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Each technology project is started for a purpose and is required to deliver value. The pre-condition to realize any value is of course the acceptance and utilization of newly introduced technology.

We summarize the intensity of use as solution adoption and understand it as the central pillar of any benefit to be derived from our products.

We, the SAP Customer Success and Renewals’ team accompany our customers in their adoption journey and facilitate healthy solution lifecycles with lots of added value and fast return on investments.

With this blog, we intent to provide a starting point for individual adoption strategies, proven practice examples of change management activities and options to deeper engage with SAP on this topic if desired. The provided information is valid at any time during the adoption journey, whether it is at the project start or during productive use when introducing new features or optimizing intensity of solution usage.

The information is provided in the following sections:

Chapter 1: Adoption Basics

Chapter 2: Identify Stakeholder Motives

Chapter 3: Create the Unique Loving Proposition

Chapter 4: Proven Practice Examples of Change Management Activities

Chapter 5: Options for Adoption Assistance by SAP

Special thanks go to the co-authors of this blog: Martin Neudecker and Christian Schumacher.

Chapter 1: Adoption Basics

How we understand adoption

We perceive adoption from two angles:

  • Commercial Adoption
    • The commercial adoption is the number of users which regularly use the system versus the subscribed (licensed) number of users (‘how many logins per month per user’).
  • Functional Adoption
    • The functional adoption describes the range of functionalities which are used versus the available functionalities of the solution (‘number of used work centers per user/overall’).

Both dimensions need to be followed up to maximize workforce support, value and return on investment! Done well, driving the functional adoption will impact the company’s top-line and may even lead to an extension of its business processes.

Driving adoption is a continuous process

Whilst the first go-live is a prominent milestone in the solution lifecycle, more triggers for change keep coming in all the time, such as new regulatory requirements, amended business processes, new products, new users and roles, and business model innovation. From a technology perspective, innovation and new functionalities are coming from SAP in quarterly releases.

Consequently, monitoring and driving solution adoption must be considered a continuous process with setting objectives, creating value propositions and momentum, managing expectations, monitoring acceptance, assessing achievements and implementing corrective actions. This needs to include an ongoing communication practice with all stakeholders. Ideally, the future end users are involved and updated continuously throughout the entire lifecycle. This helps to foster buy-in at all levels and from the beginning.

Cloud requires ownership: IT as business enabler

If many own something, no one owns it.

Even in a cloud subscription model, a solution requires ownership and (executive) sponsorship. When it comes to optimizations and introduction of newly released functionalities, the solution owner also needs to own the adoption activities and make sure that the innovations are being leveraged.

In cloud software, business processes and IT capabilities are glued together, therefore the solution owner is ideally covering both accordingly. Typically, it is the IT organization which steps up and transforms from a delivery unit into the role of a business enabler. This means (typically the business analysis team from) the IT organization proactively provides newly available functionality, explalins the benefit of using it and assesses the adoption afterwards. In an ideal world, executive business sponsors are backing up this approach.

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Chapter 2: Identify Stakeholder Motives

(Re-)Identify motives for purchase decision

During the software selection process, the decision makers have aligned their needs and motivation to launch a new solution. When it comes to realization, this motivation should be narrowed down to well phrased success criteria and an approach on how success will be assessed. This enables the verification of the strategy, shows areas for optimization and facilitates the introduction of the vision with the company.

Identify motives for actual use

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” – Dr. Peter F. Drucker

At some level, each company’s DNA includes resistance to change. At the end of the day, the adoption success is decided by the users, which in most cases are the employees and middle management. Therefore, a lot of attention should be spent on their motivation to use the system. A successful adoption starts with the understanding of people’s day to day challenges and priorities, and how they can be connected to the benefits which the system is offering to them.

The next dimension of understanding people is about demographic structures, digital immigration status, learning habits, cultural and geographic characteristics. At the end of the day, everyone is willing to embrace (digitally driven) change if addressed properly and individually.

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Chapter 3: Create the Unique Loving Proposition

WIFM (What’s In It For Me)?

Like the decision makers, all users must also buy (into) a new solution, so they must be told why. In fact, a good ambition is to aim far beyond giving explanations and training, and tell people what purpose it serves to the company and for affected individuals.

To achieve this, the following shall be considered for the roll-out and change strategy:

  • Breakdown of strategy and vision to individual’s activities and day-to-day work
  • Presentation of the opportunity on how the new solution helps the company add value from an entrepreneur’s perspective
  • Razor-sharp described and tangible benefits, and improvements for each individual stakeholder group
  • Explanation of limitations of current system, processes and behaviors
  • Creation of trust by making and delivering promises
  • Joint setting of realistic objectives
  • Description of impacts for existing (employee) roles, potentially newly required roles, and potentially new career options
  • Involvement of business people in the project and implementation of a strong key user community
  • Identification of effects which are to be expected for customers and partners

At the bottom line, there is a good level of buy-in achieved if every stakeholder can describe in two or three sentences what are the benefits the company and, even more important, what he/she is personally getting from it.

Keeping up the momentum

Winning is the result of hard work, even harder is defending a leader position. In the software deployment discipline, winning includes creating momentum, and the only way of keeping it is re-creating it over and over again.

Hence, people who were made to buy into the benefits of a new system need to buy-in again and again. People who accepted change to their lives and roles need to accept constant ongoing change. People who understood the connection from the company’s strategy to their day-to-day work must understand the ongoing need for evolvement of this strategy.

At the bottom line, alike demonstrating strategic leadership shall be constantly ongoing, keeping up the momentum of solution adoption hast to be.

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Chapter 4: Proven Practice Examples of Change Management Activities

Selecting the right set of activities

When setting up a new change plan, it is worth to look back and analyze your own change projects from the past. Things that worked well may also lead to success when re-used. In addition, we provide a selection of proven practice examples from SAP customers which have implemented one or more of the SAP C/4HANA products successfully.

Examples to create buy-in

  • “We showed how the employees objectives can be easier overachieved with the help of the new solution.”
  • “We brought selected business stakeholders and some key users to SAP C/4HANA events to trigger their out of the box thinking.”
  • “For any change project which involves insecurities we offer informal Q+A sessions in our break areas.”
  • “Our IT was given resources to come up with own ideas of big data use cases.”
  • “We had very good experiences with a buddy concept where we assign users to dedicated key users.”
  • “We introduced a centrally managed mailbox to answer questions and concerns in context of the new solution. The questions and our answers were made available for everyone anonymously. Like this, we could make everyone feel heard.”
  • “To leverage the SAP Sales Cloud mobile capabilities and to stimulate solution usage we gave out new mobile devices to our people.”
  • “Managers were asked to use the solution themselves, e.g. demoed the added value it does deliver (e.g. using the solution in team meetings)
  • “One of our locations presented their successes with SAP Sales Cloud during our annual global sales kick-off meeting, generating a huge wave of followers.”
  • “When we realized that our folks used the SAP Sales Cloud only for contact management, we implemented a reporting framework for opportunity management. The result was a leap in intensity of use and much broader functional adoption of our solution.”

Examples to create ownership

  • “Our project team members were shadowing the business users in their daily work and let the business users have early insights to the new solution.”
  • “Where possible, we involved key users/end users in design-related project decisions.”
  • “We connected the use of the system with people’s objectives and incentives.”
  • “We reduced the amount of training in favor to the amount of demonstrating the benefit for the individuals.”
  • “We involved our people in the usage analysis and the definition of measures to increase usage.”
  • “We harmonized the business process that it is better supported by the new software. Implicitly it makes a lot of sense for our people to use the software.”
  • “We launched an internal contest where people could propose a name for the new tool.”
  • “We established a large and strong key user community which is actively involved in the evolvement of the new solution. They also participate in SAP Customer Experience User Communities.”

Further examples

  • “We expect that our business is impacted by the digitalization and therefore also people’s jobs. We started to articulate these very particular changes and offer coaching to our folks on how to embrace the digital change best.”
  • “In the monthly newsletter, we informed our employees about the ongoing implementation project.”
  • “We informed our partners and other external stakeholders about our particular digitalization initiatives.”
  • “We shared our vision in a tangible way with every single level of the company. A survey afterwards showed that many people understood how their day-to-day work supports our strategy.
  • “We are re-using SAP success stories from other customers. Our folks are impressed by some famous brands which are successful with the SAP C/4HANA solutions.”
  • “We launched a series of internal videos which show how executives use the new system.”
  • “We are constantly and carefully analyzing the development of our business and the impacts of using the new solution. This is being shared with everyone.”
  • “We use traditional (printed) flyers to promote the new solution, we distribute it in the canteen and in break areas.”
  • “We identify personal success stories with the new software and share it with everyone.”
  • “We have chosen a step-by-step roll-out approach for SAP Sales Cloud. This made the change digestible for everyone and, at some point created a pull from our people. They asked to accelerate the roll-out.”
  • “Everyone can access ‘how-to’ work instructions on SAP JAM. It became a substantial element of our knowledge database and very valuable for new employees.”

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Chapter 5: Options for Adoption Assistance by SAP

For deeper discussions on the topic of solution adoption, we encourage all our SAP C/4HANA customers to engage with the SAP Customer Success & Renewals organization or directly with the SAP Customer Engagement Executive (if assigned).

For technical advice and functional leadership – complementary to your selected implementation partner – please engage with SAP Customer Experience Expert Services.

Furthermore, below are a few SAP resources which may help to define individual adoption optimization activities.

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