I got a chance to check out Medtronic's customer discussion forum yesterday at BI 2012. In lieu of a standard presentation, this format allowed attendees to ask whatever question they wanted and hear straight from one of the earliest adopters of SAP HANA. I came away with three major takeaways based on the questions:
Q: What was your environment like before you moved to SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse 7.3 and SAP HANA?
A: They had two mature data warehouses, BW and Oracle. The BW one naturally had the majority of the SAP data the company had, while the Oracle one had non-SAP data alongside some SAP data (which was used for comparison). They added a third system for HANA, comprised of the new release of BW alongside HANA itself. The aim is to move everything into this system, but for now they have all three because they haven't been able to make the transition yet.
Takeaway: HANA does all kinds of things fast -- but it doesn't mean the implementation is going to be a flip of the switch. Expect to have to prioritize some activities over others and have to put up with situations like maintaining more data warehouses than you eventually want to.
Q: What was your relationship with SAP like during the implementation?
A: They had nothing but glowing things to say about SAP, couched in this fact: SAP stood to gain a lot from a successful implementation, given that HANA is the company's biggest initiative in recent years. They helped not only with the implementation, but mentored Medtronic's staff for continued success after go-live.
way: Sometimes it helps to be a Ramp-Up partner. If you're considering an upcoming SAP release that appears to be a significant initiative for SAP, it might behoove you to take the plunge.
Q: What kinds of skills did you look for when putting together your HANA team?
A: They didn't hire anyone specific for the HANA project. They used their existing SAP staff to pull together a team with the appropriate knowledge across the affected areas. They also had a point person in charge who was persistent and had a knack for escalating critical issues, resulting in the issues being resolved quickly.
Takeaway: Sometimes soft skills are underrated. When putting together your team for your HANA implementation, don't get bogged down in how much people know about HANA specifically. Cull SAP skills across different areas -- and make sure you have the buy-in and sponsorship to execute the project.
For more about Medtronic's story, see David Hannon's piece on the early adopters in insiderPROFILES.