We have been implementing the business solutions and providing technical support as SAP Consultants. I feel that moving forward and for better customer satisfaction, we will also need to take up the business analysis role more actively. Traditionally this role remains with the client. But with more and more consultants becoming business process experts, we will need a group of Business Analytics Experts (BAEs) to help the clients obtain better benefits. These set of BAEs will help the clients keep the bigger focus and to help and prevent problems while providing a framework of analytics. I feel that as clients grow in their businesses, more and more companies will be looking to outsource this analysis part, so that they can concentrate on their core manufacturing and distribution processes.
The aim of implementing any solution is fulfilled only if the system stabilizes in the minimum possible time and the business starts realizing continued benefits from the implemented solution. Enabling the system to implement policies or make various plans is what we all intend to do. But our job as consultants do not end there. Its the business which need to sustain and grow. Our solutions and implementations should give business the leverage it needs to reach new heights. Better stock availability, reduced stock outs, increased sales, decreased warehousing and logistics costs are all tangible benefits which a business seeks from any business solution.
The trick here lies in a two step approach. Consultants also need to support the client get through the go-live smoothly and ensure the following:
- Short term strategy: Reduce time taken by the end user while keeping the key performance indicators (KPIs) for the business constant.
- Long term strategy: Try to reduce the time of the user and improve the KPIs.
The short term strategy post go live should be to keep the things as they were pre go live. Any change of policies and processes should not affect the Key Performance indicators. Any transients on costs, over or under stocking should be dealt with promptly. Some increase on these parameters should be treated as temporary and one should not loose focus of the long term picture.
The core team should be equipped enough to deal with process related user queries in time. This is very important because once if the end user loses faith in the system plan results, then the time taken to stabilize and reap benefits out of the system will increase many folds. End user trust in the planning results of the system is the key to any implementation sucess. The most important criteria should be to try and reduce the time taken by the business to complete their processes. For example, If the planning cycle took 5 days before the go-live, it should come down.
In order to achieve all this, we have to do certain things before go-live apart from comprehensive end to end testing.
- Master data: Since the planning systems are master data intensive, a clean and correct master data is a strict requirement. Additionally, there should be a separate team dedicated to look into master data changes post go live. Also there should be a methodology in place which is a guiding bible for everyone doing any master data changes. This should contain each and every detail about all the master data changes and tracking of these changes.
- Reports: The reports that are being configured are absolutely critical. These should be absolutely error free and regular quality checks should be documented to keep these reports healthy. Data extraction should be guarded against all the risks evolving out of business process changes.
- KPIs: The KPIs should also be fixed well before you actually go live on the new system. These KPIs should be tracked at least 3-6 months before go live so that at the time of change, you have a baseline on all the parameters you want to track for the business performance. The average of 3-6 months KPIs should be the baseline to sustain in this short term stabilization phase.
Hopefully this small checklist will help us in smooth go live and achieving smaller stabilization phase.
In the next blog of the series we will look at the best practicies that the consultants should follow for obtaining faster ROI and increasing besiness benefits using the implemented solution.