They say a good magician never reveals their tricks. Well, I’m no magician so I’ll give you a little insight. Lagging indicators, those affected by process improvements, cost-based ROI and TCO methods, and current ERP mindsets are reactive.
Leading indicators, those which directly affect the competitive business landscape are proactive.
SAP and ERP technicians are reactive. They can make system settings, they can help you to make a small tweak here or there, but they are tactical and tend to be shortsighted.
SAP experts are proactive. Not only do they understand how to deliver process improvements, along with those process integration points, they also tend to be proactive and propose innovative solutions to nagging business problems.
SAP experts evaluate more than the SAP application alone, they are aware and actively promote solutions that address the key areas your business is concerned with. They consider the customers in your marketplace, the vendors in your supply chain, how you might innovate your product or service pipeline, and the competitive strengths and weaknesses of your company compared to those in the marketplace. On top of that, they know what processes, or process improvements, are necessary to address each of those areas to address those competitive pressures. Along with all of this the truly talented ERP experts can evaluate your company’s culture during the implementation to understand how much change the organization can absorb.
SAP and ERP technicians on the other hand simply replace your existing legacy systems with a more integrated IT system. They work to make your brand new shiny ERP system look and behave a lot like your old system. They are unskilled at knowledge transfer and have little ability to deliver critically needed change management and business transformation. In effect they are high-priced IT technicians and contrary to popular mythology they are NOT knowledge workers. [FN1]
SAP Consulting Skills Include Change Management and Strong Communication
And when some new “gee wiz” requirement comes up, or when some new problem presents itself, the technicians are the first to immediately race to a new system requirement to solve it.
I can’t tell you how many times I have been on projects where the client had a legitimate need SAP’s applications could address but the organization could not absorb the change. Experience has taught me to look ahead to the days, weeks, and months after go-live and consider whether or not the level of support for the new processes would be sufficient. And if not, either find some way to work through the necessary organizational changes or push back on the client because it was not in their best interests. ERP technicians will not do this, all they are interested in is being able to stick something else on their resume. Some “new skill” or “new experience” they might be able to sell to some other customer. [FN2]
What Can You Do to Help Promote ERP Project Success – Get Educated!
Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Get educated about the best approach to use with your SAP implementation or upgrade project.
If you’re an SAP customer, take the time and trouble to thoroughly evaluate the vendor you bring into your company, carefully evaluate every consultant they propose, and not just on the face of a resume either. If you need to, do your own background checks on their resumes and if you find one that is a fake (which is more common than anyone cares to admit) then throw the entire vendor out the door. If they can’t even check the background of their own candidates then why should you pay them one dime to bring fakes onto your project.
If you want to get the best implementation you possibly can then create a structured, objective RFP process that has a rational scoring system to evaluate the vendor. When you go strictly on “relationships” you may be missing out on your own fiduciary duty and responsibility to deliver to your company the best possible solution to win in the marketplace. And in today’s world that responsibility could very well mean the difference between being in business or out of business. Or at least facing the prospect of massive layoffs and cutbacks. You can’t afford to “give away the farm” to a “friend” who might not be able to deliver on what you need.
If you’re an implementation vendor avoid getting burned by some of the sophisticated SAP fraud shops. The ones that create fake resumes, they do the bait and switch with someone else doing their phone screen, and they get some of their friends to “vouch” for their “experience” at large companies. [FN2] The minute you find one of these resumes from one of your recruiters STOP doing business with that recruiter or recruiting firm. If they can’t or won’t do a simple employment / project verification on a candidate then run, don’t walk away from them.
Take some time to get familiar with the various SAP tools and methodologies. For customers they are freely available and for implementation vendors who are partnered with SAP they have access to even more resources. And once you’re in with SAP, those tools and resources are free! If you’re an SAP customer paying for maintenance and support then take advantage of what those fees are for. Get educated through your OSS ID access to internal SAP resources and tools. If you find something internally you think will benefit you and you don’t have access to it as a customer then contact your SAP sales rep and ask for access to that resource.
In the end there are lots of things you can do. But you have to get out and do them.
[FN1] See the section of the following essay that explains the difference between what many companies call “knowledge management” and what knowledge management actually is. This essay addresses collaboration, social media, and SOA in the enterprise. “SAP, ERP III, SOA — Learning Organizations through Social Media Collaboration”
[FN2] See the following posts about avoiding fake SAP resumes, fake SAP experience, and get the experience you pay for.
Screening methods to find the right SAP consultant
Screening Methods to Find the Right Consultant – Part 2
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