My assistant logs onto SAP for me, so I don’t have to (I’m far too important)
Have you ever heard this statement from a leader in an organisation implementing SAP? I’ve heard it uttered many times when I’ve been involved in deploying SAP into an organisation. There is a perception amongst some leadership teams that SAP ‘happens’ without their involvement, but the reality is that their involvement, nay their visible and vocal support for, ownership of, and responsibility for an SAP programme is central to its success.
I was involved in an SAP Programme some years ago and as the Business Adoption Lead, and was leading a series of presentations to the various ‘first lines’ of the C-Suite, outlining the benefits of SAP to the organisation, the key changes to their functions, and the key changes to their roles, as executives and leaders. One of the last groups we met was the IT leadership team, the first line of the CIO. The CIO was the C-suite sponsor for the SAP Programme (generally a bad place for sponsorship of an SAP programme to reside) and was in a typically bullish mood. You’d hope the IT first line would be natural advocates and supporters of a SAP-enabled transformation programme, yet this is not always the case.
About half way through the presentation, the conversation turned to ‘how can we avoid having to log onto SAP, and how can our PAs approve spend etc. so we don’t have to?’ Warning sign number one. About twenty minutes later, the CIO halted proceedings to announce, “this looks very much like we have replicated our as-is ways of working into our shiny new, expensive SAP platform, is this correct?” Tentatively, one of the team announced “Yes, were you not aware?”
Clearly, he was not aware, had not been close enough to the programme and he, and his first line, wanted as little to do with SAP as possible. Across the other functions, there was more support for the programme, but these were common themes from leadership.
Leadership needs to be a driving force behind an SAP Programme.
The key is to ensure appropriate programme governance and sponsorship is established at the outset of a programme. Sponsorship should come from a C-suite executive, not be foisted upon them. They need to drive the programme from initiation, rather than be asked to support or promote it at a later date. If leadership does not see this as part of their role; they need to be either developed to understand the importance of technology and business change, or they need to be replaced.
Gone are the days of technology programmes being exclusively led by IT. If this is your experience, make some noise, or your programme is likely to fail! Executive and Senior Leadership should be promoting any new technology as an enabler to transforming their organisation. They should be owning the data, processes, controls, risks and business change for their function, working with their leadership teams to ensure effective adoption of new ways of working. They should be actively interested in the various stages towards implementation, publicly supporting change initiatives and yes, if required, logging on to SAP and approving spend, delegating authority and running MI reports… but don’t worry we won’t ask you to do anything more, we know you’re all far too important :)
Latest blog postsSee all blog posts
Why Process Excellence is key for a successful ERP Implementation
I have been reflecting on my experiences working on ERP implementation/upgrade programmes whilst also listening and hearing to what others have to say. I think back to these projects and notice everyone was working hectically towards the programme ‘Go – Live’ and were under the impression that once they achieved this Go - Live then we have successfully implemented a new ERP System and our job is complete. I think many people can agree with me that a Go – Live date is just the start of the journey. We have got to think about the people, culture, education, efficiency in processes and where can we reduce ‘waste’.
Being part of the conversations that need our attention – It’s a Penalty
It is not uncommon for us as humans to shy away from some discussions. It might be too difficult, make us uncomfortable or make us feel as if there is nothing we can do to make a difference. However, sometimes that is all we need to do to encourage change; have the conversation.
Why work in our Digital Enablement capability?
Digital Enablement is a fancy way of describing how technology can support and enable organisations to work smarter, flex faster and generally make day to day employee life better through effective use of technology.