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I often am asked “Why should I do the ACCOE Certification?”

A simple answer –

 

“To be able to improve the productivity of your support teams, become more agile, and become the best in class Center of Excellence”

Of course this is quite a broad statement – my previous blogs have given an insight into such things as utilizing SAP Solution Manager (which all SAP customers have) for your COE, and also talked in depth regarding Quality Management for your COE and IT Operations.

 

But first, let me take a step back – and explain WHAT is ACCOE?

ACCOE – Advanced Customer Center of Excellence, is a certification program that captures not just how a COE operates, but also helps you take steps to become a Center of Excellence that drives innovation.

 

One example is that of our SAP Operations Control Centers (OCC) – how we work to utilize SAP Solution Manager tools to be more proactive in our IT Operations (proactive Business Process Monitoring, Interface Monitoring, Technical Monitoring for example).

 

The target of a COE driving innovation, is captured in this picture – your Center of Excellence is no longer an “after-thought” in the SAP world – it needs to be at the forefront of your business to be able to move faster and more efficiently to adopt newer technology, and support the ever growing demands of the business.

 

 

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Let us expand upon the bullet points above:

 

  • Optimum IT Operations
    • Proactive monitoring is key
    • Integrated IT Operations (Operations Control Center – looking at Business Processes alongside Technical monitors)
    • Quality Management –
      • Defining KPI’s
      • Identifying opportunities for improvement (reduce wasted efforts, increase satisfaction)
    • Accountability
      • Reporting – keeping our finger on the pulse
      •  
  • Integrated Quality Management cross borders
    • Collaboration between the Business and IT is key and the 4 QM roles take a central role
    • Ensure that the 4 key Quality Management roles are well defined and are in place within the IT / Support Operations teams
      • QM for Business Process Improvement (Example; “How can I make month end reporting only take hours instead of days?”)
      • QM for Business Continuity (Example; “How do I carry out needed maintenance, but ensure users are not affected?”)
      • QM for Protection of Investment (Example; “How do I ensure that changes are what the business have asked for, in order to be accepted?”)
      • QM for Integration Validation (Example; “How do I ensure that we have covered all the relevant tests?”)

 

Note:  Each of the above examples requires input across teams, and each Quality Manager role should be fully integrated within the COE/IT Operations areas.

 

  • Business and IT are ONE Team
    • IT and Business Strategies are aligned
      • This becomes especially important when there are tight budget constraints
    • IT and Business teams have a common understanding
      • Priorities need to be aligned
    • IT and Business teams have a common goal
      • A combined Charter / Mission
    • IT Operations and Support are integrated
      • A central / single point of contact

 

  • All decisions are made consciously and with transparency
    • Utilize the Quality Management roles to be able to articulate across teams
    • Ensure the Quality Management team are aligned with each other and have regular communications

 

  • Common methodology to identify new business models using real-time technologies
    • Single source of truth – reduce number of “entry points” have a single point of contact
    • Utilize the Quality Management team to provide to the business / CCOE and IT Operations frequent updates and communications

 

  • Clear Roadmap and efficient value realization
    • Breaking down the Business / IT Strategy to the appropriate level
    • Understanding the Business and IT requirements – build into a common roadmap
    • Prioritize Business and IT items / projects as one group – gaining common understanding and agreement – understand the business case, and what the value needs to be
    • Identify KPI’s for projects and go-lives, measure them to ensure they meet the value proposed within the business case (Example; “We want to reduce Month End Close from 5 days to 48 hours” – did you achieve this? Did you do this in multiple steps / have a well laid out plan, mini go-lives? Did you measure the improvements and gains?)

 

The key to all of the above is ALIGNMENT and COLLABORATION – between Business, COE and IT Operations

 

 

So now you have a better understanding of the foundational elements for a Center of Excellence that is moving towards innovation for both the business and IT.

 

OK – so we now understand the importance of the Business, COE and IT Operations working closer together – what does this have to do with ACCOE?

 

The answer of course, is all of the above – INTEGRATION, COLLABORATION and VALUE REALIZATION

 

Lets us now dive into the actual Advanced Certification information

 

The Key areas we review / audit for the Advanced CCOE Certification are as follows – however having the foundation from the above bullet points will ensure continuous improvement, and maturity:

The program relies upon the commitment from the customer and the COE / IT Operations teams – it is key to understand the effort required –

 

The best sports teams become champions through dedication, commitment hard work and of course through teamwork!

 

The SAP CCOE team is engaged to help provide support to your teams as you move along the path of maturity.

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MATURITY ASSESSMENT

The journey towards Advanced Certification begins with establishing the delta/baseline – “where am I today?”, this is captured in the Maturity Assessment (the SAP Operations Planning Workshop – “SOPW”) – this is the first chevron.

 

Through a 4 day workshop, we discuss with your teams the key elements that are outlined in the Audit Criteria (see below).  We help identify areas of opportunity, and help identify any gaps in the processes / organization.  A detailed report is then used as the basis to develop a roadmap.

 

ENHANCE IT MATURITY

The results of the workshop, will help determine the current level of maturity, and becomes an aid to develop a roadmap towards the required maturity, including the set up of your Operations Control Center (OCC), if not already set up – this is the second chevron.

 

Note:  One of the things to remember, is that as you embark on this journey, you will be making changes and improvements – it is very important to identify these and measure them (KPI’s).  All efforts along the journey should be documented, as these will help you see the improvements, and provide valuable information to the organization to show such improvements, thus increasing the credibility of the CCOE.

 

ESTABLISH QUALITY MANAGEMENT

In one of my previous blogs, I expanded on Quality Management.  The key to having the 4 key QM roles, ensures that from the business, to support and IT Operations there is a close-knit collaboration, where all parties are working to the same goal.

Establishing a Single Source of Truth is important as you move forward in your maturity – having common standards, terminology and documentation (including a common space for this) will ensure that your teams have a good foundation to build upon, and will be able to move forward and be able to adopt the agile methodology that can be the vehicle for continuous improvement.

 

CUSTOMER COE AUDIT

The purpose of the audit is to provide you the opportunity to show us what you have done to improve your maturity, and also improve your service to the business (see below for the actual criteria).  Providing information on how you have made the improvements (remember my note above – measure your success!), and what your plans are to continue.

 

 

During the journey towards the Advanced Certification, we can carry out a “Milestone Review/Mock Audit” – we take into account the first baseline assessment, and we go through the standard Audit list.  Our Customer COE team are engaged to work with you and help the Quality Managers (and the rest of the teams of course) identify any areas that may still require some work.

 

Many customers often feel overwhelmed at the thought of all of this – but let me break it down for you:

Complex situations are looked at – you may takean area that is a current pain point, and use this as your “pilot/blueprint” for continuous improvement.  Once you have a process that works, you can move to another area (it could be one system, one business unit, or even one end-to-end process such as Order To Cash).

The idea here is to establish a model that is a continuous cycle for improvement utilizing the tools at your disposal – Solution Manager, Dashboards etc.

 

Now let us look at the Certification itself – the subject matter and elements that identify what is required to obtain certification:

 

AUDIT CRITERIA

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The audit criteria is broken into 4 key areas:

 

  • IT Processes / Best Practice adaptation
    • The IT Processes are covered in the first part of the Advanced Certification – the SAP Operations Planning Workshop
    • For each key area, there should be available an Operations Handbook (more about this a little later)
    • Best Practice adaptation
      • Standards
      • Global processes (with regional differences where applicable)
      • Common terminology across the Business, COE and IT Operations
  • Customer COE
  • Quality Management
    • Set up and implemented
    • Roles and tasks are documented and active within the COE
  • Operations Control Center
    • If the OCC is not yet operational, the expectation is to see the project plan with expected go-live date for the OCC
  • Single Source of Truth (Reporting and documentation)
    • Dashboards and reports for the KPI’s that have been established – and how they are distributed to the organization beyond the COE
    • SAP documentation (business processes, configuration and functional & technical documentation stored in one common place)
  • Partner Integration (where a customer may have partners working within their COE / IT support areas)
      • Quality Management roles are integrated with the applicable areas
      • Operations Control Center and process integration across the applicable areas, ensuring all documentation is available to the necessary parties
      • Partner Tools are identified and documented, and details on how they are integrated for the customer COE / IT Support teams – especially around reporting
      • Integration with the Single Source of Truth, ensuring partners have access to all relevant documentation, and that they provide relevant documentation within the Single Source of Truth
  • Roles and Skills
      • Quality Management roles are well defined and documented, and are integrated into the COE
      • Subject Matter Experts roles are well defined and documented, providing examples of how they are integrated with the COE

 

 

One of the questions that I am often asked is “How long will it take me to get the Advanced Certification?”

Well the answer isn’t as simple as “Why should I do it?”.

It depends on the starting point.  The results of the baseline maturity assessment will provide us with a better idea.  In addition to this the CCOE portal has an online assessment that you can take, which provides you with a report, providing information based on your inputs.  This does not replace the SOPW, but it does give insight for you and your starting point.

 

The next step after the maturity assessment is establishing the roadmap – and then the rest is really up to you on how committed you are to the program.

 

There is one key pre-requisite to be able to embark on this Advanced Certification program, and that is to ensure your Primary Certification is current.  This is a free assessment that you take online – it can be found in our CCOE portal (link at the bottom of the blog).

 

 

For more information please visit our CCOE Portal:

Customer Center of Expertise | SAP Support Portal

 

You can email our team at: COE.Program@SAP.com

 

 

 

*Advanced Certification is not available to all customers – please check with your SAP Representative if you are interested in pursuing this program, or send an email to the above address

 

 

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2 Comments

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  1. Emre Cagan

    HI Laura,

    An excellent article that explains the ACCoE and CCoE programs. I do have a question regarding to the operational standards, Is S/4HANA operational standards (Mostly technical) but some do have certain specifics, are they covered during the certification and/or evaluation process?

    Thank you, Emre M. Cagan

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    1. Laura Howard Post author

      Hello Emre, if a customer is S/4HANA we will look at the operational standards, but we don’t have a specific audit criteria mark for them.

      The key would be that they have them, they use them and they are stored in the Single Source of Truth – and that they are incorporated into their Operations Handbook –

      I hope that answers your question.

      Laura

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