How Long Term SAP Steering Committee Integration Changes the Enterprise
One of the biggest benefits of an SAP implementation is the business transformation it can bring. At first the changes and challenges are uncomfortable, even downright painful. But in the mid to long-term SAP brings about a business culture transformation. When that transformation is enabled by ongoing steering committee involvement then business to IT convergence occurs. Over time this convergence of business and technology produces financial and marketplace improvements.
Use the Steering Committee’s Experience for Ongoing Governance
An SAP best practice is to form a steering committee before the project even begins. In other words this group should be together before the first RFI is issued. They (the steering committee) should be key members of senior leadership who have the ability to make business altering decisions.
The most effective SAP steering committees typically:
- Set SAP project scope and then help manage it.
- Define project objectives and evaluation criteria.
- Monitor project progress, including key milestones and deliverables progress.
- Oversee Quality reviews at key check points.
- Evaluate and mitigate organizational impact of business changes.
- Promotes the project throughout the organization.
- Coordinates staffing and resource levels from key business areas.
- Makes critical decisions which the project team is unable to resolve (escalations or key business decisions).
Even on a relatively short duration project of six months, many of these steering committees will have worked together in this fashion for a year or more. Going through the initial business needs analysis, software selection, vendor selection, the project execution, and then go-live support for some period brings this group together for some time.
Gaining Competitive Advantage through the Ongoing Integration of SAP into the Business
As a steering committee works together over the course of a year or two they develop a unique and key skill set that is well-suited to ongoing technology integration into the business (called “convergence”). As the SAP project goes live and some stabilization occurs the SAP steering committee has learned more about the enterprise from a leadership perspective than anyone in the company.
While the project team is gaining the focused process skills within an SAP module the steering committee is gaining invaluable insight into the overall operations of the business from a leadership perspective. This steering committee is also exposed to technology and how it applies to business, solving problems, its capabilities, and its limitations. They have become the most capable future leaders of business transformation and of competitive advantage in the marketplace. They have worked through the hard things in an interconnected and integrated way. They have set the stage for future advances.
What happens next?
Your company moves into maintenance mode and the steering committee disbands!
That my friends is a crime!
Do NOT Disband Your SAP Steering Committee After Go-Live
The ideal solution is to retain the SAP steering committee and convert their role to one of managing technology to business integration. The skills they gain during the course of their duties cannot be underestimated. They are invaluable to future IT initiatives of expanding the SAP footprint in the enterprise or other key business centered technology projects. This is a role and a function that is seriously lacking from today’s businesses.
In 2007 the BTM Institute (or Business Technology Management) published research indicating that companies who focused on converging business and technology enjoyed greater revenue growth and net margins than their competitors. They were also found to have consistently greater returns on their investments than their competitors. [FN1] The BTM Institute defines four broad categories for analysis of business and technology convergence which are:
- Strategy & Planning
- Strategic Investment Management
- Governance & Organization
- Strategic Enterprise Architecture
Think about it, your SAP steering committee has engaged in all of these broad dimensions throughout their existence. Assuming the SAP steering committee was in place before the project for RFI and RFP preparation they would determine business objectives, priorities, strategic direction, and then develop scope. These are clearly strategy, planning, and strategic investment activities. As the project progresses they would engage in oversight, decision making, high level technical architecture analysis, and organizational requirements.
The steering committee must continue to function but take on a new role as the SAP project goes live and you move into stabilization. Don’t kill the strategic engine of business transformation just as it is finished being built. They are a critical component of the conversion to an SAP Center of Excellence after your SAP system goes live.
Steering Committees can ensure SAP or IT to business convergence to move from project, to competency center, to center of excellence.
The idea of a center of excellence is the integration or convergence of technology, leveraged in a powerfully competitive way, to ensure business benefit.
For more information on developing an SAP Center of Excellence please see:
- Series on SAP Competency Center or SAP Center of Excellence
- Toward an SAP Center of Excellence or SAP Competency Center – PART 1
- Toward an SAP Center of Excellence or SAP Competency Center – PART 2
- Toward an SAP Center of Excellence or SAP Competency Center – PART 3
[FN1] Business Technology Convergence Index, The Role of Business Technology Convergence in Innovation and Adaptability and its Effect on Financial Performance, BTM Institute, June 2007
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- Role of SAP Steering committee