How APQC process capability maps can meet your SAP Solution Manager blueprint for SAP ERP

The  American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC) defines and manages process classification frameworks (PCF) for specific industries as well as cross industry.  The PCF allows for the efficient definition of processes, the benchmarking of performance and the structuring of knowledge and content. There is a remarkable number of organizations trying to benefit from the APQC PCF which are also huge SAP shops.  Surprisingly it does not seem evident how the APQC best practices can meet the SAP SLA requirements to document core business processes with the SAP® Solution Manager tool.

This blog post is about the BPM-X interface link to exchange APQC PCF content with SAP Solution Manager. The interface allows bi-directional exchange of data with SAP Solution Manager. The PCF is defined by a functional decomposition of business processes and structured as a tree with hierarchies down to a task level. A numbering scheme permits to uniquely define process elements in different industry-specific or cross-industry process capability frameworks.

The following screenshot shows an example of the APQC PCF.


Purchase requisition activity in APQC PCF

Following the APQC value proposition, “developing, implementing and sustaining process management capabilities can be challenging tasks. Organizations feel a strong need to find ways to identify, document, and study outstanding models of process implementation and management.”

The main benefits in using PCFs as mentioned by APQC are:

  • Accelerate process governance, management and definition of activities.
  • Demonstrate compliance with regulations or standards.
  • Gain a starting point for performance improvement.
  • Prepare for benchmarking.
  • Obtain an objective, third-party view of processes.
  • Increase executive involvement in process improvement.

SAP® offers SAP® Solution Manager as a tool to manage SAP projects and the SAP landscape. Its purpose is to manage the business process blueprint and to customize SAP solutions. With the so-called Business Process Repository (BPR) SAP offers a best practice to accelerate the business blueprinting. The SAP blueprint comes in a tree structure similar to the hierarchy of the APQC PCF:

APQC PCF SAP blueprint
Category n.a.
Available in the SAP BPR, called ‘Organizational Area’
Process Group Business Scenario
Process Business Process
Activity Process Step
n.a. Transaction

As we can see, the APQC PCF matches very well into the SAP blueprint process structure. It provides a good baseline for a top-down modeling approach, classification and process definition. The framework builds a comprehensive enterprise business architecture and can be seen as a superset of the SAP BPR. As SAP transactions aren’t available in the APQC PCF, they can be easily extended by SAP functional consultants.  In the example shown above, the SAP transactions Create Purchase Requisition  ME51N  and Display Purchase Requisition ME53N can be added to the APQC activity Process/Review requisition (10292).

The following screenshot shows the SAP blueprint in SAP® Solution Manager. The tree view on the right side shows the mapping from APQC PCF to the SAP blueprint, the left side shows the SAP transaction ME51N and ME53N assigned to the APQC activity called SAP process step in the SAP blueprint

SAP Blueprint1

SAP transactions ME51N and ME53N assigned to the APQC activity

Our team has developed a Microsoft® Excel® macro that allows to fit the APQC PCF content into the SAP blueprint structure and to map APQC activities to SAP transactions coming from the SAP best practice or the SAP® ERP system.

Import APQC into SAP Solution Manager

Import APQC PCF content into a SAP Solution Manager blueprint project.

The Excel® sheet allows to upload the APQC content into a SAP® Solution Manager project with SAP transactions. As this is a generic approach any other process content can be tailored to fit into SAP® Solution Manager and to fulfill SAP SLA requirements. The BPM-X approach allows the use of any such content as a starting point for the blueprinting exercise using a professional modeling tool to document, analyze and improve the business processes and to scope the ERP solution.

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