Increase Business Effectiveness with the Right SAP or ERP Solution

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By Daniel M. Horton, CIO, Sallyport Global

Implementation of the right SAP or ERP solution is one of the most important information system decisions that can be made for your company. With the right solution, you will enable efficiencies and automation that will simplify processes and provide proper visibility into the key levers of your business. With the wrong configuration or lack of evolution, you will develop a cumbersome system that does not add value and deters productivity.

If you are in the process of identifying a SAP or ERP solution for your company, this project should not be taken lightly. Choosing the right solution will be time consuming since this product runs at the core of the business and contributes to so many areas. It is imperative to have executive sponsorship and involvement from the right stakeholders from the beginning. Select a team with representation from each area of the business so there are knowledgeable personnel that can share their experiences and talk through existing challenges that need to be overcome and help determine the business requirements. If you do not have the resources available to build a qualified team, bring in an impartial outside advisor to oversee and steer the project. The money you spend on an outside advisor will save you three-fold compared to the time and money wasted if you do not have an experienced project team.

Take your time and do it right from the beginning.If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over?” – John Wooden. The proper setup, configuration, and development of workflows can make or break your investment. When you run into an unforeseen incident, evaluate the situation and adjust the schedule as necessary. Build in deviation and modifications to the plan as part of the schedule and be sure to assess each step of the way. Have a backup plan for what you can’t plan for. The final outcome and the original plan will not be the same because there will always be unforeseen circumstances uncovered along the way. This is not saying that because the plan has changed, means it is not as good. In fact, when addressing change properly, you will achieve a stronger outcome than originally planned.

The marketplace is saturated with exceptional products and solutions that are configurable and can integrate with any platform. The key to making a successful decision is to stay focused on the problems you want to solve. Do not feel the pressure to only use the modules that your provider has available to offer, unless they happen to meet all your requirements. A decision matrix simplifies the selection process and allows each member of the project team to document their feedback.

If you have a solution in place that is not enabling productivity and simplifying or fully automating business processes, it is time to reevaluate your situation. Your system should be continuously evolving and staying fluid with the growth and changes of your business. If the proper upkeep and attention has not been provided, that might mean you are due for a top to bottom overhaul or in some circumstances it might be time to see what else is on the market. What may have been a good fit decades ago, may not be the right solution for your business anymore. Do not get caught in the trap of throwing more money at a product that isn’t returning value. SAP / ERP systems should be able to validate their worth by demonstrating increased operational productivity, efficiencies and integrated business processes. If this is not being achieved, bring in an impartial outside advisor to evaluate your situation and provide a recommended path forward. Their specialized background along with wide range exposure will provide you greater insight into what is available on the market and best practices followed by industry leaders. Having the support of the right advisor coupled with the knowledge of your internal business team will increase your success factor.

My last piece of advice would be to ensure that you have the right team in place to support this core system. Your internal support team should have as much knowledge about the business function they support then they do from the technical aspect. You will need to partner yourself with a solution provider that is committed to the success of the technology in place and not just around when it is time for licensing renewals. Choosing the right solution provider is a long-term commitment and you should have absolute confidence in their ability to support you.