There are so many moving parts to an SAP S/4HANA implementation and a seemingly endless number of ways organizations can roll out these projects. Yet, no matter the size of the organization unrolling SAP S/4HANA or how they go about leveraging the ERP solution, every single SAP S/4HANA project has the exact same goals: ensuring that the solution can be effectively leveraged across the business to improve business processes. That’s why effective change management and training strategies are such an important part of every SAP S/4HANA project. If employees cannot make sense of the new technology and use it effectively, then what was the point of implementing it in the first place?

Week four of the ASUG Best Practices: SAP S/4HANA Virtual Experience focused adoption and change management: the last, vital parts of every SAP S/4HANA implementation. During this final week of the conference series, attendees heard from both SAP experts and customers, who gave advice for developing and maintaining effective SAP S/4HANA change management and adoption strategies. Here are some of the highlights from the sessions.

Overhaul Your Culture

Migrating to SAP S/4HANA from another ERP system—even SAP ECC 6.0—is a significant transition for any organization. Inherently, such a large shift also means a change to an organization’s work culture. Kevin Oakes, author and CEO of the Institute for Corporate Productivity, hosted a session during the conference series about renovating a workplace culture. Beginning his session, Oakes said that COVID-19 had a significant impact on the cultures of just about every business and organization.

“Your culture has changed during the pandemic, like it or not,” he said. Moreover, organizations need to decide whether they want to be proactive or passive about these changes and the shaping of their culture for the future.

Based on research the Institute for Corporate Productivity conducted, Oakes noted that “next practices” are incredibly important to any technology initiative in a company, with the Institute finding that there is a strong correlation between these practices and bottom-line impact. These traits include adopting network structures as opposed to hierarchical ones, defining clear measurements early in a project, as well as identifying and engaging key influences to energize the company. Oakes indicated that successful companies implement these practices.

Customer Story: Arc’teryx

On the second day, attendees heard straight from an SAP customer about how they got ahead of the ball when it comes to adoption and change management of SAP ERP. Dana Lee, senior manager of information systems at Arc’teryx, walked through how her team began tackling change management. Before the pandemic, Arc’teryx had to pivot—like so many other companies last year. COVID-19 hit right as the organization was working out when the go-live would happen.

“We had to accelerate business programs and initiatives planned for later,” Lee said. The company had to come up with a new timeline for the go-live because of COVID-19. Currently, Arc’teryx is in the user adoption phase of the project, building initial awareness among employees, while helping them understand what the coming changes mean. As part of this process, Arc’teryx participated in the ASUG SAP Business Process Fundamentals Workshop in October 2020.

“We were looking for something that would provide a business introduction for SAP S/4HANA,” Lee said. According to her, a lot of the other workshops Arc’teryx looked at focused too much on the technical systems. Lee and her team were looking for something that instead focused on business and end users, helping participants understand the importance of business processes and benefits from SAP S/4HANA. About 20 to 24 Arc’teryx employees participated, and they were able to get a “hands-on” perspective of SAP S/4HANA, allowing the employees to see how the solution will be a benefit to the business.

“Success comes in the form of people being able to use your system,” Lee said. “Hitting a go-live date is one thing, but having a successful adoption is another matter.”

Implementing Successful Change Management

The event also featured SAP experts discussing the ins and outs of successful change management programs. On day one, Brett Addis, global head of customer transformation for SAP SuccessFactors, discussed how businesses can rethink their change management processes.

“Change management is not only a foundational pillar—it’s a required pillar,” he said. “But change management is one of those areas that is, frankly, underestimated. People assume that when new things come to a company, employees will just consume and adopt.”

According to Addis, successful change management is all about “changing an overall mindset,” and yet most organizations don’t invest in this crucial pillar adequately while focusing on using technology and following processes.

“We have to think much broader,” he said.

Addis encouraged organizations developing a change management strategy to focus on three things: mindset, expectations, and behavior, which he described as “critical parts of change management.”

In a later session, Lori Edwards, business transformation architect principal consultant for SAP Americas, also discussed the importance of managing change in organizations.

“Resistance to change is inevitable,” she said. “If people don’t accept and adopt best practices, then you’ve failed.”

She encouraged attendees to look for ways to reduce resistance, decrease shock caused by change, and increase awareness. While most employees will initially be shocked by a large-scale change—like implementing SAP S/4HANA—organizations can take steps to mitigate that response. She encouraged organizations to look at a few aspects of their strategy, including how leadership can help with change management and how to properly communicate upcoming changes.

Tools to Improve Your Change Management

The final week of the conference gave attendees access to tools to help accelerate user adoption and facilitate change management. Stefan Haenisch, SVP of knowledge transfer and education of SAP Learning at SAP SE, walked attendees through some of the programs available to help SAP customers during this process. He encouraged attendees to have developed and thorough training programs because these can maximize (and multiply) the investment made in a digital transformation project.

“Productive and satisfied users lead to a better phase of the SAP S/4HANA journey,” he said.

Haenisch encouraged attendees to take advantage of SAP programs, including openSAP, SAP Learning Hub, and classroom-style training sessions through SAP or organizations such as ASUG. He also pointed attendees in the direction of SAP Enable Now, web assistant training that can be embedded right into SAP Fiori applications. This will help users understand how to effectively use these applications correctly and address issues they might have.

“If you want to be successful and get the right value for your project, don’t forget about the people,” Haenisch said.

Continue learning how to guide your organization through a seamless SAP S/4HANA adoption journey by viewing the ASUG Best Practices: SAP S/4HANA Virtual Experience on demand. Sign up today to access. Please note, on demand content will be exclusive to ASUG members after Thursday, April 24.

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