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With SAP WM, never spare the change management

by Robert Croce

May 24, 2010

By Bob Croce, Insider Learning Network

Just read a terrific article in SCM Expert by IBM’s Chris Moose on things you should consider when migrating to SAP warehouse management (WM).

I’ll allow Chris Moose to take it from here. Subscribers to SCM Expert have full access to this article, but here’s what Chris writes about one of the greatest challenges: Change management.

Moose writes that, when companies first approach moving to SAP WM, they may encounter a strong negative reaction from the business community. This can be the result of the following factors:

Evaluations of earlier releases: It is important to quickly communicate what SAP WM can offer in the current release and how the product has changed since prior evaluations

Relationship with the current warehouse management vendor : Chances are that the warehouse manager has an established relationship with the vendor for your current warehouse management application. Introduce your warehouse manager to the appropriate SAP contact to make this person more comfortable with the new software.

Moose writes that other considerations as part of the overall change management program could include the following:

Establish a training program: It is important to help users understand SAP WM and the new vocabulary associated with an SAP system. At the onset of the project, offer a delta training class that addresses topics such as how the prior system’s terminology translates into SAP’s terminology and how concepts such as SAP transfer orders and delivery notes relate to the prior system’s documents. Also, it is important to talk about some of the negative experiences that users had with the prior system and how the move to SAP can negate these.

Know your users: When discussing your plans with business users for moving to SAP WM, do not express concepts in technology terms. For example, the statement, “The interfaces had errors and took a full- time person to manage,” is irrelevant to the business user. Instead, explain how SAP WM helps them address issues that they may have had with the previous system. For example, if you used to have to wait a long time for a PO to show up, demonstrate how POs work in SAP WM. Or, if your users had to log into multiple systems, tell them how the processes function with SAP WM.

In many ways, preparing for the change management discussion is an excellent way to justify your project. Done objectively, this process helps you to understand why your business users are apprehensive about moving to SAP WM. If you cannot explain in business terms why the new system makes the users’ lives better and how the n ew system relates and is comparable to the prior system, then you are likely to have issues obtaining the associates’ support later in the project.

Hope this is helpful. For the full version of this article, check out SCM Expert.

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