The Balancing Act: Buying a new solution or getting more out of your existing SAP system

Balancing Act

Most implementations start with a phase one, getting the system up and going, with an anticipated phase two – modifying and optimizing the system to get more out of it.  In my experience, most never get around to that phase two of optimizing. Whether due to budget cuts, staff turnover or simply running out of time, you just can seem to complete this important step.  And by the time that you have the time and budget, it’s time to do an upgrade, which starts the whole cycle over again.

One of the most challenging responsibilities an IT leader has is to decide between investing in a new product or getting more out of the current system.  The truth is you need to do both.  You need to research and understand new products, technologies and platforms, but you also need get more out of your existing solutions and environments. The question is, what is the right balance between considering a new system and looking for ways to improve the current system?  In my 20+ years working with SAP solutions I have seen many leaders struggle with this dilemma.

For many of us in the IT field, the most interesting thing is looking at new technology options. In this day and age there is no lack of information out there, so much information that this can be a full-time job.  No one I have met has that kind of time, and often the over-analysis of new products and technologies ends up taking way more time and money than is justified.  In most situations, it makes sense to spend at least as much time getting more out of your current environment as you spend evaluating a new system. 
If you are an SAP shop, you are sure to have heard about benefits of migrating to S/4 HANA and you are sure to be considering this great new platform. Set up a team to evaluate this.  Simultaneous to looking into HANA, make sure that you also work on new ways to “keep the lights on”, leveraging your current SAP environment to get more business value out of it. 

There are many ways to get more out of your existing investment.   Here are a few.

First, take a holistic look at your solution and your user community to get insight into these typical pain points:

Performance problems in your application or environment.

  • Are there any performance related issues in the day to day, or key month-end business processes? 
  • Are some business processes (e.g., MRP, month end billing, consolidations) taking a long time and having a negative impact on the businesses’ ability to serve customers?

Processes executed outside of the system, taking too long, causing lack of control

  • What business processes are executed largely manually or outside the system?  What risk does this create for errors? How much time does this take?
  • Why are manual processes in place? Is the process cumbersome or difficult to use?  Not using features or missing functionality or capability? Any untrained users? 

Regular business processes that require a lot of manpower

  • Which processes require a disproportionate amount of time to complete?  
  • Could the system automate all or much of the processes if it were set up properly?  
  • Does your team have the knowledge to work more efficiently in the system?  
  • Is the application set up for maximum automation and ideal user experience?
  • If a process was streamlined and time was saved, what other things could be accomplished?

 Review this with your team and other key stakeholders. Once you get answers to the questions, the challenge becomes finding ways to improve your current environment. Most of the time there is a solution, a way to reduce manual steps, increase speed and avoid errors, through minor system modifications, basic and advanced user training.

Common solutions I have seen include performance tuning of SAP application configurations, adding the appropriate hardware or memory, using existing functionality properly and modifying business processes to remove manual steps, reduce errors and save time.  

These solutions can be identified and delivered quickly and results can often be seen immediately.  In tandem, you can continue researching and planning the upgrade or migration to new products from SAP, at whatever time that makes sense to your business.

Applexus Consulting can help with all of this. We offer functional & technical assessments to help customers quickly isolate problems and get more out of their existing SAP environments.   We use tried and true techniques to quickly get to the bottom of the problem and get a solution in place.

In just a short conversation, you can identify if it is worth your time to do this – and it almost always is.  Contact me at dennis.shinnaberry@applexus.com  or 440-263-6329.
 

About The Author

Dennis Shinaberry's picture
Dennis Shinaberry
Vice President – Consulting and Delivery
Mr. Shinaberry has more than 25 years of IT experience supporting a number of industries including: Manufacturing, Retail, Wholesale, and Fashion. The last 20+ years have been largely dedicated to working with SAP software with some of the leading Retailers, Wholesalers, and Fashion companies in the world. He has excelled in various roles throughout his career, however his main focus and passion for the past 10+ years has been on leading Project & Program Management teams and engagements.

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