What may have once been considered a pie-in-the-sky idea, the concept of operating SAP in the cloud has suddenly begun to be seen as "the norm" amongst thought leaders and innovators in the SAP world. The opportunity to achieve major cost savings, agility, stability, and innovation are several reasons why so many businesses are thriving in the cloud. However, one major factor that seems to prevent businesses from considering the cloud is the initial cost to begin the journey. So, how do SAP customers leverage the benefits of operating SAP in the cloud without feeling the pinch of the initial costs encompassing the transition of their systems into a different environment?
Many people enjoy mentioning how to minimize the costs of operating SAP in the cloud. However, not all of them truly relay how to get the most bang for your buck in the areas that count. Operating SAP in the cloud has several key benefits that make it not only attractive but also practical – being that it's always available and easy to use and also has a low barrier to entry for additional functionality (and spend). Understanding this is why it's imperative to review the points that matter most and provide guidelines for how to prevent unexpected expenses at the end of the month, and also fully realize the value of cloud solutions for SAP.
Guidelines for supporting a low-cost and innovative approach to SAP on cloud
Let the business lead. In today's SAP environments, the lines between IT and the business are growing fainter as the ability to rapidly provide platforms and solutions (like SaaS products) in the cloud are becoming more available and substantially growing. There is one aspect regarding IT that remains, specifically that IT exists to serve the business–whereas the business exists to serve the customers (internal or external). The closer that any organization can get to addressing business needs and IT responses, the better and more agile you will become, which is why tech teams should start by listening to the business first and then proposing the proper solutions. What makes this possible for IT is the business having clearly defined goals and then tying IT projects and their investment to those goals. Both teams working together will ensure that not only the best solutions are provided but that they meet the business' needs and support growth objectives.
Put in a good process. It may almost feel like that. In the time it takes to snap your fingers, autonomy can be quickly driven to more IT team members. Because of great processes and advances in technology, driving autonomy allows IT teams to quickly and easily assess deploying and running cloud resources – both naturally increasing costs in SAP. However, along with the point mentioned above, adding defined processes to your organization's requests, approvals, inputs, and KPIs will ensure that your budget, however increasing, is spent with purpose. Making sure to require that approvals incorporate cost and business values as an approval metric allows you to make the best business decisions while providing room for technologists to drive innovation. And, let's not forget the importance of tagging in SAP. It's one of the most important features you can take advantage of to help gain insights into spending and understand if value was realized.
Focus on value, not just cost. Yes, it is common knowledge that decreasing spend in the cloud can be accomplished through leveraging the buying power of AWS, Azure, and GCP. However, that doesn't mean that you can't or won't spend more. What really matters with any hyperscaler that your organization uses is focusing on the value you're receiving for your spend and how that impacts your bottom line. The key here is that value, not cost, should be the emperor of your cloud-spending arena. Easier said, right? Possibly, but what if, as your budget grew, you experienced parallel growth in your business, allowing it to become more nimble, innovative, or efficient – thereby offsetting costs – then the investment would be worth it. At the end of the day, cost can be seen as king. However, only considering costs and not considering value could be the reason why a business finds itself struggling with growth and scalability. Once an organization incorporates process (as mentioned previously) and then integrates value forecasting alongside costs, it can truly become a win-win situation for the entire team.
Know, share, and review your budget. In addition to creating processes and considering value, it’s extremely important to also plan for consumption. This can be successfully completed by clearly laying out any operating and project budgets that your organization has – however, don’t forget to review these with your team members as well. Sharing your operating and project budgets with those in your organization that have the power to create new systems in the ownership and accountability process will ensure that your entire business understands how they operate in your spend. Meanwhile, the individuals who actually spend the money should be able to clearly understand and explain how their spend supports overall business goals. Making everyone a stakeholder increases the likelihood that teams will understand how they support your goals and also help the overall business think outside of the box and take advantage of new ways to consider how to achieve your goals.
Use PoCs and automation. In the past, when an organization required a PoC, they'd have to order the hardware/software, place it in their data center, hire the right SMEs to configure it, and then incur the costs whether or not the solution actually showed to be beneficial. I think we're all thankful that those days are gone, I know I am. But, what advances in technology do not allow businesses to do is to quickly try something in a copy of their production system or quickly install the latest version or upgrade of a technology. The ability to quickly conduct a PoC or sample automation sequences allows companies to quickly take an idea from theory to fact in record timing. Also, once you've defined a process, it can be automated, and if it's automated, you can further optimize and control it – allowing you to succeed quickly and get the best bang for your buck.
Joe Melton is Senior Project Manager at Lemongrass.