I am passionate about SAP, support, data, cloud and analytics and I’m fortunate enough to assist my clients in these areas and more. On the topic of analytics, I have had the opportunity to help develop an Analytics Center of Excellence (COE) for several global companies. While some organizations might call their COE an analytics hub or a BI Competency Center (BICC), I consider the concepts to be relatively the same.
While no two Centers of Excellence for Analytics are the same, their responsibilities generally include:
- Setting a vision for analytics within an organization and driving adoption of that vision
- Establishing and maintaining standards
- Managing programs, funding, and prioritization
- Developing users, analysts and support members
- Building and maintaining the technical blueprint .
Companies typically establish COEs for their applications so that they get strong user adoption, maximizing the expected return on the money spent on the solutions built.
In this blog, I wanted to share my thoughts on how Application Managed Services (AMS) can help support a company’s COE and meeting that organization’s strategic goals. An SAP AMS team is typically built to support technical business applications and help drive adoption of those applications. Organizations that are implementing analytical solutions including SAP HANA, SAP BO Data Services (BODS), SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) and SAP BusinessObjects (BOBJ) have seen that the AMS model offers value through continued maintenance, troubleshooting and support within the environment after set-up. This provides these companies world-class, cost-effective support while they focus on their core competencies.
Our AMS solution, for example, provides tier 1 to tier 3 support, and is unique in that we have extensive access to subject matter experts that provide support, but also work with clients to develop strategic roadmaps and best practices. This is a global team that works with SAP, Analytics, GRC, HANA, Security and more, up to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We also provide assistance with technical and functional service requests, troubleshooting issues and developing new features.
Based on the work I’ve done with clients, I know AMS teams can be critical to the success of an analytics COE. They are a strong technical component in skills enablement, communication, organization and management of the COE. While I believe the business sets the vision for a company’s analytics, adoption is accomplished through enablement. Most organizations invest in training and enablement during the initial project, but find ongoing training is often overlooked; the AMS model is a key component to solving this problem. Ongoing training can come in the way of assistance during upgrades, clarifying features with support tickets and helping to build knowledge bases to answer frequently asked user questions.
Maintaining a highly available and working environment is foundational to the success of an application and thus truly supports the need for an Analytics COE. If reports are not being refreshed with updated data, dashboards are not loading or security access is not being maintained, users are not able to leverage the analytical environment and deliver the needed insight. AMS teams are directly responsible for supporting these critical business areas through a ticket queue and offer clear communication to the status of the incident or service request.
Having an in-house team of cross–trained resources on standard maintenance jobs, security or infrastructure management could be cost prohibitive for clients, who often struggle with attracting and retaining people with the unique skills needed to get the work done. Using an AMS model is typically a more cost-effective solution that enables organizations to focus on their business, while support tasks are handled by the AMS team. In turn, this allows resources to focus on business improvements and more strategic initiatives, which ultimately translates to job satisfaction and higher retention.
Good housekeeping and staying on top of business terms, governance, standard operating procedures, workflows and methodologies are key to a successful COE. Our Protiviti consulting practice helps clients build initial environments or applications, but we also know the ongoing maintenance of these environments is critical to the success of the COE. This is where an AMS model comes in handy. AMS teams can help organize, maintain and complete these items and tasks at the direction of the COE. As data sources change, development continues and new workflows for analytics are established, the AMS team can work with the development team to incorporate the new SOP and expire old ones efficiently. All of this promotes stability to the analytical environment and thus, a more successful analytical COE.
Jade Schrader, Senior Consultant, also contributed to this blog.