For any SAP implementation, once the budget has been secured to buy and implement the software plus some precious time devoted to the implementation – no real thought is given to running and maintaining the software. Often a support deal is put in place, but my heart drops when I ask who will administer the SAP system in a business and I’m told that it’s going to be looked after by Sally or Jeff who only works Tuesdays and Thursdays and who also looks after the printers.

You don’t hand over the care of your new Mercedes Benz to the housekeeper or gardener. You hire a driver and mechanic who will treat it with kid gloves and keep it gleaming for the next ten years. The same applies to your new SAP system. You make sure you have at least one dedicated person within your business charged with looking after it.

The same person that will help you extract significant financial benefit from the system over the coming years and keep your business running like clockwork. He or she will need to be a change agent, diplomat, analyst, pragmatic problem solver, coach, strategist, cat herder, planner and occasionally wield a spanner.

Daniel Nwume

Daniel Nwume

S/4HANA Finance & HR Transformation Delivery Lead

There’s a lot of hats but why does this need to start with just one person I hear you say? It begins with one passionate, talented individual who genuinely cares about your business and the scale can grow from there if needed.

Here are the top seven hats you should expect your SAP genius to be able to wear:

The System Gatekeeper Hat – Carefully manage system access and roles. Understand why specific roles have particular levels of access to the system but ensure they are issued to the correct people in the organisation, rather than dishing out system access to those who scream the loudest. When wearing this hat, they also need to understand and set up approval workflows and limits – all critical to keeping the business running correctly.

The Cat Herding Hat – Carefully manage departmental system key users and end users. Speak with them to understand what’s going on – or what is or isn’t working for them. Cross-reference issues and help them understand the broader problems manifesting (in an integrated system like SAP there is always a more widespread problem). Succession manage them and always ensure new starters are on-boarded and appropriately trained.

The Data Detective Hat – The lifeblood of an integrated ERP system is data, and it must be set up and maintained correctly. If not, it’s like pouring dust into your fuel tank – the whole engine grinds to a halt. Keeping a constant eye on all elements of data, as the business evolves, is crucial.

The Cycle Management Hat – Everything happens in cycles in SAP – upgrade cycles, month end cycles, yearly cycles, and so on. Someone in the business needs to call out what period is starting when and guide the company through each one. It doesn’t happen by itself as many companies have rapidly found out.

The Reporting Hat – The fundamental reason you have put in this system is to get information out of it. Excellent reporting is available from a well-implemented SAP system, but it takes a skilled and intelligent individual to show people how to extract. You will need such an expert in your business, or before long the age-old cry of “I can’t get any useful information out of the system” will be heard echoing around the office, and people will be questioning why millions were spent on this “useless” system.

The Supplier Management Hat – Your SAP ecosystem will be made up of many different system suppliers and support organisations. Someone has to understand each one and glue them together otherwise they will work at odds with each other as your SAP system evolves.

The Business Strategy Hat – This hat is the essential hat. Your business is going to evolve and change continually. Having someone who understands where you are going and how this will affect your SAP system is crucial to ensure the smooth growth of your business.