Having implemented SAP on premise solutions for more than fifteen years, I was very curious to understand the common claim that SaaS solutions are faster to implement. As Bluefin Solutions has recently become an SAP Cloud Partner with a focus on SaaS solutions, I’ve recently been spending time deploying a Cloud for customer demo system to better understand the implementation approach for these products.
This blog will form part of a series where I’ll share my thoughts on the key implementation tasks which drive the required effort to implement any packaged software solution: Solution configuration, Data migration, Interfaces, Reporting, Forms and Enhancements. I will demonstrate how SAP Cloud for Customer implementation is accelerated for each of these tasks.
As a quick introduction to the SAP Cloud for Customer product, I suggest having a look at the following YouTube demos. I will soon write another blog on the strengths and weaknesses of the product along with its typical business use cases.
SAP Cloud for Customer demos (YouTube)
Is the configuration of SAP Cloud for Customer easier and faster?
Configurable package software solutions come with pre-defined functional process flows which can be activated and configured to meet specific business requirements. SAP on premise solutions like SAP ECC or SAP CRM can be fairly complex to configure as they have been designed for end-to-end integrated scenarios which can widely differ across industries and customers. By comparison, SaaS solutions have each been designed from the ground up for a smaller set of business processes and with less configuration flexibility to differentiate your solution from that of your competitors’.
SAP Cloud for Customer configuration is done in three very user friendly and intuitive steps. Whilst I can’t imagine sitting down with a business process owner and going down a SAP SPRO transaction to configure a business process, I can totally imagine doing this with SAP Cloud for Customer – from requirements to configuration, straight in the system.
1- Solution scoping
You start by scoping the high level solution in the screen below by selecting the relevant functional areas like Marketing, Sales, Service and the next two levels down of your target process map. Some fairly useful detail descriptions are available to help you decide and you can also document the requirements and assumptions in Notes.
Cleverly the system will also highlight dependencies or conflicts between scoping items. There is no equivalent other than having experienced consultants or solid unit testing with on SAP premise products.
2- Scoping questions
Once you are done with scoping, the guided procedure takes you to the scoping questions section. For each relevant functional area, you are asked a series of detailed scoping questions. In the example below, you decide whether the system should allow users to create activities of type email, appointment, task, fax or letter. Note how all questions are clearly articulated and perfectly understandable by a non technical person.
The “configurer” does not need to search through a long list of configuration tables like one would do in SAP CRM.
At that point one could already log in the system and see all the relevant screens and functionalities available and ready for use.
3 -Solution fine-tuning
The final configuration task called fine-tuning mostly consists of adjusting all the list of values for standard fields. See the example below for Activity category.
Once the configuration is completed, the system will generate a scoping document in a PDF format which can be downloaded. This could be used as either a blueprint document (including all the notes taken during scoping) or a solution configuration deliverable. This is a nice accelerator which saves a good few consultant days!
Simpler and faster solution configuration comes at the cost of flexibility…but does it matter to you?
As mentioned earlier, the business process model underpinned by SAP Cloud for Customer only covers a limited number of functional scenarios. At a high level, typical project scopes will be a combination of Sales Force Automation (Cloud for Sales), Customer Service (Cloud for Service) and Social media Customer Service (Cloud for Social engagement).
These processes are fairly common across organisations and industries and therefore don’t normally require extensive configuration options. As a result, configuration is less flexible than with SAP CRM.
As an example, SAP on premise’s key business process configuration concepts such as transaction type, item category, organisation or partner determination either don’t exist or are simple to setup with Cloud for Customer.
The same trade off is visible in the on premise world. SAP has developed the RDS offering (Rapid Deployment Solutions) for such commoditised processes (SAP SFA or Customer Service). A faster and fixed price implementation is promised on the basis that limited configuration options are allowed.
Adopting a SaaS solution is a similar decision to choosing RDS. One of the key decision criteria is to reduce the project implementation risk and simpler configuration is the main driver.
In my next blog, I’ll discuss how SAP Cloud for Customer also allows you to enrich your solution, for example, with enhancements or SAP backend integration (SAP ECC or SAP CRM).