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There is Life after the SAP Go Live

June 25th, 2012 by
SAP Support

SAP Support

One of the areas rarely addressed in the academic literature, by consulting firms, or by many of the system integrators is the organizational acceptance, and finally full use and assimilation of the SAP package. To the extent the system integrators or consulting firms do mention post production support it is generally in the context of managed services or outsourcing. Little is done to help companies develop a thriving production environment with your own resources.

One of the biggest problems I see anywhere is a failure to blueprint and ultimately design and then deliver SAP for usability. There are several hurdles which make this difficult, some of them include:

  • The SAP User Experience is one area which is overdue for attention.
  • A lack of in depth change management including training at the business process level.
  • Very few SAP consultants have much (if any) SAP support experience and have no idea about how their design and blueprint decisions will affect end users.
  • There are not enough functionality pilots demonstrated to the affected end users during the course of the implementation project.

After designing for usability the next critical issue involves Organizational Change Management Inside the SAP IT Support Organization. For long term direction Using Your SAP Steering Committee for Business Transformation can not be overlooked either. Finally, the user community, including training, change management, and ongoing super user development must be addressed.

Build a Thriving SAP Enabled Business Community and SAP Support Organization

Work to put the broader business community in a more accepting posture for your SAP / IT organizational changes by using Change Management Strategies and Knowledge Transfer Processes for a Successful SAP Project 1. Then work diligently toward Creating a Knowledge Centered Learning Organization for Business Transformation for IT Leadership. Whether you are already live with SAP, in the middle of a project, or just starting out, I would strongly encourage you to get serious about Organizational Change Management Inside the SAP IT Support Organization.

As an academic study I recently reviewed noted:

It is during [the post-implementation stage] that the effects of uncontrolled problems in previous stages appear due to the fact that users start the exploitation and evaluation of the system. During the implementation stage, users are usually limited to learn the basic functionalities [which support going live]… As a critical mass of users start mastering the system and they see its advantages on their work and its capabilities, they start using it in a more creative way and exploring its more advanced functionalities and requiring, even more functions… These are… signs of the system’s acceptance and assimilation which is… essential for the system’s success (Kouki, Poulin, and Pellerin, Ppg. 3-4).

SAP Certified Center of Expertise

Many of today’s SAP contracts include a provision that customers must create a Center of Expertise. In plain terms this means you are required to create your own internal support organization. This works well for SAP by putting your internal IT employees on the front line of defense but does little to ensure longer term acceptance, adoption, and even assimilation of the new system into the broader organization. Do not get confused by the terminology here either, the type of support SAP wants to see which constitutes a “Certified Center of Expertise” is related to you becoming less of a burden on their support organization, and in turn reducing their support costs for your company.  While this independence helps SAP it also helps to ensure you develop sufficient internal competence with the application.  In turn it is not enough and is just the beginning of the changes you must make.

The very basic components of building an Center of Expertise is contained in the Phase 6 RUN SAP ASAP Methodology. But as I’ve previously noted, this is just the first step of a critical path and process in Business Transformation for IT Leadership.

Understand the Series on SAP Competency Center or SAP Center of Excellence to gain the important insight for ensuring long term enterprise application success. Without a greater focus on the end user you may never fully realize business benefits or it will take longer than necessary, cost more than it should, and yield limited mid-term results.

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Kouki, R., Poulin, D., and Pellerin, R. (2006). ERP Assimilation Challenge: An Integrative Framework for a Better Post-Implementation Assimilation, CIRRELT Working Paper DT-2006-DP-1




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SAP Service Provider to Business Peer Through Center of Excellence Maturity

May 7th, 2012 by
Deliver Business Value with SAP CoE

Deliver Business Value with SAP CoE

One key pillar of moving Beyond Technology Alignment requires Organizational Change Management Inside the SAP IT Support Organization (OCM inside IT).  A key component of that OCM within IT relies heavily on Creating a Knowledge Centered Learning Organization.  And within that learning organization, especially with enterprise applications like SAP, you need to build organizational maturity.  There is a three-tier approach to building that organizational maturity as part of the Series on SAP Competency Center or SAP Center of Excellence.

The SAP IT Organization Challenge

Being an “IT Organization” is where the challenge for change begins.  IT has been so focused on delivering technical solutions that business integration was missed along the way.  Adding to this is the “youth” of IT as a business discipline.  Think about it, people have been doing business for thousands of years.  Technology, bits, bytes, interconnected systems, data transmissions, and information age “knowledge” workers are a new phenomenon within the last 2 – 3 decades.  Compared to the age of business they haven’t even hit puberty!

So, the real issue here is how to quickly mature the SAP or IT organization from simple service provider, to business partner, and then to business peer.  This requires far more than the traditional domain and technology management in so many IT organizations today.  The problem comes down to SAP Service Delivery versus Value Delivery

The Answer: Develop Organizational Maturity, both Aligned and then Integrated With the Business

For SAP Enabled Business Transformation for IT Leadership we started with CIO Magazine’s CIO Maturity Model and applied it to the IT delivery organization.  The delivery organization maturity model consists of three key levels of organizational maturity or competence; they are internal, enterprise, and external focus.  These are reflected in the concentric circles below.  When considering SAP Service Delivery versus Value Delivery it is important to understand how to develop that maturity.  The service delivery domain is technical in nature and the value delivery domain is focused on enabling business.  The value domain is related to customers, marketplace, and improved products or services.

SAP IT Convergence Maturity Model

SAP IT Convergence Maturity Model

 

SAP IT Organization Maturity: Growing Pains

Within each of these three concentric circles a particular delivery competence is required.  This delivery competence roughly equates to the skills and experience needed to address each of the key business support areas.  There will also be “growing pains” within each of these maturity stages as you:

  1. Plan
  2. Execute
  3. Adjust and stabilize
  4. Transition part of the organization to the next maturity level

This is a hierarchical maturity model.  While the diagram I use shows the concentric circles they should be thought of as circles of influence, skill development, and promotion.  Not everyone will move from the Internal Support area to the Enterprise Integration domain.  Likewise not everyone will move from Enterprise Integration to Marketplace Development either.  These should be considered as key career milestones for the SAP or IT employee.

For insight on How To Navigate the SAP Business Transformation Journey you will need to re-think the SAP IT organization’s role in the enterprise.  Are you satisfied with being just a service provider?  Do you want to do more?  To make the transition you will have to evaluate the constraints and then do what is necessary to remove them. 

Dealing with SAP IT Organizational Constraints

Whether those constraints are time, resources (budget, technical infrastructure, etc), or people it is important to do a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) of each area as you engage.

One other key thing to note here is if you have relatively small SAP or IT support organization then the Level 1 and Level 2 maturity areas can be merged and use less extensive development efforts.  There are practical budget, time, and resource limits that many have to work with.

The Three Part SAP Organization Change

The first two levels of the maturity model involve SAP Service Delivery versus Value Delivery. The second and third levels are about SAP IT Convergence Beyond Business to IT Alignment.

The three maturity areas are:

  1. Technical service delivery
  2. Cost and process value delivery
  3. Customer and marketplace integration

As senior IT leaders everywhere struggle with growing budget pressures it has never been more important to focus more aggressively on business value.  This will require Organizational Change Management Inside the SAP IT Support Organization with a strong focus on Creating a Knowledge Centered Learning Organization.  By developing both the infrastructure to support a learning organization, as well as the mentoring, coaching, and development you will be well on your way to transforming your IT efforts and move toward becoming a business partner.

Next week’s post (which has already been written) will evaluate the specific maturity and development details for each stage in creating a genuine IT Converged SAP Center of Excellence!

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SAP Service Delivery versus Value Delivery

April 30th, 2012 by
SAP Value Delivery

SAP Value Delivery

In my review of academic literature around SAP or ERP implementations I find some thought provoking items.  Recently I reviewed a study which helped me to form a more complete picture of important issues in IT delivery.  Even though I’ve been writing about it for years I gained a new clarity around evaluating some of the existing delivery models [FN1].  What it comes down to is are you looking for service delivery or business results for your SAP project?

SAP Service Delivery or Business Value Delivery – You Determine Your Future

Because my career started in business and later was exposed to SAP as part of the client core team, and then finally moved on to consulting, I have always recognized the importance of business value.  At the same time much of the System Integrator marketplace has been promoting the same old service delivery model they are familiar with. The biggest reason so many system integrators struggle with business value delivery is because they often focus on hiring a lot of really smart college graduates with little or no business experience.  Fresh out of college and heads filled with textbook ideas about how business works. 

If you just want services delivered then no matter what the sales pitch, all of the system integrators are the same

SAP, ERP, or Enterprise Application customers are looking for something more.  As a recent article I read noted, CIOs do not command the respect of the other key disciplines within the enterprise.  In fact, many of their “C” suite peers question whether or not the technology organization serves much of a useful purpose at all.  That my friends is a frightening and shocking perspective to me.  Stop and think about that a minute, many organizations question whether IT organizations serve a useful purpose in the enterprise.  Is it any wonder outsourcing and off-shoring have become so popular?

What Does This Mean for SAP Projects?

At the end of your SAP project are you satisfied that a project was delivered?  Hopefully on time and on budget, but delivered nonetheless?  If you are satisfied that your SAP project was delivered on time and on budget then you are focused almost exclusively on service delivery

Many senior level IT leaders and delivery folks just want something to get in as quickly as possible.  This is exclusively a service delivery oriented project.  The only thing you are concerned about are the skills needed to address the particular technology / application / solution need right now.  This will not however provide you any type of ROI (Return on Investment) or ROE (Return on Equity) because ROI and ROE (along with other measures) are pure business metrics.  These are not IT metrics and do not measure things like uptime, response time, # of service tickets closed, etc.  The idea of ROI, ROE, or Asset Turns are reflections of business activity and investor / owner value.  Although they may be seen as irrelevant by many in IT they are still useful to understand if any value was delivered for the investment that is made.

Do you want services delivered or business value delivered?

Truth is, if you just want services delivered then no matter what the sales pitch, all of the system integrators are the same.  For that matter, why even bother with a system integrator or SAP consultants at all?  Why not just go to your nearest college and recruit a bunch of really smart graduates for a temporary project and pay them about half what the system integrators charge for a temporary contract? 

Seriously, why even bother with experienced consultants at all? 

If SAP service delivery is your focus and not business results it is just a game of who can best make it through the sales process.  Whether it is IBM and their premium rates or Rajakrishna’s Consultant Shack and their all you can eat offshore rates.  If they can’t speak the local language it really doesn’t matter.  On the other hand if you are looking for business results that is entirely different.

If your only focus is on time and on budget then you are only looking for service delivery.  You are not looking for results, or business change, or IT transformation, or business strategy.

Let me make clear I am not suggesting on time and on budget projects should be ignored.  What I am suggesting is that if your only focus is on time and on budget then you are only looking for service delivery.  You are not looking for results, or business change, or IT transformation, or business strategy.  You are merely looking for resources to deliver services to get you to some date at some budget amount.  Any offshore or consulting shack fake will get you to a dollar amount (that is the brutal truth but they will deliver “services”).

Where is the SAP Value Proposition Focus on Business Results?

While SAP Implementation is an Investment NOT an Event many organizations fail to consider their enterprise application deployments as strategic assets designed to produce business results.  The good news is that is changing.  So the next question is Where do you Start with SAP Return on Investment or SAP ROI?  This goes right back to the basics, you must focus on the WHY of Achieving Business Value from SAP Investment.  Is the effort about technology replacement or is there some business reason behind the initiative?

A recent IBM study under the heading of “The CIO as change catalyst” noted:

As the executive working at the nexus of business and technology, CIOs are uniquely qualified to help their companies leverage available tools to meet current economic challenges and to exploit the opportunities that will arise during this crisis—and opportunity will arise for those businesses bold enough to disrupt competition and restructure their industries. CIOs can help transform their companies by better capitalizing on the value of information assets.  They can help manage and mitigate business risk through better, more timely information. They can improve service management. They can lower enterprise-wide operational costs—including IT’s—through automation. [FN2]

SAP and IT organization heads are gaining insight and experience but at the same time they are being squeezed to cut costs and find value.

Focusing on value entails cutting discretionary spending, deploying resources for the highest return, bolstering core competencies and redefining relationships. Cash flow is central to survival and strategic flexibility, which means businesses and business units need to do more with less. Corporations must conserve capital and cut spending where it produces minimal return. Funds must then be redeployed to activities, products and markets that generate growth, improve margins and truly differentiate one business from another. [FN3]

Make Sure You Are Headed Down the Right SAP Path

To make the transition your SAP project must begin with Creating a Knowledge Centered Learning Organization for Business Transformation for IT Leadership.  Whether you are already live with SAP, in the middle of a project, or just starting out, I would strongly encourage you to get serious about Organizational Change Management Inside the SAP IT Support Organization

What most customers do not know is that SAP has offered the “Value Delivery” methodology as part of the ASAP Methodology for many years

If you want to know Why Use the SAP ASAP Methodology? for your SAP project consider the fact that SAP has offered the “Value Delivery” methodology as part of the ASAP Methodology for many years.  Over the years it has taken many forms, all the way back to the early versions of the ASAP Methodology with the old “KPI” lists.  Today it is integrated into the ASAP Methodology structure. 

Isn’t it time to pursue the value delivery method regardless of whether your system integrator is capable of this or not?

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[FN1]  Kieninger, A. and Satzger, G., Risk-Reward Sharing in IT Service Contracts – A Service System View, 2011 Proceedings of the 44th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.

[FN2]  From fear to value: CIO strategies for propelling business through the economic crisis, pg. 5.  Retrieved 4/24/2012 ftp://ftp.software.ibm.com/common/ssi/sa/wh/n/ciw03057usen/CIW03057USEN.PDF

[FN3] Ibid. pg. 6.




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