When one of our CCP Global consultants arrives on “Day One” to assess a new client’s current SAP Ariba environment, they often hear this, “We don’t want a deep dive into our current processes, we just want the Ariba Best Practices.”
The idea of Best Practice infers a simple, uncomplicated SAP Ariba deployment, but the fact is that “best practices” are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Rather, they’re a framework for defining where you are and where you need to go.
First, Be Open to Customization
Think about the vast variety of industries covered by SAP Ariba solutions: agriculture, airlines, chemicals, energy, entertainment, financial services, high-tech, manufacturing, media, pharmaceuticals, textiles and utilities, to name just a few.
Within those industries, there are also companies of every size. We can assume that Fortune 500 firms probably have some sort of automated procurement system, but more smaller and mid-sized companies are evaluating the benefits of SAP and Ariba as well, as are suppliers with customers that want them to join the Ariba Network.
In other words, there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to implementing an Ariba system. The best approach is understanding what information your unique company in your specific industry needs to gather before your SAP Ariba consulting team formally starts the project.
The Key To Success: Pre-Deployment Readiness
SAP Ariba sells the product and then asks, ‘what date do you want to deploy?’ because that’s their job. However, there are things that are not always taken into consideration that you need to do before setting that date. Readiness is the missing piece between buying the system and deploying the system. Not being fully ready can result in frustration, headaches and wasted time.
The maturity and professionalism of a good Ariba deployment partner lies in their ability to ready the client for deployment. When evaluating your choices, be sure to ask prospective consulting firms how they will work with you to prepare you for the most efficient deployment experience.
The Focus of Pre-Deployment Readiness
Within the framework of the main deployment areas there are three key items to keep in mind: information/inputs, staffing, and technology.
- Information/inputs: This may be data required to create the framework for the system, or may be key organizational information, such as master data. Having all of your systems-related inputs ready is critical to starting your implementation off on the right foot.
- Staffing: Having people at the ready to participate in the deployment is a critical step to deployment readiness. Considering the key stakeholders for not only the deployment project, but also the critical user base, as well as the change management components, will help you pave the way to avoid any roadblocks during the deployment.
- Technology: An SAP Ariba deployment is often a net-new software for an organization. Having a highly experienced team can ensure that you are aware of any data cleanup, critical service packs, upgrades, or changes to your data framework that may be required to make sure that your new cloud software will work in a complex, integrated environment and help you avoid any deployment delays.
There are preparedness activities that need to be done with any type of deployment. But, with Ariba, if you don’t properly plan your deployment strategy from the beginning you can literally put yourself in a year of delay. We have seen it happen more than once.
Getting Into Specifics
This introductory article offers a basic overview of the need for some preparedness that many companies may not consider. However, each of the SAP Ariba modules have specific areas that need to be addressed.
In the next four articles in this series we will discuss each of those in greater detail, including:
- Upstream Deployment Readiness, broken down as follows:
- Downstream Deployment Readiness for Integrated Buying and Invoicing including critical master data
All of these steps will ensure a more seamless, simple and effective integration, but only if you work with a partner who can walk you through these critical tasks before your official “Day One.”