ASUG does in-depth surveys to identify performance benchmarks and best practices. Do these apply to all companies running ERP or just SAP users?
I think they reflect companies at large. We do study the depth and breadth of each survey participant's SAP deployment, but much of the data we generate is focused on the business. For instance, the human capital management benchmarks touch on supporting technologies, but they also look into trends with respect to how HR is staffed and the cost of different models. For example, the survey indicates that there's a much lower cost per employee for the shared-services approach to HR structures versus decentralized structures.
Which benchmarks have been the most popular or useful?
ASUG's total cost of ownership benchmark has been very revealing. One company looked at how the best-performing companies have reduced the number of monitoring and system management tools in use by leveraging SAP. They quickly saw that they weren't doing very well by comparison, so they applied resources to things like Solution Manager within SAP. As a result, they consolidated the systems they were using, and they were able to cut millions of dollars in system-monitoring infrastructure cost.
Member companies tend to zero in on TCO metrics, such as cost per user, in the context of different types of ERP deployments. For example, costs are much higher in a multilocation deployment because you face added infrastructure cost and challenges related to synchronizing data across those locations. The same applies when you're creating customized ERP solutions rather than doing out-of-the-box deployments.
Any recent surprises in ASUG's best-practice surveys?
My company participated in the Enterprise Services Architecture (ESA) adoption survey [Editor's note: ESA is SAP vernacular for service-oriented architecture (SOA)]. I was surprised to see just how many participating companies were moving forward with ESA adoption and could cite specific examples of where they had used enterprise services to enable business processes.
Aren't companies embracing SOA and business process management (BPM) largely to avoid heavy coding in ERP?
Enterprise services will provide the rapid application development platform of the future. If you can use services to compose applications very quickly, that will create a competitive advantage. One of the fastest growing communities within ASUG is focused on enterprise architecture and ESA. Members are exchanging ideas and services, and we're providing good benchmarking and best-practices data that will help them understand their progress.
Do companies really need an ERP vendor to help them with SOA and BPM?
I want my ERP vendor to provide those capabilities because there are many things that go along with building business processes leveraging enterprise services--data integrity, reliability and security, and other assurances we've grown to rely upon from our ERP vendors. We need to guarantee transactions are performed with high integrity, so I want my ERP vendor to provide enhanced services capabilities across the top of something that I've grown to trust.
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