Practice what we preach
For our customers, business = IT, as some of them explained at our CiberXperience2017 event in March. In our day to day job, we help them to achieve the flexibility and agility they need for their business. And which we need for our own business as well. This means that we applied the same (architectural) principles as we advise our customers when we needed to select and implement an entire application landscape for Experis Ciber. With one big difference: together with our customers we analyze their existing application landscape, define a reference architecture and define a roadmap towards this perfect picture, preferably based on business value. Due to our carve-out from the Ciber Inc. business, we had the advantage of having a greenfield approach. This doesn’t mean we didn’t have a roadmap and/or transition plan, but every step we took could immediately comply with the guidelines we set.
Our back office processes are not special
Our reference architecture is based on a translation of common architectural principles like Gartner’s bi-modal IT and pace-layered application strategy. The outside world is not interested in our back-office processes, how we register our customers, how we bill them, how we process purchase orders, etc. These processes don’t differentiate us from our competitors and once they are in place, changes to these processes don’t happen too often. And if they do, change cycles of the applications supporting such core processes usually are slow moving and should leverage standard out-of-the-box functions (‘Mode 1’ in Gartner’s terms).
We preferred not to put too much time and energy into our non-differentiating processes and fit them to a standard best practice cloud application. As Jeroen Zijderveld explained in his blog we chose SAP S/4HANA Professional Services Cloud as our digital core as the best practice processes of the product best fit our business. And to run our managed services branch, we implemented the ServiceNow IT management solution. In our case, fit to standard meant going standard all the way. We literally haven’t done any custom development in S/4HANA, which is one of the key reasons we could set up an entirely integrated application landscape within 5 months. In a next blog, we’ll explain what this means for consulting.
But we are different
In some ways, we want to be different from our competitors, mainly in engagement towards potential customers and potential new employees. We improved the look and feel of our website overall and recruitment website and the processes supported by our HR/applicant tracking system. New releases of these applications were developed in short cycles and the business involvement in shaping these was very high (‘Mode 2’). We chose Mployee, an HR/recruitment/talent services application based on the flexible Force.com platform to provide the agility we need.
Integration is key
Implementation of the Mode 1 and Mode 2 applications clearly had a different pace, but they all depended on each other. E.g. time registered on tickets in ServiceNow needs to be transferred to S/4HANA and the vacancies on our recruitment website need to be retrieved from Mployee. To support bi-modal IT, it is important to develop a reference architecture that helps decoupling the development cycles of these applications, which means an integration layer becomes a key component in your landscape (see this blog).
For integration, we use SAP Cloud Platform Integration which helped us in decoupling the implementation of the different applications, but also supported our fit to standard approach as we could add the little specific business logic we had in our integration flows. Using SAP API Management, we also make sure that our recruitment website vacancies can be retrieved by career site scrapers in a secure manner and that changes in our backend systems won’t affect this.
Agile, flexible and educational
Although we currently only have a few integration use cases in place, we managed to set up a flexible and agile landscape which will allow us to adapt our business quickly, if necessary. Apart from this, the application choices we made offered an educational experience for some of our consultants as well. Working in an all cloud environment, with a heterogeneous landscape requires different skills than e.g. working in an all SAP on premise environment.
If you’re interested in how we managed to do all this in just five months, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org