Shifting to the next level in engagements: from a tactical software provider to an strategical business partner
For a week large Energy Companies invest time and allocate resources to host SAP colleagues to perform a joint exercise named “high level application roadmap”: which are Companies expectations, what is this activity about, what it delivers,?
Why such engagement is needed?
It is a exercise of common understanding, business and portfolio. In the Utilities Industry, standardized business applications have been gaining space in the portfolio of the companies replacing their legacy applications in a process which started in the nineties with the adoption of Backoffice – Enterprise Resource Planning Systems (ERP) and, since a decade ago adopting also Customer Information Systems (CIS). This transition, yet unfinished, has created since the beginning a fear in many Energy companies of loosing knowledge and control of the IT support for business processes, this is for example to delegate the
intelligence of design and maintain billing rates to a third party supplier and therefore the necessity of assurance that the selected IT supplier will support them in the short, medium and long term with knowledge and updated technology and new solutions for the new business processes, like the ones triggered by market liberalization.
For these companies which already decided for us as suppliers of business applications, even having a dedicated competence centre it is very difficult to
understand and identify the capabilities of the entire present (and future) SAP application portfolio and how it can support their current and future needs and
SAP has resources with an average experience of more than 10 years working in the Utilities Industry, this is an outstanding mixture of product and business knowledge with different names: Industry Principals, Solution Architects or Industry Business Development which are able to assess companies on IT strategy in order to face coroporate challenges, not only the pursue of efficiency but how to evolve complex business units such power generation, unbundling or market liberalization or new business requirements like energy retail.
What is the activity about?
The activity consists on three phases: engagement, preparation and workshops / delivery on site.
Engagement consists on present this activity. We do not consider relevant to perform a presentation of a concept and nice slides but to present one of two deliverables from previous engagements already done and explain why it was required, what we did and show the output. As this activity is being done systematically since 2007 we are able to talk and share content from previous experiences and references across Europe, Middle East and Africa with different scope: it can be the entire landscape like Swissgrid, Serbia Electricity or Saudi Electricity; focused on concrete areas and business units like Cyprus Electricity , PGE (Poland) or KenGen or subjects like unbundling for Hera (Italy) or CEZ.
Preparation requires to achieve a good understanding in advance of the business structure of the company, its IT landscape and to identify which are
the corporate strategy goals or pain points which the need to prioritize when addressing. On this purpose, a list of documents is agreed to share in advance
for team preparation.
Activities on site are created from the information received. Team will suggest the workshops agenda and which people to invite. Content of the discussion is based on the preparation of an assumption of the current As Is situation and pain points / drivers in order to enable fluent discussion during the workshops.
Documentation required for the preparation phase
What it delivers?
From the Complete understanding of the IT As Is and the drivers, goals and pain points of the Company a high level To Be Landscape is designed. The delta”, this is the list of projects / initiatives which need to be done in order to reach the To Be are listed. An exercise of prioritization, and even of risk assessment might be required as well. As a complement of the roadmap list some additional advices, like a high level view of the landscape alternatives might be necessary to see.
Examples of deliverable content
A business case to help understanding the benefits might be possible to be done but then the exercise will become more complex as additional figures have to be shared to perform the exercise. It has to be clearly stated in the engagement stage of the activity and can be one of the main follow up actions.
When possible, Examples of peer references are shared in order to help understanding the proposal and benefit from their experience. Here it is shown the case of an european utility which was looking for advice on unbundling landscape.
Example of peer cases for reference architectures
Defining an engagement model
As stated at the begging, this is an exercise of common understanding, business and portfolio. For SAP the success goal of this investment is not only
to identify which might be future IT needs of the companies but to demonstrate that SAP has the capabilities and willingness of sharing knowledge with be not only a tactical software provider but an strategical business partner