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SAP Change Management Program Success

July 30th, 2012 by
SAP Change Management

SAP Change Management

Lots of literature, information, and resources focus on change management for successful enterprise application projects.  To help address SAP change management the SAP ASAP Methodology provides lots of resources, tools, and templates along with guidance for Change Management during your SAP project.  This is one of the key reasons for Why to Use the SAP ASAP Methodology?

Even though the ASAP methodology and various other resource provide some great sources the high level guiding framework always seems to be a little vague.  For example, there is a constant message that people resist change and that it is so hard.  That is not true.  As I have often said, if people resisted change no new product or service would ever be sold.  No new invention, gadget, method, or anything else would ever be developed.  There would be NO innovation in anything.

People do NOT simply resist change–, they resist change they do not understand and change they perceive is a threat.

Applying Sales and Marketing Principles to SAP Change Management

If sales and marketing departments for every type of organization in the world manage to sell new products or services maybe we should look to them for what works.  For both marketing and sales there are four key phases for customers considering a purchase:

  • Awareness (Marketing)
  • Consideration (Marketing, sales)
  • Evaluation (Sales, marketing)
  • Purchase (Sales)

These four general stages or phases of buyer behavior correlate well to a solid change management program–, messaging, engagement, credibility, and commitment.  To be successful you must be committed to Leading Change (and Change Management).

1.  Messaging – This is the beginning of the stakeholder analysis process.  Exploration, active listening, and facilitation are critical.  At this stage messaging is outbound.

Product or Service Sales Phase

Awareness

Customers understand and can communicate their desire or problem or need.  What are your constituents facing?  What are their struggles and what will help them do what they need to do better?  If the change will add more burden to them then why is the change necessary? 

Enterprise Change Phase

Discovery and blueprinting

A good SAP or enterprise application change program must start right from the beginning of the project.  First the identification of the key stakeholders at all levels of the organization must be made.  Afterward a clear effort must focus on the benefits to the affected users.  You must focus on the WHY of Achieving Business Value from SAP Investment.

A system-centric blueprint which does not connect to user needs will only breed mistrust and fear.

Analysis

Surveys are distributed and results tabulated.

2.  Engagement – Deeper determination of the issues, active communication, and targeted messaging.  Stakeholders at all levels must be encouraged to participate and be heard.  At this stage communications and messaging just start to go both ways (inbound and outbound).

Product or Service Sales Phase

Consideration

Marketing and communications are directed at addressing customer desires, problems, or needs.  Assurances are provided that the product or service will meet those issues.  The customer begins to solidify whether or not to explore a purchase decision.

Enterprise Change Phase

System functionality demonstrations and stakeholder feedback

Key stakeholders have the first part of their issues addressed.  There are 4 key types of change categories each user fits into here.  They are:

  • Opposed
  • Unsure, anxious, or fearful
  • Accepting or willing
  • Promoting

This phase of the change process is designed to aggressively uncover and then address those who are opposed or anxious about the upcoming changes.  These key stakeholders must be heard and their concerns answered.  It is also where the key message around SAP Service Delivery versus Value Delivery is promoted.

Analysis

Survey results are synthesized, reviewed, and then communicated to the broader enterprise.  Action plans to address the survey results are developed.  Any evaluation metrics are defined.

3.  Credibility  – benefits messages, demonstrations, insight, and information.  Change activities must promote openness and clearer understanding of the reasons for change.  More of an inbound and outbound dialog begins to occur.  Communications are actively going both ways.

Product or Service Sales Phase

Evaluation

Understanding of key features of a product or service and how they are different or better than competitors occurs.  Price considerations are also important.

Enterprise Change Phase

Aggressive information sharing and open dialog

One way you can Achieve Business Benefit is Through SAP Prototype Demonstrations.  Part of the communication and benefits program involves live system demonstrations (demo days), active engagement of super users, subject matter experts, and key change agents throughout the organization.  Messaging would also include external web resources, links, presentations, and other information to help “sell” the organization on the coming changes.

The goal of this phase is to overcome objections, fear, and anxiety.

Analysis

Action plans from the surveys are communicated to the organization and execution activities are carried out.   Evaluation metrics are refined, communicated, and adjusted to the organizational requirements.

4.  Commitment  – full user participation is critical at this stage.  If they are not involved in the process all of the previous effort falls apart here.

Product or Service Sales Phase

Purchase

For the purchase of a car this is the test drive and price negotiation.  For services or other items it is the understanding of key differentiators and how the service will help or enhance the customer’s issue, customer references, and possibly case studies.

Whether it is a test drive, understanding differentiators, price negotiations, or the benefits of a product or service these are all directly related to building a level of trust which in turn produces commitment.

Enterprise Change Phase

Acceptance, Adoption, and Promotion

More user demonstrations, training, super user network, subject matter experts, and pilot processes are all important here.  This is where everything starts to come together. 

This is also where any changes to originally expected benefits or reductions in scope must be carefully managed.  Another key area is the Organizational Change Management Inside the SAP IT Support Organization.  A key component at this phase involves Change Management Strategies and Knowledge Transfer Processes for a Successful SAP Project 1 (and Part 2).

The goal of this phase is to produce acceptance and even promotion of the changes.  However acceptance, adoption and promotion are not possible if the stakeholders have not established trust in the coming change. 

Analysis

Execution activities are carried out and nearing completion.  Reviewing, analyzing, and then distributing the results of the previously defined metrics results occur.  Lessons learned are captured and communicated.

Conclusion on SAP Change Management for Business Application Project Success

Every phase of your SAP or enterprise application project must be wrapped in the appropriate change management processes.  Just as with sales and marketing people do not resist change as much as they resist change which they perceive as a threat or do not understand.  So the key is to learn to sell the change and its benefits so that the perception of a threat is removed.  In doing so you will help to transform your project and company into a winner, both now and in the future.




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Achieve Business Benefit Through SAP Prototype Demonstrations

July 16th, 2012 by
Imagine what is possible by showing what is achievable

Functionality Prototype and Demonstration

SAP Conference Room Proof of Concept Pilots

Proof of Concepts with frequent early prototyping drive project costs down.  It is like the old saying that “an ounce of prevention can avoid a pound of cure.”  Proof of concept pilots during the project is one of the rarely mentioned SAP critical success factors. 

Early in my SAP career I used to get a little frustrated by the disruption these prototype sessions, conference room pilots, or whatever you want to call them would cause.  My thought was I had a job to do and didn’t have time for this.  No one ever stopped to help me understand WHY these pilots and prototypes are important.

Before I get into the substance of this let me first be very clear about what I am referring to–, a prototype, pilot, or demonstration is ACTUAL system functionality set up in the application to demonstrate transactional business processing.  I have heard of some system integrators who call PowerPoint process flows these types of “pilots” and that is completely ridiculous.  That is just regurgitating SAP Blueprint process flows and is NOT a prototype, pilot, or system demonstration at all.

Stop the SAP Consulting Merry Go Round – Real Life Experiences

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to work through a complex issue and going around and around with meetings, discussions, process flows, etc.  At one client we had a very complex third party process which involved one foreign company code doing sales deliveries for a domestic company code, but the domestic company would bill the customer and collect the cash, the foreign company would do inter-company billing, etc.  There was not only third party processing involved, there was also foreign trade, batch, and serial number tracking required (YUCK!).

After getting a large and very expensive group of consultants together with key client resources we hammered the first pass out.  Then we did it again a few days later, and then again a few days later.  After about 4 or 5 weeks of this madness it turns out the consultants were the problem more than the client.  Several of the consultants essentially said this couldn’t be done.

To stop the complete waste of time I left the last meeting and spent 3 days setting up a prototype the consultants said couldn’t be done.  Now, in their defense it is complicated and it DOES involve setup in SD, MM, PP, FI, and EDI.  Very FEW consultants have ever done this type of integrated setup.  I scheduled a DEMONSTRATION with all of the key stakeholders and project leadership to put this issue to rest.  The SAP standard functionality covered approximately 90% of the overall requirement and we were now discussing small tweaks or changes that were required rather than trying to over engineer a customized process mess!

Reduce SAP Implementation Cost, Improve SAP Quality, and Manage SAP Scope More Effectively

Using Conference Room Pilots, or Functionality Playbacks is effective for difficult to understand processes system demonstrations.  This technique can significantly reduce meeting times and increase customer satisfaction.

Stanford professors Carleton and Cokayne spent seven years studying the user of physical prototypes in “foresight engineering” which is the ongoing development of products or services that are three or more product cycles in the future.  They studied the use of prototypes for “capturing and communicating a team’s opportunities inside the organization, connecting the company’s vision and strategy with… day-to-day [engineering design work], and helping teams to connect vision to research to engineering design.”  Carleton, T., and Cockayne, W., (2009) The Power of Prototypes in Foresight Engineering.  International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED’09/493, Stanford University, August 24-27 2009, page 1.

The use of prototypes has been found to “make ideas tangible, iterate quickly at a low cost, and develop a shared language” (ibid.).  These demonstrations are part of the change management process and can help to bring the broader organization along in the process. In the second half of the post on ERP, SAP, or IT Project Management and Prototyping for Success more detail is provided for the following items:

  • System demonstrations focus on delivering what is important while allowing for early adjustments.
  • Complex or difficult functionality demonstrations help reduce the overall amount of meeting time.
  • System demonstrations identify gaps and problems earlier reducing the number of testing defects and rework time.
  • Early demonstrations help ensure scope is properly accounted for and last minute process surprises are reduced.
  • Some performance problems are exposed.
  • Possible schedule and work completion issues may be exposed while they might still be manageable.

By doing a LOT of prototypes early in a project you also quickly separate the good IT resources from those who are not so talented or even those who are complete fakes.

Conclusion on Using SAP Prototypes, Functionality Demonstrations or Conference Room Pilots for Project Success

Just as the real world example I noted above shows, by using prototypes or demonstrations to understand where the real business requirement gaps are you may be able to avoid a major investment in custom development work.  And by avoiding that development you reduce ongoing maintenance headaches.

As for dealing with scheduling and work completion I have been on many projects where some of the consultants or team leads would simply lie about their status and completion.  By having a clearly defined pilot and playback schedule throughout the project for certain key functionality you help to ensure that what is committed is actually delivered.  Too many times the real status does not show up until testing starts, or worse still, items get taken out of scope because of misleading status.  By then it is too late.




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Why Social Media Marketing Success Is Elusive for Business

May 21st, 2012 by
Social Media in Business

Social Media in Business

In several social media channels I participate in one item continues to surface again and again –, “How do you ensure business benefit from social media?”  Underlying that question are the very basic issues of how do you ensure some kind of financial return. 

Although some social media folks understand the need for real, measurable results for business, especially in difficult economic times, there are those who simply insist that you must pay for something that is unproven and may never produce any real results.  They seem offended at the idea of insisting on financial results.

Many of today’s social media efforts are like “exploring” the great unknown without any clear map of where you are going or plan on how to get there – it is more like aimless wandering

Lots and lots of folks who call themselves “social media experts” really have no idea what to do when it comes to business.  They may be “experts” at individual interactions like building big personal “followings” but they struggle with using social media channels for business.  Add to all of this the recent news published in Forbes about GM pulling out of their advertising with Facebook (see The Real Reason GM Left Facebook) and you can see there is a real problem.

Resolving the Social Media Dilemma About Business Return on Investment (Social Media ROI)

Social Media Fads and the Risk to the Enterprise are real when there is no business consideration of profit (which companies need to survive) or focus on business activities.  I’m always baffled by the genuine lack of understanding of a need for profit in business if a business is expected to continue operating.  Too often the thought is that companies should just believe in social media, spend money on it, hire expensive social media consultants, and not consider the expenditure of their limited capital resources.

To finally achieve financial business benefit we have to identify the “root cause” of why financial business benefit is so elusive.  So far I haven’t even heard anyone articulate the cause of the difficulty in leveraging social media for business purposes which leads to a financial return.  Certainly there are some social media “rock stars” out there who defy the conventional wisdom but,…

Current social media marketing methods are colder than cold calls.

The Social Media Marketing Problem – Targeted Markets

The business problem for social media is that it is individual–, it is “social.” Okay, that sounds silly, what I mean is there are no target market economies of scale.  Sure, you can develop “volume” but is it the right volume, is it the right target, are you using the right channel, do you even know who you are trying to reach or how you are going about reaching them?  Do you know what they want?  Do you know how to use that medium to reach them?  More recently Harvard Business Review explored Three Myths about What Customers Want which directly addressed the issue that most customers do not want to engage with your brand.  Further, if it is related to sales activity they likely don’t want to engage much with your either.

The biggest platforms, namely Twitter and Facebook (and to a lesser extent LinkedIn) are limited in how you can segment, stratify, or gain market intelligence for marketing efforts.  The idea of one off, individual, personal connections has no economy of scale.  When I refer to “economies of scale” in this sense I am not referring to raw numbers, I am referring to economies of scale within your target market or potential customer base.  No private enterprise who wants to stay in business can afford to go after every possible customer.  This is why they target certain segments and markets. 

Consider the difference between social media and more established Internet channels.  When someone searches in Google they are looking for something very specific, it is highly targeted.  If their search is related to a product or service and they click on your ad you can bet they are reasonably far along in their purchase consideration.  They might still be researching but they are researching and find your blog post or company web site, but it is still a very targeted effort related to a purchase decision.  Your company blog or website is likely attracting people looking for information related to a potential purchase.  There is some initial “filtering” mechanism over enough users to provide a reasonably targeted “economy of scale.”  This is NOT the case with social media.  Many of today’s social media efforts are like “exploring” the great unknown without any clear map of where you are going or plan on how to get there.  Today’s social media is like yesterday’s cold call telemarketing but without any target list to start with.

Current social media marketing methods are colder than cold calls because there is so little ability for truly productive focus.  Where more traditional advertising mediums have built-in filtering mechanisms before human effort is involved social media is just the opposite.  The marketer becomes the filtering mechanism even before a virtual “cold call” can be effectively made. 

Today’s social media is like yesterday’s cold call telemarketing but without any target list to start with.

In many ways this is worse than the California Gold Rush in 1849.  People went West dreaming of Gold Rush riches just by digging up the ground around areas where gold had been found.  Today’s social media explosion is like digging for gold in the middle of the ocean.  You float around for a while, try to dive to the bottom, hope that you are actually able to go deep enough to land on mush and then start digging for gold.  Never mind that there may not be any gold where you are looking, or even if there is you may not be able to stay submerged long enough to collect it.  This is the current state of social media.   You go deeper and deeper into the water of  “social connections” until you finally hit the “mushy” ground of “enough” connections or “likes” and you start digging in the mush with your marketing effort, hoping to discover the “golden” sale.  If you chose the wrong social media outlet, or if you failed to accumulate the right “target” group, all of your energy, investment, and effort may be completely wasted.  Sure, you’re “popular” but popularity doesn’t pay the bills (unless you are a celebrity), never mind that economic conditions are difficult.  This doesn’t mean a few “lucky” individuals or situations won’t lead to “gold” but it does mean that for the time being it will be very difficult for social media business success to be scalable and adaptable.  Social media by its very nature is individual making it even more difficult.

Social Media Market (Unrealized) Potential

Today’s social media is much like China and India in times past.  They had gigantic populations consisting of over 1 billion people each but these were not marketable consumers.  It wasn’t until huge economic, social, and cultural changes took place over nearly a generation (or more) that Indian and Chinese markets were slowly opened.  In China this is still a slow, painful, and difficult process.

The Social Media Marketing Problem – Social Media Landscape

We looked at the social media effort required for each social media channel.  Now comes the rest of the ugly reality–, the social media landscape itself.  It is such a fragmented mess how do you even know where to spend your time, effort, and energy?  At some point in the not too distant future there WILL be consolidation.  There always is!  You may be spending tremendous efforts, finances, and energy on channels that in a year or two may be irrelevant.  In a year or two there may be completely different social media channels which make many existing ones obsolete.

If you want to see a PARTIAL picture of the “social media” landscape the Businessinsider has provided a good overview http://www.businessinsider.com/social-media-marketing-landscape-complicated-2012-5. The scary thing is this is probably not even half of the actual social media sites and resources.  Keep in mind this fragmentation in the available social media marketing “channels” is only compounded by the lack of segmentation to make any marketing effort meaningful.  So now you understand the problem.

Conclusion on Making Social Media Business Focused

The social media problem for business has two key parts, the current efforts are generally more labor intensive than telemarketing efforts.  The second part of the problem is the fragmented “channels” available.  Social media efforts beyond the individual (and not the company trying to use this) are so diluted, fragmented, and obscured that it will be some time before meaningful methods for business benefit emerge.  Figure out how to develop target markets meaningful to business and then how to deal with the fragmentation and these will serve as powerful marketing channels.  Whoever can figure these problems out, and then make them scalable and reproducible will have a blockbuster business.

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SIDE-NOTE:  When I refer to “social media” I am not referring to more established but modern internet marketing channels like blogs or web sites.  These may, or may not, contain any “social” components at all.  Unfortunately too many social media evangelists today throw everything into “social media” in a desire to be able to point to something that “works.”  Some of them do this out of ignorance, still others do it deliberately because they know that there is little or no payback method that is scalable and repeatable for true “social” media.

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