Is your business using SAP (System Applications and Products)? If so, you’re one of an estimated 200 million users of the cloud-based business software solution. As an undisputed market leader in building bespoke software for companies of all sizes, it’s no wonder more and more businesses are adopting SAP to fulfill their requirements.
The company’s enterprise resource planning solution allows businesses to flexibly optimize day-to-day processes, configuring its suite of products to suit unique needs. This creates an interesting new role for companies to fill: an expert who can bridge the gap between the default software performance and the desired one.
Enter the SAP developer: a specialized IT service provider with the vision and skills to tailor the SAP suite to fit your business. With such specific skills, it’s small wonder that SAP experts expect a significant sum for working in-house. The option most businesses are turning to is outsourcing SAP management to one of the 21000+ companies that SAP partners with.
The challenge, then, is picking the right one. There are many important factors to consider when searching for your provider – but competence in implementing, supporting, and updating HRIS solutions, and an ability to cost-effectively navigate complex SAP landscapes, are key.
A well-chosen SAP outsourcing partner will allow you peace of mind to focus on core business activities, knowing that your complex IT needs are being handled proactively. In time, they’ll not only manage day-to-day software issues but will advise your organization’s bigger digital transformation picture.
Read on for our top five tips on choosing an SAP partner that can assure excellence whilst aligning to your business needs.
Your first priority in choosing an outsourcing partner needs to be expertise. Choose a partner with a reputation for successfully implementing comprehensive HRIS (human resource information system) software – and the case studies and testimonials to back it up.
You’ll need to rely on this developer to understand and implement best practices and methodologies across the board. Ensure that their knowledge is complete – not only of the solution itself but of any relevant digital security or compliance issues.
Seek an expert-level SAP developer who has grown with the platform, and can keep on the cutting edge of its upgrades and options. You need to see evidence that potential partners can conduct custom configuration audits to analyze and improve on everything from project management to data migration.
Make partners who perform independent testing top of your list – the most reliable and cost-effective options keep all the expertise in the same pot, rather than relying on further outsourcing for certain tasks.
A Perfect Fit
Your SAP outsourcing partner doesn’t just need to be an expert – they also need to work well within the confines of your business. Your SAP software touches every aspect of your organization and needs to be optimized based on your unique needs rather than just algorithms.
That’s why your SAP developer needs to show understanding of business principles, and a willingness to explore your business’s specific mission, values, needs, and interactions between departments.
For example, with a fully integrated system, your customer service team’s auto attendant could operate via the popular SAP Contact Center 7.0. Your customer service team will have to be happy working with your outsourced developer in case of any issue with transcoding vocal input.
A cultural fit is also important, as your SAP partner will be acting as an intermediary and catalyst between the IT department and different teams within your company. Choose someone whose vision for growth is aligned with yours, and who is happy communicating their expertise to non-IT-based colleagues.
Consult with managers from different areas of your business as to which service providers would be the best fit for them. You may be enlightened as to further issues that your SAP provider could advise on, such as linking data from your cloud-based software to a power dialer.
As you browse through your options for SAP partners, you’ll see the names of certain certifications and accreditations coming up repeatedly These provide a degree of assurance that you’re picking a partner with approved and comprehensive training and a degree of excellence above the ordinary.
Many of these are issued by SAP itself, which offers exams and accreditation at associate, specialist, and professional levels across its suite of products. Explore these listings, and focus on the certifications that would be most beneficial for your business. Keep an eye out for partners who claim these standards.
Organizations with a SuccessFactors Center of Excellence to their name stand out in particular if you’re using SAP’s SuccessFactors human experience solutions. This is a team of certified professionals with technical and strategic HR expertise. A partner with a dedicated HR team will be able to streamline the digitization of your HR processes with customizable blueprints.
While your initial needs may have you looking at partners with one or two specific areas of expertise, those needs will change with business growth. Where you may be unable to see the roadmap for your company’s ongoing digitization, a true SAP expert will be able to look ahead and consider the support that will be needed in the future.
Your ideal partner will offer functional support across all SAP modules, and integration support with approved applications. They will have proven experience in building custom HCP extensions, and their finger on the pulse when it comes to new applications and modules that could benefit your business.
Consider that this developer will act as your IT department to a significant extent – make sure they’re comfortable with the day-to-day rigors of troubleshooting, workflow development, and responding to queries as well as the initial implementation and data migration.
Look for a developer who can confidently discuss and recommend relevant features amongst SAP’s new releases. Not all upgrades will be right for your business, but your outsourcing partner should be able to pick out the ones which will take your organization in the right direction.
They should be able to perform detailed reports on SAP’s internal release review notes for your chosen solutions and analyze your company for release readiness. This report needs to focus on productivity and agility, following trends in the wider business world as well as focusing on the specifics of your organization.
Choose someone who can confidently build rollout plans for each upgrade, detailing each step to be taken by different areas of the business before the upgrade is implemented and made live. This proactive approach will save you from having to iron out snags once the upgrade is accessible to your colleagues and customers.
The digitized workplace is only set to keep advancing in coming years, with technologies such as robotic process automation and multiparty systems becoming increasingly more accessible and expected. Make sure your SAP suite is ready for an RPA solution by choosing to work with a forward-thinking developer.
Lay It Out
Once you’re in discussion with your shortlisted providers, it’s time to consider the responsibilities for which you will hold them accountable. As the experts, developers should be able to list their proficiencies and pitch a report to you – but it’s important that you clearly lay out your expectations, to ensure that they match.
Set up a meeting or VoIP phone call to discuss your needs with potential partners. Before going into negotiations, consider the particular pain points which you are adopting SAP to work through. Discuss your vision for digitization with your team and list points of significant importance. Analyze the IT proficiencies already present within your team, and which gaps need to be filled.
To create customizations, your partner should be proficient in ABAP coding. Consider how extensive these will need to be for your company to assess potential partners’ readiness for the role: some businesses require minor customizations which can be created with the help of built-in functions, whereas others require stand-alone apps.
The majority of SAP work involves complex data processing, collecting and collating data across ERP modules, and managing hundreds of potential data posting scenarios. Beyond this, the question comes down to the degree of customization you require.
Don’t be afraid to bring up all your ideas for the future of your business, from HR goals to migrating your site to an ai domain name. Not all tasks initially seem like they fall under the banner of SAP, but there may be solutions and applications available to help at each step of the process.
While you may not have all the technical terms at your disposal, you do have a unique understanding of your business needs. Be thorough in describing these to your candidates, and allow them to explain how their expertise could help. Ask them to show the RoI benefits for specific business objectives, and explain how they can adapt and leverage IT to accelerate these outcomes.
Implementing a custom SAP solution is a significant milestone in the digitization of your business. Ensuring solid groundwork will help you move forward with confidence and enthusiasm for growth to come. Choose a partner who can lay down solid cornerstones, and effectively upgrade them over time.
The sheer number of potential SAP outsourcing partners out there can be daunting – but centralize your vision of the change you wish to see, and you’re sure to find a good match.
About the author: Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud communication platform and cloud business phone service for better and easier team collaboration. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content. Here is her LinkedIn