The vital need to ensure business systems operate without interruption and respond to challenges, such as new company processes or a technical failure which forces resources offline, mean support specialists are in great demand. Keith Davidson, director of leading independent consultancy Absoft's SAP support services division, says organisations from public sector bodies to SMEs and major multinationals are investing in expert assistance.
Maintaining company performance is critical and business software systems such as SAP are every bit as vital to the continued capability of a firm as the availability of its employees, and the functionality of its equipment or assets.
We are seeing rising demand for our expert pool of consultants, who augment our customers' own team of systems specialists – responding to system failures, or identifying potential issues and modifying their processes and procedures to ensure that the lights remain on at all times.
Absoft's SAP support team is providing expertise in-house and from remote locations for multiple organisations, on an ongoing proactive, reactive or one-off project basis. We are entrusted with ensuring those critical business systems, from HR and payroll to supply chain and logistics management, remain functional and efficient 24/7.
Integration with the client's operational structure is an important step – in the same way that a provider of a key service, such as a railway operator, local authority or county council must serve its clients appropriately, we need to be able to understand the SAP system's role in making that delivery possible.
In a situation where proactive analysis of an SAP environment is being carried out, we are able to identify inefficiencies, or elements of a business' standard way of working which could be approached in another way. This enables us to reduce the likelihood of a major issue affecting the company's ability to fulfil its own obligations, by tackling problems quickly.
By engaging us as a specialist support provider, clients are able to reduce the cost and complexity of systems maintenance, as we work to affect a fix before an issue occurs, or are at least able to respond quickly as it arises through our knowledge of their systems.
In many cases, we are not simply approaching an issue as a one-off fix – we have often been part of the development of the company's system road map, with working relationships dating back many years and maintenance projects running for the complete lifecycle of a particular version of the software in use.
Our intention in creating the SAP Support team was to act as a one-stop-shop to keeping the company's systems in operation and running at peak efficiency – from implementation and training, through to ongoing bespoke process development projects, and major systems upgrades.
At the core of the service is our understanding not just of the system's capabilities and our experience of developing and maintaining them, but of our client's business. They will generally find they work with the same core group of consultants, they are assured that when our people respond they do so as a knowledgeable member of their team.
That assurance is what businesses require in the highly competitive global marketplace – they need to know that when they are called upon to deliver for their clients, or indeed when standard processes are set in motion such as paying their employees, their system will stand up to and complete the job.