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SAP implementation. 8 steps to a successful transformation [success story]

Gestion de Cambio y futuro

SAP implementation. 8 steps to a successful transformation [success story]

The migration of the management system of a company to SAP is a journey as much fascinating as complex and challenging -not only from a technical point of view but also because of the permeability to change demanded from the participants. We would like to share the successful change management case of Biogenesis Bagó, company that produces, develops and markets products for animal health in several regions of the world.

Why change management?

 

The implementation of an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) implies a deep organizational transformation that generates multiple benefits but also carries several risks.

SAP will require us to adapt the way we do things to the suggested Best Practices. We will not only have to adjust the information bases, satellite systems, master data structure, security roles, profiles, and interfaces but – fundamentally – the internal processes and procedures.

  • How to manage that change efficiently?
  • How to ensure that such an important investment has a certain “guarantee” of success?
  • How to make the project be perceived as a successive construction of definitions, learning, and evolution?
  • How to make change sustainable over time?

Step 1: We defined the change

 

The change was imminent. The company was going through structural modifications, which included major changes at the General Management and Direction level, and an expansion process towards new markets and new business lines. The current management system could not support the projected exponential growth.

But could those who saw the need for change “infect” the entire organization of this vision? More importantly, did all leaders know why to change, the intentions of it and its key requirements?

Identifying the objectives, validating them within the Director Board, aligning the vision, writing it down and communicating it was essential to set expectations, collectively raise awareness and align criteria.

This is how the shared vision of the transformation was defined:

We need a global information management system that accompanies the company's expansion process and allows innovation, providing us with unique and real-time information that will help gain predictability and certainty in making operational, financial and commercial decisions.

Step 2: We analyzed the culture

 

Once we were clear about why it was necessary to change, we needed to evaluate what kind of organization we would have to work with, what its strengths were and what aspects of its change profile would have to be strengthened.

Through in-depth surveys analysis, meetings with key leaders of the organization, and thanks to an attentive and expert observation, we analyzed:

  • leadership style,
  • communication,
  • work style,
  • Human Resources systems,
  • previous changes and type and level of innovation,
  • relationship with customers and suppliers.

 

The development of a thorough and detailed culture diagnosis allowed us to design a focused and customized strategy. Because there are not magical but possible formulas.

Step 3: We checked the readiness

 

Once we understood what the organization was like, we needed to assess how prepared they were to transform themselves successfully.

The previous diagnosis allowed us also to determine the degree of maturity of the sponsors and the different stakeholders and thus define their degree of readiness to adopt the change.

The analysis considered both the stakeholders of the project (project team) and the different managers directly or indirectly impacted.

Step 4: We seized the impact

 

Next, we made inferences regarding the reactions to be expected from each interest group, validated them with Human Resources representatives, functional Managers, and the Management team, and concluded that the project presented a medium risk, with a high level of impact on the workgroups.

Then, we looked for the root causes of the potential resistances that had been identified:

  • Loss of control over their own work
  • Uncertainty / Misinformation
  • Fear of the different
  • A real threat by task automation
  • Doubts about personal ability
  • Workload increase
  • Loss of autonomy

 

And we defined action plans to mitigate these resistances.

Step 5: We designed the strategy

 

The next step was to identify driving forces, which would help achieve the objectives, and restrictive forces, which could represent an obstacle.

Among the driving forces, we found:

  • Managers with a good perception of the utility of having unified and online information 
  • Strong results orientation
  • Teams that managed processes with agility

 

And some of the restrictive forces were:

  • A context of intense change and strong geographic expansion, product of a new business strategy
  • Continuous operation level with high geographical dispersion

Step 6: We defined the plan

 

Based on the analysis, we defined the pillars of change, which would be the main axes of action.

Some we can mention:

  • Define a unique and integrated vision in the Directors Committee, and share it actively and continuously with the rest of the organization 
  • Design recognitions and actions to reinforce desired behaviors
  • Systematic communication and training to achieve the development of skills and facilitate the adoption of the tool

 

The activities to be carried out, as well as their schedules, were reflected in a Change Management Gantt that was organized in the same stages of the SAP Project (Preparation, Exploration, Execution, Deployment, and Launch). This ensured total alignment and calibration with the project.

Step 7: We learned in an agile way

 

The entire project was permanently tested and monitored, and the plan improved continuously and iteratively.

These were some of the techniques we used:

  • Cultural and technical indicators monitored
  • Learning sessions at the end of each stage, to determine what needed to be adjusted, repeated or not done in the next phase
  • Focus groups with key users
  • Results of training actions tracked

Step 8: We secured the sustainability of the change

 

Our accompaniment ended thirty days after each implementation. In 2018, the system was implemented in the Subsidiaries of Bolivia and Uruguay, and in October 2019, in the 2 plants that Biogenesis Bagó has in Argentina. The project lasted a little over 2 years, divided into 2 phases, and impacted more than 500 people from different areas and locations.

This post-launch period helped to understand the degree of adherence to the new process and thus ensure the sustainability of established practices.

The success of the Change Management process was undeniable:

  • The schedule was met and the releases were made successfully on the planned dates
  • The expected economic budget was met
  • 100% of end-users operated the system in the way they were trained to, and the adoption of functionalities was high
  • The action of the Crisis Committee was not necessary
  • The participation, motivation, and commitment of the Project Team was more than significant and this was recognized by the company’s Management

Final words

 

Transforming implies a very strong process of unlearning and learning the new.

Change Management generates conversational spaces that facilitate the maturation of ideas, negotiations and agreements, and the construction of a new way of doing that is shared and validated by all the people involved.

It helps anticipate risks with an impact on people and facilitates action plans to mitigate them.

And, fundamentally, it ensures that impacted teams understand the change, know what to do, how to do it and why it is worth doing. As a result, on the day of the implementation of a project, we can celebrate a new achievement all together.

Author: Cynthia Caeiro

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