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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