and fancy colors.
It sends out a message that it was done professionally. A similar effect is true for any other product, why is car X hot (because it sends out a message, hey look at me I drive car X). It doesn’t necessary mean that car X is better than car Y but people like making statements and as such the interpret things.
I’ve seen cases where managers found the professional word document better than a plain text in notepad while in fact the notepad content was better. If you want them to notice the notepad content then you better put the notepad content in the appropriate package.
One of the aspects I really liked when I was hired by my employer for my work in SAP Basis was that the manager found honesty to be an important value. After a small period of time he asked me if I wanted to drive the Toyota Corolla Verso that was parked outside of his house. Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with the car but I was honest and I said no, I want to go pick out a new one. The result was that I drove a new BMW 3 series as my first lease car. A lot of new hires would immediately knot and take the car but I was honest.
Honesty is an important pointer for me. Don’t tell a customer you will send an expert on the subject if you will send a new hire instead. In some cases they might be able to hide the fact that they are not an expert because the customer has no knowledge on the subject but in the end you don’t deliver a quality service.
As a consultant I want my employer to be honest because it’s not pleasant to be announced an expert on a topic if you are not and you know up front you cannot live up to the expectation. As a customer it’s not pleasant to expect an expert and be disappointed when in fact it’s not an expert at all. Again aligning what is expected is a key factor.
Once you committed to performing a service, you also have to make sure you deliver. Making good arrangements up front and aligning with customer expectations is what can prevent deadlines not being reached and customers from being disappointed.
When I order a product online and it sais if you pay 10 euro additionally you will have your product in 24 hours, I expect it to be delivered in 24 hours. I have had a present some time ago that was delivered after a week even though I flagged 24 hour delivery and gave 10 euro for it.
I got my 10 euro back but to get it back I had to phone the company who offers the service and complain about the fact that my delivery was late. I will not order another thing from them again, they didn’t deliver a quality service. Instead I had to go out and buy another present (not equally nice as the one I ordered) which was a disappointing experience for me.
Feedback can help improving existing services so as a customer it’s important to give feedback, as a supplier it’s important to request feedback and act upon it to further improve the quality of your services.
SAP Support Services
Last but not least my experience with receiving services from SAP support services. Not all of the services are of the same level of quality. Of course several factors influence this as you could already read in this blog, for example a junior, senior or expert performing service, the content of the service, how much is automated or manual and so on.
Go Live check
I received a go live check last week and I have some thought on it. I expect the system to be checked and I expect to receive recommendations to improve the configuration of the SAP system making it ready to go live (hence go live check). I know a lot of the content is automated by programming code that fetches the necessary data (also generating most of the headers and text) which is not an issue to me.
The package is nice, SAP has already seen the importance and the report is nicely formatted. What I don’t like is how some points are being handled. For a number of Oracle parameters, the report gives me the recommendation to check those parameters to see if they are correct. To me that doesn’t make sense, do I want to receive “you have to check it yourself” if I request a service to check the system? No I don’t want to have to go through the whole report and accumulate all the things I now have to go check myself because then I’m losing time on something which should have been delivered to me in the first place.
Another example are the Java parameter settings, if I would set additional parameters on a dispatcher node which can be necessary for smooth system operation, the go live check report might flag them as being wrong while in fact they are not. This is due to sometimes too much automation and lack of human interaction delivering the service.
The result is my customer starts asking questions and in the end I have to create my own report on which recommendations I want them to consider or which ones we will implement and which ones not because of situations as described above.
Another thing I also sometimes miss is conclusions and opinions, human effort on the go live check reports I received lately are very minimal, I know it’s time consuming but if you want to deliver quality, you have to take time.
I don’t want to sound all negative on SAP support services as I believe the services are necessary and they do give added value but there is room for improvement. The services which offer the best quality are the ones with the most human interaction. That doesn’t mean the content may not be captured automatically but if you do checks automatically try to avoid the customer from having the perform checks himself again.