Business Solutions with SAP

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.


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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3 Development Phases for SAP Center of Excellence Maturity

May 14th, 2012 by
SAP CoE Maturity

SAP CoE Maturity

Before we get into the substance of HOW TO build a next generation IT organization that is integrated with business a quick review is in order.

Last week’s post on SAP Service Provider to Business Peer Through Center of Excellence Maturity proposed the direct maturity of the SAP IT organization.  The key principle is there are three stages or strata of Organizational Change Management Inside the SAP IT Support Organization These stages create clear distinctions between SAP Service Delivery versus Value Delivery

This week is an overview of the development and maturity details to use SAP as a Change Enabler through SAP Enabled Business Transformation for IT Leadership.  Please keep in mind this organizational development overview is just one component of the Series on SAP Competency Center or SAP Center of Excellence.  The need to continue your Steering Committee Governance for an SAP Center of Excellence cannot be ignored.  Properly formed and instituted your SAP steering committee is a key enabler for business to IT convergence. 

To achieve SAP IT Convergence Beyond Business to IT Alignment requires a senior leader change champion to make this a deliberate and accountable effort.  This is not intended to be a theoretical discussion but instead it is an action plan.  The entire initiative is as a project and needs a project plan, deliverables, key milestones, assigned resources, etc.   All of the structure and processes will need to be defined within your IT organization to move this forward.

SAP Center of Excellence Maturity Development Level 1 – Internal Focus on IT Operations (Service Provider)

Internal focus is an “all hands on deck” effort.  If internal focus, or basic IT service delivery is suffering then everyone within the IT organization must work to ensure your systems are meeting business needs.  You will not gain enough trust of the business community to become a partner or peer until the basic infrastructure works. Some of the key development in this phase includes:

  • A skills matrix
  • IT staff training and development plans
  • Clear SLA requirements
  • Consistent and regular feedback and coaching

Typical activities for service delivery include:

  • Help desk functions
  • Data maintenance
  • Security and authorizations
  • Technical infrastructure (servers, system performance, database maintenance, network, etc)
  • System access (desktop, remote, mobile, etc).
  • Hardware procurement
  • Knowledge (information) base development (Wikis, SharePoint, collaboration tools, etc.)
  • Knowledge transfer to the user community (formal and informal training)
  • Super user development

Skills development focuses on SAP or technical domain competence

  • Application module specialties (SD, MM, PP, SRM, CRM, FI, APO, BObj, etc)
  • Programming languages (ABAP, Java, PHP, etc.)
  • Infrastructure (Cisco, routers, VOIP, IPv6, DHCP, LDAP, etc.)
  • SAP Solution Manager use
  • Effective presentation skills

SAP Center of Excellence Maturity Development Level 2 – SAP IT Integration With the Broader Business Enterprise (Business Partner)

At this stage, depending on the size of your SAP or IT organization, there are 2 levels of leadership here: 1) delivery management, and 2) process management while developing methodologies, tools, templates, and controls.  A key part of the process management is the development of KPI indexes.  Typical activities for business (enterprise) integration include:

  • Requirements gathering
  • Blueprinting
  • System & solution architecture
  • Business case development (cost and value)
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Subject matter expert training
  • Super user training
  • KPI and PPI* development with analytics
  • Project management
  • Team and project leadership
  • Basic supervisory tasks
  • Mentoring, coaching, and staff development
  • Budget adherence
  • Sourcing and supplier management
  • SAP Solution Manager setup and maintenance for project delivery as well as BPM

Skills development focuses on project delivery and management.

  • Facilitation, meeting, and time management skills
  • Project management (training and certification)
  • Managing conflict
  • Supervisory & leadership
  • Negotiation skills
  • Organizational Change Management
  • Total Quality Management
  • Business Process modeling

SAP Center of Excellence Maturity Development Level 3 – Strategic Development Around the Marketplace and Competitors (Business Peer)

Split development track for leaders – 1) product or service engineering support (i.e. the “innovation” track) or 2) sales and marketing (i.e. customer focus).  Typical activities for value added strategic technology convergence include:

  • BPI* development and analytics
  • Marketplace analytics with solution proposals
  • Customer analytics with solution proposals
  • Value analysis – ROI assessment and benefit compliance
  • Cost analysis – TCO assessment and cost savings
  • Business case review for strategic fit
  • Technology roadmap for system & solution architecture
  • System architecture integration with business process management
  • Program management
  • Program & project budget development
  • Project audits / QA’s
  • Mentoring, coaching, and development of level 2 participants
  • Vendor management

Skills development focuses on business drivers, marketplace competitive pressures, sales, and senior leadership.

  • Advertising principles
  • Business statistics
  • Market research
  • Sales management
  • International marketing
  • Sales models
  • Organizational development
  • Coaching and leadership
  • Delegation
  • Strategic planning

Conclusion on SAP Center of Excellence Maturity Development

This analysis provides a framework for development of a world class, fully integrated SAP IT organization.  However, this framework only scratches the surface of a much broader and more important topic–, Organizational Change Management Inside the SAP IT Support Organization.

Communication is One Key to Business and IT Integration

One of the most critical components of a change management program is not listed above in any of the bullet points – developing communication channels.  Maybe this is naïve of me but I would expect that actively and aggressively developing clear and open lines of communication between IT at all levels with the business would be assumed.  Developing an overall communication program and plans is a basic part of any change management initiative.

There is a significant amount of additional guidance for developing your SAP Center of Excellence in the Series on SAP Competency Center or SAP Center of Excellence.  A systematic approach, including key milestones to measure progress against are important elements to success.  To that end I hope this framework contributes to the dialog and direction of future SAP IT organization maturity.


* An upcoming post in the future will look in detail at this concept of “KPI, PPI, and BPI” as Key Performance Indicators, Process Performance Indicators, and then finally Business Performance Indicators.

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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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