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Is RDS the answer for all SAP solution implementations?

Consumerization of business systems has been the latest trend that has impacted the next wave of technologies. SAP has been a trendsetter in this area by focusing on new trends like mobility and new UI technologies. This consumerization trend has also impacted on how businesses are looking at getting ROI from new solutions. In the new era, businesses are looking for faster time to value from their systems. The traditional waterfall methodology of implementing SAP solutions are being seen as roadblocks in terms of rapid adoption of solutions and deriving faster business benefits. Typically timelines for regular ASAP implementations run into months to sometimes several years. This means there is a huge investment on organization resources in terms of finance and human capital. Hence there has been a demand to disrupt the traditional methodology and bring forward an agile approach for implementing SAP solutions.
To meet this growing trend, SAP is offering a number of its applications as a package of preconfigured solution along with implementation services called RDS (Rapid deployment solution).

The concept is akin to having an all-in-a-box kind of offer, where a customer buys a bundled deal of solution as well as implementation services. The main attraction of the RDS is the promise of fixed time, fixed scope and fixed price. RDS implementations follow an agile approach and crunch the delivery time by leveraging tools and accelerators. The timelines for RDS implementations are in weeks (typically from 8-12 weeks) and make an attractive value proposition to customers by helping them jumpstart to new functionalities in a rapid timeframe. To top it all, SAP claims to provide its best practices through RDS solutions helping customer to adopt the processes without any customizations.

RDS can be an ideal launch vehicle for starting with pilot implementations before going for full scale roll out. The obvious benefits of going for RDS are reduced risk, faster time to value and reduced cost. Though this sound like an all win situation for customers, it is imperative that customers do a due diligence before opting for a RDS solution. One of the main themes of RDS is fixed scope, which means you take it only what comes with the standard solution. This is a tricky part, as there is hardly any scope for changing any features and new customizations. Once a solution is implemented and does not meet customer expectations, there can be lot of change requests which can mar an RDS implementation and lead to disappointments. Hence customers need to carefully check the offered process flows and make sure that they can adopt the same processes without any customizations.  Though these processes are formulated based on industry best practices, every organization would be having some unique processes which would be adding a competitive advantage for the company. Hence organizations need to weigh down their options of losing any competitive advantage when adopting processes as it is.
Secondly the technical limitations of an organization may be a hindrance to adopting an RDS solution as there can be incompatibilities with other systems leading to complex interfaces. RDS solutions specify technical system prerequisites for implementation. Customers should carefully examine the prerequisite landscape for an RDS offering with their existing landscape.

Organizations also need to assess their business process maturity vis a vis maturity of corresponding SAP products in their decision for RDS solution. RDS offering may not be a very attractive proposition, if an organization has matured processes and there is already a mature SAP product solution.

The below matrix can provide some guidance in selecting the right candidates for RDS solution implementation:

blog1.jpgIt would make more sense to go with RDS solution for a newer or niched functionality, as this would take care of any risks associated with new product implementation.  SAP has introduced variety of new cutting edge applications like HANA, SPM(Spend Performance Management) as RDS solutions which can be adopted by customers to jumpstart new functionalities in quick time frame.

To conclude, I believe SAP RDS offering can really be a winning proposition for customers, provided they make their choices by analyzing all the factors and their future outlook on SAP solution adoption.

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