Posted on February 2015 By Matthew Leak
So, as a company you have made the decision to implement SAP, a decision that was probably not made over night – in fact it was probably in the making for at least 12 months. It will be a large investment for the company, and if done properly you will want to see a return on that investment probably within the first 3 years, thus making the SAP solution a very large asset to the organisation as well. Asset being the key word.
Whilst the cost of implementing an SAP system can vary immensely from business to business, I did come across a study done by Nucleus Research which offers more of an insight into costs. Nucleus Research interviewed a group of companies who had implemented SAP. Out of that group they found the cost of the implementation varied from $1.5 million – $46 million (not including hardware) the average cost was around the $10 million mark. Whatever the figure, it is a sizeable investment.
How do you look after and protect that Asset?
Well the truth is there are many ways but one that I want to look at is by hiring the right people.
During an SAP implementation the majority of people involved are technically trained consultants, and companies understand the value of these – but what about after an implementation when a system is being used on a daily basis once it is live – “the SAP Users”? To me it would seem obvious that the best way to look after your $10million+ investment would be to ensure that the people you have working on it every day, in-putting the important data etc would know how to use it. It is exactly the same when I get my car serviced which is my main ‘asset’. I seek out an approved mechanic from the company I bought it from, someone whom has previous experience with my make of car, they are fully aware of what to do and look for – so why wouldn’t companies want experienced SAP users.
I am not suggesting that once SAP is live that you go and fire all your employees and re-hire people who know how to use SAP. Change management and Training are very important phases of the project for a reason and continuously upskilling of your team and delivering on-job training is also an excellent way to keep your team motivated. However, we are starting to see an increased number of our clients asking us about SAP Super Users, SME’s and general SAP Users. It would appear that when companies are looking to make new hires across the business they are now placing an emphasis on not only the person’s ability to do the actual job at hand (procurement, payroll, inventory management etc) but they also are looking for this person to “hit the ground running” thus, the ability to use SAP is a major positive.
As we know, SAP comes with a price tag and not just on the software, licencing and the technical/functional consultants, it is also true of the SAP Users. On average we have found that a strong contractor who has solid experience in their field as well as the ability to use SAP competently can demand approximately $3-5 per hour more than someone with a similar skill set with no SAP experience. Unfortunately most companies cannot always pay an extra $3-5 per hour across each contract employee in the business.
How do you look after that Asset and stay within budget?
Pick your roles!
Not every role will require someone to be able to use SAP. We have seen the great emphasis put on SAP on roles such as Procurement Officers (SAP MM), Payroll Officers (SAP Payroll), Inventory Manager (SAP MM and IM), Master Data (SAP SD and MM), Reports Analyst (SAP BI) and Production Planners (SAP PP and APO). All of these roles require an extensive use of SAP on a daily basis, roles such as Accountants may not have any real benefit from being able to use SAP, nor would Sales people who are notoriously bad with admin so throwing SAP into the mix would be pointless!
Weigh up how important it is for the person to be able to use SAP and assess how often they would be required to use it. How much training they will need? What is the cost of that training? How much time will it take them to get up to speed and essentially do the job you are paying them to do to the level you expect? How much of your time and your teams time will this person take up? And what ultimately is the cost of that? What is the impact if they input the data in wrong? Is it worth spending the extra $3-5 per hour???
SAP Super User!
SAP Super User is a term that is perhaps thrown around too much. A real SAP Super User will be highly experienced in using SAP and navigating the screens, they will not be someone who has used SAP just to input their time sheet. You could opt for a team that has 1 or 2 SAP Super Users for example; in the Procurement team of 8 people ensure you have 2 who are of the SAP Super User level who can assist and train other staff and ensure the quality of the data. Although your initial outlay may be more on these people they will more than pay for themselves down the track.
Permanent and Fixed Term!
If you know there is at least a 6 month need or a long term need in your team then try hiring a fixed term contractor and pay them and annual salary as opposed to an hourly rate. Or by hiring a permanent person you can spend the extra budget on those who will be a long term member of your team adding value for years to come. Why spend more on that contractor who will be gone in 3 months and take all that knowledge with them?!
So, what is the Value of the SAP User?
Someone who can “hit the ground running”, train other employees, understand how to escalate system issues, understand and work within SAP best practice business process, doesn’t get frustrated with the rigidness of SAP, someone that has the ability to understand how to not only use the system but has the experience to actually give feedback to IT on how a system can be redesigned … well these people, when it comes to protecting a $10 million ++ investment while still delivering to your customers in a timely and affective manner…. They are invaluable!