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SAP on SAP: SAP’s IT chiefs on how they build a business case for SAP projects

In this interview SAP’s chief information officer, Oliver Bussmann, and Martin Heisig, vice president of enterprise architecture, share their tips for building a case for SAP-related projects.

Ever wonder what it's like to run SAP applications at SAP? At TechEd in Las Vegas, SAP’s chief information officer, Oliver Bussmann, and Martin Heisig, vice president of enterprise architecture, offered to share some of their tips for SAP project planning. In this short interview, they discuss some of their best practices for building a business case for SAP. Can you start out by telling us a little bit about some of best practices for making a business case to the board of directors, CEOs or chief financial officers, when you’re starting new projects?

Oliver Bussmann: I think I want to start a little bit with how we do project selection and road mapping at SAP. What Martin Heisig’s enterprise application team did at the beginning of the year was spent time with a lot of different businesses to figure out their objectives, their business road maps for the next two to three years, and try to align these road maps with the IT activities, the IT road mapping of the target architecture. 

So, we went through a really intensive development the last six to eight months, so we had a pretty good understanding what are the key initiatives for SAP for the next three, four or five years and help us also to identify the [issues], capacity-wise, plus also potential overlap by process areas, by functional areas to simplify it. Plus, also to figure out, are we, from a skill-set perspective, ready to support this kind of portfolio going forward?

Then we use this information as a starting point for the 2011 portfolio discussion and see how it fits together with the target segment for 2011 from a growth perspective and from a business enablement perspective.  All the projects, they had to go through business case validation. And this is a joint effort between the heads of the lines of business and their perspectives as chief operating officers. At the end, it will be the executive board at SAP who makes the final call on the project selection and allocation for the upcoming year. So, a very thorough, structured approach that we established at the beginning of the year to drive our entire project portfolio.

Martin Heisig: The main nutshell, you could say, we want to move away from this technical project selection approach we had maybe two or three years ago where we were just order takers. The business comes up with nice ideas and we implement these activities. And now we’re coming towards understanding how these are linked to the corporate strategies, what IT issues are needed to make this happen. And from there, make recommendations to the board on what needs to be done to support the corporate goals best.

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