Thinking on my feet

I have been off the talking circuit for some time – setting up a new company has not allowed for me to focus on that part of the contribution I make to the supply chain community – an activity I thoroughly enjoy.
Steven Freemantle | Jun 16, 2014

Early in 2014 I was invited to speak at a small conference that was set up to test a particular market’s appetite for ongoing supply chain and procurement conferences.

I was tasked to present a 45 minute talk as well as 1-day workshop on optimising supply chain performance using SAP. The workshop was reasonably well attended (24 delegates) for such a small event. As is my habit I always start a workshop feeling out my audience. After the introductions, which clearly lays out SweetThorn’s core SAP focus, the first question usually aims to understand where each of the delegate’s companies are on their SAP journey. In response to my question: “How many of you run SAP?”, only 4 of the 24 delegates raised their hands.

I was horrified! My initial reaction was a panicked consideration that maybe I was in the wrong place. Followed by a second, equally panicked reaction, that the workshop title and content had been misprinted. I was holding the course hand out, and calmly glanced down to read the title. Yup, there it was as clear as day - SAP ERP - there was no misprint.

As it turned out the non-SAP delegates were interested in the some of the sub-text of my workshop: supply chain metrics, supplier performance measurement and inventory performance management. After calmly establishing the spread of ERP systems that had been forced into my agenda – Oracle, Microsoft’s Great Plains, Pastel and Logis – I had to repurpose my planned delivery.

Balancing the expectations of an audience with diverse array ERP systems, using SAP as the backdrop was not as challenging as I thought. The day panned out very well, my yard stick being the fact that all 24 delegates stayed for the full duration and that my evaluation scores where in a range that gave me affirmation that all was well received.

This experience confirmed my long-held suspicions, that no matter the ERP system company’s use, the challenges, frustrations and inefficiencies are no different to those suffered by users of SAP.

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