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
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.
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.
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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