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SAP strategy and architecture 2021: Business Processes as a Service

SAP’s mission is to deliver the Intelligent Enterprise.  But what does that mean, really? I’d like here to make this notion more concrete: The Intelligent Enterprise is about delivering end-to-end Business Processes as a Service in a complex hybrid architecture. It is about integrating data and processes across all lines of business, without silos or monolithic “black boxes,” all while providing a seamless and intuitive user experience.

 

But what are these business processes?

First of all, what makes your company work? You have sales, production, supply chain, finance, and human resources.

SAP’s strategy is to offer our customers best in class business processes which support these key functions.

These business processes are customized to support 25 industry sectors, including telco, retail, energy, transportation, financial services, etc. They manage all of our customers’ end-to-end processes with a unified, role-based interface which allows users to focus on the problems they need to solve: a late delivery, a contract to be renewed, components missing from production. They also provides the user with the best options for solving these problems (for example, for a component shortage the system will propose the best options for replenishment).

These business processes also incorporate innovative technologies such as machine learning, voice recognition, and task automation which allows, for example, the automation of the creation of sales order upon receipt of an email.

 

Let’s take a look at these end-to-end processes in detail and learn how they support your business.

 

Sales: Lead to Cash

The sales cycle includes a number of important steps: marketing campaign deployment, lead and opportunity management, multi-channel pricing, sales, service, project management, customer satisfaction monitoring, and invoicing. As billing models evolve, invoicing may need to support significantly higher volumes in order to switch from a goods billing model to a consumption or subscription-based model. After invoicing comes integration with accounting, collection processes, and recovery.

 

Manufacturing: Design to Operate

The manufacturing process goes from the design of a product to the definition of a production bill of materials and the planning and scheduling of production quantities according to different manufacturing methods. It is also holistic supply chain management: managing quality, maintenance, stocks and warehouse locations, and the optimization of deliveries and transport.

 

Procurement: Source to Pay

Procurement is also a key process, and requires integration with supplier networks, the management of calls for tender and well as catalogs of articles and services in order to quickly identify the best supplier.  It also includes supplier evaluation, purchase orders and requests, supplier invoices with invoice dematerialization, and payment processing.

 

Human Resources: Recruit to Retire

A company is also about people: it is the acquisition of new talent, the rollout of training programs, and the management of career plans. It is payroll, time recording, expense reporting and reimbursement. It is also the management and planning of the company’s workforce, including external stakeholders.

 

Finance: Record to report

Finance processes consist of the collection, processing and reporting of the company’s financial data. It includes monitoring the company’s performance in real time and making the right decisions, managing accounting and financial flows, fixed assets, cash, taxes, automatic payment reconciliation and intercompany processes (supported by machine learning). All these accelerate accounting closing operations and the generation of consolidated statements.

 

SAP has been providing software to implement these business processes for 40 years, so what’s the difference today?

Today these business processes are delivered in a modular way in a hybrid architecture. The key terms here are modular and hybrid.

Modular: adoption can be gradual, partial, and can easily be integrated with your existing systems and processes, whether or not they are already implemented with SAP.

Hybrid: can be deployed on premise, in the cloud or a combination of both.

 

The value for end users is a unified and consistent user experience delivering insight to action, better reactivity, better productivity, and greater satisfaction.

The value for the organization is a more agile architecture which is easier to implement, more modern, and innovation-ready.

The value for IT is shorter projects based on innovative technology which can be adapted quickly to deliver consistent business value and greater responsiveness to ever evolving business needs. It is also the ability to choose cloud deployments (private or public).

 

The SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) provides the foundational technology for enabling this holistic approach. The SAP Business Technology Platform provides unified security, a common data model, and a foundational technology platform.

Thanks to the technical foundation provided by the BTP, we can provide end-to-end business processes flows, and a seamless integration between them.

The end user can focus on his daily tasks with his process without having to worry or even know about the underlying products or technologies implemented, in an intuitive fashion, with no need for complex training.

Finally, the industry specific content is delivered through specialized cloud services, constituting the SAP Industry Cloud.

 

All of this is synthesized in the figure above, all the way up from the Business Technology Platform to the Business Networks.

 

Acknowledgements: this small article was born of a challenge of “describing the strategy of SAP in 2021 in 10 minutes to a non-technical audience”. The original version of this work was done for an oral presentation project in French. I have worked on this with my colleague @Xavier Petit, who has provided all his knowledge and insights on business processes. As we gathered good feedback from our audience, I decided to write it down and translate it to English to reach a wider audience. Hopefully, it will help explain and demystify the world of SAP, which can be really complex to apprehend at first.

This article has been cross-posted on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/sap-strategy-architecture-2021-business-processes-service-sergent/?trackingId=md9J74DD7ZfF5znIDJhiYA%3D%3D 

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