Agility is required of today’s business to remain competitive exploiting current technology trends. And their IT organizations must adapt.  Gartner research characterizes traditional IT as obstacle to a business’s ability to adapt to the convergence of “social interaction, mobility, cloud, and information”. (Gartner 2012, Howard)

Looking outward, IT leaders continue to pursue excellence in delivering and quantifying value to the business. Looking inward, IT organizations continue to seek new answers to old questions; How to strengthen our IT processes? How to improve the change management of our business processes? How to best manage for value? (SAP 2013, Markevich)

Quality Management throughout the application management life cycle provides insight around continuous improvement and delivering business value.

SAP defines as part of its strategic frameworks a hierarchy of value extending from value to the end consumer; back through to the business processes that deliver value to the enterprise, and further back to the infrastructure and process support for those business processes. To the extent of an IT organization’s maturity and business alignment, they have influence and impact on all levels of value. Traditionally, however IT focuses on the value delivered with the IT infrastructure. (SAP 2013, Markevich)

From the SAP perspective, IT Infrastructure is what businesses license from SAP, or contracts for on a subscription basis. Infrastructure costs go beyond SAP and include hardware, facilities, and contractual obligations. The value dimensions include capabilities, flexibility, reliability, risks, and costs in support of business processes. What impact can Quality Management have on IT infrastructure value?

While aspects such as user training and business process change management are important, deployment costs are a major cost element. For example, during test and deploy phases, Quality Management minimizes time to value by:

  • implementing or optimizing change management and quality testing to speed up deployments
  • deploying SAP enhancement and support packages quickly and efficiently

Quality Management focused on safeguarding integration validation looks at the internal efficiency of integration and volume testing as well as defect/incident volumes for opportunities to apply risk-mitigation techniques and tools to implementation or upgrade projects, in order to introduce solutions into the production environment effectively and efficiently. That is, with minimal business disruption and test effort.

Quality Management focused on protecting the SAP investment looks at the efficiency and effectiveness of solution transition in terms of update or upgrade effort, resulting down-times, as well as extent of unnecessary solution modification. Any of these may point to an opportunity to adopt best practices around managing custom developments, release planning and maintenance management.

Not only can IT derive value from the efficiency measured by the internal cost drivers in the IT department; IT can provide value in terms of the efficiency and effectiveness the solution enables in other business functions. A clear example of the effectiveness of IT is the cost of an hour of downtime of a business process.

That brings us to the next level of value within the direct control of IT. “Infrastructure / Process Support” is essentially the internal operations of the IT department.  This has a unique impact on effectiveness of driving value from IT Infrastructure investment by:

  • delivering business continuity while minimizing operating expense
  • improving existing business processes and drive accelerated innovations

Quality Management focused on business continuity may look at, for example, efficiency in terms of incident effort in the context of trends in incident volumes. Quality Management for business continuity drives operations maturity through standardization and automation. This is enabled by standardized, end-to-end IT processes enables efficient, scalable solution operations and minimizes complexity across SAP and partner environments.  Process optimization leads to reduced downtime through use of consistent tools and methodologies, e.g., standardized diagnostic tools, integration testing, and business process monitoring. But it is necessary to employ platforms that provide full visibility to the processes and that make required information available to all stakeholders and thereby decrease time to resolution.

Quality Management focused on business process improvement drives IT effectiveness in terms of the value to other business functions. The measurement, analysis and monitoring of the system performance of business process steps and interfaces indicate opportunities for improvement of solution performance and usability. User satisfaction with the implemented solution increases its value to the enterprise. Quality-oriented IT operations that drive continuous improvement of the implemented solution is characteristic of a state-of-the-art IT that is ready for new challenges.

If quality management is both a cultural and an organizational change (Olian & Rynes 1991), change agents are necessary in each of these quality management domains — a Quality Management team with dedicated persons responsible for all IT areas and a measurement platform to measure the continuous improvement of customer relevant KPIs.
• Quality manager for protection of investment (QM-POI)
• Quality manager for integration validation (QM-SIV)
• Quality manager for business continuity (QM-BC)
• Quality manager for business process improvement (QM-POI)

Each quality manager is responsible for one or more focus areas. These focus areas can be related to end-to-end solution operation standards; integration topics for platforms, technologies, and devices; and strategic business areas such as financial. Each focus area of a balanced scorecard must be covered by one or more KPIs to document the current situation and drive continuous improvement. As a single source of truth, key performance indicators (KPIs) need to be documented in the KPI framework of SAP Solution Manager. If control center structures or composition have to be changed to fulfill KPI targets, quality managers drive this transformation. Harmonized reporting enables a single source of truth to all stakeholders, ensures efficient collaboration on agreed topics, and enables the Quality Management team to quantify improvements.

Managing quality throughout the application management life cycle not only enables IT to deliver value within “Infrastructure / Process Support” level, but also at the Business Process level of value. However, poor “Infrastructure / Process Support” can severely handicap all other forms of value.

Show your business the value of IT and learn more about how other customers are doing so. Join us at the 18th International Customer COE Info Forum in Frankfurt, Germany, November 19- 21, 2014.

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