How to Translate SAP Modules Into Business Process Capabilities
If you don’t speak SAPanese, and instead, are expert in your business' specific language, such as the Airline Industry, or military logistics, just knowing the specific SAP Modules won’t really help you to translate what SAP modules provide which part of your solution. Why, because it is a vast, complex system.
SAP Modules Shown Using a MindMap
What to do.. For most business processes, it is actually fairly simple to map your business process requirements to the specific SAP module required to implement a solution. SAP Solution Manager’s Business Process Repository library provides an excellent starting point for doing just that, broken down by industry. However, there is significant risk that you’ll draw the incorrect conclusion that your particular business process is not supported by SAP if you do not have someone who has a broad and deep knowledge of SAP and perhaps more importantly, a network of others within the SAP world to run ideas by. Let me give you one recent example.
A large airline (and almost all airlines have this issue) needed to implement an Airline Route Profitability system along with a fuel management and hedging system. These are esoteric subjects and the initial solution included several third party solutions to handle things such as fuel price updates and ultra advanced fuel hedging capabilities.
Ultimately, all of the required capabilities were found to exist within the SAP suite of products. How was that possible? Why were the third party products initially in the solution?
Because the translation of requirements is done quickly during the pre-sales process but can and must be refined during the blueprint process (it is actually part of the SAP ASAP methodology). Especially when a project is addressing a new business process area. In this case, those new areas included:
- Hedging. SAP happens to support some basic hedging functionality.
However, the mechanics of fuel hedging, i.e., establishing a hedge, are simple when compared to the more important, Strategic Decisions required with regards to how much fuel to hedge, at what price, across what time frame, and which market using which provider.
- Fuel management strategies, as practiced by the leading low cost carriers, are actually a reflection of both deep analysis of probable fuel price scenarios as well as knowledge gained from past fuel hedging strategies, among many other hedge strategy inputs.
- Fuel Management. As airplanes are also flying fuel tanks, it was initially thought the solution would require very sophisticated wing-to-wing fuel transfers in order to minimize taxes and cost and a lot of other interesting cost minimzation tactics.
In short, to create a solution for, in this case, Airline Fuel Management and Hedging, you need to either know every SAP Module and the capability of each, or more feasibly, you need to assemble a team of SAP Architects (because they don’t know everything) and Industry and third party experts to actually define a solution. You should also bring a SAP Value Engineer into the SAP Module to Solution Translation and Business Process solution creation process.
Have you found any unique Business Processes you can use SAP Modules to support?
Lonnie D. Ayers, PMP
President, SAP BW Consulting, Inc.