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Implementing SAP: Problems and solutions

SAP Solutions deeply affect the culture and the working environment of the people in a company. Even after you get through “go live” and enter production, it is a major change. What is going to happen and how it is going to happen must be clearly defined and publicized from the top management downwards. SAP implementations need to involve a lot of people and the right information should be known by the implementation and maintenance teams. If the top management does not do this, how do you think people will react? They will likely resist the changes SAP requires of them, and this will affect the quality of SAP Solutions. There are also lots of myths and implicit messages when you implement an SAP solution that can affect the morale of the company as a whole. In the past, many companies implemented SAP to reduce personnel and costs, and this is still a fear every time SAP solutions are implemented, even though nowadays such reductions are not the main reason for choosing SAP solutions. Today the main reasons are profitability, efficiency, control, better information, and more time for people to generate value. Obviously there are sometimes chances to cut costs and personnel, and these are also big issues, but it is very important to preserve the right people and to maintain them in the right state of mind. Therefore, it is a major success factor, during the implementation of SAP Systems, to keep everyone informed in the right way, even people who are not directly involved in the process. It is surely true that with SAP solutions many positions and jobs are going to change and many activities will either disappear or the way they were being done will change. If the relevant people in the company perceive these changes without any information about eventual relocation or what is expected from them after the installation process, these people will probably begin to look for new horizons at other employers. Another issue is the internal project team. It is well known that the result of an implementation project is better if you use your best employees as the key users and implementation team members: you need to select those who are always busy and short of time, those with the best knowledge of the past, present, and future of the organization. This means that they will need some help during the project to complete their usual jobs, or else they will have to work much more than usual. If you do not inform them about how the company is going to handle these issues and the reinsertion into their old jobs after the project, it is only a matter of time before these people will begin to think about their future in the company. I have seen many cases of companies that have lost important collaborators after an implementation. This can and should be avoided.

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