The second tip in our Optimize SAP blog series focuses on how to transition tribal knowledge into formal processes and systems. In any business a great deal of knowledge about customers, products, processes, systems and schedules exists in the workers’ brains. Often referred to as “Tribal knowledge,” these are the unwritten elements of a business that often keep the company running smoothly. Some companies may experience delays in production simply because of an employee’s illness or vacation. In some industries, such as manufacturing, there is a real risk of this important collection of knowledge disappearing completely as employees retire and take this tribal knowledge with them.
An alarm goes off during our Assessments whenever we hear the customer praise a resource for being a “star” or “we couldn’t function without him” or “if it weren’t for…” That is a signal that the processes are depending on that key resource and their network verse streamlined in the system. The benefit to the organization is not only in reducing the risk of relying on a key resource, but in freeing up that key resource to perform more analytical or proactive tasks.
Here are just a few of the ways that an organization can transition tribal knowledge into formal processes and systems to ensure that it stays within the business and helps to drive innovation:
Many organizations have not yet fully automated their procure-to-pay process and rely heavily on tribal knowledge of employees. Automating PO processing with SAP not only allows for greater efficiency and productivity, it can also allow the organization to shift resources to more innovative activities, such as enhanced negotiations, within the procurement office. Companies who have these systems can now route information very quickly and also ensure that the transferred information is not lost. In order to capture tribal knowledge and innovate, organizations must adopt automation in this area to remain competitive. By assuring all contract information is in the system, the POs flow smoothly and frees up key resources to perform tasks like Vendor Score Cards verse transactional activities.
Tribal Knowledge in Superstars
Your superstars may be putting you at risk. Reliance on their personal contacts, spreadsheets and paper files, is not scalable especially if your company is experiencing growth or customer demands are increasing
Superstars can be better leveraged in new, innovative ways allow them time to take a step out of the day to day transactions to optimize the business and truly move the needle on key KPIs.
These are just a few of the ways that tribal knowledge can be documented and automated to deliver rapid time to value back to the business. A thorough process assessment, by an experienced SAP partner, will identify other processes across the business that can be automated relatively easily with SAP.
In my next Optimize SAP blog, I will be focusing on how to “Staple Yourself to an Order” for tips on how to identify and automate ordering processes. Stay tuned for more valuable tips!
I presented a customer case study with Morgan Foods at the SAP SAPPHIRE conference in Orlando on May 15-18 that focused on the 7 initiatives to Optimize SAP and the benefits realized in each step on the road map. Click here to view my presentation.