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Get users on board with stakeholder mapping

Say no to SAP implementation failure by getting key stakeholders engaged. Here's how to identify potential issues and help ensure that users welcome the new ERP system.

There are many ways to get an SAP implementation wrong. Here's one: forgetting to think about users. Key decision makers and users will make or break an SAP implementation. They all have stakes in the SAP project -- hence, the oft-used term stakeholders. And they all have their own set of expectations about how the SAP system will affect their work processes and meet their reporting needs -- or not. Failing to include them in the SAP implementation, or failing to get their support in key business decisions, is likely to lead to resistance or outright rejection of the new ERP system that will spread throughout the ranks. However, you can proactively address these issues with stakeholder mapping and by creating change management initiatives.

Conduct stakeholder mapping. Forming a team that conducts stakeholder mapping can be crucial to SAP project management. Your stakeholder map should list all stakeholders and their influences in the company, as well as identify the roles they will play. Your stakeholder mapping team should also address critical questions that will affect user buy-in and project success, such as:

  • What is the current support level of this stakeholder for the SAP system?
  • What does this stakeholder expect or need from the SAP system?
  • What does the SAP team need or expect from this stakeholder? 

Create change management initiatives. Implementing an SAP system entails an enormous amount of change in the ways business users will work with the new system. This includes changes such as alterations to business processes, additional data entry required to meet reporting needs and new screen layouts. All stakeholders will need to work together as one team, so the integration of SAP components meant to eliminate redundant data entry and create logical flow of data from one component to another will work as it should.

Here's an example: A vendor delivering raw material to a company's warehouse will require the raw material to undergo quality testing or tests both so that the material can be used in production and so that the vendor can be paid for the accepted quantity of the raw material. This end-to-end procure-to-pay business process involves at least five or six stakeholders working in various business functions, such as procurement, warehousing, quality and accounts payable. All these stakeholders need to adapt in ways that are sure to be challenging and will require extensive change management to willingly adopt the new system.

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