The lack of alignment between lines of business and IT departments is one of the main reasons why companies fail to realize the full potential for their business software implementations and general IT investments. An ASUG study reveals, that the top challenge SAP Customers reported is the lack of in-house knowledge in their organizations to manage cloud providers. This shows how important a regular and continuous exchange between teams in the company is in order to be able to constructively work out requirements for business processes and technical feasibility.
Consequently, each organization requires a dedicated team that has the necessary expertise to manage knowledge and activities related to the company’s IT solutions and understanding how the business processes were designed based on the company’s strategy. To to help our customers, achieve a business and IT alignment through a joint unit within the organization, SAP offers services that empower customers to build a Customer Center of Expertise (Customer COE). The Customer COE is defined as a core team of experts that comprises deep SAP skills and knowledge and that generates tangible business value through sustainable and strong collaboration with the lines of business. It is the driver for continuous success to maximize the return on investment. Hence, the main objective of a Customer COE is to increase business value and efficiency by creating a link between the business, IT department and SAP.
In order to give customers guidance on how to establish a Customer COE, SAP makes use of a proven IT capability framework (Figure 1) that depicts the most relevant aspects of a company’s IT Organization: Customer COE Strategy, SAP Architecture and Innovation, Customer COE Organization and Governance, processes and functions, tools and standards, people and skills.
Figure 1: Customer Center of Expertise Capability Framework
In order to lay the foundation for a Customer Center of Expertise to become an innovative enabler for your business, the framework is now aligned with the SAP Activate Methodology. Concretely Customer COE is now part of the SAP Activate Methodology for RISE with SAP S/4HANA Cloud (private edition) which has been recently kicked off.
RISE with SAP offers to customers a holistic transformation to SAP S/4HANA. However, every digital and business transformation naturally requires an organizational transformation as well. That is exactly were the Customer Center of Expertise (Customer COE) comes into play.
The Customer COE setup implies a detailed and clear deployment journey starting from the Discover and Prepare phases. Being a vital part of the Strategic Planning, the COE’s methodology recommends customers to proactively setup an organization and be prepared to holistically manage and operate their SAP software lifecycle in a cloud, on-premise, or hybrid system landscapes. Moreover, the roadmap and methodology can be adjusted to the customer’s scenario and needs to achieve the best transformation results.
Figure 2.: Customer Center of Expertise in the SAP Activate Roadmap
In cloud times, the influence of customer’s line of businesses (LoBs) on IT has significantly increased. The alignment between IT and Business, or even the integration of IT and lines of business, became one of the most critical success factors to select, configure and run cloud solutions in the future.
Based on a clear strategy and solid governance structure customers can ensure a continuous dialogue across Business & IT. In this context, a vital and transparent Customer COE setup can successfully safeguard the transformation journey towards the intelligent enterprise which in turn accelerates adoption of innovations.
To strengthen the collaboration between Business & IT we recommend two exemplary roles with the Business Process Owner and the Business Process Expert. The ITIL compliant Customer Center of Expertise role model follows a targeted management and interdisciplinary collaboration approach. More details about these roles and the functional model please check this document.