In our latest ASUG Asks the Authors feature, we conclude our conversation with Nitin Singh, a senior principal and director of the Industry Value Advisory team at SAP America, and Gerry McCool, a value advisor with SAP.
Co-authors of the recent SAP Press “E-Bite” publication “Introducing Business Process Transformation with SAP Signavio,” Singh and McCool provide their readers with an overview of the SAP Signavio portfolio and dive into each tool. Guiding readers through SAP Signavio's business process intelligence, process mining and analysis, and SAP S/4HANA integration capabilities, their publication represents one of the first SAP official guides to the business process management platform, which SAP acquired in March 2021.
“We approached it as a non-technical book for businesspeople, to answer those very basic questions about what this technology suite does, in very practical terms,” said McCool. “We tried to stay true to that.”
You can read the first part of our conversation here. Below, in the second half of our interview, Singh and McCool discuss the Customer Value Journey, where SAP Signavio sits in, and what matters most in value realization for customers.
This conversation has been edited and condensed.
ASUG: In introducing SAP Signavio to readers, how did you set a frame and figure out the right structure and tone?
Nitin Singh: As our team was working in the field, leveraging SAP Signavio and discussing transformation with customers, things were changing fast for the business transformation suite of solutions at SAP. There was no point of reference for anyone; you’d have to browse 20 different links to get your questions answered, and even those answers would have to be interpreted in certain ways. We wanted to provide the right information and insights for our customers; that became our motivation to write the book.
Our team touched 500 customers every year, so we had that collective knowledge, and we focused on transformation, both orchestrating it and creating a case for it. With SAP Signavio, we saw how it could accelerate business-case creation, time-to-value, and value realization for our customers. I sent a proposal to SAP Press, and they initially were reluctant given that it’s still an evolving topic, but they eventually accepted.
Even though writing the book fell outside of our day jobs, we committed to working on weekends and late at night, to ensure that we could place this book in the hands of our customers, colleagues, and partners, who do deserve to simplify their life and simplify the customer’s life.
ASUG: In what phase of digital transformation should customers consider SAP Signavio, in your view? Perhaps you can place this in the context of the Customer Value Journey, SAP’s latest customer engagement model, which is aimed at allowing SAP and its partners to collaboratively achieve optimal outcomes for customers.
Gerry McCool: From my standpoint, there’s really not a wrong time, other than not to do it at all. It's relevant in all the phases of the Customer Value Journey.
- In the ‘Discover’ phase, as you're exploring that potential, how are you identifying opportunities and quantifying those opportunities? How are you putting a line of sight to value and the art of the possible?
- In the ‘Select’ phase and building the vision for change, how are you getting specific details around that vision and creating that case for change? SAP Signavio can provide powerful detail on improvement and innovation opportunities.
- In the ‘Adopt’ phase and preparing for deployment, it's about helping with change management and the collaboration that brings people together across geographies and businesses on the topic of process.
- ‘Derive’ is all about measuring performance. How are you taking beginning measures and then sequential measures down the road throughout that Customer Value journey? Think value management and value assurance.
- ‘Extend’ is about getting back into those timely, relevant recommendations for what a customer needs and when they need it.
NS: SAP Signavio is system agnostic. Most of the Signavio suite of solutions work with both SAP and non-SAP technology stacks. You don’t have to be an S/4HANA customer. You could start leveraging most of its components at any time to get that end-to-end picture. That said, if you are planning for S/4, it becomes a must to invest in figuring out how to best use S/4; that’s why Signavio is embedded in RISE with SAP, as an additional benefit for those customers.
Amid planning for an S/4 migration, one of my customers was recently analyzing the overall business case for their CFO. When we started looking at the system, they had an automation rate of their purchase orders noted as 2-3%. We asked, “Why do you have such a low rate of automation?” It was not because they couldn't automate in the system; they had some programs they could quickly write to automate. It was more that they didn’t trust their purchase requisitions (PRs), which were created from Materials Requirements Planning (MRP) run every morning. MRP came from their demand forecasting, and their forecast accuracy was 50%, so they did not trust the forecast accuracy and therefore did not trust the quantities on purchase requisitions and therefore introduced a manual intervention while converting those PRs to purchase orders.
So, the root cause was not automation; until they improved their demand forecasting, they couldn’t improve their automation rate. The interconnectedness of multiple applications and multiple processes becomes critical at the modern enterprise. That’s why we always recommend leveraging both SAP Signavio and experts who understand it, to figure out which areas need to be invested in and prioritized amid digital transformation.
ASUG: Can you provide a few examples of customers who have operationalized their way of working with SAP Signavio? What lessons can be learned from their success?
NS: Every customer is unique. Some are customers are going through mergers and acquisitions, and they want to know what synergy they have in processes across two different company types. Other customers are looking to move to the cloud and leverage best practices, rather than just taking their technical debt with them. Other customers are already on their S/4HANA journeys but want to leverage tools so that they can see what other ERP systems offer, how closely aligned they are with what they currently have and what they want to do in the future; they want a business-process-management tool for that analysis. And other customers are simply not aware of SAP Signavio and how it can be leveraged to create business cases for transformation.
Customer executives, today, need to quickly pivot based on changing market dynamics. In the last three years, they have seen all the ups and downs: when COVID hit, they went down, and they had to meet pent-up demand amid inventory and inflation issues. In these circumstances, they need quick insights to determine what’s going on with their businesses. How can they move quickly? What capabilities do they need to prioritize? To answer those questions, they need a technology layer, without doing expensive and time-consuming business process reengineering exercises, through which they can quickly apply these tools. Leveraging those tools, executives can gain those insights and start taking corrective action.
GM: Many of the challenges are age-old. Where can we get detailed information about how to improve our business: where to improve, and what to improve? How do we transform, fundamentally, or de-risk transformation? You say the word “transformation,” and it sounds expensive, risky, and scary, as if people are going to lose their jobs. How do you put wood behind the arrow and put real fact into transformation, using objective information? And how do we get the most out of our investments, in general? SAP Signavio is a valuable response to those challenges.
NS: We also speak with customers at $2-5 billion companies that want to become $10-20 billion companies. If they want to scale quickly, based on their growth rates, they will hit roadblocks where they’re throwing more bodies at work and using a Band-Aid approach. Once they start customizing systems, those systems won’t be able to scale further. If 100 people are managing a $10 billion company’s finances, and the company wants to be a $20 billion company, it could need 200 more people. Will that give them economies of scale? Perhaps not.
So, the question becomes, "How can companies scale further by optimizing the way they operate?" Customers are struggling with this. How do we optimize the value delivered to customers, with fewer resources? And do we scale that for the future state? How many more resources will we need if we continue doing what we're doing today and don’t transform? Customers reach these limits where they can’t scale further without taking urgent action aimed at optimizing how they operate.
In those situations, customers are trying to leverage a business process management approach and then see where to prioritize, where they can continue to improve, where they can outsource, where can we invest more, where we can adopt new capabilities, and where they can apply robotic process automation (RPA) or AI Innovations to simplify processes. Scale, mergers and acquisitions, system consolidations, and cloud transformation are four key use cases you could think about for SAP Signavio.
ASUG: Any parting thoughts on SAP Signavio and its role in the SAP suite of solutions?
NS: We want to enhance the value realization that’s front-and-center in transformation. We want to ensure that customers, when signing up for large cloud transformation projects, are reaching the right outcomes.
In one of the last chapters of our E-bite, we discuss setting a framework for transformation and identifying areas that become the backbone of business cases. You want to measure the success rate, and you want to measure improvements in process performance indicators (PPIs) and key performance indicators (KPIs) in an iterative fashion, every six months or so.
You can do this using Signavio tools that directly plug into your systems, whether that’s S/4HANA or another system, and give you insights into which of those PPIs or KPIs are improving and which are not. What are the capabilities you need to activate, and what action plan do you need to take, to address those areas that are not improving?
ASUG: What else would you say to the ASUG community?
NS: Gerry and I have been part of the SAP family for a long time. Our passion is to ensure our customers are successful. That’s what our purpose is. As value advisors, we feel that our job is not done until customers see real value from their transformation. The chapter of value realization is included in our book, because we went back and forth with SAP Press and pushed the point that we needed that chapter, believing our customers need to read about it.
Value realization is key to our customer value journey framework which ensures our customers are getting the desired value from their SAP investment. It is important for our customers to understand how key it is to our approach. I would like to conclude by thanking our customers and partners for adopting process transformation and value mindset and we are very excited for the future!
GM: We see that the business process improvement space is underserved. It is underserved in the sense that there are a lot of misconceptions about throwing tools at problems, whether customers think it’s just about process mining or models or bots. At the end of the day, what tends to be problematic is that organizations lack a systemic approach to change, improvement, and transformation.
Only by really considering how systems, tools, principles, and results all interact and come together cohesively can you really get to the right kinds of answers. That’s what brings us together every day to do what we do for our customers and help to manage value throughout that journey.
“Introducing Business Process Transformation with SAP Signavio” is now available from SAP Press.