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SAP Success Secrets - An Interview With The Best of The Best: Part 3

Improve SAP Data Quality and Maintenance

By now, you’re already two thirds of the way to knowing all of our SAP success secrets.

In the last two instalments of the best of the best; we covered everything from planning and project management to systems integrators and choosing vendors.

If you want to go back and see them, click the links below.

Part One

Part Two

Today it’s the final instalment and it’s the big one - we look at embedding the business case and the headline findings from the SAP success report 2018. We show you the key factors to your SAP success.

And of course our interviewee must remain anonymous … so we just call them Bob.

Data Migration and Data Maintenance in SAP

Resulting: The next finding: Fewer than half of respondents said attention was paid to data migration and ongoing data maintenance.

Bob: From what i’ve seen every project struggles with data at some stage.

R: This had one of the biggest disparities of all the questions we asked. 82% of executives felt sufficient attention had been paid to data, but only 36% of business managers thought the same.

B: Data is always the scary part.

R: The thing with data is it’s easy to think it’s boring master data, but actually master data itself makes its way into transactions, and transactions make business processes slick.

Those transactions then fall into your analytics, provide dashboards and supports, and you make decisions on them.

So just one little master data error can propagate. Can you tell us a bit about data management on the projects you worked on?

B: You’ve got to be absolutely OCD about data, and it pays you back when you do. The devil is in the detail when it comes to data. One character in a fine country code can throw you out. You think you’ve covered everything but just be one character throws the whole lot.

R: What about the business case? Can you tell us a bit more about embedding the business case from the start?

B: Yeah absolutely do that and make it simple as well - don’t make it over complicated. It should be boiled down to a few bullet points that can go onto a chart that’s easy to understand. It shouldn't be half a page of business case.

R: So without giving away the strategy of the project you were involved in whats a similar kind of business case?

B: ”This SAP Programme will simplify our processing by standardising a particular way of working”.

R: And did you turn that into a metric to be measured? Or was it more of a statement of direction?

B: It was more “this is what we’re going to do”. Then thats turned into the architecture, which is implemented into testing, then the build and then trained into people as to how it would work. Post go live it can be tested and assessed.

R: So its about getting the why in people’s minds as well as the what and the how?

B: Yeah, and keep it simple.

The most important factors to SAP success

R: Now, we’re going to take a look at the most important factors in determining SAP success and look at the difference between the top and the bottom respondents.

When it comes to savvy vendor management, the top half of respondents were 20% better on average, and the bottom half were 17% worse. Is it just about being clever about the way you contract and choose your SI?

B: And managing change as well on the way through. If you’re throwing a lot of change into your project you’ll find your costs are going up and that catches people by surprise.

R: Solution standardisation had a huge effect on success rates. The top half of performers on average performed 29% better when asked if they implemented a standardised solution.

B: The people who haven’t gone for a standardised solution and have customised their SAP are forever going to be maintaining a custom solution.

R: Yes, once you decide it you’re locked in. When you go heavily customised you’re done.

B: You’re stuck with that forever aren’t you and that’s your business expectations set as well.

R: After all if you think about it SAP is a big box of business processes that will run any business. SAP will run a bank, a utility company, a CPG company, so the only things that should be different from standard are the things that give you a competitive edge.

One of the hardest things to do is to get architects, executives and business managers to make really hard decisions and say “I know we’ve always done it like that, but if we do it this way it works out of the box, it costs less and it’s easier to use”.

So the project you worked on was that rationalisation and striving for standardisation, or were you looking for data standardisation?

B: Both.

It was making sure we used the same sort of templates across all the different parts of the company, and then when new parts of the company were being adopted or changed bringing them all into the fold and using exactly the same sort of data models.

We’d also cleanse the data at the same time. There was a lot of data standardisation as well as moving to standard processes in the organisation.

R: Finally the number one lever to success was this: high adoption focus. The top half of respondents were on average 43% better when it came to high adoption focus, and the bottom half of respondents were 25% worse.

B: So this again is managing the change, communicating it, and providing training on it.

Advice From The Best of The Best

R: So, thinking about the programme you worked on, what would you say made the difference and led you to having a successful project?

B: I would think good clear communication of what the business case was, and keeping an eye on that business case; making sure it flows all the way through every component of the project.

You also need clear project management with a clear structured plan on a page that everyone can see and buy into. You need clear architecture that aligns to the business plan, and you need to make sure the data is aligned to the business plan.

Finally, you need to manage the people. Do the good thing and motivate the people, look after the team and make sure you’re continually engaging the team and bringing them along with you.

R: I think the point around stress is a big one. Recognising that these projects are stressful and that you need to proactively manage stress within teams. After all people don’t come to work to make mistakes, they make mistakes because of stress.

B: If you manage that side of things by making sure people are enjoying what they’re doing, they’re not going to walk away from the project.

And if they’re enjoying it they’re communicating as well.

If people are under stress that’s the time when they shut down. If they’re feeling blamed they’re not sharing the information. If they’re having fun and sharing then they’ll come to meetings and the team will engage, so you’ve got to keep that team engagement going.

See how your SAP project matches up

Perhaps you’re working on an SAP project right now and you want to know how you match up to these best practices.

Well we can help.

With our SAP Success Diagnostic we plot your SAP programme against our 15 success levers and uncover any obstacles preventing you from reaching your SAP goals.

You can find out more about the SAP Success Diagnostic and contact us to book yours by clicking the link below.

15 Minute SAP Health Check

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