There are still many CEOs, CIOs and COOs that believe that implementing an end-to-end ERP/ SAP system across their business is innovative. I’m definitively not saying that an SAP or any ERP implementation is 'easy'. Having led and been fully involved in these global SAP transformation programs a number of times, I can honestly say that a large number of my grey hairs have originated from these SAP Business transformation programs.
However, once SAP or the ERP system is embedded in your organisation, that’s when innovation starts. Unfortunately, due to the people, operational challenges, and costs associated with SAP/ ERP implementations, I have seen most senior executives taken a 6 months or even year 'breather' when SAP/ ERP is in place. Instead of using this transformation to get momentum in the organisation through the solid foundation that SAP provides, a 'rest-period' is often created, which doesn’t allow any business, process, data, or system changes to take place.
But competitors continuously innovate and evolve!
An SAP or ERP implementation shouldn’t be the end of the 'transformation', but the start of a continuous transformation. I always propose to take it a step further and introduce an operational innovation roadmap. Instead of using your current limitations and challenges to guide your next improvements, it’s crucial to deliver innovative solutions that take the investment to a new level. A SAP application allows organisations to obtain visibility in their organisation’s bottlenecks, challenges, customer inefficiencies, etc. allowing them to not only identify, but also actively address these.
So what’s next?
Instead of looking for your next multi-million transformational projects or program, you should use the transformational environment to adopt your team’s mindset from large transformational projects towards continuous, iterative operational innovative solutions. During the SAP Business Transformation (based on SAP Implementation best practices), you have created key users, 'global' business owners and many more specialists. These should now be the employees that understand the existing solutions, processes, limitations and opportunities. It’s these employees that should be challenging these defined solutions, process and operating models.
Instead of accepting the best-in-class outputs from the SAP Business transformation, it’s crucial to understand that these best-in-class processes will be 'outdated' within weeks or months. It’s therefore crucial to use the SAP Business transformation as your foundation to look at even better or more effective ways to deliver your goods/ services to your customers. Instead of looking only internal, it’s imperative for these key users, 'global' business owners and other internal specialists to investigate solutions outside their industry, outside their own processes and working cross-functional to understand the adaptability of these operational innovative solutions in your business and increase the effectiveness of your SAP investment and effort.
Although, I believe that most SAP/ ERP investments have provided their return on investment in the recent years, it’s requires continuous evaluation, continuous improvement reviews and pushing the innovative solutions to deliver continuous savings and growth opportunities. Instead of conducting the SAP transformations, I have found that the real challenge is the 'life after SAP'. This is where organisations flourish or break down. And as with and core operating system, it’s not what you do to implement this SAP application; it’s what you do after the implementation. As many leading businesses have taken practices from other industries, it’s therefore important to remain open to external views and insights. That’s what really makes the impact to your organisation, your people, and your customers…
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