Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Practical tips for implementing SAP Cloud for Customer

What are you facing when implementing SAP Cloud for Customer? How do you ensure a solid integration in your existing system landscape?
Jop Vening lead many C4C implementations, and will share his experiences in this article on C4C implementations.

When implementing SAP C4C, we use a ‘SAP Launch’ based approach. This methodology consists of the phases Prepare, Realise, Verify, Launch. I will guide you through these four phases and highlight a few important steps.

Phase 1: Prepare

In this phase, you think about the processes that need to be supported and the functionalities you need. This is what would be considered the blueprint phase in the traditional waterfall model. 

More than just a tool

With C4C, you implement more than just a tool; you implement a new way of working. This is why it is crucial to look closely at your sales and marketing strategy and translate the every-day actions to processes, your data and your system.

What do you need to execute your strategy successfully? Keep a constant eye on whether the implementation still matches these principles in all stages, even after golive. With SAP’s 3-month release cycle, new functionalities might very well contribute to realisation of your goals. 

Two or three tier landscape

In the old days, there were always a few weeks between the request for a system and the start of the implementation. Nowadays, you get a password within days, and you are up and running. You will get two environments as a standard: A productive and a test environment. If you wish, you can add a development environment to this landscape, in which you can build your custom developments.

Transportation from your implementation-/test system to production is done by SAP. They perform a number of checks to help you ensure the quality of the implementation. 

Read more about how to take C4C landscape decisions here.

Put integration on the agenda from day 1.

The integration of C4C with the rest of your landscape is officially not part of the prepare phase. I would suggest you do give it some attention though, and plan accordingly. Integration of C4C with the rest of your landscape involves important aspects such as network and security. In order to bring integration to a success, we have developed additional practical documents that describe each step of the integration implementation in detail.

Fase 2: Realize

In this phase, you adjust the system to your organisations needs by selecting the needed functionality and optimizing the screens for each group of users. This literally takes place in the user’s screens, in the ‘frontend’ of C4C. You don’t need to dig deep into the system, it is actually quite easy. This phase in particular calls for an agile/scrum, iterative approach.

SAP offers a number of accelerators in the form of best practices and templates to give the implementation an extra boost. There are for instance predefined templates for different industries such as professional services, utilities and banking.

Consider and reconsider which fields you need.

Adding additional fields in this phase is a piece of cake. While in the old days, adding custom fields was something that could take up a few hours, we can finish the job in minutes these days. Custom fields are automatically added to screens on all your devices and in all relevant reports. Really a piece of cake.

Despite the easiness of the process, it is very (or even more) important to keep in mind which information you want to store in the system. Don’t add fields that need to be entered, but you don’t report on or need in another process. Adding irrelevant fields will only frustrate the end-user. After more than 14 implementations, we can conclude that some elements are more useful than others, and that the most important thing is to reflect on whether the custom fields you have planned are really necessary and will benefit the process it is supposed to support.

My opinion is that if you do this well, you will not be working with your CRM system, but the CRM system will start working for you.

Prevent data from becoming a bottleneck

Another important element in the realization phase: Data migration. In many projects, data in the end becomes a bottleneck. Uploading data is not a problem. It is actually amazingly easy. You can simply upload an excelsheet or XML file.

But that’s where it starts. C4C makes the data very transparent.

Good chance that in this phase, you will find out that the dataquality in your system is worse than you thought. Rest assured, every company struggles with data quality, but more the reason to keep an eye on your data from day 1.
You don’t always need to be strict with yourself though. For example, let’s say the street and housenumber of your contacts are stored in one field in your legacy system. Your first reflex might be to split the two into a street field and a housenumber field. But how often do you report on the house number? Or specifically on the street? Be honest to which data is critical, which is important, and which is ‘supposed to be correct’. SAP and Acorel can help you in several ways to analyse and improve the quality of your data.

Custom coding?

Do not do it. Or at least prevent it. Your company changes, the world changes, the software changes. Every three months, new functionalities are automatically released. Check the C4C release roadmap before you start coding. Is something you really require missing from the roadmap? Consider adjusting the process (as strange as this may sound, it is actually not such a strange thing) or consider implementing a workaround.

If adjusting the process or implementing a workaround is not an option, we can try to get the new functionality on the roadmap. SAP listens to suggestions and adds new functionality often as a result of customer requests. 

Phase 3: Verify

In this phase, the solution is tested and final adjustments are made. Also, in this phase, ‘Change’ key. Training, preparing and motivating your users is high on the agenda. Your people are prepared for the new tool, and possibly adjusted processes and procedures.

Despite the fact only from this phase on, your people will be working with the new tool, it is never too early to engage in change management.

Because C4C is very user-friendly, you don’t need to focus much on how fields are filled or how the tool works. Your colleagues will find out themselves. It is of much bigger importance to focus on the business processes, and how they have been translated to SAP C4C. Show your colleagues how C4C can benefit their work and how their actions benefit the overall business. Invite your colleagues to look around and figure out the system themselves. You will notice that the intuitive user interface will guide the user, and training is done automatically.

Phase 4: Launch

Time to go live.
You did it. And now… Go!