Make the Most of Your SAP Solutions: Run Better and Thrive After Go-Live - Q&A with Michael Doane (transcript)

by Kristine Erickson

December 17, 2010

Michael Doane, author of The New SAP Blue Book and The SAP Green Book, Thrive After Go-Live, participated in a live, interactive Q&A on Insider Learning Network on December 16 to answer questions on the SAP maturity model - and how to get the greatest value out of your SAP implementation.

This was a followup to a three-part Webcast series “Make the Most of your SAP Solutions: Run Better and Thrive After Go-Live," which examined SAP solution maturity, value realization, cost reduction, key areas for improvement and best practices to help you thrive after you go live. (View the on-demand webcasts replays from the series “Make The Most of Your SAP Solutions: Run Better and Thrive after Go-Live” featuring Michael Doane and experts from SAP Consulting.)

If you have any other questions for Michael, please feel free to post your questions in the Q&A forum and he will continue to check back and reply. You can also reach him here on Insider Learning Network


Sarah Cenedella, Product Director, Insider Learning Network: Welcome to the live Q&A with Michael Doane, and thank you for joining us. 

Jarret Pazahanick. SAP HCM Consultant: Michael, do you see customers struggle more with certain modules of SAP (ie HR/Payroll) in post-go-live and any suggestion on what they can do to improve?

< p>Michael Doane, Consultant – Author: In fact, HR/Payroll is one of the easier modules due to the lesser level of interfacing. Ways to improve have to do with a) usability, b) integration across a process and c) queries. (I am assuming by "customer" you are referring to users (process drivers)).

The more difficult modules are those that include the higher levels of integration. Off the top of my head, Project Systems, Workflow, MM, come to mind.  Financials are fairly simple in comparison (despite the interfacing). 

Another level of complexity is "industry specific" configuration, especially in areas such as production ... think process manufacturing.

Lucy Swedberg, Group Editor: I'm interested in the "process driver" terminology, because I agree that "end user" isn't quite the right phrase to describe the people who drive business through the software.

What do you think it'll take for this phrase to catch on?  Do the process drivers themselves need to champion the term?  Or does IT need to start changing the way it thinks about its internal business customers?

Michael Doane: I love this question, Lucy, because the answer is quite heartening. In fact, since we introduced the notion of "process driver" or "business driver" rather than "user" late last summer, we have found that many many clients are enthusiastically buying into the change of point of view.  I am working with about six different clients on an ongoing basis with the reminder that there are only two industries that refer to their ultimate clients as "users" and one of those industries is illegal.

We are continuing the re-branding and re-positioning of "process drivers" via SAP, ASUG, and some other events.  You can even find a YouTube on this by searching on "Michael Doane".

Lucy Swedberg: Thanks, Michael. I'll definitely check out that YouTube video.

Dave Hannon, Features Editor:
 Michael, I'm interested in any staffing-related tips or strategies around roles and responsibilities you might have to help SAP users succeed after go-live? Any common mistakes in this area?

Michael Doane: I have a new white paper, taken from The SAP Green Book, available at my website (go to research tab) on the subject of Staffing, Sourcing, & Evolving that covers these questions more thoroughly. 

One key tip:  do not spend 100% of your support staff budget on FTEs.  Keep 25% to 30% in reserve for outside consulting. You cannot predict how much FI, CO, SD, MM, etc. support you will need.  You have to have a budget for spike demand, rainy days, etc.

Patrick Bresnan, Director, Customer Engagement: This is Patrick Bresnan from SAP America (Director, Operations Optimization).  I co-hosted one of the recent webcasts (COE's) with Michael.   Service Delivery Organizations (COE's) define their mission/vision first and then define the services they will provide the business and the SLA's around these services.  This helps determine the required roles and responsibilities and staffing model.  In general (and based on ASUG benchmarks), we see orga nizations have a 1 support FTE to 50 end-users (low maturity) to 1 support FTE to 150 users (approaching best in class).  Once over the 4000 user count and as customer optimize operations customers experience even better ratios. Thanks for you question.

Jarret Pazahanick: I think keeping 25% for outside consulting is a smart idea. I am a big believer in remote consulting model using senior consultants that have extra capacity to supplement internal support teams.  It allows for reduced overall costs, as you typically don’t need a FT consultant, and allows the support term to be more efficient, as they know they have some help if they run into a big issue.

Curious to get your thoughts as I don’t see it used as much as it should be, as companies would rather have a junior consultant onsite than a senior consultant part time remote.

Michael Doane: Yes, there is something old-fashioned about having expertise "on-site".  As I keep saying, distance only matters if you're ordering a pizza. 

 Actually, it matters for business process design as well but certainly not for configuration or Basis work. Further, as we move towards BPX (Business Process Expertise) we should begin shedding single-mod consultants altogether.

Scott Priest, Managing Editor:  Is security a key issue in the post-go-live stage, or is that something that comes along later once customers are sure the systems are working from a business perspective?

Michael Doane: Security becomes a more pressing issue through time as greater use of SAP to drive business processes makes SAP all the more "business critical".  That is why some of the "cloud" issues are so...cloudy. How much of your business IP do you want to trust to "the cloud"?  The other big security issue is around continuity...again, when processes are business-critical, security issues mount.

Art Worster, Director, Corporate Applicability: Hi, Michael.  I have a close author friend in the BPMI group who talks about the assignment of process owners for each business process, and the tendency of business organizations to assign someone down in the organization who has little or no ability to explain and get processes accepted at the executive level where they become legitimate. 

 Just another view of the lack of understanding at the executive level of what this is all really about - the business. 

Can you explain the relationship between "process drivers" and true business process owners when they are established at the proper level? 

Michael Doane: Process owners do not "touch" the system and therefore do not "drive" business process.  Think of them as navigators. The process drivers are on the front line and the process owners are battle watchers and battle planners. Ideally, the business process owners listen closely to the business process drivers rather than "ivory tower" decision-making. When both sides agree upon a process, there is a modicum of affirmation.

Ginger Luttrell, President: Do you have recommendations on how to begin the introduction of the Model to an organization?  What happens when the business gets on board with the model but IT does not?

Michael Doane: First of all, if business is on board with the model, IT has no choice.  IT is the horse, not the cart.  And the way to get started is to show business leadership what it can have = a strong in how things are done (business process design) and worthwhile business intelligence as a way of navigating.  Once they see that, buy-in is largely assured.  We change the dynamic to business leads, IT delivers. (No longer business asks, IT delivers).   

Ginger Luttrell: Are you seeing movement towards using the SAP Maturity Model as a scorecard for benchmarking?  It would be great to see organizations taking a more defined, holistic and strategic plan to improve their SAP environments. I see the Maturity Model as a way to do that and to show how their organizations are progressing towards that "Level 5" goal. 

Michael Doane: Yes, I am seeing the maturity model being more and more adopted because of the ability to continually monitor (as opposed to a one-time check-up). I look forward to adding a benchmark between now and Sapphire.

As always, the greatest impediment to clients reaching "Level 5" is business measurement.  In that light, I am more and more addressing my rants at CEOs, as in "What CEOs should be telling their CIOs".  I mean, how many millions get spent and no one can say what they got in return? Many CEOs should be livid and/or embarrassed and/or fired. 

Ginger Lutrell: I agree with you in part.  But what I have found is that there are many leaders on the business side who understand what "business ownership" is but they do not know how to put it in practice and drive it into their organizations.  In that case, I think you need some exceptionally insightful leaders and movers in IT who can "coach" the business leaders on how to make it happen instead of ju st continuing the mantra, "You have to have business ownership!"

Michael Doane: Great point. While IT has to learn its new role, so also do business leaders have to learn the ropes around business process design (including authorities) and how to work with their "process drivers" (super users, power users, et al) as well as how to measure business results and target improvements (preferably in KPIs).  The old "management by personality" stuff is no longer sufficient. (Could go on and on with this...)

Uli Muench, Vice President, Business Transformation: Hi, I'm Uli Muench. I was on the first webcast with Michael. Benchmarking is a great tool and I strongly recommend to take advantage of the ASUG benchmarking program 

Amy Thistle, Conference Producer: Hi Michael - When it comes to COEs, what type of services should a COE provide that you often see missing? Once it's up and running, what are some best practices for a COE?

Michael Doane: For Centers of Excellence (not Expertise), the neglected areas are the Enterprise Domain (business process owners and end users/process drivers) and the Enablement Domain (super users, training, org change mgt).  The applications and IT domains are very mature.  The former two domains, which are business-dominant are highly neglected.

Best practices?  The number one is to institute and maintain measurement of core business KPIs.

Scott Wallask, Managing Editor: I see business maturity as always evolving. Considering your SAP Maturity Model, from your experience is there ever a point where a company becomes “overly mature&rdq uo;? Or does your model anticipate that as part of its design?

Michael Doane: Trust me, no firm is "over-mature" and very few firms ever reach Level 5 - Evolving Center of Excellence.  Beyond achieving a maturity level is the challenge of maintaining it.

Ginger Luttrell: I agree with Michael.  I have never seen a company "get there."  The journey is too long and so in that journey processes change, people change, orgs re-org, systems upgrade/enhance, new systems, new CIOs/CEOs, and the list goes on...  Makes it fun, doesn't it?

Davin Wilfrid, Senior Analyst, insiderRESEARCH: I'm curious about your experience with building COEs. Do you typically see more resistance from the business or IT side when building an effective COE? And how do you handle that resistance?

Michael Doane: More and more I am meeting with IT people who want to build a true Center of Excellence and are asking for help in getting the business people to join in.  Business resists if they think the CoE will be an "IT organization".  In my Bridge Method, the second step is where I enlist business leaders by telling them how they will "own" how the company works (via business process ownership) and get first dibs on the hot new business intelligence.  There follows little resistance on their part.  After that, it can be a struggle teaching IT its new position in the world (as lead by business rather than simply responding to it).

Molly Vaughan: Hi Michael -- I see a lot about COEs here. But in today's economy and market, how do you entice business stakeholders to act ively support and participate in a COE?

Michael Doane: Business stakeholders need to understand that SAP is not some remote "technology" but is the engine that will get them onto the super highway of business process improvements that will DIRECTLY DRIVE IMPROVEMENTS IN THE PROFIT AND LOSS - i.e. their career goal.  Failure to actively participate in a Center of Excellence is dereliction of duty.  And CEOs should be aware of this.

Scott Wallask: You mentioned center of excellence vs. center of expertise. What’s the distinction?

Michael Doane: Center of Excellence is business led and centered by ongoing measurement of business results in KPI format. Its goal is to drive direct improvements to the P&L.

Center of Expertise is IT-centric with the goal of applications operations optimization and some improved support of business aims.

 Note that the initials CoE are thus suspect. I have learned to almost always write out Center of Excellence...

Laura Casasanto, Associate Editor : My question is about SAP clients who want to understand where they are on the SAP maturity model: What tools are available to tell them where they are now? How long does it take to go through an assessment of where they are no w?

Michael Doane: Look for this link (from our 3 webcasts) for important background.  We have a First Time Free "SAP Maturity Assessment" which can be accessed by going to It is a simple-to-administer internal survey (15 minutes per person) that can usually be done over a 3 to 4 day period.

Note that the above link for 3vsolutions also provides a 20-page overview of the assessment.

bmerrick, Systems Engineer: Hi Michael, could you speak to the Communities of Practice approach to end user support?  CoP's within an organization as opposed to ASUG, etc.

Patrick Bresnan: This is Pat Bresnan again from SAP.  As Michael answers other questions he asked me to jump in here.  I am assuming from a Communities of Practice perspective that this is a similar concept of Super Users.  Both provide support to the end-user.  This is one area where we see the need for most improvement across our customer base as we continually assist customers mature their COP (Super User Concept).  Typical SAP customers Super Users can usually handle 5% of all of the end-user requests.  Best-in-class SAP Customers scale and sustain their Super User Concept resulting in Super Users handling 20% or more of all end-user requests.  Thank you for your question.

Michael Doane: Communites of Practice from a Knowledge Management perspective is an excellent KM enabler for customers.  If fact, SAP internally has numerous and very active COP's to share knowledge by topic, industry, busi ness process, etc.  Our COP concept is documented in the book "Idiots Guide to Knowledge Management"



Molly Folan, Conference Producer:  Hi Michael- I know you mention super users in the question about CoPs. What role do superusers typically have? And how do I know they are effective?

Michael Doane: Super users generally have the role of monitoring and mentoring between 10 and 20 process drivers/users in regard to a) functions, b) navigation, c) business process understanding, etc.  You know they are effective if their charges are not calling the help desk for training issues and/or if your business process tasks in their charge are being effectively fulfilled. 

A solid super user program at the heart of business process ecology is the greatest and most cost-effective element an SAP client can establish.

bmerrick: This has been very informative.  Thank you for hosting it. 

Fred Isbell SAP Field Services, Director Field Services Marketing: Thanks Sarah and WIS and Michael for pulling this together, and to Pat, Uli and Sylvia from SAP Services for supporting it!

Fred M. Isbell, Director, SAP Field Services Marketing
SAP Services Solutions, SAP America

Sarah Cenedella: Thank you all for joining us.

If you have any other questions for Michael, please feel free to post them here and he will continue to check back and reply. You can also reach him here on Insider Learning Network

View the on-demand webcasts replays from the series “Make The Most of Your SAP Solutions: Run Better and Thrive after Go-Live” featuring Michael Doane and experts from SAP Consulting.


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