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Author's profile photo Claudia Faerber

Stories from the Field: The People Side of SAP Projects

/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/273022_l_srgb_s_gl_1035084.jpgCustomers always ask me, “What do you see at other customers?” While I’m careful not to reveal too much about my customers, I can share interesting and revealing stories about how I’ve worked with different organizations to help them solve issues they’re facing.

More often than not, these stories create a space for open dialog about what I consider the biggest challenge to implementing any software…PEOPLE!  With that in mind, while chatting with a couple colleagues recently, we agreed that it would make sense to start documenting and sharing these “Stories from the Field.”  Here’s our first story!

You say change management, I say…

A couple months ago I was leading a workshop at a customer site. The company, a leader in the aerospace industry, is experiencing a major transformation. They asked SAP Education to create a session that would help their organizational change management (OCM) team achieve what they were calling “consultant-level expertise” as change professionals.

We started the day by defining OCM.  Now this was a group of seasoned change and learning professionals.   You’d think we’d all have the same definition of what we do.  Wrong! The group’s responses ranged from discussions around avoiding risk to simply preparing the business.

I also noticed that the people in the meeting tended to hang out with people who had similar job functions. The training people sat with other training people. Communications folks did the same. The OCM leads were the most interactive. They threw out buzzwords while the training people in the back seemed a bit resistant.

Then I tossed out a different phrase to describe our efforts: User Adoption. It wasn’t new to anyone, but somehow in the context of talking about change management we had a phrase that defined what really matters ‒ ensuring that end users have what they need so they can adopt the software! From that basic understanding, the dialog changed.

I watched as the light bulbs started lighting up over all the participants’ heads. People came out of their silos, and several of them even got up and started writing on the whiteboards. Instead of discussing “OCM” and “training,” we were talking about what matters most to end users.  The conversation focused on the strategies to ensure end users have what they need, and how we can measure if we’ve been successful helping them adopt the change.  We were suddenly speaking a common language.

What I stressed to the group that day is fundamental to how SAP Education “does” user adoption, and it’s one of the reasons that three years ago, when I was an SAP customer, I jumped at the opportunity to help build the SAP Education User Adoption practice.

Never forget the people side of change

What I understood as a customer, and what I continue to see today at the customers I visit, is that there are still many change management consultants who have a list of criteria they roll out for every implementation in a “check-the-box” approach. Unfortunately this doesn’t always address the needs of the people they need to help most. That’s where SAP Education stands out, and it’s why user adoption means looking at the people side of change.

The truth is, every customer is different, and every implementation of SAP requires a tailored approach. Taking into consideration the culture of the business, what kind of sponsorship exists at the top, the changing workforce, how digitally savvy the employees are, and what SAP software product is being implemented makes for a completely different way of doing change management.

Now, before I go, let me take you back to our story from the field.  Remember that group I met with a couple months ago?  We had a really productive session.  The funny thing is, by the end of our two days together they started considering changing their name from “The OCM and Training Group” to “User Adoption Services.” That’s progress.

Next up in “Stories from the Field:” 5 Simple Steps to Building a Super User Network

About Claudia

I am an SAP Education Delivery Executive and subject matter expert on organizational change management, and of course, user adoption and sustainment. Before I joined SAP I led the McKesson program that won the 2012 SAP Education Best Practice Award.  We started “Stories from the Field” because we enjoy helping user adoption professionals work through the challenges they face every day.  If you have comments or questions, please leave a comment below. And don’t forget to follow me and other “Stories from the Field” contributors on SCN to read the latest stories!

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