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SAP is known for its product innovation. The fact that is less known is that innovation is a way of thinking in SAP, its how we do stuff in SAP in general. Its part of our daily thought process, our makeup. How we think, not just an end product. We try to innovate in all lines of business.

I work for SAP Consulting and in this blog I would like to share with you some of the innovative work that we are doing. The best way would probably be to do it with an example.

Customers often come to us wanting a consultant for a short piece of work. Typically, they are looking for an expert to close a knowledge gap by either performing the task himself (e.g. – configure something) or by enabling the customer to perform the task (e.g. – run a workshop).

As a service to our customers, we decided to design a different process for these types of requests. To make it easier on the customer to identify the consultant he needs, book the consultant’s time and manage the complete engagement thru a dedicated online solution.

In the design phase of the new solution we interviewed multiple customers and heard over and over the same 2 requirements:

  1. Time is of an essence – We need quick resolution. There is no time for prolonged planning; there is a need for a quick solution for a burning issue.
  2. No compromise on quality – There is no time to waste on acquiring knowledge. We need someone that has the knowledge and experience and can help us is a very short timeframe.

As a next step we setup a design workshop with all involved SAP people. We invited sales people, operations people, sourcing people as well as couple of consultants and other smart people that could help us redesign the process to better fit the requirements we heard from the customers.

Following this workshop we created a mock-up solution and returned to our customers to learn if our current plans fit their needs. To our great satisfaction, the customers embraced the new proposal with some slight optimization proposals to make the solution even better.

The only remaining challenge was to develop the solution and adapt our internal processes to support the new solution.

6 months after we first identified the customers need, we launched the Consulting Self-Service to the market! We are starting small by addressing only selected customers from selected countries but plan to release it to all customers during 2012.

 

Check out this short clip explaining the value and be sure to also see our page to learn more about our SAP Consulting Self-Service offering.

                 

 

 In the next posts I will share more about innovation processes at SAP Consulting.

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19 Comments

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    1. Michelle Crapo
      Please take a look at all the comments.  I’ve been swayed by Jarret, and now I’m doubting that I would use it.  Nathan has interesting points as well.  Next blog detailing out some of the answers to their questions.  Unless you can do it here.

      Michelle

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    1. Michelle Crapo
      Smile. 

      But that’s like asking everyone to lower their prices.  Or maybe price isn’t a part of the database.  And then, just think if you didn’t have the skills that were advertised.

      Sounds like something that should be developed open source, but which consulting company would spend the time / dollars to develop something that might make them come in last?

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        1. Michelle Crapo
          I agree to all your points.

          One of the things we ALWAYS try to do a technical interview.  Sometimes when we hire a firm, we expect them to bring good technical resources, that doesn’t always happen. 

          However, what if I only need that person for 2 days?  The interview will take 2 hours…  Will that person be willing to do an interview for a 2 day project?

          That’s where I see the value when I read the blog.  But I could be way off base.

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          1. Jarret Pazahanick
            I think that most WOULD be willing to do a 2hr interview for a 2 day project as if you are good there will always be additional opportunities down the road once you have gotten your foot in the door.

            Plus I would argue that a 2-3 day assignment needs someone strong with a specific skill and just because someones name is in an SAP database doesnt make them a solid consultant or the right fit for your organization.

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            1. Michelle Crapo
              Well – 2 hours is what we usually schedule, truthfully sometimes people impress very quickly.  Sometimes they don’t very quickly.  So sometimes we can cut the call short.

              So now you’ve swayed me to your side.  I agree just because they are in a database doesn’t mean they are an “expert”.  We always do a technical interview for that reason.  (Headhunters say the resource is perfect for us.  Even if they can’t spell SAP.)

              This is probably not as good as it sounds 🙁  Things never are.

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      1. Nathan Genez
        I think there have been quite a few groups that have tried to take a swing at this but it’s never panned out. In the end, these premium organizations turn into just another job board.  See http://www.saprankings.com/index.php/.  ASUG EDGE is another attempt that struck out.

        In principle, I like the idea of customers ranking consultants and having a transparent database of resources.  But it hasn’t happened in the open market and probably won’t.

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    2. Jon Reed
      Agreed 100 percent Jarret. Often the subject matter experts who are ideal for these short term arrangements are senior folks who have moved into boutique or independent consulting.

      I find the word innovation is thrown around too loosely anyhow. This is a welcome development on SAP’s part but I prefer to let the customer decide what is truly “innovative.”

      – Jon

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  1. Nathan Genez
    In general, self service is a good thing.  As a consumer, I would much rather take care of my own issues with my bank, insurance company, ISP, etc. on my own than talk someone through it during normal business hours. 

    But selling services is different. Since SAP charges so much for a given resource, they need to continually articulate the value added by those resources…  access to product management and development groups, extensive in-house training, expertise on the solution that goes far beyond just the normal ’10 years doing Basis’. I think SAP might be passing up a prime opportunity at a time when the customer has such an urgent need and is probably in a more receptive position than during a normal sales call.

    -nathan

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    1. Michelle Crapo
      So – I am a customer.  I have an urgent need for some answers, design help, whatever…  I only need someone for two days, but I need them NOW.  If you call with a sales pitch, I would probably hang up on you.

      I would certainly tune you out, and I would let it go to voice mail.

      There is a databank of people we use all the time, we can call and sometimes get them to work at home or off hours.   This database would be great for a SHORT term project.

      For a longer project – I agree a sales pitch usually helps. 

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      1. Nathan Genez
        I’m not telling SAP how to sell. That’s not my area of focus.  But it seems that these types of request for urgent and short term needs are probably when a customer might be most receptive to SAP’s influence. Those situations aren’t driven by market or economic dynamics or competition (i.e. rates); they’re driven by pure demand. So that would be the best time to answer the customer’s call and send the resumes over. SAP is removing itself from a prime situation where they can influence the customer and prove their differentiating characteristics. It just seems short sighted to me.
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        1. Michelle Crapo
          HA!  Look at my comments with / to Jarret.  He makes excellent points not to use it at all.  And now I’ve been converted.  I believe that as well.  I believe it based on past experiences.

          SAP marketing…  Telling them how to do it.  You are 100000% right, and you might want to add more zeros to that.  

          Maybe right hand and left hand aren’t talking right now.  Sadly that does happen some of the time.

          It will be interesting to sit back and watch the long term impact.

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  2. Martin English
    Not sure what is innovative about this… Whats different between this and a Job Board? Oh yes, its run by SAP.

    Even with quality control over the applicants, who is verifying what the customer requests? For example, from the advert, verifying / validating a whitepaper on HANA writen by me would be an entirely different piece of work than if the paper was written by John Appleby.

    I think you’re trying to offer a ‘standard process’ in a situation where, almost by definition, the request from the customer is NOT standard. The multi national SIs, like CSC, with decades of metrics and experience at it still haven’t been able to get it working, so I wish you luck 🙂

    hth

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  3. Harshit Kumar
    Itzik,

    It’s a godd initiative, perhaps now is the time to include SME’s from across also in your Database.

    Expert advice does matter and Customers do reach out to SAP because they feel that SAP knows better how to fit the solution as per their business. More often then not it’s when the SI’s fail to provide proper solutioning.

    Waiting for the next blog in this series.

    Regards,
    Harshit Kumar

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