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Author's profile photo Christopher DuBois

Where Are All the Adoption Celebrations?

For many years, I had a front row seat working with customers in the post-sales world as they embarked on their transformation journeys with SAP solutions.  This was typically categorized as a two-phase process – the actual implementation with subsequent go-live, and life after go-live.

I’ve seen a lot of effort going into the first phase – detailed project plans, red/yellow/green status checks for each workstream, mitigation plans for potential issues, integration checks, data migration and conversion, weekly project meetings, go/no-go meetings, the number of activities goes on and on.  And at the end of it all, a big celebration to mark a successful go-live.  Like me, I’m sure you’ve seen the many go-live celebration posts on LinkedIn topped off with a cake, and this celebration is well deserved.  It’s the culmination of many months, sometimes years, of hard work and dedication by the project team.  We’ve reached the top of the mountain.

After the hoopla…

But what happens once the go-live hoopla is over?  What happens when there is no more cake?  How come we don’t hear about adoption celebrations?  Shouldn’t we have celebration cakes for adoption anniversaries?  “We’ve been live for a year and using our system to the fullest!  We have great adoption!”  Why don’t we see those posts?

Why is getting to the top of the mountain celebrated so much?  Shouldn’t the real celebration be when you’ve come back down? After all, shouldn’t that be the true measure of success?  The ability to sustain adoption long term?  Because, if done correctly, that’s when you realize outcomes; when you start to really see the reasons why you wanted to implement the solution in the first place (i.e., your business case) materialize.

So why don’t we see this?  Aside from the fact that eating too much cake isn’t the healthiest of options, could it be that this feat isn’t easily accomplished?  McKinsey research indicates that 70% of all business transformation initiatives fail.  That’s a big number.  A number that, according to Forbes, comes with a price tag in the hundreds of billions of dollars.  I’ve witnessed the failures first-hand as well.  I’ve had a customer tell me when describing their workflows and behind-the-scenes system processes, that the system was like a bowl of spaghetti.  She had no idea how things were setup, how they were supposed to be setup, or where to even start to untangle the spaghetti mess.  Unfortunately, in this scenario, realizing outcomes was not happening.

SAP’s unique role in helping you to drive transformation

And I think this is where SAP is in a unique position to help our customers, specifically from a change management standpoint.  Because that’s the area that is either missed entirely or not fully appreciated with transformation initiatives…the people aspect.  For customers to get to value with their SAP solutions, their people need to change their actions and behaviors and actually use the solutions.  That is when you achieve adoption and when you realize your outcomes.

I say SAP is in a unique position because it is our solutions that customers are implementing, which means we bear a level of responsibility to set customers up for success.  And we can use our solutions in conjunction with our services to help drive that success.  If you look at SAP’s portfolio, there are direct connections with our change management services.  We take a technology-driven approach to change management.

Let’s look at three key examples of this:

  1. Support in the moment of need with SAP Enable Now – the ability to have information available to your end users when and where they need it…in the flow of work as you’re in the system…is what really helps drive home adoption.
  2. Employee sentiment with Qualtrics – employee feedback is critical when embarking on a transformation journey. Having that insight aids in our change management approach.  Does a specific stakeholder group need to be communicated to differently?  Does the training plan need to be adjusted?  Having these data points allows us to adjust the change strategy along the way.
  3. Business Processes with SAP Signavio solutions – understanding business processes can help discover whose current state will be impacted the most by the transformation. Are those stakeholders more at risk to push back on the project because their lives will change the most?  This can feed into how you plan your change for those stakeholders.

Based on my experience, if done correctly, the combination of SAP technology and change management services can play a significant factor is steering the customer in the right direction and away from that 70% failure rate.  And maybe then we’ll see some of those LinkedIn celebration posts be an adoption celebration.

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