Surrey County Council is saving time and reducing user despair in its SAP usage, according to Tahiana Jefferis, SAP competency manager at the local authority.
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Surrey is an SAP Enterprise Support customer and Jefferis told November’s SAP UK and Ireland Users Group conference that she was pleased with the service support Surrey has got over the past year from the service.
When introduced in 2008, Enterprise Support proved controversial among SAP users. Corporate customers of SAP then objected to paying 22% of the licence fee for a single enterprise support offering, compared with 17% for the basic support many said was sufficient. In response to pressure from the SAP User Group Executive Network (SUGEN), the business software manufacturer agreed to add features to the service to prove its value in reducing total cost of ownership (TCO).
That was at the onset of the financial crisis. In a still troubled economy, Surrey County Council has “more IT demands and less money, like everyone else," said Jefferis.
Since 2007, she has been “in charge of all we have to do with SAP. I am the mother of the creature. No one touches it if I don’t say it is fine to do so."
About a year ago, the council’s IT department started to review all its applications to reduce TCO. They took hosted services back to their own datacentre. But with respect to SAP, the critical move was to call up their SAP enterprise support advisers.
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They identified savings in four areas. First, was a reduction in data volume, taking out data no longer of value and reducing database size by 17%.
Second was changing security processes around roles and authorisations.
“We used to give standard roles with lots of transactions inside. This was very hard to maintain, said Tahiana Jefferis. "We now meet with users and find out how they are actually using SAP and assign authorisations on that basis."
Third, they reduced custom codes, and reviewed processes around custom code development. They found that 60% of their custom codes were not being used, and were “cluttering the system” – important when it comes to patching. Those are now archived.
“Now, we always challenge – is custom coding the right thing to do? We get help from SAP on that to find standard ones instead," she says.
But Jefferis’s favourite activity has been the fourth – business process optimisation.
With the supplier’s advisers, they have found eight transactions that are not working well and plan to find more in 2013. One of these, running once a month, was taking 30 hours to run and now takes 10 minutes.
Another entailed users having lots of screens running and she reported 62% improvement there.
“This saves users despair”, she said. “Even taking half a minute from a transaction is great for a user."
Jefferis said the process improvement advice, most of which was done remotely, was “all included in the SAP licence. We did not have to pay any extra."
She reported that the savings made have paid more than enterprise support for the year.