It isn’t very often that you have an opportunity to streamline a portion of a customer’s business process to the point where you are able to redefine the way they do business. I recently had the opportunity to work on a project with a customer in the area of Public Sector finance where we did just that. We eliminated a cumbersome, at times inaccurate process which required 3-5 people full time for two months, and replaced it with a fully automated module which did everything the customer was doing, and more, in less than 2 hours.
The customer challenge.
Our customer handled putting together long-range plans and budgets for a large municipal government. As part of their budgeting process, they undertook the budgeting of all personnel-related expenses. While our customer did have SAP HCM, they were not harnessing the total power of it because they had previously been unable to get the business to incorporate standard functionality across their pay tables. As a result, pay scale functionality was not being used for the majority of their employees. Since this was the case, when developing long range plans and budgets, the Budget office had to manually adjust all future salary changes. Did I mention they had 10,000 employees?
Understandably, this undertaking took a full two months to complete, employed 3 to 5 employees full-time, and was subject to numerous user errors and inaccuracies, as is to be expected from such a process. Suffice to say, the customer was very eager to replace this with a more efficient process.
That’s where we (SAP Consultants) stepped in.
Through the power of SAP Public Budget Formulation (PBF) Personnel Expenditure Projections, we were able to take the customer’s existing employee records and generate a full 5 year expenditure projection for them. This projection not only included all required salary and wage costs associated with their employee base, but also included future year costs based on pay scale tables their Human Resources department had previously established but which were not being used. We even included benefit costs!
We faced challenges in getting all of this accomplished. Since the pay scale tables weren’t being actively used, we needed to ensure that whatever we built gained approval from all current and future stakeholders; many people depended on the current long range projection, and we knew many more would come to depend on it once all involved truly saw the power of what we were set to deliver. We also had to actually build the pay scale tables. This would have been a fairly simple exercise if not for the multiple versions and tables maintained within Human Resources. All of these tables required harmonization, along with sign-off, which was not easy given the multiple sources involved.
Luckily, our team understood the culture of the organization; those of us on the project had worked in similar environments and knew how to navigate through the organization so that we overcame these obstacles. Many times these types of ‘soft skills’ are just as important as being up on the latest release or being familiar with the latest notes. Know-how is only valuable if you’re able to execute it in the customer setting.
The ‘veil is lifted’.
When we finally neared the end of the project and had everything configured, we presented our work to the customer. Let’s just say they were very, very pleased. As they looked over the power they now had at their disposal, they realized what PBF PEP had now established: that they could create new multi-year personnel cost estimates in two hours, with one person, instead of two months and a small team. Many of their existing processes and ways of ‘doing things’ could be reimagined now that they could realistically incorporate things like staffing changes, cost of living increases, and market-driven pension changes into their long-range plans, all at the proverbial ‘drop of the hat’. Of course, they were familiar with the functionality they were getting from the start, but it has been my experience that a customer only truly appreciates functionality until they see it up close and personal, and they see their own familiar data populating new reports and interfaces. It is then that the ‘veil is lifted’ and they start to know what they didn’t know they didn’t know. It is personally one of the most satisfying aspects of consulting.