Preparing for SAP Support while you are implementing
If you are either about to start, or are currently implementing SAP, you need to think ahead and prepare your organization for its ongoing support needs. Among the keys to preparing for running your business with SAP are:
· Include your future support team on your SAP project. In depth SAP training for people who already know and operate your business, should be a key objective of the implementation project. Insist on knowledge transfer from employees and your consulting partners. The best time to learn SAP skills is during an implementation. You might even consider incenting both your implementation partner and your employees on the successful transfer of knowledge.
· Define the roles and responsibilities of each support role. Define what support roles need to exist within your IT department (e.g. MM configuration), which belong within each department (e.g. superuser for training) and which should be outsourced or supplemented by a partner (e.g. CO-PA configuration or eCommerce expertise). These definitions will be the foundation for what you need to accomplish with knowledge transfer and training during your implementation.
· Define the future support organizational structure. Based on the required support roles and responsibilities, you’ll need to define a proper organization to support this. This may include moving people from one department to another, or even creating completely new roles. One key will be to make sure your organization allows for the solving of integration issues. In other words, make sure your teams are organized to support your integrated business processes, not only able to solve a narrow functional issue. Also, if you have facilities in multiple countries, determine how you will support other time zones, languages, statutory reporting requirements etc.
· Find effective partners to supplement your staff for ongoing assistance, specific skills, future phase rollouts etc. You’ll want to make sure you have a strong Application Managed Services (AMS), or other SAP consulting partner, to give you the added support required when it is time to do an upgrade, roll-out new functionality, solve especially difficult issues, provide SAP training, or to take on day-to-day configuration and programming roles. Your use of a partner will depend on many factors, but in any case you’ll want to make sure you have a strong partner that understands your business, knows your SAP environment, has highly effective communication skills and is able to build strong relationships with your own employees.
· Budget for your support team including compensation, training and recruiting. Invest the time to understand what it will take to support your new SAP environment. SAP is probably more integrated and more complex than your current systems. Keeping high quality SAP experts will require ongoing investment and interesting work to retain them.
Joe Dollries is the Director of SAP Applications Management Services for itelligence, the leading global, mid-market full-service SAP provider