Got SAP Upgrade Project in Mind?

November 15, 2018 David Cahn

Is your company on the brink of an SAP upgrade project?  Are you on the edge of your seat with excitement?  Maybe or maybe not.  Often this project comes to fruition based on the need to stay current on the technology and/or to achieve the newest capabilities (which for some is the new world of HANA). But this project presents a great opportunity to go back to the blueprinting phase.  What should be considered or re-considered?

As a forewarning, these SAP upgrade projects usually start off with hopes of enlightenment, go through troughs of disillusionment, but end with success and exhaustion.

One highlight of an SAP upgrade project is the opportunity to organize and streamline business processes. These processes usually surround the products we are buying, selling or moving through our supply chains.  Internally, we explore methods to digitize our inbound customers orders across all channels and outbound purchase orders to all suppliers (beyond the top 10 percent). We look at methods to digitize and get visibility into the products we are moving in near-real-time for customer service and logistics. These efforts are justified with hard cost savings and soft benefit improvements using customer service, retention, and revenue growth potential.

So have we reached success and exhaustion?  Seems like we have all the bases covered. What could be missing from this picture?

Considering the value of an entire ecosystem is missing. Since we are going through the blueprinting process internally, how about considering the external trading partners (customers, suppliers and logistics service providers) too. We should include trading partners as they are all impacted. Everyone benefits from digitizing and streamlining processes.  Especially if we can digitize and connect a greater pool of partners based on newer technologies (besides traditional EDI to include automated emails, faxes, and portals) into the digital supply network.

Integrating a digital supply network during this blueprinting phase will address the entire ecosystem inclusion in a cost efficient, quick and easy way.  The more partners automated, the greater hard and soft benefits realized. In addition, increased data from our trading partners will drive deeper insights from visibility solutions.

Another great thing about a digital supply network - you can implement it and achieve benefits without awaiting the completion of the SAP upgrade project.  A digital supply network is agnostic to the SAP version. Since these partners can be automated very quickly and cost efficiently, organizations can start getting quick ROI while still focusing on the SAP upgrade.  Once the upgrade is complete, the move to the upgraded version is of no effort and/or no cost. Bottom Line is, there are no excuses to wait until the upgrade is complete to start achieving easy and quick benefits.

In the end, by looking at the SAP upgrade project with eyes from a whole ecosystem perspective and not just internally can achieve much more substantial benefits today than would otherwise be achievable. The project may still start off with hopes of enlightenment, go through troughs of disillusionment, and end with success and exhaustion. However, a quicker ROI and happier trading partners will look forward to the upgrade if a digital supply network is capitalized along the way.

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