On January 19, I moderated a lively Q&A on Insider Learning Network with Michael Doane, author of the SAP Blue Book, A Concise Business Guide to the World of SAP, and the author of a new edition of The SAP Green Book, soon to be released by SAP PRESS. Michael is taking your questions on post-implementation challenges and benchmarking your system, including his thoughts on implementation and system management trends and strategies, including key measurements of deployment success, Rapid Deployment Solutions, building COEs, the hype around BI, and avoiding “shadow IT” systems.
To review the entire discussion, you can view the posts in the Forum here or read the following edited transcript.
Laura Casasanto, Editor, Project Expert: Welcome to today's forum with Michael Doane, author of The SAP Green Book. Thank you for joining us today.
Michael is taking your questions on post-implementation challenges and benchmarking your system. Michael is an Executive Consultant with CGI, and the author of The SAP Green Book – soon to be released in a new edition from SAP PRESS -- and The SAP Blue Book , a Concise Business Guide to the World of SAP, and a well known expert on post-implementation best practices and centers of excellence.
Michael, there are already a couple questions waiting so let’s kick this off with those!
jonerp: Michael - you talk about the importance of SAP customers moving from a
Laura Casasanto: Michael, How do project teams better communicate the value of their current SAP systems -- and in measures that business stakeholders care about?
Michael Doane: Ideally, the client will have undergone a useful Value Engineering exercise as a way of establishing a business justification at the KPI level. Thus, at the end of implementation, they can measure their tangible gains in an ROI format.
Moving forward, they continue with value engineering on a business process by business process basis using KPIs as navigation and measurement for improvement.
Bullet-point "values" such as "things are better", "we are more streamlined" or "we are faster" are not useful at all.
Nor are IT KPIs like response time or pass through time.
Jarret Pazahanick: Thanks for doing this Q&A and looking forward to your upcoming SAP Green Book. Two questions:
1. In your experience what do the best companies do to retain their talent & knowledge once they have successfully set up a
2. Over the years I have supplemented many SAP customers with part time remote consulting after post implementation. Curious to get your thoughts as it seems many customers are not proactive, let issues pile up and than scramble to fix (ie US Payroll & Year End)
Thanks in advance.
Michael Doane: Hey Jarret,
1. Motivation and morale are promoted by giving people a career path that involves a) stretching their skills and b) rounding their skills (IT and business)
2. Read the chapter "We Do It Themselves" as most clients think they should do everything in-house. In fact, these people are managing FTE's not outcomes.
Laura Casasanto: For a sneak preview of Chapter 4 of The SAP Green Book, you can register here and download a working draft of Chapter 4, "We Do It Themselves: Outsourcing SAP Applications Support" - look for the link in your confirmation email. This will give you a glimpse at what’s to come in the new edition of the book coming from SAP PRESS next month.
I like that you talk about "strategic" vs. "non-strategic" work. We have seen great value in outsourcing "task" work such as reviewing code for Unicode conversion. We did not have to provide functional specs. However, I do not see this same win for regular evolutions or projects. What is the tipping point between strategic and non-strategic in your mind? Thanks.
Michael Doane: The tipping post in the "distance" of an activity from the actual fulfillment of a business process.
Sales order entry is heart and soul within business process. Basis is miles upon miles away. As written "Distance matters when you're ordering a pizza; it matters not at all for Basis work."
If it looks like something that will be done with a screwdriver or machine code, it is not strategic in IT. If it is correction, revision, re-setting, etc., it is non strategic.
If it has nothing whatsoever to do with your clients, it is non-strategic.
(I could on in this vein for many pages)
Megan Daley: Hi Michael, Thanks for holding this forum today! What would you say are some of the more surprising "wins" for companies that have successfully built a thriving COE? And how did their planning shape this success?
Michael Doane: Megan,
You already hit the nail on the head: planning. The misfortune is that SI's including SAP Consulting tend to use ASAP as their methodology and it encourages "the wedding syndrome" by which clients rush to go-live and then say "Now what?" They should plan post-implementation during the implementation. Otherwise, setting up a
The most surprising win is the rise in morale amongst both business and IT sides of the aisle as each is given the proper frame to succeed, thus eliminating the marital bickering between IT and business that we have observed for the past fifty years.
There are many other benefits but this one tends to be, as you asked, a surprise.
jonerp: Michael - looks like another hype-filled year for SAP BI, err, I mean "Business Analytiics." Is there any meat on the bone for customers here? Pitfalls to avoid?
Michael Doane: Jon,
I am actually all for the wave of Business Objects provided we can avoid 'Shadow IT' . The hypes that concern me are around emerging technologies such as HANA, Mobility, and Solution Manager. While these are worthy subjects, they should not be the centerpiece of every SAP discussion.
Let's not forget Ray Wang's
ArkadySherman: Hello Michael,
How can one measure success of SAP implementations? Other than conducting user surveys, what are some measurable indicators of a sustained adoption and efficiency?
Michael Doane: Adherence to time and budget are very misleading indicators of implementation success. Usually, firms under budget and set over optimistic deadlines and then shortchange the implementation in terms of cutting end user training, rushing data migration etc.
I prefer the use of key performance indicators as part of a Value Engineering process that precedes the project and is the basis of a business case that will actually be scrutinized after Go-Live.
Serious success will also include a simple transition from project mode to a
Laura Casasanto: Michael,
Can you discuss what has changed from the previous version of the SAP Green Book to the new version coming out?
Michael Doane: Outside of some wonderful editing and other tips provided by Florian Zimniak and others at Galileo Press, I have added some stories that will help to illustrate 1) why SAP clients should not "fix their own SAP cars"
2) how neglect of your end users will cost you more than you save by not taking care of them, and
3) an extension of the chapter on how to build a
I believe that in the final version, the graphics will also be much improved. Cover design is definitely much more attractive and compelling.
FYI, we are casting for the movie version this summer. Who wants to play the clueless CIO? None of you, I'm sure. OK, better buy the book then.
Scott Wallask: Hi Michael --
In talking to some of our readers, I've heard a few different viewpoints of power users/super users in the past month. How would you describe the role and responsibility of a super user?
Michael Doane: Scott,
This is a subject that is gaining more and more traction over the past few years to such point that I have invested a considerable amount of time building a method and applying with a client. This will culminate in a detailed case study that will be available through Insider Learning in the course of February.
In point of fact, while definitions of responsibilities vary, some common characteristics are:
1. Tracking / measuring users’ level of acumen and comfort with system functions.
2. Ongoing mentoring to improve those levels.
3. Assuring that the users understand the business process in which they are working and understand their role in fulfilling that process.
4. Working with business process owners to improve processes from a user point of view.
BTW, we now call them drivers or process drivers. Only two industries in the world refer to their ultimate clients as users and one of those industries is illegal.
M.S. Hein: Michael,
Hi. I have a question for you. I know that you've encouraged businesses to focus on ROI rather than TCO of their systems. What tips do you have for project teams to encourage this shift away from TCO by the business stakeholders? Thanks so much.
Michael Doane: Total Cost of Ownership is a pier in that it only measures cost. Who cares about cost without the balance of benefit? That's a one oar proposition so that you row in circles. It is also an antique that should long ago have been retired.
You need to know what you're getting in return for your investment and that provides you ROI. Anything less can be misleading.
BTW, Total Cost of Operations is viable as a guide to where your costs are going but is also just a subset of ROI.
FYI, there is a somewhat elaborate exploration of these issues in The SAP Green Book.
Dave Hannon: Michael, I'm wondering what your thoughts are on fixed scope implementations and rapid deployment? Are they good for everyone, certain customers/solutions?
Michael Doane: The faster you go the faster you fail. Implementations should not be rushed. They should have a longer duration while costing less and being more effective. A much greater concentration on client training (including C-level and director level) should occur well before the SI's set foot at client sites. Fixed fee projects are the worst because all a client gets is predictability of cost while SIs are stuck in a lifevest of scope that should have some flexibility.
I do more SAP Executive Seminars for firms that have already started implementations and find themselves failing that I do for firms that are about to start an implementation. At fault is the notion of speed and a foreshortened Project Preparation Phase.
Jarret Pazahanick: Speaking of "rushing through the SAP implementation" dont you feel that will be more prevalent now that SAP is strongly pushing Rapid Deployment Solutions. Be curious to get your thoughts.
Michael Doane: See my reply to Dave Hannon above. What I am working on is a new variant of ASAP that will be called AWAP (As Wonderful as Possible) that will embrace education, measurement, and post-implementation planning that are not currently in ASAP.
Let's talk about this before I go to print.
Laura Casasanto: This wraps up today’s Forum with Michael Doane. Thanks for joining us here today, and to Michael for taking the time to respond to these questions!
A full summary of all the questions will be available here in the Project Management Forum and in the Project Management Group on Insider Learning Network.
You can also listen to a recent interview with Michael Doane, and get more information about the upcoming release of The SAP Green Book from SAP PRESS. I also encourage you to join the Project Management group for ongoing information and additional resources, including tips from Project Management Expert articles and SAPinsider’s Managing SAP Projects conferences, details about future live Forums, and more.