Although programming in ABAP is an invariable element connected with the maintenance and development of SAP system, many companies have problems with finding programmers when they are most needed. We are talking to Grzegorz Malewski, BCC Business Development Manager, on how to avoid a nervous pursuit of a required specialist.
What is the common practice of gaining ABAP external competences in Polish companies?
The rule is that the bigger SAP installation, the bigger demand for ABAP programming. This demand fluctuates during the year and although is not always and not quite predictable, should be planned ahead in order to administrate the programmers’ time just when we require them. Yet, in many firms it is not unusual to order programming services ad hoc. The IT manager identifies the need and if the company does not have its own resources, then starts searching for external professionals. However, the problem with ABAP specialists is that when at the beginning of the year they knock at many doors offering their services, in the third and fourth quarters of the year there are problems with gaining a proper number of consultation days. Our market is still highly seasonal.
How to avoid such a pursuit of competences?
Many companies handle it perfectly. An experienced IT manager can estimate an average monthly demand for ABAP work ahead of time. Then, it is only the matter of budget planning and work scheduling. The advantage of such model is the possibility to set priorities and less important aims, which can be postponed. Due to work planning we avoid problems arising from the deluge of tasks in short time. With such approach, our relations with an external provider are stronger – no matter if it is a freelancer or a big organization providing services in ABAP programming. It may result in lower cost of buying such services in a year.
Since 2006, BCC customers, apart from traditional ABAP consultations, may also use the service of ABAP Development Center. Let us remind what the difference is.
ABAP Development Center was set up to handle orders connected with small system development for example creating forms and simple reports. What makes ABAP DC different from traditional consultations is a different approach to work with customers. These are simple, repeatable tasks, done remotely, usually on the basis of previously prepared specification. The specification can be prepared by a customer or ordered to be done by an ABAP consultant. This kind of work is performed by ABAP project-programmers specializing in such kind of orders. In a large company, there are lots of such tasks – during big projects as well as during the work connected with continuous system development. In such case, the management of their accomplishment is a considerable challenge. We relieve clients of such problem by providing the service of ABAP Development Center.
ABAP Development Center programmers also support big projects connected with data conversion, e.g. during consolidation, system migration or rollouts.
What kind of orders are most frequent?
The field of ABAP DC programmers’ work includes data migration. One of our biggest customers, a Finnish high-tech company undergoes the period of reorganization and consolidation of IT systems on a large scale. Our main task with this customer is the preparation of programs supporting financial data migration from the current SAP system used in various subsidiaries into one, coherent system. In this case, only the scope of the task is untypical as it includes 2500 consultation days per year and the migration of data from 145 systems supporting the company’s activities in 70 countries worldwide.
A similar task – system consolidation on a large scale is presently carried out in a big company in FMCG sector. There, our programmers perform work connected with basic and transaction data migration from a local SAP solution into a corporate system. This work is done in three separate divisions in three different countries.
Apart from that, our customers entrust us tasks of transferring solutions prepared in systems different than SAP into SAP NetWeaver. Such project was accomplished by BCC for a Dutch company HAI.
Moreover, ABAP DC programmers work on extensions verification with respect to system upgrade, reorganization of authorizations and optimization of programs efficiency.
Many of our foreign customers have ABAP DC “subscription” which includes a certain number of consultation days. Thanks to long-term agreement we can better plan our programmers’ work – and offer better price conditions, better than in case of traditional model of settlement.
A considerable part of ABAP DC services is performed for overseas companies. Isn’t it because in Poland it is simply cheaper?
Naturally, the price of our services is an important factor for them. However, if it was the only issue, they would use specialists in India. With continuous programming support, the price of one day of consultation is not most important. The manager responsible for the complex system development, while selecting a partner, first of all looks at the issue of keeping deadlines, taking over the responsibility for the given scope of work in a big project, the guarantee of availability or competences – these arguments are crucial for the real value of the service. In long-term cooperation with ABAP DC, the customer can be certain that e.g. the programming work planned for 150 days in a key moment of a big project will be accomplished in specified time.
How has ABAP Development Center developed in the last 2 years?
Setting up ABAP DC in 2006 we expected that the interest in such service would increase, however, the scale of such increase surpassed all our expectations. In the last two years, the employment in ABAP DC team has tripled. During the last 6 months CR consultants have accomplished 2500 days of consultations. Since last year, providing ABAP DC services, we have been working for 8 clients within long term contracts. More than 50% of orders have been completed for overseas customers, mainly from Western and Northern Europe.
Interviewed by Mirosława Huk, BCC
ABAP Development Center BCC
The services of ABAP Development Center are based on preparation of non-standard solutions in customers’ SAP system depending on individual needs. The specific character of the service comes from the fact that ABAP extensions are built by BCC programmers on the basis on a ready concept, supplied by the customer or prepared with the help of a BCC application development consultant. BCC consultant usually work remotely. It allows to lower the cost and shorten the time of work accomplishment. ABAP DC provides customers with short time reaction, simple and clear rules of settlement. The typical tasks of ABAP DC include e.g. creating SAPscript forms and Smartforms, extensions of existing objects and transactions; preparation of small extensions of SAP standard and simple reports or interfaces.