In recent articles, we have been discussing the five most frequent SAP change control technology topics of discussion brought up with the team at RSC’s ‘Simplifying SAP Change Control’ booth at SAPPHIRE NOW Orlando 2011. To recap, these were, ease of use, degree of automation, enforceability, ease of configuration and costs to implement.
In this issue we drill down into the final topic, ‘cost to implement’ and discuss the various elements to consider in evaluating the effort and cost of implementation of an SAP change control technology
Topic 5: Cost to Implement
Cost to implement was the final of the five most frequent topics of discussion raised to our booth staff by those interested in or considering SAP change control software. The cost to implement discussions came about from those concerned about embarking upon an open ended change control software implementation project without fully understanding the costs they may face or fully understanding when the organisation may be able to use the software productively. Not uncommon comes with any software implementation really.
Just like in any critical software implementation project, the number of expert consulting days, time to productive use and user training requirement all need to be considered, carefully estimated and weighed up relative to the expected ROI.
Expert consulting days
Some software relies entirely on straightforward configuration options to meet an organisation’s needs whilst others provide a basic configuration set and require extensive bespoke customisation and code development in order to meet these same needs. Either way, expert consultants are usually required to assist the end user organisation.
The consultant(s) plus the end user organisation’s internal resources make up the implementation team. In considering the costs of implementation the daily cost of each resource, internal and external, makes up the daily cost of the implementation team. Depending then on whether the software configuration is straightforward or whether bespoke customisation is required this daily cost will vary significantly.
SAP change control process and methodologies are generally unique to each organisation and so if costs to implement are a significant consideration, reasonable weight should be given to software that is straightforward, easily configured and requires little or no bespoke customisation. This will ensure fewer expert consulting days and lowest impact on internal resource requirements.
User training is a reasonably significant element in the cost of software implementation and SAP change control software is no different. The more straightforward the software is, the easier it is to use and thus the smaller the training effort required. Typically entirely configurable out-of-the-box software will require fewer training hours per user than a software with bespoke elements.
Time to productive use
The elapsed time to productive use from acquisition of software eats into calculated ROI. Things like configuration effort, bespoke customisation requirements and training effort all add to elapsed time. A key reason behind implementing SAP change control software is to reduce cost and lower risk and every day that goes by without the benefits of the software being realised extends both.
Things to consider
With implementation cost and effort being a key risk in any software implementation when considering the implementation costs of a SAP change control software the following elements are worth a thought:
• What is the estimated daily cost of the implementation team?
• For how many days/weeks/months will the team be required?
• How much bespoke customisation is estimated?
• What is the estimated user training overhead?
• What is the estimated elapsed time to productive use likely to be?
Consideration of these elements prior to committing to a preferred software solution should enable an organisation to be realistic about the costs and time frames to implement preferred change control software before one learns a little too late.