The Need for Planning to Run Simple

This past month at the SAP SAPPHIRE conference, the RUN SIMPLE message was out in full force. More customers are working hard to move onto the cloud-based, in-memory road map advocated by SAP as the world’s largest business software company. We often talk about the end game and the benefits achieved by simplifying operations and user experience.  We have a tendency to gloss over the deliberate, focused preparation required to get our customers on that journey map and lead them through what often is a multi-year transformation to cover all of their functions, processes and systems (and a merger integration here and there along the way).

As a writer I’m fond of the Nathaniel Hawthorne quote, “Easy reading is (damn) hard writing.” It came up in conversation today as I plan to roll-off a major customer program that has held most of my focus for the past nine months.  I’m not suggesting that moving to simple is hard … without careful and deliberate planning though it isn’t easy.  Working with partners it’s our job as transformation specialists to illustrate the “art of the possible” and to get customer teams to use an “outside in” lens to understand what process bureaucracies, poorly designed user experiences and other inhibitors to success that come with any integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) environment.  Moving from legacy systems and spreadsheets to the hyper-speed of in-memory computing is revolutionary – even scary – to some customer groups.  Taking them through the journey of what is possible, what other customers are doing, what is SAP looking at downstream in its own road map – continually each and every quarter – is essential to operate in one cohesive team among customer, partners, software and services.

(Graphic by izquotes.)

As part of my recent effort with this customer, we partnered with a systems integrator and management consulting firm to define use cases and play books so that – much like players on the field – we could execute different activities understanding how various teams would operate and inter-operate as part of that execution.  It sounds easy, however in a large, complex global organization it takes time to socialize these ideas and arrive at a point of view that everyone can buy into and agree on.  Again that’s the (damn) hard writing part of easy reading or in this case execution.

It’s exciting for the journey ahead as we leverage the ever-changing world of technology, science and information. With excitement comes the responsibility for those of us on the front lines to ensure the proper communication, planning and education is provided to our customers for full visibility and understanding.

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