Many companies have consulted with me on their SAP improvements. What I suggest always is to classify on a high-level - 5 things, before strategizing what and how.
- Processes that run correctly
- Processes that are error-prone
- Processes where custom requirements are known
- Processes yet to be defined
- Unknown (Processes that we don't know we don't know)
Let me elaborate on how I help companies form a simple strategy to improve their SAP ecosystem, based on the defined categories. There will be some overlap between categories and it's logical.
PROCESSES THAT RUN CORRECTLY
These are processes that are defined and refined nicely and they work fine for your company's purpose. Key questions to ask:
- Can the productivity be improved? Can the average time taken to run the process, be reduced to say 50%?
- Can we eliminate training in these processes? Can the process be simple to learn for new employees?
- Can the processes be easy on maintenance and upgrades?
- Can the processes made to adapt to newer business requirements easily?
PROCESSES THAT ARE ERROR-PRONE
These are processes that have high degree of errors - users are repeatedly entering incorrect or incomplete data. Key questions:
- Can you prevent the errors?
- Can you provide inline help and instructions to guide the users?
- Can you manage easy recovery from errors? Is the recovery cost huge?
- Can you make error messages user-friendly and reduce support calls?
PROCESSES WHERE CUSTOM REQUIREMENTS ARE KNOWN
These are custom process or report requirements that are too specific to your company needs. Key questions:
- Can these processes be made change-ready and agile to newer requirements?
- Can the processes be conditional in nature? Can they be made really specific down to a single user, if the need arises?
- Do these custom processes involve huge developmental and maintenance costs? Time taken for Upgrade testing and rollouts? Downtime?
PROCESSES YET TO BE DEFINED
Processes that are not yet mapped on SAP. Key questions:
- Can the implementation/master data time be shortened?
- Can we introduce custom behavior on standard SAP?
These are processes that you don't know you need or have somehow ignored as part of your ecosystem to operate even better. Key questions:
- Can we bring in other systems as part of business process framework?
- Can we have barcode scanning as smart data-entry within SAP?
- Can we get Excel templates for data entry and calculations?
- Can we get custom invoice template printed out from SAP?
- Can we get Mobile to work with your SAP data, reports and approval mechanism?
- Can we use critical data from our Intranet into SAP?
- Can we enable inline, smart documentation that can also automate data entry?
Of course, at high-level, these seem like mamoth challenges to overcome and perhaps not so relevant, since there's no obvious model implementation you can follow for your discrete company rules and procedures. My suggestion is to see how several companies work continuously on strategies driven from these (and more) key questions and build a robust framework that's easy to consume, operate, and change too.
I'll be placing GuiXT in the above context and show how this can be done, in future posts.