The Strongest Relationships are Borne through Baptism of Fire

When things go wrong, you know who your friends are and who you can trust. This is true in life, but so too in our business relationships and in the alliances that we forge with partners and suppliers. It’s one thing to provide a customer with a good, consistent service when things are on track, but what about when the ship hits the rocks? When projects unexpectedly de-rail and unforeseen complications occur, the best suppliers become trusted partners. Some of the strongest relationships are those that are borne through baptism of fire.

As a Global SAP support provider, there are two key trigger points at which a new customer engages with us as an SAP partner. They are either going through a mandated review process at the end of a fixed-term contract, or they’re in a crisis situation in need of immediate help and resolution. If you can prove yourself in the latter scenario, then the relationship will be often be stronger, longer lasting and more collaborative as a result.SAP_Gold_Partner But, how can organisations turn a fire fighting exercise into a long term business relationship?

Understand the customer and their market

As with any new customer project, getting up and running quickly is essential. Increasingly, expenditure on IT projects – and in our case, SAP implementations – has the eyes of the board firmly on it. As such, the project must run as smoothly as possible, and deliver ROI in the shortest time possible. When a partner is stepping into an already fraught situation, the need for quick resolution is greater than ever. Integral to this is knowing the customer and market inside out. What is a company’s specific pain point?

What are the wider market pressures impacting their bottom line? How is their market evolving and how can you support this shift? Senior decision makers need the confidence that comes from having a partner who understands the unique intricacies of their industry and the challenges they face. In the SAP sector, suppliers and partners need deep technical knowledge of SAP solutions, coupled with specialist knowledge of – often complex – vertical markets. Not only is this knowledge beneficial to solve short term crises, but through a consultative, integrated approach the relationship is built to help plan long-term growth and strategic change.

Be transparent and keep it simple

Market trends and budgetary constraints mean that IT strategy towards partners and suppliers can vary dramatically. Strategies oscillate between the desire to consolidate the number of suppliers and consultancies they use to establishing a broader portfolio of ‘best of breed’ suppliers who offer a range of services.

However, in either scenario one thing remains true. IT managers and decision makers want to work with suppliers who provide a transparent and simple service. Especially if stepping in to resolve a crisis situation – time spent wrangling with procurement is time wasted. An open and transparent approach to any relationship is key. This should be felt throughout the duration of the relationship. Consider the following things: does a supplier have a simple and straightforward contract that clearly outlines SLAs and deliverables?

Do they have a support function that is efficient and effective and embraces technology to maximise efficiency? Is there a consistent and committed account team who reacts to your needs? An engagement model based around openness and transparency between vendors and its customers is a significant differentiator and helps to cement relationships, even in the most testing of times.

Choose experts

In today’s rapidly changing business environment, keeping on top of new developments, technology and legislation is challenging. It’s important to build relationships with partners who can remove this headache, and have expertise in specific technology areas. They can then utilise and deploy solutions in the most effective way to deliver meaningful business impact.

As an example, Invenio only supports SAP implementations. As an SAP Gold Partner, our consultants live and breathe SAP. Companies that can provide value-added consultancy services and move away from commoditised solutions will prosper. This is particularly the case when working on IT projects. Typically the lifecycle of upgrades and new solutions is high, and so by working with an organisation who has the relevant expertise engrained at the heart of their business will prove beneficial and ensure you don’t fall behind. Indeed, choosing a partner who is proactive in managing version upgrades, security patches, new deployments etc. will minimise the potential for IT failure in the future.

To conclude, IT decision makers need to partner with vendors and suppliers who differentiate themselves by taking a wholly customer-centric approach. Today’s economy demands suppliers that can deliver focused, transparent and flexible solutions. They need vendors who have the expertise to react to short term crises, but the vision to then deliver sustained, successful, long-term deployments.

Considering Upgrading Your SAP Landscape?

Why not grab yourself some free advice?

AMS2Whether you are just considering the idea, or looking to drive improvement through your SAP landscape to support your business, it’s very clear an SAP upgrade is worthy of serious consideration for any organisation seeking to reduce risk of their business operations.

An SAP upgrade could simply be a stepping stone to achieving more business value from a current SAP investment but for other organisations, the SAP upgrade is seen as a building block for a whole new system expansion into other functional areas.

Since it is often difficult to gauge the impact of an upgrade on your existing environment you will need to understand the estimated costs and effort involved, including project duration, downtime and the impact on other systems. You will also need to understand the road map, architecture and technological impact of the upgrade, and provide good understanding of what transitional services and operational support services are required.

Come along to our free SAP Upgrade education event. This event offers you the opportunity to exchange ideas for managing an upgrade and roll-out initiative, as well as actionable plans to drive innovation strategy agendas in their organisations.

Event Date: Thursday, 14th May

Time: 9:30 – 12:30

Event Address: Invenio HQ (Winnersh, Reading)

Who:  IT Directors, Operations Directors, Head of IT, Head of SAP

Agenda

9.30 – Coffee & Registration

10.00 – Introductions and agenda

10.15 –The Business Challenges & Why Upgrade?

10.45 – Coffee break

11.00 – An exclusive client success story (XP Power)

11.30 – Why choose Invenio as your preferred strategic SAP partner

12.00 –Roundtable Q&A session with leading SAP experts

12.30 – Lunch at The Caprice Restaurant and Terrace 

[button title=”Register” icon=”” link=”http://marketing.invenio-solutions.com/Getting-Future-ready.html” target=”_blank” color=”” filled=”1″ large=”1″ class=””]

On a Roll with SAP

Invenio Helps XP Power Successfully Roll-Out SAP in their US Operations

XP Power, a leading supplier of electronic power needed to improve business performance and visibility. XP wanted to streamline their operational processes and eliminate inefficient practices.

XP called upon Invenio again for help to successfully roll-out SAP in their US operations. Watch this video with Michael Laver, President of World Wide Sales, Marketing and Executive Director at XP Power.

Are You Future Ready?

Invenio Help Leading Electronics Power Supplier to Upgrade to SAP ERP 6.0

XP Power, an electronic power supplier with a turnover of $170 million needed to upgrade their current SAP platform. The current system XP were running was an old 4.7 XP which was no longer supported by SAP and the costs of the software maintenance was extremely high.

Watch this interview with XP’s Operations Director, Anne Honeyman talk about the success of the upgrade project.

 

We can help


Get in touch if you would like further information on our SAP upgrade services. Call us today on +44 (0)330 440 1800, or complete our online enquiry form.

Trust is Imperative. If Your SAP Support Supplier Doesn’t Have Yours, Move On.

Trust is an important factor in any relationship, maybe even more so when working with external stakeholders. As you generally cannot see your external SAP Support team, businesses can tend to overlook this as an important factor. However, SAP Support should work seamlessly with your team and without any problems or risk to your organisation.

We wanted to know from our customers what else was important for them and why they choose to work with us. As a company, from our beginnings, we have never lost a support contract so we wanted to understand why and how we can continue to be a great SAP support partner to our customers.

We interviewed one of our long standing clients, Bhavesh Godhania, IT Director, AMCo. This is what he had to say

“When looking for an SAP partner, I knew I wanted a strong, open and honest relationship. Anyone can give you SAP support, but it is true partnership and trust that’s important. That’s what Invenio gives us”.

Watch his full interview here

 

For more details on how we can help with your SAP Support Partnership, please contact us using the contact form found here

Struggling to Keep Your Organisations ‘Lights-On’ with Your SAP Support

For organisations everywhere, just keeping the lights on within your support capability is no longer enough. Your IT support needs to deliver greater value to the business – optimising operations and freeing up more resources for innovation is where SAP support offerings help meet that challenge.

Do any of the following questions ring true within your organisation?

• Are you working with an SAP Partner who lack knowledge and experience?
• Are your global SAP systems difficult to maintain?
• Are you confused about managing a global SAP estate to maintain ‘business as usual’
• Do you suffer cultural and localised variances that are difficult to manage?

If yes, then read on.

As the economic outlook starts to improve even further through 2015, many executives in global organisations are, once again, thinking about expansionary strategies. This in turn, places additional demands on your SAP business systems to keep them operating optimally and respond to changing conditions, while your business seeks to capitalise on new growth prospects.

Strategic support engagement with an external provider can often feel torn between these demands.
For example, lines of business want to quickly leverage the latest technology to augment existing capabilities and support innovation, leading to constant requests for new functionality to address current business challenges. On the other hand, the finance department wants to save money and increase efficiency, resulting in never-ending efforts to minimise IT budgets.

Caught in the middle of this tug of war, IT has learned an important lesson: Finding new ways to do more with less. Easier said than done you scream! But wait, what if there is a way of increasing efficiency and shrinking the cost of daily operations?

In our experience, SAP Support provider’s need their absolute focus to ensuring support is optimal, and provide impartial advice about what new solutions and technologies will help you succeed as your business evolves. In addition, the responsibility of the relationship should be managed 24/7 without any ‘light-out’ times.

By increasing operational efficiency within the support function, it can help you reduce the percentage of IT spend leaving room for more funding of innovation projects. And wherever possible, you can unlock the value of existing investments and introduce new innovations in a swift manner that minimises risk.

DO YOU THINK YOUR SAP PROJECT NEEDS RESCUING? – GET 2 FREE (NO OBLIGATION) CONSULTANCY DAYS TO FIND OUT MORE

For more details about our SAP Support Services please fill out this contact form found here

Is Now the Time to Change your SAP Support Partner?

Whether you already have had a long established relationship with an SAP Partner or whether your relationship is fairly infant, you could be in a position where you feel the level of service you are receiving is not what was expected. There could be many reasons you feel this way, we have experienced customers coming to us for examples of:

  • Issues with initial support set-up
  • Slow response times and heavy back logs
  • Decline in service quality
  • Lack of support expertise

One of our longer standing customers came to us for these reasons listed above. They had implemented an SAP Solution which comprised of ECC with following modules financials, sales and distribution, customer service, production planning, materials management, human resources and payroll as well as BI and XI. Based in the UK, the system was used by nearly 300 people across many regional locations. Our customer had a long standing relationship with an SAP Partner. They believed it would be a simple transition to let them lead the ongoing support for this system. However, shortly after implementation, cracks began to appear. Our customer commented;

“Post go-live, the relationship with our support partner deteriorated very rapidly. ItSpeech appeared that the partner had seriously underestimated the scale of the effort needed to effectively support the system during the crucial early stages. Because of their miscalculation, the partner was unable to provide adequate coverage – which culminated in delayed response times, a continually increasing backlog of change requests and some serious knowledge gaps which became apparent in a number of the consultants placed on the job”

After a passing year, and with the customer’s confidence rapidly decreasing, they found themselves reviewing their support partner and looking for a new company to take on the project.

After initial talks, the customer found that Invenio could identify the main problems and we managed to quickly fix some of the issues that had gone unresolved for a number of years. This then gave the customer their confidence to lean on Invenio for their support and quickly signed them up as their new SAP Partner.

“When we began working with Invenio, the cut-over went very well. The previous supplier hadn’t been onsite for quite some time, whereas Invenio had taken the initiative to familiarise themselves with the system as early as possible so the handover could happen with minimal disruption”

During the early stages of the project, Invenio worked tirelessly to ensure the customer’s negative experiences were put to rest. Performance began to improve and the backlog cleared. Invenio’s turnover of staff is also very low, because of this this allowed the customer to become very familiar with the team and having continuity made dealing with queries a lot swifter.

Invenio continue to impress and look forward to progress this relationship. With everyone being clear about expectations and priorities the relationship will continue to prosper. If you would like more information on changing your SAP Support Partner you can send us an email: info@invenio-solutions.com or call +44(0)330 440 1800

Sapphire Now and ASUG Annual Conference 3-5 June, Orlando, Florida

We invite you to be part of our group at Sapphire Now and ASUG Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida from 3 – 5 June 2014, stand 1807.

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Get the latest technological vision, actionable insights you need to drive profitability and growth, and influence future SAP offerings at this 3 day action packed event.

Join senior executives, line of business and IT decision makers and business managers from across all process, technology, and industry areas.

  • Meet current business challenges and gain efficiencies
  • Learn from others who have integrated the same SAP solutions
  • Get the most out of your SAP investment
  • Make connections
  • See technology in action
  • Gain a rapid and significant return on investment
  • Enable future growth strategies and maintain a competitive
  • Shape the future of SAP solutions and services
  • Experience faster software implementation without disruption

This event is not to be missed so register now! the full programme can be seen here, take a look at this action packed event.

Do you know of others who would be interested in such a fast paced and interactive event? Don’t hesitate to pass this on.

Let’s keep up to date and make progress and cost savings happen! We look forward to welcoming you in Orlando from the 3-5 June.

Warm regards,

Christine Cockerton
Marketing Manager

Global and Local – Not VS – SAP Support

When it comes to SAP Support Services, you normally have two options to choose between: a global “one size fits all” supplier or a series of local, smaller services providers that deliver support across a few core areas of the system. This means you have to make the decision to break the contract down by location or have one huge support contract that you hope will service every area your business covers.

You’ll also naturally try and find the assurance that the partner (or partners) you select offer the right SAP expertise to help ensure your systems run efficiently. But finding these types of support suppliers can be a huge challenge. Not only do most support providers tie you into lengthy contracts, but they can make it difficult for your organisation to move on if the relationship doesn’t work. There may not be a dedicated team assigned to your organisation and, particularly in global service providers, you may find your team encumbered by unnecessarily prescriptive processes that negatively impact response times.

Invenio are different. We don’t normally shout about how great our SAP Support services are, (we don’t need to – our customers do this for us!). Since providing SAP Support, we have never lost a customer. And this isn’t because we tie our customers in – they are free to terminate their contracts at any time if they are not pleased with our service. This is because we provide a Global support service on a very local level.

Want to find out more? Check out the support presentation below to see how we do this and to learn what our customers think…

For more details on our simplified, streamlined support services contact the Invenio team, we will be happy to run through our services with you. Contact Us.

The New Measures by which SAP Support Providers Should be Judged

A recent report by the technology analyst firm, Information Services Group (ISG), found that the number of IT outsourcing contracts that were restructured between July and September this year more than doubled over the same period last year. Commenting on the report, David Barker, IT Contracts Expert at Pinsent Masons, said: “Buyers are looking to change the scope of contracts and make the supply more relevant to what their business looks like today”. One of the key motivators for this change, said David, is “…the customer wanting ‘best of breed’ for each service they buy, rather than buying everything from one of the biggest players”.

In our previous post we talked about the advantage of “focus”, and how companies are moving away from large scale contracts to best of breed service providers that offer deep domain expertise over scale. In this post, we take a look at how those qualities that buyers cited as important are driving this trend. They are: agility, flexibility, vertical alignment, responsiveness and trust.

Agility
clockThe pace of business today is faster than ever before, and the technologies that support business are evolving at a rapid pace. A stark illustration of the pace of change can be seen in Research in Motion (RIM), the company behind the Blackberry smartphone. In the space of a few short years, RIM went from being top dog in the smartphone industry to an ‘also ran’. Shares slumped from an all-time high of $114 in 2011 to under $10 in May of this year as rivals such as the iPhone and Samsung out-innovated and out-performed them in almost every aspect. Although an extreme example, agility is fundamentally important across every facet of every business, everywhere. And service providers who support these companies must be able to match this pace to provide the right level of support for an agile business environment.

Evaluating Agility… Talking to a prospective service provider’s existing customers about their specific experiences is key here. Questions like: “how quickly do they respond to a change in support requirements”, and “are they prepared to accommodate requests normally outside the scope of your contract” can highlight how agile a support provider can be to a changing environment.

Flexibility

ThumbsupspeachBecause business today changes so fast, flexibility is paramount. Corporate business plans and strategies change, new markets and opportunities open up (and, of course, new challenges arise). This means that the ability to change accordingly helps to make a business less vulnerable when faced with an unpredictable business environment. Likewise, not all business decisions will prove to be right and so flexibility becomes a critical factor in making the necessary course corrections quickly.

To embed flexibility into an organisation means that every system that supports the business must match the speed at which it needs to respond to change. Software that allows a business to be more flexible is a critical factor in success, but so is how that system is managed and supported. Specialist providers, like Invenio, are usually more able to adapt and tailor the support they deliver to offer that level of flexibility. This versatility in delivering the right offerings is a critical aspect in allowing customers to maintain business as usual in an ever-changing environment.

Evaluating Flexibility… Overly prescriptive SLAs and an unwillingness to flex “standard” contractual terms during the evaluation and negotiation process is a good indicator of a service provider’s flexibility. However, it is wise to be wary of those service providers who don’t ‘push back’ on certain elements of the negotiations. According to Esteban Herrera, COO of HfS Research “Providers [who] don’t raise any objections or bother to delve into the details of the service agreement – that’s a red flag. The provider that says ‘yes’ to everything usually doesn’t know or doesn’t care what they are doing. At a minimum, they should seek clarification on some SLA and other performance commitments.”

Vertical Alignment
jigsawWe think it is better to do one thing really well – which is why we focus solely on delivering SAP services. But behind this focus lies another layer of expertise which can set best of breed service providers apart – and that lies in vertical (or industry) focussed service delivery. With so many different types of business and industry categories today, being able to offer deep domain expertise across a smaller number of industry verticals means service providers like Invenio can offer an enriched support service that takes into account the specific nature of a customers’ business. By having a detailed knowledge of regulatory and compliance practices along with common industry-specific workflows and processes, the support offered can be more specific and add more value to the relationship.

Evaluating Vertical Alignment… Ask the service provider to provide specific case studies and references of customers in similar industries. Requesting sight of the CVs of consultants that offer specific industry and SAP module knowledge will also help to give you a sense of the in-house skills available to support your specific requirements.

Responsiveness

timerAccording to the London Business School, customer responsiveness is “about being fast and being right”. Increasing competition, globalisation, digitisation and many other factors combine to make the business landscape more complex, and business decisions need to be made fast for a company to maintain its competitive edge. When systems fail and problems arise, fixes must be fast, efficient and effective. With the pace of change accelerating across every business, responsiveness becomes increasingly important and, with best of breed SAP support provision, deep domain knowledge means that customers can speak to the right person at the right time to get the problem solved.

Evaluating Responsiveness: How a potential service provider responds to your requests throughout the evaluation process can provide good insight into how they will respond if you decide to become a customer. A service provider that requests an extension or delivers a proposal late should be approached with extreme caution. “The inability to organise resources or meet timelines during the honeymoon period is a clear indication of bigger issues” said Ruckman of vendor selection consultants, Sanda Partners. Speaking to existing (long-term) customers about how a service provider beats – not meets – SLAs, is another key factor that should help influence a decision.

Trust

trustConsumer trust in many public and private corporations is at an all-time low. The authors of a report released by the Institute of Business Ethics states that: “Living up to the principles of trustworthy conduct across an organisation is a challenge”. Getting it wrong, they say, “can damage stakeholders’ trust, including that of employees, and also undermine the reputation of the organisation”. No service provider gets it absolutely right all of the time, but those providers that take the issues of trust and ethics seriously should be able to openly demonstrate how they build trust with customers by embodying the traits of trustworthiness and ethical behaviour right across the organisation.

Evaluating Trust: Ask to see evidence of how a potential service provider performs according to a stated set of principles and practices which prioritise relationships and ethical practices across the organisation. Seek out customer references that demonstate how a potential service provider deals with any failures and works to correct, protect and restore a customer’s confidence as quickly as possible.

If you would like to learn more about how Invenio can deliver a better support service for your SAP landscape please contact us.