All about Sustain projects: how to set up and get best out to sustain support

With the big SAP implementation done, organizations need to set up a support structure to maintain regular business activities, upgrades, and configuration.

The lack of proper support model prevents many organizations from fully utilizing SAP’s capabilities and potential.

The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today”.

I have prepared this document for organizations looking to set up support structures. This will provide them with insight into support structures & will assist them in having a meaningful discussion with consulting firms.

To begin with, the first step is to define support levels, and there are primarily three levels:

Support Level 1: Closer to users/super users, understand local language, have access to knowledge management documents, and can communicate to users on possible resolutions.

This level of service includes:

  • identifying and localizing current problems in the customer’s system as per SOP document and knowledge repository
  • collecting all the necessary information about the issue and logging incident in agreed language (mostly English).

Support Level 2: Expert in SAP, provide issue resolution as per agreed SLA, available during business hours, communicate with L3 on bug fix/ configuration change.

This level of service includes:

  • identify root cause and provide resolution to users.
  • forward it on to the next level of support for fixes and configuration change. These types of issues are resolved and tracked using the change management process (moving changes from Development to production).

Note: The first and second levels can be combined as per agreement. It means one expert team is responsible for locating, analyzing, and eliminating selected issues.

Support Level 3: Expert in SAP (techno-functional consultant)

This level of service includes:

  • At this level, experts eliminate problems that can’t be resolved at the second level, and which require code change and change in configuration
  • System upgrades
  • Process flow upgrades
  • Implementation of custom codes
  • Integrating with other systems

Note: To improve system performance, SAP can also be engaged; L3 support submits a request (OSS message) with an issue description.

The SAP Support service ensures that all SAP solutions implemented in the current IT landscape will function efficiently.

It is more common for superusers and power users to be housed in factories, warehouses, and zone offices, which are all governed by core organizations.

Some of tools for support project:

  • Service Now
  • Solution Manager
  • HP Quality center

Once support levels are finalized, second step for the organization must decide on categorization of issues. Here are two major issue types:

  • Issue types:

User requests can be majorly classified as

  • Request – is any event for a standard operational service agreed and provided under a given timeline and delivered through agreed procedures. This is more of catalog support like adding material, reason codes, updating workflow etc.
  • Incident – is any event that is not part of the standard operation of a service and that causes or may cause, an interruption or a reduction in the quality of that service. Hence there is an Incident in each situation when a service, a system, or a device is not working properly where it was working before. It’s like a broken chain; the process was working earlier but not now.

The third and next major step is to work on is to define issue priority.

  • Ticket priorities:

Based on the Impact & Urgency, ticket Priority will be determined, and Standard Resolution time set.

Below table is based on my experience with support projects, but matrix are defined based on industry type (e.g., food or chemical industry will have more aggressive timelines than others) and agreement.

Matrix Impact
Multiple Markets/Single key market Single market but multiple sites and channel Single Channel Business Users
Urgency Production, sales, or delivery stopped. Impact business reputation P1 P2 P3 P3
Production, sales, or delivery will stop shortly, critical impact of key operations P2 P3 P4 P4
Production, sales, or delivery experience performance issue. P3 P3 P4 P4
User cannot do critical part of his job P3 P4 P5 P5
User can work with minor disruption P4 P5 P5 P5

Ticket priority also defines Support Hours as urgent priority issue have to be addressed immediately, then low priority issue.

Good governance with good intentions is the hallmark of a successful organization”, and, as I firm believer of the same, wanted to touch upon governance structure as fourth step to be set up for proper monitoring of support structure:

Occurrence Participants Agenda
Monthly operational call Executive sponsor                 Project Manager
Delivery leads
Review of monthly KPI
Enhancements
Escalations
Weekly Operational calls Stream leads (IT & Vendor) Review of weekly key performance indicators (KPI)
Issue, Actions & Risk
Prioritizing, escalations
Daily Operational call Individual Stream SPOC & team Issues, Actions & support required

For effective governance, Key performance indicators (KPI’s) have to be defined for proper monitoring and keeping system and support organization performance in check. Mostly, organizations define reward and penalty clauses based on agreed KPI’s performance. Some of major KPI’s are SLA adherence %, backlog %, Reopen %, reassignment % etc.

Support contract/agreement can be FTE, Managed services or hybrid based on support required.

Currently, with advanced technologies (RPA & AI) and SAP S/4 HANA platform capabilities, most of repetitive tasks (like batch job monitoring, IDOC’s processing, reports, and health checks) can be performed using BOTS (attended and unattended). Many complex processes like data synchronizing, mining, upload & transfer are done using automation tools. With this, maintaining SAP support becomes more predictable and convenient.

My next article will be on SAP process automation, so kindly stay tuned.

I penned down the above article keeping SAP support in mind, but the above guidelines will be applicable to any project type and technology.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment/share/feedback. I will be happy to receive your kind review.