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Cloud implementations are fundamentally different than large ERP projects. They are generally far less structured, lack dedicated resources, are implemented in weeks instead of years, and do not have the same oversight on the client side. Despite these differences, there are three things you can and MUST do in a Cloud implementation.


EXECUTIVE BUY-IN, COMMITMENT, AND ACCESS

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Not that this is a unique requirement for a Cloud implementation, but nevertheless it is an absolute cornerstone of success. The executive we are talking about here could be the CEO, the CFO, or a Line of Business Director, depending on the solution. But in all of these cases, you must have a relationship with this person that doesn’t require a weekly status meeting to get talk-time with him or her. You must position yourself a Trusted Adviser that is only interested in the success of that person and their mission.

By engaging in this way, given the shortened implementation time-frame, you can ensure course corrections if things start going awry. At every one of my clients, I have the CEO/CFO/President’s mobile number and I will never hesitate to call them if I need an issue resolved or pushed forward. In the end this has lead to lasting relationships with these folks. They trust me, because they know I have their back.

If you cannot establish this relationship during the sales cycle, pass on the work, because I promise a fixed-fee implementation without what I’ve outlined in invariably and unprofitable endeavor.

VALIDATION OF USER TESTING

So you have a test plan. And each week you go through the motions of getting the status on who has done what. I am here to tell you that this is not enough. When testing is completed, your client, as an organization, should be able to give YOU the Solution Walk-through they signed-off on before testing started. In fact, I think this should be added to the SAP Cloud Implementation Methodology. This will demonstrate that the client is in fact ready to run their day to day operations. They have worked out the kinks, they have resolved the issues, and they have the solution they want. They have realized value before go-live. And that, as they say, is priceless.

Do not cut any corners. Test everything. Make sure their logo is just where they like it on their forms. Make sure their invoices look and feel just how they want them. Make sure they load their real-life data and test based on that data. Do not test hypothetical situations. Test reality.

As a caveat to this message, you should under no circumstance take your client live if the above has not been done. If you have not done the above, or the client refuses to do the above, you, as a Trusted Adviser, should never in good conscious proceed with the project. You must stop your work and let the client do theirs. Once they have demonstrated they are ready, then move forth.

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TRAIN THE END USER

The SAP Cloud Methodology for training end users involves watching a series of videos and completing a set of generic role-based tasks. That is not enough. The end user must be trained on their process in their environment, and they must also demonstrate that they are capable of completing these processes before they go-live. Don’t let you client go-live with a set of video clips as their guide. Whether you orchestrate the training or have your committed executive oversee this phase, make it happen.

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IN CONCLUSION

These things can be hard to swallow because of the pressure to deliver in a shrunken time-frame. But if you don’t do these things, you will be among the scores of customers who think SAP Cloud products are inferior simply because they were not educated and trained on how to realize value.

If you follow these guidelines, I won’t promise you success, but I might guarantee it!

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FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER @JUDSONONDEMAND. THX BRO.

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6 Comments

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  1. Luke Marson

    Hi Judson,

    Superb points and very relevant for Cloud and even on-premise implementations. Testing is always done insufficiently on projects that I have worked on and mainly this is due to the client’s specifications for testing. I find it difficult to let customers not fully test a solution or use inadequate data, but I only have so much influence on forcing change. I really hope that with Cloud solutions we can force this kind of change much more easily than with on-premise ERP.

    The Trusted Advisor role is something that is relevant with on-premise but I do agree that it has more relevance in the cloud, especially as we are at the start of a long journey in to the cloud where customers are struggling to understand the impact on their business, how to approach it, and what the true value proposition is. And I think too many “trusted advisors” may be salesmen for professional services of their company than looking for value for their customers, whether that is on-premise of cloud.

    Best regards,

    Luke

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    1. Judson Wickham Post author

      Yes, I agree, and Cloud and On-Prem are very different in that I DO have the ability to not take my customer live if I feel they’re not ready. In my role as a Trusted Adviser, I play project manager, whip-cracker, and therapist for my client. I demonstrate that I am only interested in their success. Coincidentally, this leads to a relationship that inevitably leads to more sales in the future.

      Based on establishing myself in this role, I get many requests every week for new business, so it pays off to hold firm and ensure your client’s success is your sole focus.

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  2. Caroline Lewis

    Totally agreed, from an end user/practitioner perspective.  I’d also say, especially in the HR space, it’s crucial to understand and be able to reinforce how the cloud implementation reinforces the business strategy.  For example, you can implement a great end-to-end Cloud HR solution (SuccessFactors comes to mind 🙂 ) but if you don’t have an integrated Talent Management strategy that is intrinsically tied to the business strategy, the implementation risks falling flat and having a limited ROI. 

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  3. Nico Thirion

    Judson, with cloud implementations having a compressed implementation cycle and typically several integration points the need to carefully track and manage the items you raise is key.

    I would add that the following items need close attention

    1. Data migration in a reduced time frame. Similar to your comments, you cannot contract our of having successful data migration. If the data isn’t ready or correct you won’t have success.

    2. Interfaces and testing. Obvious but without it no success. 

    3. Rapid change in the Cloud. The system is  in the cloud and your project will experience system updates/releases during the project. Plan for it.

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