Business Solutions with SAP

Phase 6 RUN SAP ASAP Methodology

March 26th, 2012 by

Anyone who has been around SAP for any period of time is reasonably familiar with the SAP ASAP Methodology.  In fact I rarely see sales presentation materials from many system integrators which do not at least mention it.  Even some of the bigger integrators with custom methodologies may reference it in passing and show the SAP Implementation Roadmap to demonstrate how their methodology has some similarity to it, or supplements some of the few gaps that may remain.  In a previous post on Why Use the SAP ASAP Methodology? I evaluated the SAP ASAP Methodology compared to SAP partner custom methodologies.

As of today it seems there are few of the SAP partners who are familiar with the latest Roadmap Phase 6–, the “RUN” ASAP Methodology enhancement.  This methodology enhancement is probably one of the most significant methodology changes offered since ASAP was originally introduced.  This is the key phase which relates to IT organizational maturity, to integration of the SAP support organization into the business after you go live.  In other words, this is one of the critical success factors for your SAP program.  That critical success factor is that SAP Program Management Requires a Type of CMMI.

Before we go into the little known Roadmap Phase 6 “RUN” enhancement let’s take a quick look at the first 5 phases of the SAP ASAP methodology most of us are familiar with:

  1. Project Preparation (before the consultants begin)
    • Project goals and objectives
    • Clarify scope
    • Schedule, budget plan, major milestones, and deliverables
    • First pass at a WBS and task based project plan.
    • Project organization, committees, and resources
  1. Business Blueprint
    • Design the future state
    • Revise and refine the project plan
    • Gain approval of all project templates and deliverables
    • Refine scope, resources, and schedule
  1. Realization
    • Build the solution
    • Test / adjust / correct the solution
    • Develop end-user training (courses, logistics, schedules, etc.)
  1. Final Preparation
    • Finalize end-user based testing, user acceptance testing
    • Perform final data conversion rehearsals (mock conversions with live data)
    • Test the final cutover script
    • Resolve any open issues or gaps
    • Perform final setup activities related to printing, interfaces, external systems, third party software, etc.
  1. Go-Live
    • Transition the enterprise to the new SAP system
    • Support the live environment with any needed fixes or enhancements
    • Optimize system performance
    • Transition to site support (help desk, etc.)
    • Close the project

At a very high level this is the SAP ASAP Methodology (without the latest addition).  But what about Phase 6?  What about the RUN ASAP Methodology?

RUN SAP ASAP Methodology

A few years ago SAP introduced a stand-alone version of this approach and methodology for post go-live SAP system support.  It is now incorporated as a key part of the overall ASAP Methodology in version 7.x onward.

While Roadmap Phase 6 is mostly focused on moving customers along to independent support, and toward an SAP Certified Center of Expertise (SAP CCoE) there is much more to this phase.  The most comprehensive tools, resources, templates, and development are around empowering SAP customers to support their own systems.  This is part of the “Internal” focus as I have described it in SAP Enabled Business Transformation for IT Leadership. From an SAP perspective there are 2 key reasons why this portion of the ASAP Methodology enhancement is “built out” 1) the more you support your implementation the less maintenance and support you need from SAP (i.e. you are carrying some of the cost of your own support), and 2) that is the relatively “easy” part of the support paradigm.

See the Series on SAP Competency Center or SAP Center of Excellence for supplemental material to make the transition beyond the “internal” focus to Enterprise and eventually External market focus.

While the Phase 6 RUN ASAP Methodology focuses heavily on areas of support which benefit SAP there are several areas which are critical for the strategic and business integrated IT organization.  The SAP “Certified Center of Expertise” is the first step to ensuring you gain the trust and confidence of your business counterparts.  The Phase 6 RUN ASAP Methodology does not end with that first portion which benefits SAP.  Even though the material and templates are sparse for moving very far beyond this “internal” (CoE) focus there is still significant substance and some meaningful templates for moving your SAP organization to the next level of “enterprise” focus.  This is where your SAP support organization begins gaining wider acceptance as a business peer.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to get familiar with the Phase 6 RUN ASAP Methodology section you might want to do that today! 

This phase should be reviewed during the Project Preparation phase and elements of the future state SAP organization incorporated into your overall SAP project plan, project approach, goals, milestones, deliverables, and especially any Organization Change Management program you begin.  Part of that initial evaluation of the RUN Methodology enhancement would be an internal organizational assessment to get a baseline of where you are, as well as what it will take to go to the next level by the time the project goes live.  THIS should be a critical part of your project planning right from the beginning.

If you are an SAP customer, or if you are considering an SAP solution and would like access to the SAP ASAP Methodology and tools contact me today.

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How To Navigate the SAP Business Transformation Journey

March 19th, 2012 by
SAP Business Transformation

SAP Business Transformation

One of the drivers for this continuing Series on SAP Competency Center or SAP Center of Excellence is the desire for so many senior IT leaders to become future-state business strategist CIOs.  Last week’s post provided the introduction of SAP Enabled Business Transformation for IT Leadership–, a key requirement for senior IT leaders to become strategic business peers.  

Last week’s post introduced the three key milestones on the journey to the future-state business strategist IT leader–, especially if you have any thoughts about ever becoming a CIO.  In 2010 the CIO Executive Council conducted a study of some 200 selected business leaders.  They wanted to “identify goals, challenges and best practices among a representative population of top IT leaders.”  The survey indicated that fully 80% of these leaders wanted to advance to the “future-state, business strategist CIO position.”  As the last post addressed, this objective requires 3 stages IT leaders must move their organization through: internal focus, enterprise focus, and then external focus.  In terms of organizational maturity this means going from service provider to business partner to business peer.

The reason I focus on the SAP Center of Excellence concept [FN1] is that model provides any IT organization undergoing transition or transformation with an understandable future-state to work toward.  Having that future state is also why maturity models have become so popular.  Maturity models, like the SAP Center of Excellence, provide a roadmap to build the structure around for reaching your destination.

Beyond a mountain of SAP service providers pushing for outsourcing there is little information about building, maintaining, and then delivering excellence in a live SAP organization.

The Internally Focused SAP IT Organization

–          The Internal IT Focus correlates to the basic IT service provider model.

To summarize, the Internal IT Focus is about IT leadership being concerned with system stabilization, fixing problems, and addressing any high priority changes or needs.  At this point your SAP IT Organization activities are all about the “care and feeding” of the new SAP system–, basic system maintenance and support.  Some commentators refer to this as “keeping the lights on.”

At this stage the critical SAP IT organization development activities include:

  • Gaining functional competence with the SAP applications (maintenance for the support staff, providing further training and knowledge transfer for end users).
  • Developing leadership skills to manage internal SAP / IT initiatives (SAP project management, team leadership, blueprinting, scoping, estimating, etc.).
  • Proper data management (data governance, correction, and ongoing refinement).
  • Managing system security.
  • SAP Help Desk and support operations.
  • Maintaining hardware / system responsiveness.

The IT Leadership Domain in this area is as functional head or basic management.

Many organizations are eligible to receive the SAP Certified Customer Center of Expertise designation at this point.  However this is only a service provider model and offers little value to the business.

The Business Aligned SAP IT Organization

–          Enterprise Integration is where the IT organization transitions from service provider to business partner through change management and organizational transformation.

The second key competency is Enterprise Integration, or, as many previous commentators have called it “business to IT alignment” but it is actually Beyond Technology Alignment.  At this stage the IT organization is beginning to develop a level of business understanding, business awareness, and taking the first steps to business integration.  

The biggest problem at this stage is with system integrators and staffing firms who promote the business and technical divide by providing resources who are clearly not real consultants.  To get past this you as the customer are responsible for FIXING Stupid SAP Vendor – Partner Selection RFI – RFP Processes and using Screening and Interview Methods to Find the Right Consultant – Part 2. Think about this a moment, if your SAP implementation vendor provides “consultants” who do not even understand business, or have barriers to actually consulting, do you expect your own internal IT organization to “automagically” bridge the gap?  The internal resources generally have limited or no SAP exposure.

At this stage the critical SAP organizational development activities include:

  • More direct interaction with business users, supervisors, and business leaders (earning trust).
  • Participating in resolving business challenges by offering technology options to HELP the business address their concerns.
  • Speaking in business terms about technology solutions.
  • Collaborating with business users across different departments to solve complex or interrelated challenges and problems (for one method to do this with SAP, see SAP, ERP III, SOA — Learning Organizations through Social Media Collaboration
  • Overall Change Management leadership by the IT organization
    • Investment in training and development around organization change management
    • Leadership / Management training of IT employees.
    • Periodic “shadow” or “employee exchange” programs for SAP employees to perform various business functions from the end-user and supervisory perspective.
    • Regular IT meetings (generally weekly) on how technology is being applied to company vision, strategy, and business goals.
    • Regular meetings (generally monthly) with various business stakeholders to provide progress in applying technology to business vision, strategy, and goals as well as seeking new areas of opportunity.  This is part of the Steering Committee Governance for an SAP Center of Excellence and why Using Your SAP Steering Committee for Business Transformation is critical for SAP program success.

The IT Leadership Domain in this area is as transformational leader with heavy organizational change and integration.

What about External Focus for the SAP Organization?

The IT Leadership Domain in this area is strategic leadership with a heavy emphasis on external market forces, sales, revenue generation, and improved company products / services.

We will look at some of the key activities related to the final step on this journey in a future post.  This is where the divide between business and IT is changed so that the SAP support organization is seen as a business peer and is respected and even sought out for their strategic contribution to overall business direction.


[FN1]  It didn’t hurt that Michael Doane and I used to work together at Grant Thornton in the late 90’s on SAP projects, or that we’ve periodically stayed in touch since then.  Mr. Doane is one of the original advocates of approaching SAP implementations from the perspective of planning for the long term use of the system rather than just getting through a project.  An approach he refers to as building a “Center of Excellence” for the productive SAP instance.

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SAP Enabled Business Transformation for IT Leadership

March 12th, 2012 by
SAP Business Transformation

SAP Business Transformation

Continuing the Journey to the Business-Converged SAP Center of Excellence

After many years researching and living through IT and business convergence for IT leadership I ran into a study which brought more clarity to the key dividing concepts.  Some interesting approaches and maturity models are available for senior executives but little direction for the delivery organization (for detailed development see 3 Development Phases for SAP Center of Excellence Maturity).

CIO magazine established a CIO Executive Council for doing research on challenges faced by senior IT leaders.  As a result of this research they developed a great senior IT leader competency model which is easily applied to transforming the SAP enterprise.  Their CIO competency also correlates well to SAP’s RUN methodology (part of the new integrated SAP ASAP Implementation Methodology).

The competency model which can be adapted to SAP transformation consists of three stages:

  • Internal IT Focus
  • Enterprise Integration
  • External Business drivers

The Chevron CIO Journey Through the States of Internal to Enterprise to External

As Louie Ehrlich, President, Chevron Information Technology Company, and CIO, Chevron Corp described his journey of discovery around the first two key areas:

The hard lesson I learned as a CIO looking to advance my role and serve as a business strategist is that one must recognize that there is likely to be a capability/expectation gap, and that this gap doesn’t go away by itself. It’s something that we as [senior IT leaders] have to close.

In my view, the expectation gap is influenced by three factors. The first factor is the state of the fundamentals of your IT environment. Is it cost effective? Is it reliable? If it isn’t, then by definition your role needs to be one of IT function leader. Without that foundation, nothing else is possible.

The second factor is the capabilities and business knowledge of the IT function. Do you have an IT employee base with the experience and ability to bring strategic business value to the company?  If not, then again – much of your focus should be as the IT function leader. The first and second factors are within our control.  [FN1]

Ehrlich’s experience, insight, and direction is part of The Real Reason Executive Participation Creates IT Project Success.  The executive guidance provides invaluable insight which ultimately aligns to business needs and requirements.  Without executive sponsorship it will be difficult (if not impossible) to make the transition from pure technical delivery to IT-business convergence.

The Current State of SAP Business Transformation Needs Attention

You know you’ve got a serious problem when the user community expresses these (all to common) frustrations: “the IT group just doesn’t get it!” or “they think they know what I deal with but they have no clue,” or worse still “I’m sick of them putting something in and just throwing it at me and saying here it is…”

Too often many SAP enabled enterprises have IT organizations who genuinely do not appreciate their role in the enterprise.  Many SAP IT organizations seem to lack the critical understanding that technology in the enterprise is there to further business needs.

If you really want to find out the business perspective of your IT organization why don’t you do an internal poll asking how true those user statements are on a scale of 1 – 5.  You might be shocked by the answer.

A Change Program for the SAP Organization is Needed

You can use SAP as a Change Enabler to achieve tremendous benefits throughout the enterprise with the right approach.  But as my former colleague and friend Michael Doane has suggested by using a marriage vs. wedding analogy, SAP Implementation is an Investment NOT an Event!

Often the consultants who have done SAP for any period of time focus on how to help the business make the transition to the new system.  Unfortunately in the course of the project we rarely focus on helping the SAP support organization make the transition to business partner.  Instead we focus on setting up help desks, support, data management, etc.

To achieve Sustained Business Value from SAP Business Software it is important to incorporate a Change Management Program within the SAP / IT Organization itself which is focused on Achieving Business Value from SAP Investment

The SAP Enabled IT Organization’s Perspective Needs Internal Change Management

As part of the approach to gain real competitive advantage in the business marketplace you must Change How You Look at SAP to Create ROI because SAP Implementation is an Investment NOT an Event.  Some organizations are taking this approach as they seek employees who are “business analysts” rather than merely functional consultants.  In other words they are looking for employees who clearly have a business background as well as SAP experience.

It is important to incorporate a Change Management Program within the SAP / IT Organization itself

The SAP organization MUST focus on developing depth of business skills and business collaboration.  Failing to do this will only result in a loss of credibility for the SAP enabled IT organization.  As long as that is the perception of the broader user community, and especially of business leadership, the SAP / IT organization will not be seen as a business peer.  In fact, until this internal frustration and distrust is addressed there will be a natural resistance on the part of the broader business community to allow IT to become a business partner.


[FN1] Closing the Expectations Gap, CIO Dashboard

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