SAP’s Activate methodology has five foundational phases: Prepare. Explore. Realize. Deploy. Run.

We’d like to add one more that we call Phase Zero: Initiation.

In part one of this Pre-Deployment Readiness series we discussed the prep work you can do before your deployment partners begin on day one. These actions can potentially prevent avoidable, costly project delays.

As one of our expert upstream consultants puts it: “The first question on the first day of the project should never be, ‘what are we doing?’ That question should already be asked and answered.”

Your deployment will go much more smoothly if you choose a deployment partner with experience in pre-deployment readiness, or even hire a boutique firm specifically to help with that Initiation Phase.  That increases your chance of success because they can help you with preparedness activities that may be out of the scope of your project with Ariba or another deployment partner. This is particularly crucial if your company has never had any exposure to the Ariba platform.

In this article, we’re going to take a deeper dive into the question of ‘what are we doing’ by specifically looking at these five things that you need to do to prepare for an SAP Ariba Sourcing Deployment.

1. Identify and prepare key stakeholders so critical processes aren’t overlooked

Choosing and properly preparing your team members can alleviate conflicts and delays.

  • Choose team members that are on the ground doing the everyday work; they can answer the process questions best. In other words: Peter the Procurement agent, not Paul the VP of Procurement may be better equipped to answer very detailed process questions during the Explore phase of your project.
  • Deployments can last for weeks or months. Your key stakeholders and team members need to understand this ASAP so that work priorities can be shifted as needed and the team will be able to devote themselves to the project at hand. If your team members are having to multi-task and feel overwhelmed, stressed, or resentful, key processes can be missed and may not be fully identified until testing starts, which could cause major delays. Having a deployment partner that can guide you through the potential time needed for team members through various stages of the project prior to kick-off will help alleviate these problems ahead of time.
  • Prepare team members for the change management component of the process. Make your team aware that CHANGE WILL HAPPEN as part of your deployment. Changing routines and learning new systems can be stressful. This is an organizational shift, and you need to have a training and rollout plan associated with that change for everyone down the line. Having team members who are cheerleaders for change within their own roles can help to cement the success of your change management strategy.

2. Know what needs to be done to replace your existing sourcing software

If you are moving from a non-SAP Ariba system this will streamline the migration.

  • Understand in advance what type of prep work you need to do to move from one system to another, such as your historic RFX events. Are those going to be required to move into Ariba? If they are, you want to start exporting those early on to save time. At CCP Global, we are happy to provide our clients templates to speed up and streamline this process, sometimes even before the official start date of the project; you’ll need to ask your chosen partner how they want this handled.
  • Capture or map out any existing requirements or approval flows that are built into the current system. This is especially crucial for older systems. If there’s a way to export templates you’ve built into your system or take screen grabs of RFX content or approval flows, that makes it easy for the partner to start reviewing that information on Day One instead of waiting for the Explore Phase.

3. Review and update your content

These are processes and decisions that are best performed in-house, before the consultant team arrives, since they rely on the client’s knowledge and review of their current system.

  • Compile a list of all your RFX content and get it together for the partner to review. You can potentially cut some time off the Explore phase if you do a pre-evaluation of that content and get something standardized that your consulting partner can have as a starting point. This saves time in reviewing content that is outdated or obsolete, which is knowledge the client has, not the partner.
  • Compile a list of your current commodities and see if they line up with UNSPSC standards. While that could be an entire article in itself; briefly, that’s the most commonly used taxonomy for products and services in all countries to standardize product codes. Out of the box Ariba uses UNSPSC commodity codes. You do not have to adopt UNSPSC (although this is the recommended approach by both Ariba and CCP Global), but if you’ve been thinking about it this is a good time to evaluate the switch within the organization. If you don’t want to switch, that’s not anything to panic over, it’s manageable, but it does save time to make this decision in advance of Phase One so next steps can be taken with commodity code mapping.

4. Prepare your legal team well in advance

A lack of prior communication with the legal team is one factor our consultants have found which causes some of the most delays during deployment.

  • As part of the process your team will probably be creating some RFX content and new terms and conditions for event participation. Be sure you have some level of access to any type of legal or compliance organization to vet those processes that you might need.
  • The important point, whether you have outside counsel or your own in-house legal team, is to prepare the legal arm of the project for the need to move quickly when it’s time for them to review changes.

5. Clarify your ultimate goals

This may seem as if it should be first, but, in fact, completing the first four steps in the pre-deployment process will actually help you establish your goals. That may be standardizing the process, making sourcing agents more self-sufficient, or speeding up the process for your sourcing events, to name just a few objectives.

The thorough review and preparation outlined above can quickly identify where the system needs to be improved and how to help your deployment partner to best tailor their approach and efforts for your deployment from day one. This will help guarantee that when you reach the project kickoff you will be prepared to put together an accurate project timeline and no one will wonder: What are we doing?

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