In the first blog in this series on Post Deployment Success, we discussed the realities of supporting your SAP Ariba system post-Hypercare. That included a breakdown of the responsibilities of administrative versus support staff. Companies who don’t put the right support and administrative people in place, with the right training, often end up with an expensive failure on their hands.
In this article, we’ll recommend six strategies for avoiding those pitfalls, as well as giving examples of why those issues arise in the first place, both from and administrative and support point of view.
1. A dedicated administrator.
Many companies randomly assign a person who already has a full-time role with the company to be the Ariba administrator. Even in a smaller company, not necessarily Fortune 500-level, there can be thousands of users, so being an administrator is a full-time job. If, in addition to their regular role, they must constantly unlock passwords and manage and train users, it can overwhelm them. Eventually things can spiral to the point where they simply don’t have the capacity to do it any longer and so they ignore the Ariba side – or quit altogether because they burn out.
2. A competent administrator.
This may seem as if it goes without saying, but, again, in cases where someone is randomly assigned to be an administrator, they may not have the skills to do what they need to do. One of our consultants had a client some years ago who put a procurement analyst in place to be the administrator for a complex contracts system they had just deployed. Not only did she already have a full-time job, but she had also never heard of Ariba and knew nothing about contracts. Eventually, they got rid of Ariba because “it was terrible.”
The fact is that Ariba was not terrible, they simply didn’t support it properly post-deployment. Also, the administrator should have some technical skills, or they won’t be able to do the job: that same consultant was hired by a different company to train their administrator, a person who had been with the company for many years and barely knew how to send an email. We then stepped in later to clean up the mess and train someone with better technical skills.
3. A succession plan.
This is another big issue we see frequently: the administrator leaves, there is no knowledge transfer, and everything falls apart. Training someone else to take that role is important, if for no other reason than temporary backup if the administrator goes on vacation or has any type of issue that causes them to take an extended leave. Then, that backup person can take over if the main administrator leaves the company. At the very least, make training a new administrator a priority if the current one gives notice.
1. Understand what your structure is going to look like.
Many companies think that once Ariba is in place it just kind of runs itself. For example: all your invoices will be automated, so you no longer need accounts payable. In fact, you still need to have one or two or more people in place depending upon your volume, exception rules, and other factors.
It’s the same with managing vendor master data and supplier enablement and contracts and many other tasks, both simple and complex that need to be dealt with by humans. You can’t just demolish the team, rather, you need to determine if you do have the right people in place now, or if you might need to hire more to support the system.
2. The agility and ability to change what needs to be changed.
Going back to our “Ariba is terrible” anecdote. The system didn’t work for them post-deployment because they made some poor choices in the product – mostly because they didn’t understand what their structure was going to look like. This is quite a common issue, but the solution is not to throw it out the window, it’s to have a competent support person evaluate it to quickly and efficiently enable a feature that you didn’t know you needed or to remove one that you don’t need and make it work the way you envisioned it working.
3. At least some in-house support.
Even if you do realize what you need support-wise, it’s important to keep some of those people in the building. Many companies outsource their Ariba support to teams in other countries to save money. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if that team is not working on flex hours and is not available in your time zone when you need them, that’s a big problem. Ariba is a complex system that needs to be closely monitored every day. That can only realistically happen if there is some in-house support available. Or, at the very least, outsourced support in your time zone.
High End Solutions + Specialized Support
SAP Ariba is a terrific business tool, but it’s also specialized and complex. Not having the right people in place to take care of it is akin to buying a Range Rover, putting regular gas in it, then asking your teenager to fix it when something goes wrong (unless your teen is a high-end car mechanic).
For assured success even from before Day One, look for a “big picture” Ariba Consulting Partner. At CCP Global, we start BEFORE the beginning, not only getting you ready for your deployment, but also making sure you’re ready post-deployment.
And if your in-house staff simply can’t handle the big changes – or the highly technical system — managed services can be a lifesaver. On the Ariba Managed Support page on our website, you’ll see that we offer a full range of services for your Ariba solution. That can be as simple as administrative tasks, or as complex as evaluating your system to figure out why it’s not working, and then fine-tuning it so it does.
Our goal is to be sure that your Ariba investment transforms your business processes, rather than ending up as an expensive failure.