Business ByDesign Deployment Considerations
Business ByDesign in only available in the software as a service delivery model. There is no purchase option for on-premises installation or a private cloud deployment.
After initially hosting Business ByDesign from a single data center in Walldorf, Germany, SAP has introduced a data center in Newtown Square, Penn., where SAP's U.S. headquarters is located. The company is in the process of moving the North American ByDesign customers to the U.S. data center. The company indicates its data centers are Tier IV facilities with equipment redundancy, high availability fail-over, multiple Internet connectivity points and third party SAS 70 and ISO 27001 audits and attestations.
While the SAP data centers appear reasonable, they don't appear to match the investment or rigor of some other SaaS CRM competitors. Service Level Agreements (SLA) are noticeably lacking, online hosting performance visibility (now common among SaaS CRM competitors) is absent and there is conspicuously little information available about data center operations. SAP customers have additional data center and hosting options if they elect to go through business partners. For example, Verizon completed a new business partnership with SAP in early 2011, and HP will host on-demand applications from its Enterprise Services data centers.
Interestingly, partner developed extensions may be hosted either by SAP or the partner. According to Chris Horak, global head of ByDesign marketing, "If they are leveraging our data types, it makes sense for it to reside on our blades."
A personalized try-before-you-buy evaluation and purchase process is available to validate expectations, reduce risk, and automatically migrate from pilot to production. SAP will provide support for the trial over the Web, however, local consulting from SAP or a business partner is advised to truly maximize this evaluation.
The system uses a workspace called Business Configuration as a high level implementation approach to guide system setup according to sequential steps. The five step process begins with a 'Prepare' phase to select the desired software scope, then moves to a 'Fine Tune' phase to address the many configuration tasks, such as defining list values or approval processing. Phases 3, 4 and 5 handle Integration, Testing and the Go Live conversion. This wizard driven approach is helpful for basic self managed implementations. The modular design allows customers to start small and extend their application deployment over manageable phases.
While the most recent Feature Pack releases did not possess much in the way of improved feature sets, SAP did accompany the releases with three fixed fee/fixed scope starter implementation packages—for CRM, ERP and professional services deployments. By necessity these starter packages are generic and rigid, but they are also cost effective and well positioned for small and midsize businesses looking for reduced risk and accelerated implementations.
SAP also offers a number of services programs which allocate effort and responsibilities between SAP consultants and client staff.
Go-Live Assistance (GLA) is an advisory service which includes workshops and review checkpoints designed to help businesses advance through each phase and milestone using the ByDesign Go-Live methodology.
Go-Live Execution (GLE) is an SAP managed deployment project based on the ByDesign Go-Live methodology and intended to deliver a production application.
Additional technical services are available, including data migration, integration and content services—which offer the ability to adapt or extend standard forms and reports.
ByDesign Service Providers
Scaling Business ByDesign requires resellers to put sales feet on the street, deployment partners to perform implementations and create reference accounts, and an ISV (independent software vendors)/development partner program to extend the solution to new markets. SAP Business ByDesign remains in the early stages for these channels, and potential buyers are highly advised to vet their business partners as much as the product solution being considered.
Developing a broad partner ecosystem is a critical success factor for SAP to meet its go to market objectives—and one that brings enormous risk to the software company. Channel programs are not new to SAP. The company manages nine partnership categories, has thousands of partners and partner solutions and an SAP Community Network of approximately two million members—almost entirely for its on-premise ERP products. SAP has approximately 10,000 partners, of which 3,000 are value added resellers (VARs), just for its SME solutions. Now the company must apply that experience to develop a cloud community and ecosystem comparable to the successful programs of direct competitors.
This is no easy challenge as the scope of acquiring and mentoring a diverse development community, particularly one that serves SME companies in a new delivery model, is fertile ground for SAP. Competition for ecosystem partners is intense and SAP significantly lags its primary competitors. Salesforce.com and NetSuite introduced their AppExchange and SuiteCloud marketplaces years ago. Microsoft has more recently introduced its PinPoint and Dynamics Marketplace, but despite a young program the software giant manages hundreds of thousands of ISV partners in what is arguably the most successful business software channel program in the world.
We believe SAP would be best served to follow its Endorsed Business Solution (EBS) partner program whereby the company identifies industry white spaces and key business processes where it likely will not play, and thereby opens up long term market opportunities for its partners to make substantial investments. SAP has given no indication to this suggestion but we will be delivering subsequent reporting on SAP and other SaaS CRM partner programs in order to understand their adoption by partners and their unique differences for customers.
Despite challenges, SAP clearly understands the channel model, and more so, the expectations of cloud customers. The SaaS CRM market does not tolerate bulky or perpetual implementations and according to Co-CEO, Jim Hagemann Snabe, "For Business ByDesign, we want to build up a channel that is low touch—customers are not interested in adding a lot of services to something that's already simple." Business ByDesign is not just the doorway to the cloud, but the company's entry to a reputation transformation from rigid and monolithic systems to nimble, quick time to value services.
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