The following guest perspective was authored by Steve Seide, Global Head of Adoption & Strategy, SAP Intelligent Spend & Business Network.

Back in the days of on-premises software deployments, go-live was the pinnacle of the implementation journey. It was a time to celebrate and reflect on the accomplishments of months, if not years, of hard work. Upgrades would come later. Much later. Even with today’s more expedited cloud deployments, the idea persists that go-live is the finish line. Today, I’m here to explain why that has to change.

Digital transformation via SAP cloud solutions offers huge benefits for organizations: improved access to data, faster and more accurate decision making, process innovation driven by artificial intelligence, and more. One of the biggest challenges of cloud software implementations involves enabling users to adopt new software innovations as they become available—not just at go-live but also in the months and years that follow.

Too often, companies still choose at go-live to “set it, then forget it.” But the reality of digital transformation is that you can only realize the full value of operating in the cloud if your business is ready and able to regularly adopt updates and innovations as they become available. That’s what successful companies do—and that’s why they achieve and retain a competitive advantage, as well as the ability to adapt quickly to emerging market challenges and opportunities.

I firmly believe that the willingness to proactively prepare for what happens after the go-live is a superpower that helps the best technology professionals ensure successful and sustainable adoption for any cloud implementation. Of course, prioritizing such preparation requires a new approach to rolling out solutions and equipping people to use them. SAP divides this approach into three phases:

  • First Use. Traditionally thought of as go-live, consider “first use” instead as the starting point for any cloud journey. With solutions deployed and tested, and your teams trained to use them, here is where you can start to realize the value of the functionality you’ve deployed. But there is more you can do.
  • Full Use. Usually, you can’t deploy and use 100% of your cloud solutions at go-live. Functionality must be rolled out in waves, which requires additional training and change management. When you reach “full use,” you will have deployed all the SAP solution functionality available—at the time of deployment—to address your business requirements. But you need to keep looking ahead.
  • Future Use. Part of the promise of SAP cloud solutions is that, as business requirements evolve, SAP will introduce new functionality to address them. To be prepared to adopt new solutions on a rolling basis, your organization needs to have deployment personnel, training and support resources, and change management personnel in place.

Essentially, this approach means businesses can still be driving innovation while running live operations. Today, SAP is working with many organizations, such as Royal DSM N.V. (DSM), that have embraced the First/Full/Future Use approach to adoption.

Royal DSM N.V. – Empowering Procurement for the Future

A global, purpose-led, science-based company specializing in innovative solutions for health, nutrition, and bioscience, DSM last year merged with the Swiss fragrance company Firmenich International to become dsm-firmenich.

Like many organizations, DSM embraces the strategic role of procurement to achieve corporate goals. Prior to merging with Firmenich International, DSM initiated the “buy.SMART” program to digitalize and automate procurement transactions. The goal of this program? To enable procurement to deliver additional value beyond cost savings.

Andries Feikema, Global Director of Procurement Digitalization & Transformation for dsm-firmenich, recognized early on that go-live would be only the starting point for a larger business transformation. “For us, digitalizing our procurement operations was like getting a driver’s license,” Feikema said. “It’s just the beginning of our journey and it certainly doesn’t stop after deployment.”

Deploying SAP Spend Management and SAP Business Network Solutions

DSM invested in SAP Business Network, which integrated with the company’s source-to-contract process using SAP Ariba solutions; these currently include SAP Ariba Sourcing, SAP Ariba Contracts, SAP Ariba Supplier Lifecycle and Performance, and SAP Ariba Supplier Risk solutions. For its procure-to-pay process, DSM selected SAP Ariba Buying.

Working alongside the DSM team, the SAP Adoption & Strategy team worked to help implement the buy.SMART program. DSM also engaged two implementation partners; McCoy & Partners supported the build and configuration, while Deloitte led the transformation and project management office. Deloitte also managed business process and solution design, testing and go-live, and change management for pilots, and provided local project expertise and support.

Because it was undertaking large-scale process improvements, DSM provided comprehensive change management support, including a permanent, global expert desk to support supplier enablement, sourcing, and contract operationalization.

DSM also established a global team of 270 champions to improve adoption and train users on its new procurement processes. An identified first point of contact spoke the local language, while additional change management champions who focused on successful solution deployment were available to explain changes and train end users.

So far, over more than 450 training sessions have been conducted worldwide, and change management has been additionally strengthened by the creation of 50 instructional videos and 120 quick-reference cards spanning seven languages.

SAP Customer Success Partners (CSPs) are also available to assist DSM’s deployment team. James Pryor, CSP at SAP, regularly helps SAP customers like DSM by answering questions, providing technical expertise and guidance, and connecting customers with deployment resources that help them address technical challenges.

“I had regular discussions with Andries Feikema regarding change management in support of DSM’s deployment,” said Pryor. “It was great to support a customer that took change management—in its multiple guises—seriously. That was the key to their success.”

From a technical perspective, the SAP CSP team supported DSM and McCoy & Partners in addressing the toughest solution and integration questions they encountered. Fortunately, DSM’s “cloud mindset as standard” approach helped keep these questions to a minimum.

Achieving First Use

To date, DSM’s buy.SMART implementation is live at 83 sites across 20 countries, with survey feedback showing a high level of enthusiasm among end users. DSM has been successful, in large part, because of its early alignment with company executives and their continued support for a global standard solution.

One significant innovation in DSM’s implementation has been the linking of SAP Ariba solutions with EcoVadis. This enables them to qualify suppliers based on specific sustainability criteria. The company is extending its sustainability assessment to give its procurement professionals greater visibility into trading partners.

Anticipating Full and Future Use

“Digitalization is not simply an implementation of tools, but rather a business transformation where change management plays a key role in the organization’s success,” Feikema said.

With an eye to Full Use and Future Use, the company has adopted a continuous improvement mindset and seeks to support more autonomous procurement processes in the years to come.

Guiding SAP Customers Toward Future Use

As DSM approached go-live worldwide, Feikema reflected that “the real work starts after deployment and final go-live.” SAP’s goal for every customer is to help them move from First Use to Full Use, and for Future Use to remain top-of-mind.

The SAP Customer Success team will help you find new ways to adopt and consume SAP technology and maximize the value of our cloud solutions. I encourage you to leverage the experience and knowledge of SAP CSPs, our customer community, our partner ecosystem, and user groups such as ASUG. With SAP, you are never alone.

Steve Seide is Global Head of Adoption & Strategy, SAP Intelligent Spend & Business Network.

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