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Saturday night and visiting with some family members from the other side of the table. One is quite adamant, when he learns that I worked for SAP, that SAP is “Just an Finance System” and doesn’t handle change orders or manufacturing logistics.
I feel my ire rising as I explain that Sap has a strong Logistics presence, it easily handles change orders (not their kind of change orders, the Uncle protests. He is talking about the kind of change order where an order changes after the sales order is made and before the goods are shipped). I shake my head. This is a social gathering , but again I can’t resist talking about SAP Change Orders from the variant configurator to Engineering Change Orders, Recipe Editing and so on.
Uncle shakes his head. Is this new in SAP he asks? I answer that these functions including all for the reporting on these function had been in SAP at least 15 years, maybe longer.
He insists Change Order were not available in SAP and they could only use what SAP was created for: Finance.
Boy, did someone blow it! Here is a typical company. Nothing fancy but an old school Electrical component manufacturer and they were sold a bill of goods.
Not only were they poorly trained, but they spent their valuable project dollars on building weak and limp interfaces to a series of systems. Systems, they had intended on replace when they purchased SAP originally. But rather than learning what SAP offered and how it could be set up to meet their needs, they probably contracted with the lowest priced configuration team, did a poor job in training themselves before the Project began (because their own IT staff did not “buy into” replacing the 150 “Good” patched homegrown systems they had tweeked and tweeked and re-tweeked for the last 20 years. They did a below average job of training before the “Go-Live” portion of their project and the building and distribution of Reports were dismal.
If only SAP had reports, the Uncle moaned. If only they could look at data from SAP and all of the legacy systems they had continued to maintain after they went live.
If that was my company and I had heard that company, I would:
- Fire my current SAP Configurators. Make sure they are replaced with a proven strong team. Interview each and every member of the team you are bringing in. Your company does not want to be a training site for newly hired configurators!
- Train a select group of internals what “thinking outside the box” really means and provide them with written 100% support of any and all management over the heads of the team. Make up a set Progress Meeting dates
- Pick a primary Project Team from the best of the best of my Company and send them offsite to determine a strategy, especially of what they had learned about SAP to date.
- List the important aspects of what they must accomplish in SAP including reducing the number of systems they were maintaining outside of SAP.
- Train the Project Team in the Applications, Integration and Configuration of SAP. Make interfaces and special programs a “Last Case” scenario, not a follow the path of least resistance. The Project Team cannot be afraid of the decisions they are about to propose.
- Before the Re-Project begins, establish a Reporting strategy to control every aspect of configuration. No Configuration step is made without first testing it against the reporting requirements.
- Set up a Super User and End User training scenario. Start Training and maybe re-training some people. Every company has some old-timers that refuse to do it the new way! It is a time to be harsh if need be!
In addition to these steps, I would guarantee that while on the project, the Team Members are “ON THE PROJECT” and not pulled 15 ways. The must be dedicated in each and every phase. If they are pulled away from this important task, then someone in Management is not fully supportive of the investment that the Company is about to make in SAP and the Company’s future!
I was so disappointed to hear that SAP had been set up so shabbily at this little Electronics Manufacturer. He acted as if they were they only Electronics Company that SAP had ever worked with. He had never even heard of ASUG or various SAP User Groups.
I reminded the Uncle that if they built a house and when the house was complete, if it learned or a wall fell in or the foundation cracked that they would not stand around yelling at the bad hammer. The owner of the house would seek retribution from the carpenter not the tool. SAP is a tool and works. It works well in a variety of environments. We just need commitments, our brains, know our business and a little forward thinking before we undertake implementing SAP.