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Build a better SAP project through change management: Exclusive Q&A with SAP's Kerry Brown (forum transcript)

by Laura Casasanto

In case you didn’t get a chance to check out today’s live forum, “Build a better SAP project through change management: Exclusive Q&A with SAP's Kerry Brown,” below is the transcript in its entirety. To read a recent Q&A with Kerry on the subject published in Project Expert, register here.


Kerry Brown: Welcome everyone to the forum - Sapphire last week was a great opportunity to talk with many SAP customers and community members about user adoption and enablement.  I look for ward to continuing the conversation and answering questions tomorrow on the webforum!

Looking forward to getting started - thanks for signing in early!

Laura Casasanto: Kerry, thank you for joining us today! I’d like to touch on a point you made in our recent Q&A. In it, you mentioned that when change is done right, you don’t notice it was done at all. Keeping that in mind, how should the champion of a change management strategy initially position the project to members of management who want to know, most importantly, what the ROI of the project will be, when ultimate success is something that’s not really seen?

Kerry Brown: Good question, Laura! The term 'organizational change management' has become part of the regular vocabulary of many leaders and managers, however, exactly what it is and how to measure it can sometimes remain a mystery.

The rationaled for this work is well positioned by leveraging the testimonials of others in the community and the ROI for a particular business is best measured by looking at the opportunity cost from lost performance at the initial stages of a project vs the immediate performance gain.

Some of the best KPIs to apply to organizational change management relate to user communication, user and business readiness and user performance - each is more relevant depending on the stage of the project.

Deb Donohoe: Hi Kerry,

Based on your discussions with folks at Sapphire, can you give some guidance on how widely adopted is the use of CHARM combined with Project management in Solution Manager?

Thanks in advance.


Kerry Brown: Deb - your question on CHARM raises a common definition point.  ChaRM? Change Request Management (ChaRM) refers to the configuration change management for transports of code from deve lopment to test to production in SAP.

The area we are focusing on today is 'organizational change management' which deals with the changes that people will experience and/or need to make to support business process change or business transformation.

As conversations at Sapphire were focused on the latter ;o)

What I can add regarding Solution Manager integration related to this area is the combination of ProductivityPak and Solution Manager Adapter which allows for complete sync and integration of documentation related to BPPs, Testing, Training and User Support.

Recently at the RunBetter Tour, Estee Lauder shared their success story of significant ROI and process improvement by implementing Solution Manager Adapter with SAP Productivity Pak to streamline their documentation approach.

Scott Wallask: Hi Kerry. I agree with you that user enablement was an underlying theme at Sapphire last week. Along that line, what’s the best way to get employees themselves involved in a change management plan in hopes of improving its chances of success?

Kerry Brown: In the keynote last week by Jim Snabe, the discussion included not only, speed (HANA) and reach (mobility), but people (collaboration). The user experience and the value of user enablement continues to gain visibilty and importance as you suggest, Scott.

Essentially the best way to get employees involved themselves is to create shared ownership for success.  People protect and support what they are invested in.

By outlining the answer to the question, 'what's in it for me?', or WIFM?, the individual can see how they, their team, their region, their business unit or the company will benefit.  This helps define the value of becoming engaged for each person at every level of the organization.

Another more specific approach is to create a change network.  This can include folks at every level of the organization.  Suggestions for their role can include: communication, project representation in the field, feedback mechanism, subject matter expert, user acceptance testing, etc.  This role will evolve over time and become a community that helps support user and organizational innovation and sustainability post implementation.

Kristine Erickson: Thanks for taking these questions, Kerry. I hope you can answer one or both of these!

- You mention in your interview that the leader of a change management initiative can come from many areas - most often from HR/Training. Do you have any specific  ideas for  talking points for project managers, to advocate to get  those resources? Any pointers there?

- And perhaps this is too simple, but from your experience, what a  typical change management initiative look like? Is it integrated into the project plan? Or is it documented separately?

Kerry Brown: Kristine - glad you got the chance to read the interview - thanks for taking the time!

Leadership engagement and buy-in are critical to project success as well as resource attainment.  One story from an early implementation when the HR organization was hesitant to engage, another leader from that customer stood up and wrote on the white board OO+NT=VEOO...what's that you ask...Old Organization + New Technology = Very Expensive Old Organization!! The truth is that all companies want SAP as a catalyst for change to improve the organizational efficiency, ROI, etc...when that becomes real to the leadership, then the support and commitment of resources occurs.

Regarding typical documentation - best practice is to document the OCM workstream like all others and have it roll out into the overall workplan with integrated timeline and milestones.

Last pointer on your first question - look at the legacy your project will leave for their respective organization and/or the influence that can be had by being involved.

One other thing to remember regarding organizational readiness, is that 'when the student is ready, the teacher will emerge'...I know I am dating myself with the Karate Kid analogy, however, it is very true in this instance.

Early on in a project, the impact or relevance may not be as clear - but start to engage early and continue to re-engage until the message sticks.

Kristine Erickson: Thanks, Kerry. Those examples are really helpful! And no Karate Kid reference is lost on me! :)

Megan Daley: Thanks for holding this forum, Kerry!

Are there any documented resources for change management initiatives (like what they have for project management methodologies/guidelines)?

Kerry Brown: Megan, you may be familiar with the SAP communities of SDN (SW Developer Network) and BPX (Business Process Expert). within the BPX network is an OCM page which has some fundamentals of OCM approach as well as threads, blogs, etc and reach to others that may have more examples to meet your specific needs.

Also, within Solution Manager and ASAP, the essential components of OCM and Training are included.  SAP also developed an OCM Toolkit which has all the tools, templates, etc. to manage OCM on projects.

Sandi Boll: Hi Kerry!  We are rolling out the ELS and I was wondering about alternatives to help 150K plus users feel like they are engaged - without actually engaging them!  We are planning on some surveys and focus groups to continue refining our plan, but it feels like the message back is too much info for such a broad audience.  Any suggestions?  Thanks!

Kerry Brown: Sandi - if I am interpreting your question correctly, it's how to do have ELS 'touch' the senior employees of your company.

One of the best ways that I have seen that done recently was by Chili's/Maggiano's, where the SCORM compliance of the ELS allowed for the surveys, tests, etc. be completed but where the front end to the user was not ELS - the link for the employee led them to the desired activity (survey, test, etc) without a direct or conscious link to the ELS.

Did that answer your question? or did you have another question?

Sandi Boll: Thanks Kerry!  I was actually asking about alternatives to the "normal" processes we follow on SAP projects, given our user base is 150,000 plus.  We can't really engage a significant perspective and we are challenged with crafting the messages that help folks feel as if they were engaged.  I was wondering if you have seen innovative alternatives when trying to work with such a large group that really won't have a lot of input (shhhhh!!) on the system design or the processes.

Kerry Brown: Ah..thanks, that makes more sense now...!

The area that we are seeing the greatest 'newness' to communication is through the use of social media to support 'social learning'.  What I mean by that is the use of blogs from leadership with the ability to comment, create a dialog for 2 way feedback, etc. and additionally through the use of twitter to create community groups that can receive a quick snapshot of activity that satisfies the 'what's new?' question.  These two forums have a broad reach with minimal cost.

Often it is the presence or opportunity for interaction that creates successful engagement vs direct touch.  Much of change management is about building trust, so the opportunity creates t he belief and reality that connection is possible - even when it might be quite limited.

Sandi Boll: Great suggestion!  Thanks!

Scott Priest: People often seem to think of change management as a fad. In your experience working in this area, have you seen change management as a trend that has risen/fallen in popularity, or is it something that companies are recognizing as a stable part of their business planning and operations? 

Kerry Brown: Originally, Scott, you are correct, it started as a bit of a fad.  What is true though is that the staying power and the value of some of the core elements have built a broader understanding and appreciation for the value of change management.

When I first started doing this, it was a 'new' term and the definition was still shaping - now you can take undergraduate and graduate programs from many of the best colleges and universities focused in this area.  Additionally, some application of this is typically present in all successful implementations and projects.

As I said in the interview, much of 'change management is putting discipline around common sense', so those elements that are sensible have remained present and the value of a complete approach is to harness collective simultaneous adoption and application of common sense.

What we often see now is that while OCM may be new to an organization as part of an SAP implementation or business transformation.  Following the initiative, best practice is that a legacy remains for ongoing business innovation, optimization and sustainability - very typically a part of a CoE organization.

Laura Casasanto: Thanks to all who posted questions and followed today's discussion!

A full summary of all the questions will be available here in the Project Management Forum and in the Project Management G roup on Insider Learning Network. I encourage you to join this group for ongoing information and additional resources from Project Expert and other sources.

And thank you again, Kerry, for joining us today and taking the time to answer these questions!  

Kerry Brown: Thanks Laura, to you and SAPInsider for supporting this dialog in an area that sometimes remains forgotten or misunderstood.  It's a great opportunity to grow our collective knowledge in the community to drive more successful projects.

If anyone has any further questions, my contact information is below.

Thank you all for taking the time to participate!!

Kerry Brown
VP Enablement
SAP Education
M +1.404.519.0738


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