Are you using SAP the right way?

There is a common view held amongst many companies in the SAP install-base that their SAP systems fail to deliver the intended business value. Some even feel they are slaves to their SAP, and at best have a very expensive data capture tool.
Steven Freemantle | Apr 20, 2014

These views are characterised by:

  • Highly frustrated user communities.
  • Little trust in SAP data.
  • SAP being regarded as inflexible and not user friendly.
  • Extensive use of Microsoft Excel for reporting and even day-to-day execution of operational activities.
  • Various supply chain functions operating in independent silos.  In extreme cases these departments may be close to war with one-another, where blame shifting and turf defending prevail.
  • End to end supply chain visibility is hard to come by.
  • SAP is seen to hinder the business’ ability to move quickly as market conditions change.

The resultant costs to the business may be found in some of the following situations:

  • Out of control Inventories, too much of the wrong material and not enough of the right material.
  • Customer service challenges exist, both to internal and external customers.
  • Cries from the business for more people to do the job.
  • Continuous requests for re-training on SAP.
  • Regular reengineering of business processes.
  • Calls for customisation and tweaking of standard SAP functionality.
  • On-going implementation of more SAP technology or 3rd party solutions.
  • The latest trends, and the ultimate cost, are calls to re-implement SAP.

There is a need in the SAP install base to move away from the scenarios listed above.  To do this user perception, understanding and system use needs to be challenged through an effective change management, education and training programme.  There is a “dirty little secret” that haunts the change management fraternity: up to 70% of change management projects fail. For those businesses that have been live on SAP for some time, this no longer needs to be the case.  Change management must move from the realm of “soft and fluffy” to one of hard, tangible and fact driven transformation using the information that resides in companies’ SAP systems.

Seldom do organisations look to mechanism of tackling these challenges through the real solution which is addressing the people factor.  Your SAP systems work as intended; it is the users* who don’t!

There is a standard toolset that must be used to shift the behaviour of the operational staff to target the value that SAP implementations intend to deliver.  This requires a disciplined, deliberate and measured process that uses standard SAP Tools and reports (that the entire SAP install base has already bought) to facilitate and sustain the change and value realisation.

* Not because they are bad people, but rather because they have not been afforded the opportunity to understand and use SAP differently.

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