Implementation Insights Blog

Implementation Management Associates help organizations around the world achieve large-scale, complex change. This blog discusses our insights into organizational change.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Manage the People Side of SAP for Implementation Success

It would be easy, and generally incorrect, to assume that the reason for the less than stellar results for SAP implementation success is that the wrong technology solution was selected.

Instead, the data suggests, and our own experience in client systems confirms, that too many organizations pay too little attention in time and resources to the human aspects of SAP implementations. A robust implementation plan is needed that addresses critical factors like readiness for change, sponsorship, reinforcement, and communication— all applied with the same level of rigor and business-discipline that are followed in other areas of the business.

What’s more, because the track record on technology adoption in many organizations is littered with past failures or stalled installations, there is a past history that can’t be ignored. Each time an organization experiences failure, it is embedded in the institutional memory of the targets—those people most affected by the change. As a result, the next technology initiative is greeted with increased skepticism that translates into reduced management credibility, greater resistance, and even longer timelines to achieve user adoption.

Communication and Training Alone Aren’t Enough

While many organizations hope that a series of informational emails from top executives, cross-functional town-hall meetings, and training will overcome the barriers to adoption, these are rarely enough. Even involving subject matter experts from the business in the design of new processes and in requirements definition, while a positive step, is typically insufficient.

It is possible, however, to overcome the common barriers to SAP adoption by applying the structured, purposeful approach of AIM (Accelerating Implementation Methodology) as the technology adoption model. Each step in the AIM planning architecture addresses a likely adoption barrier. The AIM process also includes data-driven tools that allow you to measure predictable data points in the SAP technology integration process.

Five Lessons for Achieving Adoption

Lesson 1: Develop a clear definition of the desired future state
The AIM Project Overview tool enables core team members to arrive at a common definition of the change more efficiently, addressing critical information not included in typical project charters.

Lesson 2: Invest in the human side
Given that human and organizational issues represent the biggest risk in getting to adoption and Return on Investment, it’s short-sighted to not sufficiently budget for critical implementation activities.

Lesson 3: Spend the time to get the right kind of project sponsorship
To be successful, you will need to develop sponsors who will express, model, and reinforce the new behaviors, beginning at higher leadership levels and cascading down to include managers and supervisors of those employees most affected by the change.

Lesson 4: Plan and manage the implementation effectively
Integrate project management and the human elements into one cohesive implementation plan.

Lesson 5: Be prepared to deal with resistance to changes
Know up-front that resistance is inevitable. Apply the repeatable, practical AIM strategies and tactics to identify, surface, and manage resistance to SAP.

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