SAP Watch

Jul 27 2010   6:32PM GMT

SAP ROI chief amongst customers’ concerns

CourtneyBjorlin Courtney Bjorlin Profile: CourtneyBjorlin

This past week, I had the opportunity to attend a New England Chapter meeting of ASUG. At EMC offices in Franklin, Mass., about 50 SAP professionals gathered to network and hear about a few highlighted topics – the SAP variant configurator, Enterprise Asset Management and data quality.

I love attending these events because they bring me back to reality. While we squabble in the IT press over the market’s innovation via the cloud and mobile devices, customers’ challenges in the trenches are considerably more prosaic and perhaps, even more challenging.

I heard the same theme from attendees there that I’ve heard over and over again at SAP shows – “our board doesn’t think we’re getting the ROI from our SAP installation that it counted on.” And, “folks are going off and buying software to do things that we could probably do in SAP, if they’d just ask us.”

I’ve heard many times that one of the major problems with SAP is that the person who championed and launched the SAP system is long gone. Now, a new IT manager is in place, and charged with proving the ROI of a system that he or she didn’t advocate for in the first place.

Abiomed CIO Sharon Kaiser was tackling a similar problem when she was hired by the company, which manufacturers heart support and recovery products. She was gracious enough to invite my colleague Barney Beal and me to her offices, where we discussed her efforts to get more from Abiomed’s SAP applications. Among her initiatives:

1. Build subject matter expert teams from each functional area. She has employees master their own functional area by taking additional training. They then share that information with their department through mediums like “lunch and learns” dedicated to particular processes -from how to enter travel and expense report to how to look at different budget views.

2. Encourage users to take a close look at their own problems in the system before running to IT. Deep-dive trainings in different modules are a big part of this. For instance, Abiomed hosted a five-day intensive training for users of the FICO modules, which covered everything from what the icons meant to budget reporting.

“The overall goal is to really learn the system and then learn the capabilities of the system,” she said. “Then, we can expand its use at Abiomed.”

You can watch the video interview here.

The challenge of getting users into the system, getting them comfortable with it and getting them to think about the possibilities for extending its use is no small order. But organizations like Abiomed are proving there are simple steps you can take to get there.

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