The ABAP Development Center service is an offer for those customers who have strong and continuous needs for development work and expect competitive prices while maintaining a high standard of service. How do you lower costs and shorten the completion time of ABAP programming service? We spoke about it to Tomasz Wojciechowski, the Innowation and Application Development Team Leader that provides this service.
In recent years, attention has been drawn to the change in proportions of SAP projects. There are fewer and fewer classical implementations and the scope of development work with different degrees of complexity requiring various competence levels is growing.
We have long observed at BCC this range of expectations in development projects, indeed. Particularly in large companies it happens that we realize a complex project to build a cross-module solution, which affects the execution of critical business processes and at the same time, quite independently, we create new ABAP reports or Smartforms. The scale of difficulty differs from task to task, various competence levels are needed, which has an impact on the price of the solution. If the work itself does not require specialist competences, it is pointless to employ an experienced specialist. Subject to this observation, we created a few years ago at BCC the ABAP Development Center service.
Easier job, less experienced employees, lower price – is this the point?
No… No, this is rather about a totally different approach to the way programming services are carried out. First of all, we do not offer ABAP DC instead of traditional consulting with elements of “ABAPing” but apart from it. ABAP Development Center responds to different needs. Also different is the way of service accomplishment and price calculation.
Additionally, the people are not the same. The service of ABAP DC is carried out by an Innowation and Application Development Team, which I have the pleasure to manage. It is a team of well-educated computer programmers. The Team members very often use the experience gained in programming sessions during big implementation projects executed by BCC.
So when is the traditional approach the right one?
In cases when a customer is not able to define exactly the task to accomplish or the task itself is so complex that it requires consultants’ expertise knowledge. In such case, the consultant’s job is to support the customer in defining his expectations, to suggest a solution and very often an implementation of this solution, alongside with the support in the test phase. A customer, placing an order for such service, expects an expert who will come to him and solve the problem with him. This approach is closer to the implementation project in which the solution concept is developed in a joint effort.
So we can say that the traditional method can be compared with custom order production and ABAP DC with mass production, or at least a repetitive one …
It is a good comparison. High quality of solutions is necessary in both models, but we must not forget that the essence of programming in ABAP is linked to building solutions that exceed the standard SAP functionality.
The innovation of ABAP DC is based on a different organization of work. Programmers perform their work on the basis of precise specification. In many cases a client can and wants to prepare the specification of extension by himself. Just “in case” it can be assisted by our experienced application development consultant.
The extension is prepared by a specialized designer-programmer in accordance with programming principles determined by the customer, which ensures high quality of the final effect. Most or even all the work can be done remotely – we avoid logistics costs and we work faster.
The significant advantage of BCC over other service providers of similar kind is our extensive expertise background in the knowledge of SAP systems. Our programmers can at any time use the knowledge of their colleagues who are implementation consultants. Such internal cooperation ensures high effectiveness and correctness of created solutions.
And what about installing and testing of the solution?
As I have mentioned earlier, the programming work is done remotely, directly on the customers’ development systems. We use the standard methodology connected with extensions of SAP functionality. We suggest that the final tests of functionally ready extensions are performed by the responsible people on the customer side. All in all they accept the work done by the programmers and they will mostly be using the effect of this work in the future.
– dialog programs
– SAP standard extensions
– SAPscript forms and Smartforms
– web applications (ITS, BSP, WebDynpro, WebUI)
In which situations is the ABAP DC service most useful?
During the development and maintenance of large SAP installations there are always some needs connected with ABAP and a large part of them can be attended to by ABAP Development Center. The service may be required for example during big programming projects, current work connected with process optimization or improvement of a system in use.
The need for such work increases during SAP upgrades, changes in technology used (e.g. migration to ALV, Smartforms, BSP, etc.) or for example during reorganization of authorization system.
It often happens that a customer wishes to have some functionalities of the “nice to have” kind, whose accomplishment is waiting for its turn somewhere in a drawer. Using the ABAP Development Center services can help in the implementation of projects which could not be accomplished without support.
Sometimes some needs appear unexpectedly. In an ongoing project a customer identifies the need for a big, unplanned extension. It often happens if the budget is underestimated or if the project schedule changes.
Finally there are unpredictable situations – illnesses, holidays or when internal programmers resign from work.
The target companies of the service are enterprises with well developed SAP system installations. The BCC ABAP Development Center services have been successfully used by companies from Finland, Holland, Switzerland and a few customers from Poland.
In traditional consulting, the model of settlement is simple. We submit an offer based on the analysis of a customer’s needs, perform the service and then issue an invoice for the given order. What does it look like in case of ABAP Development Center services?
Usually two settlement models work here best. The first of them is similar to the traditional one: the customer sends us a specification, we value the work and after the customer’s acceptance we start to execute the project. This approach is best suited to the ad hoc orders or at the beginning of the cooperation with BCC. Although the rules are simple, there is a risk that at a particular time our resources will appear insufficient and we will have to offer an extended order completion time. Thus, we encourage companies with many orders for BCC ABAP Development Center to sign a long-term agreement, for example for one year. Together with our customer we calculate the monthly demand for our programmers’ time of work. Owing to such an agreement, our customers have the availability of programmers guaranteed, and what is linked to it: the predictability of costs and deadlines for accomplishment of particular tasks.
In both models, however, the advantage is the same: in return for lower cost, a customer receives a standardized service with guaranteed quality. In addition, the long-term agreement allows for better budget planning.
Where does the interest in ABAP Development Center services from Western European companies originate from? Do we have better programmers than the Asians?
Until a certain time, India has been an obvious answer to international companies that wanted to lower the cost of programming work. However, for several years now we have been observing the growing interest in nearshoring. Many companies are more and more willing to commission such work to firms from Central and Eastern Europe. The nominal cost of service here is higher than in Asia but the organization of work and communication are much closer to the standards that Western managers are accustomed to. Indirect benefits balance out the slightly higher price – and if we look at the issue from the general perspective – using services like the ones provided by ABAP Development Center in BBC is simply profitable.
Interviewed by: Grzegorz Grupiński, BCC Group