Business Solutions with SAP
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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Bill Wood
+1 (704) 905 – 5175
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