Improving SAP HR Support Levels and Usability

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1 Whitaker-Taylor Whitepaper Improving SAP HR Support Levels and Usability maintaining peak performance while reducing fixed costs 2010 Whitaker-Taylor whitakertaylor.com Atlanta Los Angles Amsterdam

2 Contents The post-implementation syndrome... 3 The way it should be... 3 The way it really is... 4 The impact... 5 Managing the post-implementation syndrome... 5 Post-implementation support considerations... 6 Post-implementation usability considerations... 7 Choosing a production support partner... 7 Actions to Take... 8 Extended Team Support... 9 Takeaways About Whitaker-Taylor Whitaker-Taylor Page 2

3 Improving SAP HR Support Levels and Usability maintaining peak performance while reducing fixed costs Changing business and regulatory requirements place a tremendous support burden on human resource (HR) and information technology (IT) leaders. Keeping SAP HR up to date and operating efficiently requires a large amount of specialized resources. As IT and HR departments face budget constraints and pressures from their business partners to provide higher service levels and more functionality, they must continuously search for ways to optimize operations and extend the value of their HR business systems and processes. The post-implementation syndrome Every enterprise software implementation goes through two phases. The first phase deals with evaluating alternatives and implementing a solution. The second phase deals with ongoing maintenance, support, and enhancement of the installed solution. Simply put, these are the pre-implementation and the post-implementation phases. If at some point the software solution no longer meets the needs of the business, or new needs are discovered, phase one begins again and the never-ending cycle continues. The way it should be Expectations are established before undertaking any major enterprise software implementation. Expectations dealing with effort in terms of cost, timelines, and resource requirements. Expectations dealing with benefits in terms of business results or return on investment are established early and form the basis for decision making. SAP HR is no different. The normal expectation is that the costs and resources requirements are front-end loaded and the benefits or results will be realized once the software is put into operation. The table below represents these expectations Pre- Implementation Post- Implementation Effort High Low Benefits Low High 2010 Whitaker-Taylor Page 3

4 The assumptions driving pre-implementation expectations are based on detailed project charters, plans, and budgets coupled with relevant past experience factors in dealing with enterprise software. It is reasonable to assume that implementing new enterprise software is a huge undertaking requiring a large commitment of effort and resources, particularly considering the breadth and complexity of SAP HR. Once enterprise software is implemented, expectations change with a focus toward receiving the business benefits associated with the new solution. With the hard part completed, post-implementation is presumed to be the point when efforts reduce and desired results begin to be realized. These expectations are based on the assumption that: the required functionality has been delivered, business requirements are static and have not changed, and business users know how to use, and are proficient in using the software. The way it really is Unfortunately initial expectations are not always met when it comes to enterprise software deployment. Again, SAP HR is no different. The most surprising discrepancy is often found in post-implementation expectations as shown by the table below. Pre-Implementation Post-Implementation Expectation Reality Expectation Reality Effort High High Low Benefits Low Low High Higher than expected Lower than expected Pre-implementation expectations are commonly met and are more controllable for several reasons. Requirements are typically frozen and the project management mantra is to prevent change from entering the project. In this way projects are more likely to be kept on track. The only variables, which are highly controllable, deal with software configuration. Post-implementation is a very different story however. Here the variables, which are far from controllable, deal with the business requirements and the people who use the system. The pre-implementation assumptions defined above are no longer valid, and are replaced with the reality of: changing business requirements, uncovering previously undefined functionality requirements, and identifying gaps is critical business processes Whitaker-Taylor Page 4

5 The impact The impact is the Post-Implementation Syndrome ; the reality of higher than expected post implementation support effort and costs, and in many cases lower than expected benefits from the new software solution. Evidence of the post-implementation syndrome at work is found in many aspects of both IT and business operations including the following: Budget pressures: More often than not pre-implementation activities have consumed and possibly exceeded available budget amounts. This is a double edge sword that impacts the quality of the initial software deployment and subsequently the ability to provide on-going support. Quite often adequate budget has not been allocated for necessary post-implementation activities. Juggling resources to keep the lights on : Underestimating the post-implementation effort and budget puts additional pressure on IT. With larger than expected workloads, IT departments find themselves with critical staff shortages. Even with required staff levels in place, there is a persistent challenge of having the right skills at the right time, especially considering the breadth of functionality, complexity, and specialization of SAP HR. Lag behind business requirements: Human resource requirements never stand still. There are always new regulations and compliance issues to deal with not to mention changes in business requirements and strategic direction. With limited budgets and resource constraints, IT departments find it difficult to keep pace with business needs. Users begin to identify usability issues which not only impact their performance but also diminish the value of the software solution. This is the most significant and costly impact of the Post-Implementation Syndrome. When adoption and acceptance of the system dwindles, users begin to find ways to work around, or outside of the system. This fosters the use of disparate systems and spirals into inefficient business processes which decrease the value of the enterprise HR systems. The support burden is also increased which in turn increases on-going costs while diminishing the results defined in the original project charter. Managing the post-implementation syndrome Maximizing return on investment and maintaining the highest adoption levels of SAP HR requires IT to plan and prepare for post-implementation requirements with the same, or possibly greater attention than that given to pre-implementation efforts. Just because an initial implementation went smoothly doesn t necessarily mean that life-after the go-live will follow the same path. In many ways life-after go-live encompasses more risk because things are rapidly changing and more variables are in play Whitaker-Taylor Page 5

6 What s more, the people who installed the software are not necessarily the best choice for providing post-implementation support on an on-going basis. Implementation is about working with the software and following a structured plan; change is controllable and most often avoided; required skills are easy to schedule when needed because the work plan is well documented in advance. Post-implementation support is also about working with software, but it is more about working with people and dealing with change and unanticipated real world situations. Because support is far less structured it requires a different skill set. Planning is much more difficult in a production support environment and the challenge is not only having the right skills but also having them at the right time. On the surface it would seem the secret to providing effective post-implementation support is staffing the right number of resources. While that is partially true, it s not that simple, particularly considering the cyclical or seasonal nature of HR business processing. Staffing at full capacity is not only expensive but it can easily yield a low productivity rate. Consideration must also be given to new functionality requirements, not just to fixing problems as they occur. This further complicates the ability to staff required resources and skills. Juggling resources to handle day-to-day support issues while managing new functionality or business process improvement projects usually results in degradation of one area or the other. Post-Implementation support requires a holistic approach for not only providing fast problem resolution and keeping the system updated to the current level, but also having the ability to improve the usability of the system and keep pace with business requirements. Effective post-implementation services which encompasses both SAP HR support and enhancement services, will actually increase adoption levels and return on investment. Post-implementation support considerations Effective production support requires the right people, with the right skills, at the right time. Sounds simple enough but it s not always that straightforward. How this will be accomplished is the first decision point. In-house staff, staff augmentation, outsourcing, or some combinations are all valid options to be considered. In-house production support may seem the most natural for most companies because it provides the perceived comfort of having control and maps well with corporate priorities. Staff augmentation provides a degree of flexibility. Outsourcing often provides a cost advantage, particularly with an off-shore model, and makes available a broader skill set than can be maintained with a full time staff or through staff augmentation. A hybrid approach will combine the advantage of all options while mitigating their respective disadvantages Whitaker-Taylor Page 6

7 Post-implementation usability considerations Software usability discussions commonly start with perceptions about the user interface; how easy and intuitive it is, the finesse on the graphical design, and so forth. While these are important characteristics, a graphical user interface should not be mistaken for making enterprise software usable. Software usability is far deeper than that. Enterprise adoption of software is an indicator of usability. Software usability is the extent to which people depend on the software to do their job and the extent to which the software makes their job easier, makes them more effective, or streamlines business processes. Symptoms of software usability issues can be seen by the growth of disparate systems in the organization and the degree to which business processes develop outside of the system as is the case with the proliferation of excel spreadsheets. Decisions to implement enterprise software solutions are based on assumptions about usability. More often than not, gaps are found between these assumptions and reality during post-implementation. Changing business requirements and previously unrecognized business process nuances create some of the gaps. Other gaps surfaces only after business users actually begin using the system in their real world environments and discover their requirements are not being met. The bottom line is that usability is measured by the degree to which the software is actually used and if it is used correctly. Usability depends on how well the software maps to required business processes. It should not be viewed as an intrinsic characteristic (look & feel) of the software. Instead usability should be viewed as an on-going process to keep the software tuned into business requirements. Usability is an area of continuous improvement and is a critical component of production support for SAP HR. Enhancing usability requires the continuous expansion of functionality and new SAP HR module implementation. Improvements in usability are also achieved by optimizing the current system through business process improvements. In order to build an effective production support model and staff appropriately, areas outside typical break-fix must be taken into consideration for things like the: rate of business and regulatory change roadmap of planned enhancements and areas of system expansion where HR business process improvement would add greater efficiency business user experience factors with the software level of enterprise adoption of the software Choosing a production support partner SAP HR post-implementation, or production support is more than just resolving software issues as they arise. It s providing a comprehensive set of services that keeps the system 2010 Whitaker-Taylor Page 7

8 performing at peak effectiveness, streamlines human resource business processes, and enables the software to keep pace with business requirements. Most companies find that optimizing SAP HR production support in terms of improving service levels and usability requires a hybrid model of in-house resources with supplemental support provided by a specialty partner. It s almost impossible to cost justify a full-time internal staff having all the skills required to support and enhance SAP HR because of the complexity of the system and the cyclical nature of the human resource business. Companies find staffing core SAP HR skills which are augmented as needed from a support partner provides broader and deeper skills at the time which they are needed. With this approach companies are able to maintain the highest utilization levels and control costs. Implementing a blended production support model is much more than ad-hoc staff augmentation or outsourcing. An effective blended model requires a specialty partner that can provide the day-to-day product support, project based SAP HR enhancements and business process improvements. Some of the criteria that are useful when evaluating a support partner include: SAP HR specialization rather than a generalist in SAP dedicated support staff rather than traditional implementation consulting practice proven track record in comprehensive post-implementation support in areas other than just break-fix a true variable rate model to attain 100% utilization process for knowledge transfer and skills building relating to internal staff ability to work with IT and end-user staff a communication plan and process to ensure full transparency Actions to Take 1. Assess the level of SAP HR adoption in the organization Obtain business user feed-back about the system and how they are using it. Look for ways for the system to streamline specific job functions. Identify areas where manual processing can be eliminated. 2. Prepare an annual SAP HR Roadmap Consider the well-being of both SAP HR and the business. Document planned systems upgrades and support packs that will be implemented. Build a work plan for implementing system enhancements and business process improvements. 3. Take the time to evaluate alternatives Challenge your current support model to identify areas where improvements can be made to increase both SAP HR service levels and usability. Consider the impact of alternate delivery models in terms of added business value and greater efficiencies Whitaker-Taylor Page 8

9 Consideration should be given for the breadth and complexity of the current software landscape, internal skill levels and competencies, end-user proficiency level, and the amount of system updates and enhancements that will be required. To provide the highest support level in the most economically way, taking the following into consideration will assist in the formation of an optimum production support plan that provides the right number of people with the right skills and competencies at the right time: nature and scope of the software landscape to determine the specific skills and competencies that will be required to support the system complexity of the system in terms of structure, configuration and customization anticipated volume of daily/weekly issues that will be raised initial and on-going training requirements for both IT and business users end-user knowledge and proficiency level currently in place volume of system upgrades and support packs that will implemented backlog of open issues and required enhancements. Extended Team Support Whitaker-Taylor specializes in SAP HR post-implementation services to help companies improve service levels and usability. Whitaker-Taylor s Extended Team Support model provides scalable on-demand SAP HR support and enhancement services while increasing the skill level of internal staff. Common business benefits include: Variable labor model to eliminate downtime costs Access to resources for peak periods Ability to utilize internal resources more strategically Faster access to high profile SAP HR skills Increase service levels Internal skills development Keep up with business requirements Lower overall production support costs Key competencies The Extended Team Support plan encompasses three competencies to ensure your company receives the highest level of usability from SAP HR. True comprehensive support and continuous improvement is provided by combining these competencies into one service offering. ETS starts with streamlining production support by implementing proven processes and best practices using the highest level of expertise. Skill sets are matched to specific requirements ensuring quick response and resolution to system and user defined issues as well as keeping the system operating at latest release levels and at the highest degree of efficiency Whitaker-Taylor Page 9

10 Knowledge sharing takes place throughout the program to strengthen the skills and competencies of internal staff. On the job training is combined with formal classroom and web-based training for both IT and end users to improve SAP HR usability. Using a transparent teaming model, ETS combines both software enhancements and implementation of new functionality within the production support service offering. With a wide range of skills and knowledge of your systems and business processes, our consultants reduce ramp up time and deliver solutions faster. Takeaways Post-implementation support requires specialized competencies that are different from those required to implement SAP HR An effective SAP HR post-implementation support model is one that improves both SAP HR service levels and usability by encompassing both daily issue resolution and systems enhancements An optimized hybrid post-implementation support model provides the advantages of a true variable labor cost approach while increasing the utilization of internal staff On-going knowledge transfer and skills development are critical success factors in delivering effective post-implementation support SAP HR support is a specialized business function and requires teaming with a partner that specializes in SAP HR post-implementation support About Whitaker-Taylor Whitaker-Taylor is a global SAP HR consulting firm that leads companies in improving support levels and usability of existing SAP HR implementations. Leveraging a unique teaming model, Whitaker-Taylor streamlines production support and strengthens a company s internal skills. Providing flexible bandwidth with deep functional and technical expertise, Whitaker-Taylor delivers HR business process enhancements and new functionality integration to improve SAP HR usability. As a result SAP HR customers keep pace with business requirements, deliver increased value to their business users, and maximize their return on investment. Whitaker-Taylor North American headquarters are in Atlanta with regional offices in Los Angeles. European headquarters are based in Amsterdam Whitaker-Taylor Page 10

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