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The Strongest Relationships are Borne through Baptism of Fire

When things go wrong, you know who your friends are and who you can trust. This is true in life, but so too in our business relationships and in the alliances that we forge with partners and suppliers. It’s one thing to provide a customer with a good, consistent service when things are on track, but what about when the ship hits the rocks? When projects unexpectedly de-rail and unforeseen complications occur, the best suppliers become trusted partners. Some of the strongest relationships are those that are borne through baptism of fire.

As a Global SAP support provider, there are two key trigger points at which a new customer engages with us as an SAP partner. They are either going through a mandated review process at the end of a fixed-term contract, or they’re in a crisis situation in need of immediate help and resolution. If you can prove yourself in the latter scenario, then the relationship will be often be stronger, longer lasting and more collaborative as a result.SAP_Gold_Partner But, how can organisations turn a fire fighting exercise into a long term business relationship?

Understand the customer and their market

As with any new customer project, getting up and running quickly is essential. Increasingly, expenditure on IT projects – and in our case, SAP implementations – has the eyes of the board firmly on it. As such, the project must run as smoothly as possible, and deliver ROI in the shortest time possible. When a partner is stepping into an already fraught situation, the need for quick resolution is greater than ever. Integral to this is knowing the customer and market inside out. What is a company’s specific pain point?

What are the wider market pressures impacting their bottom line? How is their market evolving and how can you support this shift? Senior decision makers need the confidence that comes from having a partner who understands the unique intricacies of their industry and the challenges they face. In the SAP sector, suppliers and partners need deep technical knowledge of SAP solutions, coupled with specialist knowledge of – often complex – vertical markets. Not only is this knowledge beneficial to solve short term crises, but through a consultative, integrated approach the relationship is built to help plan long-term growth and strategic change.

Be transparent and keep it simple

Market trends and budgetary constraints mean that IT strategy towards partners and suppliers can vary dramatically. Strategies oscillate between the desire to consolidate the number of suppliers and consultancies they use to establishing a broader portfolio of ‘best of breed’ suppliers who offer a range of services.

However, in either scenario one thing remains true. IT managers and decision makers want to work with suppliers who provide a transparent and simple service. Especially if stepping in to resolve a crisis situation – time spent wrangling with procurement is time wasted. An open and transparent approach to any relationship is key. This should be felt throughout the duration of the relationship. Consider the following things: does a supplier have a simple and straightforward contract that clearly outlines SLAs and deliverables?

Do they have a support function that is efficient and effective and embraces technology to maximise efficiency? Is there a consistent and committed account team who reacts to your needs? An engagement model based around openness and transparency between vendors and its customers is a significant differentiator and helps to cement relationships, even in the most testing of times.

Choose experts

In today’s rapidly changing business environment, keeping on top of new developments, technology and legislation is challenging. It’s important to build relationships with partners who can remove this headache, and have expertise in specific technology areas. They can then utilise and deploy solutions in the most effective way to deliver meaningful business impact.

As an example, Invenio only supports SAP implementations. As an SAP Gold Partner, our consultants live and breathe SAP. Companies that can provide value-added consultancy services and move away from commoditised solutions will prosper. This is particularly the case when working on IT projects. Typically the lifecycle of upgrades and new solutions is high, and so by working with an organisation who has the relevant expertise engrained at the heart of their business will prove beneficial and ensure you don’t fall behind. Indeed, choosing a partner who is proactive in managing version upgrades, security patches, new deployments etc. will minimise the potential for IT failure in the future.

To conclude, IT decision makers need to partner with vendors and suppliers who differentiate themselves by taking a wholly customer-centric approach. Today’s economy demands suppliers that can deliver focused, transparent and flexible solutions. They need vendors who have the expertise to react to short term crises, but the vision to then deliver sustained, successful, long-term deployments.

Trust is Imperative. If Your SAP Support Supplier Doesn’t Have Yours, Move On.

Trust is an important factor in any relationship, maybe even more so when working with external stakeholders. As you generally cannot see your external SAP Support team, businesses can tend to overlook this as an important factor. However, SAP Support should work seamlessly with your team and without any problems or risk to your organisation.

We wanted to know from our customers what else was important for them and why they choose to work with us. As a company, from our beginnings, we have never lost a support contract so we wanted to understand why and how we can continue to be a great SAP support partner to our customers.

We interviewed one of our long standing clients, Bhavesh Godhania, IT Director, AMCo. This is what he had to say

“When looking for an SAP partner, I knew I wanted a strong, open and honest relationship. Anyone can give you SAP support, but it is true partnership and trust that’s important. That’s what Invenio gives us”.

Watch his full interview here

 

For more details on how we can help with your SAP Support Partnership, please contact us using the contact form found here

Struggling to Keep Your Organisations ‘Lights-On’ with Your SAP Support

For organisations everywhere, just keeping the lights on within your support capability is no longer enough. Your IT support needs to deliver greater value to the business – optimising operations and freeing up more resources for innovation is where SAP support offerings help meet that challenge.

Do any of the following questions ring true within your organisation?

• Are you working with an SAP Partner who lack knowledge and experience?
• Are your global SAP systems difficult to maintain?
• Are you confused about managing a global SAP estate to maintain ‘business as usual’
• Do you suffer cultural and localised variances that are difficult to manage?

If yes, then read on.

As the economic outlook starts to improve even further through 2015, many executives in global organisations are, once again, thinking about expansionary strategies. This in turn, places additional demands on your SAP business systems to keep them operating optimally and respond to changing conditions, while your business seeks to capitalise on new growth prospects.

Strategic support engagement with an external provider can often feel torn between these demands.
For example, lines of business want to quickly leverage the latest technology to augment existing capabilities and support innovation, leading to constant requests for new functionality to address current business challenges. On the other hand, the finance department wants to save money and increase efficiency, resulting in never-ending efforts to minimise IT budgets.

Caught in the middle of this tug of war, IT has learned an important lesson: Finding new ways to do more with less. Easier said than done you scream! But wait, what if there is a way of increasing efficiency and shrinking the cost of daily operations?

In our experience, SAP Support provider’s need their absolute focus to ensuring support is optimal, and provide impartial advice about what new solutions and technologies will help you succeed as your business evolves. In addition, the responsibility of the relationship should be managed 24/7 without any ‘light-out’ times.

By increasing operational efficiency within the support function, it can help you reduce the percentage of IT spend leaving room for more funding of innovation projects. And wherever possible, you can unlock the value of existing investments and introduce new innovations in a swift manner that minimises risk.

For more details about our SAP Support Services please fill out this contact form found here

Managing Global SAP Teams

400_dreamstime_10053595In global organisations today it is not unusual to find large SAP teams working across different time zones, cultures and languages, and these types of working environments are growing. As projects develop within the organisation; internally and externally, there is a need to be able collaborate these global teams and streamline the working environment so the teams are working as one and not as separate entities.

Although global teams offer many benefits, they can also pose a number of challenges such as:

  • How you develop effective global leaders
  • Keeping remote employees engaged and informed
  • Managing successful recruitment
  • Retention of global teams
  • Monitoring distance employees
  • Developing a global voice which all the company understand.

Global teams are valuable to businesses; because of the social and cultural fit for working business environments which has an impact how business growth and sustainability. Without local knowledge and resource it can be very difficult to work with customers who have a local need.

Building successful global teams usually requires the support of the CEO and other executives. Invenio Solutions run SAP Global teams in many countries across the world, for internal purposes but also for their international clients. There are 5 elements which Invenio Solutions use to manage and develop their global teams thus, enhancing their servicing of global clients in the most effective way. We will discuss each one individually:

1. Employ trusted, local, global team heads

Like every business, Invenio strive to employ the best people at any level in our organisation, we use our in-house built techniques and qualifications to really delve into a person’s employee history and personality. This is especially important when recruiting global team heads. Invenio employ local employee team heads so they understand the cultural environments and for ease of employee engagements, there are a lot of different elements when meeting east with west so the team leaders should also have knowledge of the international business landscape.
Each global team head we employ has to make sure the relationship between his or hers team and the organisation works simultaneously and this should be portrayed when dealing with global clients. It is the job of the global team head to develop strong relationships with other international team leaders and push the true voice of the company.
Action points:

  1. Draw up a Global Team Head persona for an ideal candidate, this should be matched within the job description and interview questions should form around the requirements
  2. The team head of local departments should have frequent calls scheduled into their diaries to discuss company activity and relay this back to their teams

2. For new employees, have a structured introduction process which is consistent across the globe

It is important to really introduce new employees to your company so they don’t feel out on their own or unsure of what the company really stands for. Invenio have a global hand book which is adapted to the language of the local office. We also have a structured internal system to bring on new employees. We suggest that employees travel and work from our different locations at some point in their first year to really understand how other team operate however, this is not compulsory.
Action Points:

  1. Create a “Welcome Pack” for your new employees, include information about the business, its history, growth plans, senior staff members, locations etc.
  2. Put new employees in touch with each other so they can share helpful advice and collaborate between themselves
  3. Think about creating an internal social platform or intranet to hold company standardised documents and information

3. Create trust and collaborate, keep employees up to date and part of the organisations “family”

When teams are spread around a vast area it is very important to feel that you can trust every single team member and rely on them to represent the organisation in the most appropriate manner.
Teams should be kept up to date with regular group emails and messages to make sure everyone is aware of the goings-on within the organisations. As a company which is only 7 years old, Invenio have grown extremely quickly ad have found that the importance of keeping employees informed has a huge impact on operations.
Action Points:

  1. Try creating a quarterly internal news bulletin to keep everyone informed and up-to-date
  2. Make sure you have a group email address account set up for when emailing ALL employees and add new started when they join
  3. Make sure all of your team understand your brand and how your company wants to be viewed from an external point

4. Have regular virtual team meetings and introduce team building incentives

Invenio run monthly international team meetings where we are able to share news, updates, ideas and a few jokes to keep the teams involved and talking. We introduce new starters and any new client updates. We run a yearly team building days where we encourage our international employees to attend.
Action Points:

  1. Schedule in some virtual group meetings where you can introduce new employees, clients, ideas etc.
  2. Have regular team building events locally and if possibly globally

5. Have a structured monitoring system for all employees across the global teams

It is very important that you are able to monitor and record your employees individually and as a team, it is vital that CEO’s and/or other executives keep themselves involved with employee performance and manage those correctly who continue to fail. This type of task involves a lot of collaboration between team heads and the executives, they need to continually be aware of the goings-on, on the ground work force level.
Action Points:

  1. Have regular virtual meeting with executives and team heads
  2. Create a global employee review system so discussions and viewpoints remain consistent

It is very evident that there are many challenges with building and managing effective global teams, but in fact, they are becoming more prominent and vital in organisations today. Global team management and development requires a lot of commitment from your CEO, Global Team Heads but also all other team members.

Invenio Solutions feel that they execute SAP Global team management successfully for their internal teams and for their customers, it is not easy and takes time and perseverance but once you have a good, robust system in place the rewards can be remarkable.

If you would like to know more about managing global SAP teams please contact us.

Global Rollouts for SAP – The Recipe for Success

You are the CIO of a global organisation which has recently spent a lot of money implementing an SAP solution. You have gone through a long period of intensive work introducing changes in the way your organisation works. Now the immediate task you are faced with is rolling out SAP to all countries. Now you not only have the task of running and supporting the current SAP solution, you now need to plan rollouts in other countries without disrupting the current solution! The three key elements of this are:

  1. Ensure smooth operations of the current SAP solution
  2. Implement continuous improvements in the current solution
  3. Plan and deliver global rollouts

This is a common problem faced by large organisations where IT is becoming a driving force rather than a support function to business. The true realisation of the benefits of investing in SAP are derived once it is deployed across the global footprint. In this blog you will find information on developing and executing successful global rollouts.

The three key objectives of a successful Global rollout strategy are:

  1. Low total cost of ownership
  2. Fast deployment of a solution across countries
  3. Minimum disruption to running solution
Introducing a global template

Successful completion of a SAP implementation within your head office gives you a repository of business processes, interfaces and custom developments. These can be readily adopted by the subsidiary or other locations. This repository can be converted into a template which can be used for delivering a successful rollout.

The first key step in rollout preparation is to build this knowledge from your current solution into a global template. An expert consulting team works to package the current solution into actionable blocks which are to be used in a rollout project. These can be broken down into following:

1. Program Management

2. Solution Management – documented repository of solution components which comprises of

– Global organisation structure – a sample organisation structure which can be adopted by subsidiary companies
– Global master data – key required data
– Global business processes – a core of common processes to be used globally
– Global development objects – these comprise of interfaces, reports and programs which can be used
– Data conversion kit – conversion templates which will be used to upload data

3. Infrastructure requirements

As well as these key considerations, the global template also needs to cover change management, training considerations and security concepts. Once all the aspects are tied in and documented clearly. A global ready template is available to be deployed across all countries.

Blog-global-rollout

 

Rollout – implementation models and decisions

A global template provides us documents and ready repository to accelerate the rollout. The way in which the template is used depends on the complexity of each territory. A pre-study should be done before hand to understand the potential conflicts from the global template and the local requirements or localisations.

Gaps and localisations:
Gaps – these are the differences in the global template, such as business processes, organisation structure and master data.
Localisation – legal and statutory requirements which are required to be implemented.

Program management will need to decide on the extent of the gaps and localisations to be approved. The criteria for approval should be:

  1. Gaps – business benefit it gives to the local subsidiary in terms of value
  2. Localisation – normally all legal and statutory requirements are to be implemented.

localised-gaps

 

The consulting partner provides his expertise in this area by provide in depth analysis of the gaps and localisations and guides the program management in taking an informed decision.

Phasing rollout execution

Rollout execution can be phased out in following ways:

Single country rollout – for countries where the complexity is high in terms of gaps and localisations. If user base is large, a single country rollout is the best approach. This means the design, development, testing and training can be covered properly.

Multi country rollout – countries with a smaller user base, low complexity and geographical proximity can be grouped together a rollout at one time, this gives savings in time and money.

A successful global rollout of SAP solution brings immense material benefits for global organisations in terms of:

  • Providing fast and smooth implementation
  • Cost savings by re-use of solution components
  • Making organisation more responsive to global changes
  • Giving management global view of operations

Invenio are experienced in assisting clients worldwide, to find out more about Global Rollouts with SAP, please feel free to contact us to discuss.