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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

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.

Customer Story – Success factors for Integrating IT Systems after a Merger

A company that is expanding at a rapid rate and involved in a merger or acquisition can be faced with a weighted task of trying to achieve seamless operations.  The culture, vision and direction of the organisations could be extremely different, – alongside all of this, it is likely that the software systems are different across each business.

Our customer – a newly merged company, were experiencing just this. They had rapidly expanded and needed a system and partner to support them. They found that their systems were ‘creaking at the seams’ in terms of supporting their new business processes.  As one of the merger companies had already installed SAP, they made the decision to implement this across the two merged companies, they then needed an SAP partner that would assist throughout the transformation to make this as pain free as possible.

In a brief interview, we asked our customer: “What were the key considerations were when looking at SAP and Invenio?”

Why SAP and why Invenio?

The customer had implemented SAP several years previously and having proved successful, they were looking to bring the merger company on board with SAP.  This would however involve the implementation of a new SAP System.

Invenio were involved in overcoming some of the pain and risks associated with the implementation of the new SAP system. The level of knowledge that the Invenio team held and the backing of the management demonstrated that Invenio could support the customer for these sort of activities.  Partnering with Invenio was during a phase of rapid growth and expansion for their customer. It was important that Invenio supported the UK market as well as having good support capability globally.

Why standardise SAP across the newly merged business?

The customer looked at various systems on the market but ultimately selected SAP as it had a strong record in their industry. The customer believed that there were many benefits from using SAP in terms of operational efficiencies across the merged entities. It offered inbuilt, industry-specific business processes and meant there would be no initial problems with large scale re-engineering of core processes.

Which business functions does SAP support?

SAP supports the customers many business functions. However, the customer set a number of KPIs that they wanted to achieve by deploying the system.  One particular KPI was set around stock management and reducing the time between purchase requisitions to delivery.  It also demonstrated how quickly stocks could be booked in and released for sale.  These KPIs really helped to measure the impact of the SAP system and its significant benefits.

Most importantly, the customer was able to automate reporting.  Prior to SAP there was a lot of manual intervention needed to generate reports such as management and statutory accounting.  With SAP, a single system is able to generate reports that are pretty much real-time and that is very key for the organisation.

What have been the major business benefits you have seen from deploying SAP?

SAP is now a key part of the organisation; it helps the customer make more informed decisions.  For example; seeing how the business will benefit, or how it will impact, and how they can then ensure that it can roll out to the rest of the organisation.  Another key benefit is that with more acquisitions and the possibility of further mergers, the SAP model is very flexible.

The customer, with Invenio’s help, discovered that there are more modules that they can acquire to help the business become more efficient.  The customer is seeing great opportunities for improving financial efficiencies through SAP budgeting, planning and consolidation tools that will help improve cashflow, forecasting and budgeting processes.

What process did you follow for selecting the right SAP Partner? 

An SAP support partner needs to work closely with the organisation and really feel like part of the team, they need to react when a customer needs them to react, and be very attentive.  After reviewing a few partners, the customer discovered that partners on a larger scale weren’t able to give the same attention as a small or a medium partner could do.  Invenio, were always on hand to help.

One of the areas that the customer struggled with was customer relationship management software.  Invenio were able to pass knowledge from other industries based on best practices for using CRM and how it might benefit the organisation.  As a result they have now implemented SAP CRM and are currently using this quite successfully.

Next Steps:

Invenio and their customer will continue to work seamlessly together and carry on improving the company’s performance. Invenio keep the best interests of their customer’s core to their business philosophy.

Invenio deliver services for a thriving international customer base that includes multi-national media organisations, national governments, consumer product companies and global manufacturers – through to small, local firms that provide a range of goods and services to their domestic marketplace.

For more details on our SAP Support services please contact us by using the online form

Invenio joins the G-Cloud Programme for Specialist Cloud Services

Invenio are pleased to announce that their application for the UK Government’s G-Cloud programme has been approved. The programme, currently in its 4th iteration, will enable Invenio to deliver a range of services in the “Specialist Cloud Services” category. The G-Cloud is an initiative designed to make the process of procurement easier for UK Public Bodies. The primary aims of the GCloud are:

  • To achieve large, cross government economies of scale.
  • To deliver ICT systems that are flexible and responsive to demand in order to support government policies and strategies.
  • To help Government bodies take advantage of new technologies in order to deliver faster business benefits and reduce cost.
  • To meet environmental and sustainability targets.
  • To allow government to procure in a way that encourages a dynamic and responsive supplier marketplace and supports emerging suppliers.

DfT Id templatesThe G Cloud online portal allows participating government organisations to buy pre-approved cloud-based digital services, thereby helping to circumvent the need for lengthy and costly procurement processes. Since its inception, the model has gained significant participation from the UK SME community, many of whom have previously avoiding participating in public sector tendering exercises due to a lack of internal resources. In a recent statement regarding the G Cloud, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude said “Our reforms to government technology are designed to ensure the best possible service for users at the lowest cost for taxpayers. To make this possible we need a truly competitive marketplace. SMEs are a source of innovation and a crucial engine for growth. We will continue to knock down the barriers that have prevented them from winning public sector work in the past. G-Cloud is a simpler, faster and cheaper way for the public sector to buy digital services. It allows companies of all sizes to benefit from our digital by default approach to government. I’m delighted that so many SMEs have won representation in this new iteration,” Being part of the G Cloud means that Invenio can assist public sector bodies in procuring a range of services more efficiently and cost effectively. Invenio is a Gold SAP Partner and a UK based SME specialising in SAP Consulting, Implementation and Support services, for both ‘on premise’ and ‘cloud’ based implementations. Our Public Sector practice is led by experienced SAP veterans with extensive experience in Public Administration and in providing tax and revenue management solutions to Central, Federal and Local Government Agencies worldwide. The team also includes experienced SAP Tax consultants with in-depth expertise in delivering projects to a growing public sector customer base. For more information you can visit govstore.service.gov.uk or contact us directly.

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.

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.

Points to Consider When Choosing a SAP Support Partner

As pressure continues to grow within organisations to rationalise support and maintenance spend, it is now more important than ever to mitigate as many risks as possible when choosing your SAP Support Partner. The last thing any IT Head or CFO wants to do is try to justify expenditure on support providers that can’t deliver.

As part of the selection process, you will want reassurance that the partner(s) you are considering have the right expertise and experience necessary to provide the service levels you need. You need to be confident that your partner can deal with every eventuality that may arise, promptly and effectively, so that you can ensure your critical SAP applications can maintain optimal levels of operation.

However, with so many partners in the market, finding the right one for your specific needs can be a challenge. To help you get a sense of what you need to consider, here are the top three points our customers considered critical when looking for a new partner:

1. A responsive, knowledgeable service
All consultants dealing in any aspect of support must be fully trained and qualified for the job. Sounds like a simple request, but many companies may use inexperienced or under-qualified staff as resources on projects. As an example, many customers came to Invenio for help because of frequent call escalations and delays in previous query resolutions. A primary culprit for this was in dealing with junior personnel who lack the required depth of SAP knowledge.

Potential support partners should always make it clear to you how they go about recruiting, training and also retaining their staff. And they should always commit to only deploying fully trained, experienced consultants as a part of your agreement.

2. A commitment to service standards
SAP sets clear standards, guidelines and accreditations for a good reason. There are many companies in the market today that claim to have the right SAP implementation and support expertise, but fail to deliver on that promise. This is why SAP introduce accreditations such as the SAP Partner Centre of Expertise Accreditation (PCoE).

The certification process itself is a rigorous assessment that covers a SAP Partner’s entire support centre, including support staff, support processes and infrastructure. Certification validates that a support organisation can meet every requirement needed to provide high-quality services to its customers, and it is now a mandatory process that partners must achieve when selling and delivering SAP support. If your support partner of choice isn’t showing this badge, consider why and whether they are the correct support partner.

3. A proven track record
Finally, you want to look for a support partner that has a proven history in delivering and supporting high quality, well managed projects. A support partner needs to be transparent with its customers. Reassurance should always be sought by soliciting customer references on how well a partner is meeting their service and support commitments. Any company that hides this information is hiding something for a reason (and probably not a good one!)

Next steps…
If you are looking to find a new SAP Support partner but are unsure about the options available for your business, Invenio offer in-depth, advisory meetings to help you explore the most suitable option available for your business. For more information contact us