Key Considerations when Choosing the Right Global Application Managed Services (AMS) Vendor for SAP

Discover 7 key considerations that global enterprises should take into account when seeking an AMS partner for SAP.

Enterprises across multiple industries are becoming more international, a trend is driven largely by global mergers and acquisitions (M&A). The first nine months of 2018 saw a record amount of global M&A activity, the Financial Times reports, with deals reaching a total value of nearly $3.3 trillion, up 39% from 2017. Companies pursue global M&As to enter new markets, fuel revenue growth, obtain patents and technologies, reduce distribution costs, and spread risk, among other motivations.

Key Considerations when Choosing the Right Global Application Managed Services (AMS) Vendor for SAP
Key Considerations when Choosing the Right Global Application Managed Services (AMS) Vendor for SAP. Photo by QuickOrder on Unsplash

Whatever the sound strategic reasons behind international M&As, globalization has increased pressure on enterprise IT departments to make sure the digital networks and the business applications they support are functional within and across national borders. It is crucial, therefore, globally active companies retain a homogeneous IT landscape and guarantee business processes run smoothly, with 24/7 support in all available time zones.

This is no small challenge.

International use of mission-critical business application platforms such as SAP can be enormously complicated. Among other things, IT departments must know country-specific customizations for archiving, taxation, or customs regulations in SAP and be able to implement or change them quickly.

As if that’s not enough, global IT shops must enable digital transformation through the integration of emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics, edge networks, mobile, and cloud computing. Although these projects are crucial, they divert resources from day-to-day IT support activities and strategic business initiatives.

In the IDG “State of the CIO 2018” survey, 88% of the respondents said their role “is becoming more digital and innovation-focused.” But the day-to-day responsibilities of running a network, maintaining an IT infrastructure, and ensuring global interoperability of business applications and processes—often without adequate internal resources and skills—make it difficult, if not impossible, for IT leaders to focus on innovation and digital transformation.

It’s no surprise, then, that many global organizations are turning to third-party managed services vendors to provide the expertise or services for efficient day-to-day IT operations, to deploy and support the business applications that keep global enterprises running. The right IT services partner can successfully manage SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, and other enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications, including integration, maintenance, troubleshooting, and sunsetting as well as digital transformation strategies and deployments.

Table of contents

Key Considerations
Business improvements
Assess its global footprint
Is it the right size?
Flexibility and creativity
Breadth of experience
Relevant certifications
The personal touch

Key Considerations

Choosing the best managed IT services provider for your organization, however, is no simple task. Numerous factors must be considered, starting with the organization’s goals and expectations.

Although managed IT services providers can and do help enterprises shape their managed services strategy, enterprise leaders are more likely to choose the right application managed services (AMS) provider for their organization if they begin the selection process with an understanding of their own needs.

The size and scope of the AMS vendor market are vast, so IT leaders must apply criteria to narrow down their search.

Here are seven major considerations for global enterprises seeking an AMS partner:

Business improvements

The cornerstone of AMS is the business process improvements and enhancements rather than just break fixes. A provider should know their customer’s business process to provide recommendations and systems for consistent improvement to daily business processes.

Assess its global footprint

This may seem obvious, but a managed services provider must operate in the countries where your organization has a presence. Its cultural proximity, familiarity with the language, and knowledge of local system details sharply reduce the potential for error and minimize downtime.

“If you’re in 80 countries and the provider is in one or two, that’s not a good match,” says Allen Abel, vice president of Application Managed Services for Syntax, a global IT services provider specializing in mission-critical application outsourcing and consulting. “In addition to physical presence, it also is important that an AMS is structured internally in a way that enables it to function globally.”

Offshore resources should be augmented with the same time zone and accessibility to nearshore resources.

Is it the right size?

Big isn’t always better. If an AMS is too big, there’s a danger that it will neglect all but its largest clients, allocating fewer resources and time to midsize and smaller enterprises.

Conversely, a boutique shop likely wouldn’t meet the AMS needs of larger global organizations. IT decision-makers should seek a managed IT services provider which is a good fit in terms of size.

You must know the employee names of the shared resources from your AMS partner. It won’t help you in a pinch if you are working an AMS partner with an anonymous bucket of shared resources and you don’t know who to call to fix something quickly if something goes wrong.

Flexibility and creativity

Large managed IT services providers typically spend less time and attention on small or mid-size clients but they can also get overwhelmed by bureaucracy and process.

“If you’re a midmarket customer, a large AMS partner could just chew you up,” Abell says. “In terms of paperwork, in terms of legality, in terms of rigidity, they will dictate everything.”

This inflexibility means large providers are less likely to tailor support solutions for midsize and smaller clients, instead offering them only limited options for service and pricing packages.

Breadth of experience

As network infrastructures become increasingly complex, global enterprises need access to an increasingly wide range of IT skills. The right managed IT services vendor is the one that possesses the current and future skills—along with the product portfolio—required to meet the operational and strategic goals of a global organization. The ideal AMS provider also should have experience in areas relevant to your needs, whether it’s incident management, change management, or apps development.

Relevant certifications

One way to assess whether a managed IT services provider has the skills best suited for your organization’s needs is to request a list of certifications earned by its employees. Valuable certifications for global enterprises include Microsoft Partner, Cisco, SAP Cloud Services, and Privacy Shield Framework. Further, certification guarantees compliance with standards such as ISO 27001 (the international certification standard for information security management systems) or ISO 20000 (the standard for IT service management).

The personal touch

A common challenge for small and midsize organizations that need an IT problem quickly resolved: finding a specific contact at their AMS provider who knows their company’s history and business.

The more urgent the issue, the more important it is that global organizations can cut through the vendor bureaucracy to reach the person or people who can help. Large managed IT services vendors, in particular, can lack that ”go-to contact” because of their sheer size alone, whereas smaller vendors simply may be stretched too thin to deliver personalized service to clients.

Source: Syntax System

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