Posted on February 2017 By Judy Cole
It’s the start of a new year and that time where I usually answer the most common question we get asked “What’s the market like this year?” However trying to write about the SAP market for this coming year has had me a little stumped!
Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of things happening in the market, most states have some large projects, there are still major projects in the pipeline. The utilities industry have been given another mandatory project -“Power of Choice” which will keep SAP partners and contractors alike busy for this coming year. So in short it is looking pretty positive across most industries.
So why am I stumped?
S/4HANA, Cloud, Analytics, Mobility and the move to more Agile methodologies is really all that has been discussed for the last 4 years. 2015/16 was really when we saw it hit the Aussie market in a meaningful way and it continues to do so. In many ways, as far as technology is concerned, it is now business as usual in the Australian market.
But now that the technology has started to settle down, it does start to throw up some new and exciting challenges.
What are the challenges that people are facing?
The topic of conversation with our clients has shifted from being technology related to more ‘people’ and ‘structure’ related.
To date, I have not seen many companies hit the nail on the head with an organisational structure that is working effectively across both project and BAU; one which can cover the myriad of different technologies (both cloud and on premise) and is also scalable for the future. Thus we have seen, and I believe we will continue to see, the year of the “restructuring!”
So what seems to be the issue?
From what I am hearing, the challenge is not only about trying to find an effective structure but also about balancing the personalities, work ethics and work culture of the employees to fit within this structure.
How can one effectively deal with BAU activities in a quality manner while delivering at a speed that is acceptable for the business to remain competitive? While juggling the ever changing IT strategy moving forward, evaluating new technologies, continuing to deliver new initiatives (with often unproven and unstable products), along with developing an effective framework for Cloud products – How to transition into existing support model? How to engage consistently with the hosted partners – ensuring SLA’s are met whilst ensuring the system remains stable during crucial business periods? Again all while ensuring business relationships are being managed and time is taken to really understand what they need in order to be successful….. Phuff!
Can one team and/or one person really do all of that? To level of satisfaction that is required?
The answer seems to be a resounding No!
While I do not think there is one magic structure that will fit all organisations, I do think there are a few key factors that need to be taken in to account.
People are different!
Choosing the right people for the right role is key.
Consider not only their skillset but their style of work, way of thinking and flexibility as an important factor when assigning their new spot in the structure. I have seen failure arise when the expectation that Senior SAP Functional Consultants can still manage the workload across BAU and Projects, in this new environment.
While some people can, it is not the norm! Faster delivery times, shorter project lifecycle, more agile and more inclusive methodologies for projects require a different way of thinking from the “old ASAP days” It is also a very different manner and style when compared with what is needed for the more quality focused, accurate, process driven support method you require.
To expect all your guys to suddenly not only adapt to this but to switch in and out of both styles, multiple times a day, is actually quite unrealistic. Think about the environment in which the person works at their peak, understanding that people do not all think the same or in the same way you think – this will assist in not setting the team up to fail before they have even begun.
Just because it has worked in the past, does not mean it will work in the future!
The most successful projects we have worked on have been when the Project Manager is constantly evaluating the positions, roles and skills set of the people on the team to ensure they are still relevant for where they are at in the project. This works well when you have contractors, due to the flexible benefits of contract engagements. Done correctly, it can also work in your permanent team. Upskill your permanent staff where possible, coach them and ensure they get the change management required (often forgotten about for the IT team). You may start to see something great in someone and when you do… use it!!
IT is not “there for the business” IT is part of the business
15 years ago IT had a bit of a reputation that they “dictated” too much to the business; thus a new way of thinking arose “IT are there for the business” – which in a many ways is true. Technology is an enabler after all. But over the last 10 years this term “IT is there for the business” turned in to a ‘them and us” scenario, which has potentially lead to a breakdown in communication. The truth is, procurement team, sales team, finance team, helpdesk team, infrastructure, SAP team…. You are all working for the same business sharing the same vision.
Involve other areas of the business when creating a new structure, find out what works, how they work. We are seeing an increase of “Business Partner” roles and so far, they are working. Some companies structure them in their own team, some are sat with the corresponding divisions team eg in Finance but all are helping to get rid of the “them and us” mind set and really open up the communication.
So while the discussions about technology itself may have taken the lime light for the last few years I think we will start to see the shift of focus. The new focus being how the new technologies will be embedded into organisations? How will companies make the most of them? It spells good news for anyone working in the IT industry… it means learnings, change and growth!