I’m sure many entrapreneurs have asked themselves “what is the magic formula of success?”. Recently I’ve been involved in a major joint implementation of SAP TPM (Trade Promotion Management) and SAP CBP (Customer Business Planning) and have been asked the very same question. I thought I should have a go at answering it…
I took a scientific approach (not) and asked my young children. “What do you think the formula for success is, boys?”. Along with two puzzled faces, I got another two questions in return: “But Daddy, what is success?” and “What is a formula?”.
That left me with no answer, and another challenge: to explain to them both concepts. I won’t go into the detail of how I explained the former – everyone has a different measure of success, but I do want to share with you the outcome of the latter.
I tried to explain what a formula is by scribling on a piece of paper the typical A = B + C. When I thought they understood that, I posed the question again “So, what is the formula of success?” and wrote down on the piece of paper:
SUCCESS = ?
Only a child could have come up with the following answer:
SUCCESS = S + U + C + C + E + S + S
How wonderful! I couldn’t throw this opportunity away, so I tried to find the message behind this ‘magic’ formula and I came up with the following:
S for SIMPLE
When we are talking about such a comprehensive solution with so many integration points it may seem obvious to state that ‘simple’ is important. However we often overlook the obvious: the simpler you build something, the easier it is to run and the smaller margin for break downs.
TPM is a beautiful (I refuse to call it complex) integrated solution that collates multiple different systems and business processes. Unfortunately this exposes many potential failure points. Keeping it simple will help to run it, to maintain it and, more importantly, to understand it.
U for Usability
Like every other application it has to be easy to use and well adopted by the user community. There is nothing worse than a solution with ‘bad press’ from those using it. My recommendation is to prioritise and stay focused on what is really important. Consider what’s going to make a real difference on a day to day basis to the most number of users, not once a year to one user. Usability is not all about making it pretty. The key is to make sure it is straightforward and efficient to use. SAP offers many standard options, consider these before you look for a customised development.
C for Comprehension
It’s vital for a TPM solution, and its linked business processes, to be well defined and understood. This comprehension needs to be a two way street between the technical and the functional teams. When you design a solution for a business you need to ensure that you have a clear understanding of that specific business’s processes and needs. Meanwhile, the business needs to get to grips with the technology behind the design, because at some point you will need to compromise to honour the ‘Simple’.
C for Collaboration
Collaboration is fundamental to the success of a TPM implementation. The entire solution must be the result of a collaborative journey between the business and those designing the application.
‘S’ ‘U’ & ‘C’ are key elements to a happy ending in a SAP TPM Implementation, especially at the early stages of the project when the solution is being road-mapped.
E for an Enduring relationship
Experience has taught me that a TPM implementation doesn’t end the day you go live, or two weeks after when the support phase comes to an end and the handover has been done. Of course, ‘the first cut is the deepest’ and those initial days of implementation are the hardest for all concerned. The business relies heavily on the delivery team during this period. However the real magic can happen if the relationship develops beyond the go live date. We can help facilitate user adoption within the business, and later on in the journey provide enhancements that will add more value to the business and increase ROI.
S for SLOWLY
Wherever possible, don’t rush deployments. At some point you’ll realise that this is an expensive and delicate delivery, so you won’t want to go charging in like a bull in a china shop. This is a marathon, not a sprint. You need to build up trust with your customer and show them the solution is a robust one that will deliver big benefits for their users. The solution is complex and hard to digest, but addressing it in bite size pieces allows you the time to think how your next step will bring about the maximum benefits.
S, for SCALABILITY
Last but not least, always keep in mind how you can extrapolate the benefits of your solution to other areas of the business. The roads are already built, the bus is on the road and there’s plenty of room for other passengers: just hop on. Anybody can come on board: new markets, new product categories, new ways of investing trade spend. Just remember at the design stage that this is a “public” transport system, so others can easily hop on.
Have a good journey…
…and don’t forget to send a postcard telling how it's going!