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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.

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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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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.

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* 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 Customer Responsibility for SAP Project Success

April 23rd, 2012 by
SAP Success Criteria Formula

SAP Success Criteria Formula

 

Some time ago I put together a synthesis of SAP success criteria based on academic literature and my own personal experience.  The table below is part of the list of SAP Success Factors for Vender Selection – Responsibility Matrix. For a more detailed explanation of each of the vendor related items see the posts listed in the Series on SAP ERP Project Success Factors.

In the prior series we went through SAP success factors with shared responsibilities between the company adopting the SAP application and the integrator they use for the implementation (listed below) but today we will briefly review customer-specific success items (further down).

No. SAP or ERP Critical Success Factor Company Integrator
1 Senior Management Support (and steering committee makeup) A  
2 SAP project champion A  
3 Empowered business project team decision makers A  
4 Company SAP project team (quality and time allocated) A  
5 Experienced SAP consultants   A
6 SAP project success criteria, goals and objectives A  
7 SAP implementation strategy z A
8 SAP project management A z
9 SAP tools, templates, and resources   A
10 SAP scope development z A
11 SAP scope management A z
12 Strong SAP project and business communication (inward and outward) A z
13 SAP change management A z
14 Business process engineering – interdepartmental cooperation A  
15 Sufficient SAP training (user and project team training) A A
16 SAP system vendor and customer trust   A
17 SAP system design decisions z A
18 Amount of custom ABAP or other SAP coding z A
19 Appropriate SAP software configuration (system settings) z A
20 SAP system change control process   A
21 SAP data analysis and conversion A z
22 SAP test planning A z
23 SAP test development z A
24 Company end-user involvement and end-user testing A  

Legend

A = Primary responsibility
z = Secondary responsibility (can influence success but limited control over success)

——————————

The previous series did not address several of the customer-specific items where organizations should focus internal efforts.  As part of the recent series on Organizational Change Management Inside the SAP IT Support Organization it is time to consider the SAP customer specific items now.  That list of items includes:

No. SAP or ERP Critical Success Factor Company Integrator
1 Senior Management Support (and steering committee makeup) A  
2 SAP project champion A  
3 Empowered business project team decision makers A  
4 Company SAP project team (quality and time allocated) A  
6 SAP project success criteria, goals and objectives A  
14 Business process engineering – interdepartmental cooperation A  
24 Company end-user involvement and end-user testing A  

1.  SAP Project Senior Management Support – 2. SAP Project Champion

You just can’t overlook strong senior leadership support and a strong project champion for SAP project success.  If the wider organization perceives it is important enough for executive leadership they will see that it is a key initiative to focus on.  The Real Reason Executive Participation Creates IT Project Success is related to the nature of their position which deals with corporate strategy. The enterprise also needs an SAP project champion to help cut through red tape, encourage organizational support, and marshal additional resources when needed.  The best project champion would be at least one NON-IT executive so this isn’t seen as “just another IT thing.”  The contribution of a well respected and strong internal leader can not be overlooked.

3.  Empowered Business Process Team Members to Make Key Business Decisions About SAP Setup

If you want your SAP project to make any progress then it is absolutely critical to ensure core team members from the business are able to make many of the important process decisions. There will be some decisions that have more widespread organizational impact and the business users will need more senior level managers to make some decisions.  For example one of the key reasons for Using Your SAP Steering Committee for Business Transformation is to help mentor, guide, and direct business project participants in designing the future state business.  This would include making “critical decisions which the project team is unable to resolve (escalations or key business decisions).”  On the other hand if they are so compliant or risk averse that they will not make any decision without gaining consensus you may be headed for problems with the project timeline and budget.  This doesn’t mean you need an autocrat either, just someone who has enough organizational insight and connections to make the right decisions, escalate the ones that should be escalated, and has an open line of communication to keep interested stakeholders in the loop.

4.  Business Process Team Members who are DEDICATED to the SAP Project Delivery and Success

Too often I see core SAP project team members, whether from the business or the internal IT organization, who are not assigned exclusively to the SAP project.  While they are given the new role they often still have their “day job” to continue overseeing and managing.  This is a significant distraction from a very serious undertaking.  When an SAP project is done effectively, and what I call “correctly,” there is significant business change that takes place.  To help manage that change and to ensure business users have their needs most properly represented requires a full commitment to the SAP project.

Unfortunately there are a lot of system integrators who are happy to have your business users commit to just “part time” on the project.  It helps the system integrator increase their billing, allows for lots of excuses for missing dates, and provides them the opportunity to push any solution they deem you should have.  Because core team members from the enterprise have divided attentions they can not ensure the same level of quality if the SAP project were their only focus.

6.  SAP project goals and success criteria

I was recently reading an article where a study of several hundred companies who had implemented enterprise applications were asked about having defined business related goals and success criteria.  The referenced study suggested only 4% of companies who implement enterprise applications complete the entire process of defining goals and success criteria and then actually follow up on seeing that they achieved the promised benefits. 

To achieve Sustained Business Value from SAP Business Software it is important to incorporate a Change Management Program within the SAP / IT Organization itself which is focused on Achieving Business Value from SAP Investment.  Another key part of the goals and success criteria is to Change How You Look at SAP to Create ROI because SAP Implementation is an Investment NOT an Event.

14.  Business process engineering – interdepartmental cooperation

 This is directly related to the first 3 items in this list:

  • Senior Management Support (and steering committee makeup)
  • SAP project champion
  • Empowered business project team decision makers

Because of the nature of the integration in SAP some of the data entry responsibilities change, for both upstream and downstream process steps which may be in different departments.  There are also significant process changes and responsibility changes as a result of the SAP implementation.  All of these require a focus on processes, communication, and cooperation.  Because this can also be an area of political “friction” between departments or leaders it is critical to have a strong executive SAP project champion. That executive sponsor can help to reduce a some of the inter-departmental “border wars.”

24.  Company end-user involvement and end-user testing

Even a great implementation effort can turn into a painful disaster at go-live if end users are not prepared to use the new system, security and authorizations are a mess (VERY typical), and testing was not thoroughly performed.  Unlike other systems which were built in silos and without the level of integration a data or process mistake that is not uncovered during testing can have significant up and downstream effects.  Unwinding and correcting the error can prove to be very challenging.

For all of these items I only touched the surface, but none of these items can be ignored and are important for a successful SAP project.  Every one of these items is completely within the control of the enterprise or organization who implements SAP.  Good luck on your SAP journey but be sure to pay special attention to all of these success criteria for your SAP project which are provided in more detail in the Series on SAP ERP Project Success Factors.




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