At SAP Contractors Network we are always looking to open up topics of debate within the SAP community. One of the most common debates we come across is the SAP Consultancy/Implementation partner, or Self Sourced Contracts team, what way do you go? What are the benefits/pitfalls? How much thought goes into making this decision?
We contacted Dabir Meah - Service Delivery Manager @ BG Group to find out why he has gone with the self sourced contract team. Dabir has assembled one of the strongest SAP teams in the country with some of the best known contractors working on the various projects within BG. We asked him why he assembled the team instead of using a consulting partner.
What is the current situation on your project?
We currently have a team made up of SAP Permanent employees and Contract staff that we use to implement our projects. We have a mix of 60% permanent employees and 40% contractors currently working within the competency centre. Most of the contractors we have on site are long term contractors who are committed to the project and have a strong understand of how BG as a company works.
Have you used an implementation partner previously?
We currently have a consultancy partner on site that provides us with Application Management and Basis Support. We have used a consulting partner for Project work previously and found that this didn’t work well for us.
Why didn’t it work?
The consulting partner we used failed to deliver to the standard we were hoping for on a couple of our early projects. The projects were not delivered on time; they went live on time but then took months to complete the data conversion. We were not impressed and did not have the control over the delivery of SAP projects that we desired.
Why do you feel the projects didn’t work?
One of the things we found were the people our partners provided to deliver projects were a mix of highly skilled as well as inexperienced individuals; they had some very strong consultants who were excellent but they also had some poor consultants who failed to inspire and deliver. What I have found is that consulting partners use the best people available to win the business (the “A team”) and put some of them on site to start with, however, over time the mix of skills and experience was being diluted; the longer the project went on we found ourselves with a larger proportion of Junior/Graduate consultants (the “B/C team”) on our project. We paid a fixed day rate for the consultants, so we were paying the same for a SAP consultant with 10 years experience as we were for a graduate with a couple of years experience. I did not want to pay for junior consultants to gain experience on our projects.
How difficult was it to make the decision to hire your own Project team in?
We reviewed the model that we had been using that incorporated an implementation partner; we then looked at what we needed to deliver the project side ourselves. We have continued to use the Application and Basis support function from our previous model and began hiring our own project team members. We have now got a fully functional project team in house.
How did you go about sourcing your team and what effect did this have on your Projects?
When you hire your own team you have the flexibility to chose who you want to work for you and what skills they have; we went to market and starting hiring the very best SAP consultants that were available to us at that time. We have some of the best consultants around working on long term projects, they have the right mix of business and technical knowledge, which gives you more confidence and control on your ability to deliver. We have built our own “A team”, who are more experienced than the majority of people who have been provided by a consulting partner, who know our business and are cost effective. With this model, you need to have complete visibility of future projects in order to resource the team appropriately. In my opinion we are getting a better quality solution at a lower cost.
How much would you say you saved BG by going this route?
I cannot answer that as I do not have accurate numbers on me, however, even though cost is important the quality of delivery is more important to me. The average day rate for a contractor on site at BG is around £600 a day and these tend to be the best on the market; when we used a consulting partner we were charged a minimum of £750 a day and that was for a standard skill set, which could be for highly skilled contractors or a Junior consultant; we paid significantly more for niche skilled consultants via the implementation partner. I am not going to put a figure on how much we have saved but am confident we have made a significant saving over the years in both time and money based on the quality of the team we have assembled.
Is there a down side to not using an implementation partner?
Not from my perspective. Consultancy partners will argue that you are taking on all the risks of project delivery but what risk is there to take on? I have complete control over all the projects we are currently running. Yes, we have problems and we don’t always stick to timescales but I have more confidence in my team delivering and putting things right than I would in a consulting partner.
If you had to give anyone advice about using a consulting partner what would it be?
Get the governance right, make sure you insist on having the “A team” on site and don’t let them blood the junior consultants on your project. I would also make sure you get a fixed rate for all work done with penalties in place for projects not being delivered on time; I am confident this would help to ensure you are getting the best calibre consultants the consulting partners would be able to offer.
If you were to summarise your thoughts about what you have done at BG what would they be?
Why would you pay significantly more for a lower level consulting team that has less knowledge of how your business works, when you can recruit your own highly skilled team that costs significantly less and understands your business needs in greater detail? As I have already mentioned, I have a fantastic team on site and have the benefit of working with people who fill me with confidence.