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There is an age-old argument that asks “what’s more important - processes, technology or people?”  In my opinion, it’s a no brainer. PEOPLE! 

People make SAP run better. People design the processes that elevate your business to the next level.  People manage the technology to support your business.  People can also make your business nose-dive.  People can make you spend millions on a project. People can fail and will fail if they're not given the right education, tools, know-how, guidance and support.

Scene Setting: Role-Play, Anyone?
Let us say that you are the owner of five small corner shops that specialise in mobile phone covers and repairs.  You have two members of staff per store: one in sales and the other in repairs.  Your style of business management is ‘old school’; in other words, everything is done in your head.  Your roles are many and varied:

Buyer: You buy your stock through gut feeling; by the way you have more than £20,000 or even perhaps £30,000 worth of stock that you can’t shift as it’s not trendy enough for your customers most of whom are young and hip. 

Accountant: You do the math and using a well-chewed pencil, you jot some figures into your little green book.  It’s as simple as this: a green book for sales figures, a red book for money owed, a black book for money spent, and a whole bunch of cashier receipt books with lots of carbon paper (darn I miss those days)…oh, and an old shoe box for petty cash.

Recruiter: Your workforce spans all four generations to be found in your stores: Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y or “Millennials”.

And did I mention that in this day and age, you have no web presence other than a simple website listing your telephone number and a yellow ‘under construction’ image on it?

Then one fine spring morning you decide that you want to do more (gosh, this is already sounding like my mid-life crisis!). You decide that you’d like to transform your business so that you can compete with your competitors.  More importantly, you're sick to death of not being able to fulfil your customers’ requests or get your deliveries out on time.  You call a friend and she says: “If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the SAP Education Team.”

(*Ok, so that was a bit cheesy, but this is my first blog for SCN so I hope you’ll indulge my flights of fancy).

Lights, Camera, Action!
So where do you start?  Do you go out and talk to SAP?  Well….yes! This is always a good start…but where specifically do you start?  You start with the heartbeat of your organisation: the people. And what do you do? You EDUCATE them. 

You let them know about your vision. You inform them how it is currently on the shop floor. You tell them where you want to be. You explain how we’re all going to get there. You enlighten them about the new processes. You tell them about ERP, and finally, you tell them you’ve bought software from SAP and how that’s going to bounce you all into the stratosphere of success.

The Serious Bit
You plainly and simply start with educating your team.  Educate them so they can make informed decisions. Educate them so they're not cornered into processes that won’t work. Educate them so they don’t just agree to every technical enhancement whether it’s relevant or not.  Don’t just educate them on the technology solution - give them the soft skills too.  Give them project management skills. Give them document management skills. Give them problem-solving skills. Train them on how to handle consultants and contractors.  You will find it will be money well spent.

SAP Education does not just throw SAP Technical training at project teams - we understand project teams.  We know the pain they're about to go through.  And even though not all companies take our advice the first time around, over 80% of the companies that have a second SAP project always educate their project team. 

I've worked on 31 different projects over the years, 11 of which have been SAP-specific.  The best projects, the successful projects, the most cost-effective projects, the projects that delivered on-time were only those with the right SAP EDUCATED people. The best example I saw and participated in was that of a large energy company that owns the largest gas supply network in the UK.

They did the following:

  • Business Managers: SAP Level 1 Courses (those are SAP Education’s overview courses) and Project Management Training
  • Business Process Subject Matter Experts: SAP Level 2 Courses (SAP Education’s process level courses) and soft-skills
  • Technical Subject Matter Experts: SAP Level 3 Courses (the real techie stuff! These are our config level courses)
  • Partners and Contractors: Business overview and ways of working training

That approach worked wonderfully. 

Here’s an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink image of SAP Education’s Project Team Services offering:

A Nice Decision to Make

The next step is to define whether it’s publicly scheduled SAP content you wish to consume or if the SAP project team should have tailored training.  Internally, we call it Customer Specific Training (CST) and it is a good option if you have a number of courses but don’t wish to have every topic covered.  SAP Education can tailor that content for you so that it fits your needs.  So give us a shout if you need help in educating your people. We can help.

Don’t Miss the Upcoming WEBINAR on Customer Specific Training

My esteemed colleague from SAP Education in the UK, Caroline Kinsman, will conduct a webinar on Thursday, 16 May entitled CST: Customer Specific Training from SAP Education.  Just click here to register.  

I think now would be a good time to give you my theory on Caroline Kinsman.  You may have heard of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon – the game where the goal is to link any actor to Kevin Bacon through no more than six connections.  Well my friends, the great Caroline Kinsman puts that to shame. 

My theory is that in the SAP world you could play "Three Degrees of Caroline Kinsman" and link through no more than three connections.  I mean, she’s been conducting SAP training practically before SAP was even invented!  She’s the Solution Owner for everything, and she is responsible for SAP Education’s UK public schedule. 

My fondest memory is of her chewing a well-done steak in a dimly lit Buffalo Bill-themed steakhouse in downtown Moscow.  We were celebrating the fact that we had just enabled SAP Russia with SAP Education: it was great!  Our work did prove fruitful. So it goes without saying, make sure you register and listen to her webinar.  Oh, and ask her anything about SAP. I've never known her not to have an answer. 

Ok folks, that’s it for this blogging session…just be sure to EDUCATE your people.  Start with them and end with them.