Introduction to the Help Desk - SAP BASIS

The support of SAP systems and applications consists of solving all types of problems and questions that arise during the operation of the SAP systems. Supporting SAP users and SAP systems is one of the main activities during and after going live. If support is not provided in an efficient and timely manner, users will not be able to perform their jobs as expected, systems will not be stable, many questions will remain unanswered, and many application and technical issues will remain unresolved. This can severely affect business operations. There are many reasons why problems exist or can arise:

  • System bugs
  • Human error
  • Lack of knowledge
  • Problems with continuous data migration, conversion, and interfaces
  • Technical infrastructure problems: PCs, printing, batch, network connections

Problems are better solved when postimplementation support is planned in the first phases of implementation. There are, however, several typical mistakes and problems encountered when establishing the support staff or help desk procedures after implementation. Some of these are as follows:

  • Lack of proactive support and communication
  • Lack of training
  • Poorly documented support requests
  • Unclear help desk processes

A good support strategy is based on proactive systems management and application management, as well as on a well-established, trained, and organized help desk. Besides documentation and other sources of information, end users typically have two lines of support:

  • Key users or department superusers, who are normally close to the business operations and who have helped during the implementation phase. These persons can sometimes help end users with basic operations questions, doubts, or problems related to the applications.
  • The help desk, as the central source of support. On many occasions, the help desk should be able to provide an immediate solution or answer to end users—for instance, the existence of a network problem on one of the lines, instructions for changing a password, SAP logon connection parameters, and so on. On the other hand, the help desk will most typically log and prioritize the users' calls and dispatch calls to appropriate expert support. Expert support is normally provided by the SAP project team, including functional and technical personnel and even developers.

These people are knowledgeable about business processes and systems functioning. Often they are responsible for calling users back with answers and documenting problems for later occasions.Finally, when the project team is not able to solve those problems, it can use SAP support services such as SAP Service Marketplace or SAP customer support services. There are other sources of support, such as hardware partners, database vendors, or other software or service companies.

Besides having a defined help desk process, there are several other requirements for establishing the help desk. Most important are as follows:

  • Defining what will be supported.
  • Establishing levels of priorities.
  • Implementing hours of operation and methods for contacting support and logging calls.
  • Establishing standards and procedures for support.
  • Establishing service levels and response times for callback.
  • Assigning help desk roles and responsibilities.
  • Establishing communication channels.
  • Developing help desk logistics: equipment, phones, faxes, facilities.
  • Implementing the help desk application. In this sense it must be noted that one of the latest facilities of the SAP Solution Manager is the inclusion of a powerful

Support Desk, based on the underlying SAP CRM. You might consider this platform as it integrates seamlessly with the whole SAP service catalog, and the connection with the technical and the functional implementation documentation, as well as with the central point for SAP landscape monitoring and operations.

  • Providing needed skills and resources.
  • Developing an escalation process.
  • Providing initial and continuing training.

The number and skills of the support staff personnel will largely depend on the size of the user base, as well as the scope (modules, applications or components) and status (continuous change and open projects) of the SAP solutions or components implemented. For instance, only a small number of support staff personnel will be necessary for small and closed implementations, whereas large and open implementations may require many support staff people, both technical and functional, including developers. For medium to large and complex implementations, a larger support and help desk staff will be required. This is closely related to the issue of the resources needed after implementation (after going live).

Common recommendations for resources after going live are as follows:

  • At least two consultants or business superusers for each of the SAP components or application modules being deployed.
  • A strong technical team, with at least two basis experts plus a systems manager and a good database administrator. At least two of these people must have thorough knowledge of how to monitor performance and tune the systems.
  • One or two ABAP programmers, or Java if using the J2EE (for instance, for Enterprise Portal iViews, XI, etc.) when there is the need for additional reporting or development, and also for upgrade projects.

Large companies and value contract SAP customers with several SAP installations including various mySAP Business Suite applications and SAP NetWeaver components, and intensive support needs are advised to create a Customer Competence Center (CCC). The task of beginning the planning process for defining the postimplementation support is included in the Project Preparation phase within the ASAP Roadmap and the SAP

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