Three critical steps for a successful dispute management implementation

22 February 2011

Mark Chalfen

Mark Chalfen

Former SAP S/4HANA Global Lead

One of the most common phrases within an implementation project is: “Fail to plan and you plan to fail”.

I am sure you have all heard this a hundred times. Hopefully you hear this at the start of the project as the project manager rallies the troops at the kick off meeting at the start of the scoping of the solution. If the first time you hear this is at the end of the project, or even in the project “debrief” session, then normally something has gone wrong.

With these famous words in mind when I approach a FSCM Dispute Management implementation I ensure the following three steps are carried out:

  1. Map
  2. Measure
  3. Model


Before you can start to scope out a potential SAP FSCM Dispute Management solution you need to map out the “as-is” processes. Now this is sometimes overlooked as clients and implementers argue that if Disputes are not currently logged in SAP how can you map the “as-is” process? However I would disagree with this and counter by stating that if a client is interested in Dispute Management it will be because their customers raise disputes. Normally they would be handled outside of SAP in Excel spreadsheets or a paper based solution. To understand where you want to go, it is important to know where you currently are. Further to this, the real benefit is to identify current pain points in the solution, so they can be addressed in the future “to-be” solution.


It is widely acknowledged that reporting criteria can be seen as an after thought during an implementation. To maximise the benefits of a SAP FSCM Dispute Management implementation it is imperative that the reporting of disputes is considered and agreed during the scoping phase. To crystallise this point, consider that there is a part of your current “to-be” process that is deemed to be inefficient. To measure the success of your implementation, it is important that you can measure the difference or benefit achieved after implementing the solution. So, for example if you had a timing issue within your process for resolution of price queries, as the paper work had to be posted to the plant manager, if you automated this solution, you would want to measure what TRUE benefit you achieved. It could be as simple as previously it took 18 days for a price query to be resolved before implementing SAP FSCM Dispute Management, and after your implementation it will take 6 days. This measure can demonstrate back to the business true benefits that have been realised by implementing SAP FSCM Dispute Management. By agreeing the reporting and measure you plan to use with the implementation, you identify the key fields that need to be in the solution.


The last step to action is to map out the new “to-be” process for disputes. As you now have a baseline of where you currently are, you should be able to identify where benefits can be made by amending the current process and performing the tasks within SAP. Further to this when designing the new process it is important to utilise part of the current process that now add benefit and try and use the SAP FSCM Dispute Management functionality to provide a solution that is unique to your client to maximise the business benefit.


The key to this methodology is that it allows the project team to clearly state what business benefits the implementation of SAP FSCM Dispute Management will be. By clearly stating that a key objective of the project is to reduce the dispute resolution time from 18 days to 6 days will enable clear financial business benefits to provide the Project Sponsor full confidence of the implementation team. Project Sponsor’s can be bought into the business need to move an offline process into SAP, however one of the things they can struggle with is being able to quantify the financial benefit.

So before you rush into a SAP FSCM Dispute Management Implementation that quickly covers the scope of the implementation ensure you cover off the 3 M’s.

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About the author

Mark Chalfen

Former SAP S/4HANA Global Lead

Mark tells it straight - as an ex-boxer, what else would you expect?  Both his knowledge and experience of SAP products allow him to cut to the chase dispelling myths and hearsay.

As a result of working closely with various SAP Finance Product Management teams on product development, Mark understands these products inside out. This depth of understanding has led to him become a ‘thought leader’ in his field; after all, it is not often SAP consultants have helped shape and develop the very product they are selling.

Having such a strong relationship with SAP alongside being an SAP Mentor and Moderator means that Mark has an extensive network within SAP. For clients, this relationship proves to be a huge advantage and leads to configuration issues being resolved rapidly.

Mark has worked on short proof of concepts through to year-long multi-million pound global roll-outs. However, no matter how large or small the project, the true value Mark brings to his work is in the guidance he provides to senior stakeholders. In essence, he assists them to implement more effective processes and drive better behaviours within their finance teams.

Helping organisations transform their business with SAP S/4HANA is Mark’s current focus. The benefits of S/4HANA are numerous, including the simplification of tasks, embedded analytics and improved user engagement. Whilst the eventual move from SAP Business Suite into S/4HANA is inevitable, the journey to it is not always clear. Mark’s ability to understand an organisation’s needs coupled with his deep understanding of S/4HANA provides clarity and eases their transition.

Bluefin and SAP S/4HANA - welcome to the one horse race

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