A new SAP system can make a start-up plant a disaster or victory—all depending on the preparation for its implementation. The SAP is the information backbone of new plant business and project manager should approach it with a well structured project team. If implementation scope includes Financials, Sales, Distribution logistics, Manufacturing, Supply Chain Management and Business Warehouse functionalities for multiple production lines at new plant and the majority of the users are new hires or new to the SAP, then including a Change Management team into integration team is the starting point that ensures the implementation success.

What is Change Management?
Change Management (CM) is an organized, systematic application of the knowledge, tools and resources. CM is responsible for developing and managing the execution of strategies and activities to support successful implementation of the project. Change Management strategies include gaining leadership support, ensuring that the business aligns organization, processes and systems, involving key constituents for understanding and acceptance; preparing, equipping and training the workforce to operate in their new roles; and aligning the workforce to support the initiative. As we can see, CM is a key for the SAP implementation, because the implementation will simplify and standardize business processes, will affect people, will change the way people conduct business and the way they get work done.

How Change Management Team Structured?
A typical Change Management team includes Site Coordinator, CM manager, CM Partner, Communication Specialist, Training Coordinator, Key Performance Indicator (KPI) Specialist, Security Primary Person of Responsible (PPR), and a couple of trainers.  See the illustration below.

What are the Roles and Responsibilities of a CM team?
CM Manager is a full time role in global SAP implementation and should be on site. The role is responsible for leading CM team, communicating with Project Manager, Site Coordinator/CM partner about communication, training, KPI tracking and Security issues.

Site Coordinator can be a part-time role and should be on site. This role is a “go-to” person regarding site issues for core team*, extended team**, business leadership team and site management team. The role is responsible for communicating to all appropriate parties on overall project status, issues, successes, and barriers to keep the members engaged in the project.

CM Partner is from site and can be a part-time role. This role is responsible for supporting the CM Lead to execute the CM and training activities on site in local language. S/he is go-to person for extended team.
Training Coordinator is a part-time role from site. This role is accountable to site management for effective SAP training, which includes business processes and SAP basics, implementation in order for the overall SAP roll-out to be successful.

Trainers are usually the existing local Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). They will be most effective if they are very familiar with the existing business processes and also have a deep understanding of SAP. They are Extended Team members from the beginning of the project and will become the workgroup Super Users after go-live.

Security PPR is a shared resource and is responsible for giving SAP users adequate access to carry out the functions needed to do their job in SAP and make sure that “Sensitive” transaction codes (T-CODES) are comply with SOX control process

What are the Key Change Management Tasks?
As I mentioned earlier, CM is responsible for developing and managing the execution of strategies and activities to prepare the users to successfully utilize SAP in support of the business. To be specific, the following CM tasks need to carry out to support successful implementation of the project.

Organizational Impact Assessment
The goal of the Org Impact Assessment is to indentify personnel for critical job roles and ensure that the right workforce is adequately trained in business processes & SAP. The inputs are work streams/tracks (e.g. OTC), business processes (e.g. maintain pricing data), job functions (e.g. sales support), job roles and responsibilities (e.g. Create and change customer and/or material specific prices), name, training courses that this person needs to participate, etc. The output of the assessment is an assessment matrix.  The matrix will link to staffing plan if applicable and later the training approach.

Communication Plan
The goal of the detailed communication plan is to let all employees know what is happening in the workplace. A detailed communication plan includes communication levels (E.g. Steering Committee), audience, purpose, events and messages, content developer, sender/approver, frequency, etc. It can help to gauge the effectiveness of efforts to communicate information throughout the organization and can ensure the messages about the importance of changes are getting through.

User Acceptance Event
After completion of internal team testing, one month prior to system go-live, the Core Team and Extended Team will work together to define test scenarios that are representative of key business processes. Extended Team members & selected Super Users on will participate in site. As you imagine, how CM team organize the event is critical for core team to conduct UAE successfully, especially when the UAE has to be virtually due to the time or/and budget constraints. CM manager and integration lead should work very closely to come up with a very detailed UAE Schedule which includes names/IDs of the integrated scenarios, time needed, scheduled dates, short and long descriptions, person who conduct scenario/s, etc. The plan needs to be communicated to participants 2-3 weeks in advance and all issues will be recorded & prioritized by CM team. Issues rated as “High” or “Very High” impact will be resolved before go-live.

End-user Training
The goal of training is to ensure user community is fully trained to operate (and understand) the SAP system for their specific job junction. The SAP training starts 3-4 weeks prior to system go-live.  The Change Management team performs training assessment, comes up with detailed training plan and monitors the quality of the training. If SAP rollout is in an region that English is not users’ mother toque, the CM team will work with local needs to provide training in the appropriate language.
End-user training includes business process training to ensure that the end-users are educated on the critical business rules associated with the SAP transactions they will need to perform, and SAP basic training and SAP Delta training to ensure that the end-users are educated how to navigate through the critical transactions for their job roles and responsibilities, how to analyze data and reports generated from SAP and in problem-solving within SAP.

Business process training normally is provided by super user/s from business team; SAP basic and Delta training normally is provided by members from Core Team.

Key Performance Indicator (KPI) Tracking
KPI is a metric that assess the effectiveness of a process. The metric will be determined during final preparation in order to track that is the system working as designed, are the people using the system correctly or bypassing the system. KPI specialist from the CM team leads this activity. Each work stream has a set of KPIs that they have to monitor on an on-going basis. Examples of KPIs are financial (budget, variances), schedule, number of late deliveries, etc.

Lessons Learned
The goal of capturing lessons learned is to identify what went well and some of the major successes, to identify the challenges and future recommendations to prevent the challenge from happening in future projects or stages, and to identify the actions required based on information documented from team. During go-live, CM manager sends out the lessons learned template to track/team leads to solicit answers. Project manager will share the lessons learned at the project closeout meeting.

These are a very important set of CM activities that typically need to be done for a global SAP rollout. These activities need to be proactively managed, rather than reactively. If these activities are not done, the global project team will encounter many issues during the implementation, and will face high risk of failure.

Experience suggests that it is vital to form an effective Change Management team that is supported fully by the local GM and other directors. A local Leadership Buy-in event needs to be carried out 3-6 months prior to the project kick-off. A well defined roles and responsibilities need to be clearly communicated to site management team so the CM resources from site can be allocated and committed to project.

Core Team: consists of project team members from IT Application team who are generally full time. Daily activities include system configuration and business process documentation.

** Extended Team: are subject matter experts (SMEs), they provide functional expertise for system design and implementation.
About the Author:

Qiuyan (Joanna) Wang is the PMO Lead for Asia Pacific at a Premier International Chemical Company. For more than 10 years she has worked with project management in the United States and abroad. She has extensive SAP Global ERP implementation experience and Project Management Office implementation experience.

So what is change management? The traditional project approach to change management – sees it as a set of tasks which if executed successfully get a result. In other words the typical process led approach which has failed so consistently and so spectacularly over the last 20 years!

There are 3 main reasons for the astonishingly high 70% failure rate of ALL business change initiatives:

1. The gap between the strategic vision and a successful programme implementation and the lack of a practical change management model and tools to bridge that gap.

2. The “hidden and built in resistance to change” of organisational cultures, and the lack of processes and change management methodologies to address this.

3. Failure to take full account of the impact of the changes on those people who are most affected by them i.e. the absence of good strategies for managing change.

Prosci is the recognized leader in business process design and change management research, and is the world’s largest provider of change management and re-engineering toolkits and benchmarking information. [This is not a commercial – I’m just establishing their credentials!]

They are the publishers of “Prosci’s Best Practices in Business Process Re-engineering and Process Design” which is based on research with 327 organisations world-wide.

The objective of this study is to provide real-life lessons from the experiences of project teams recently or currently involved in business process re-engineering projects.

Key findings in the latest report show the 4 key lessons learnt:

(1) “More effective change management” – is the main thing that project teams would do differently on the next project.

(2) Top management of teams and the their projects means they were more likely to complete their project at or above expectations.

(3) The planning stage, was universally regarded as the most important phase in the project – because this was where scope and roles were defined.

(4) The primary obstacle to a successful implementation was resistance to change. This was mentioned 6 times more that any other factor.

Clearly the single biggest reason for the astonishingly high 70% failure rate has been the over-emphasis on project process rather than the people aspects – the failure to take full account of the impact of change on those people who are most impacted by it.

Closely allied to that reason is the lack of process to directly address the human aspects of change.

Properly applied, this is exactly what the holistic and wide view perspective of a programme based approach to change management will deliver.


In 1978 my company was invited to create a management development programme for one of Honda’s overseas subsidiaries, so I set out to learn about the Honda culture. My job was to embed the core culture of Honda into a training and development programme that fitted into the local culture. I found it a fascinating learning experience.

I found I was working in a management structure totally different from anything I had previously experienced. The local Managing Director was an expatriate Japanese, presiding over a group of divisional managers who were all local staff. The divisions were essentially organized around product groups, a mirror image of the structure in Japan. Each division manager had a young Japanese assistant whose role was to provide the communication connection with Japan, and to facilitate access into the Japanese systems. These assistants were essentially high-flying management cadets on their first overseas assignments, and they had no executive roles.
The local Honda organization had a permanent queue of people who wanted to join Honda, and would take any job that became available. When they proved themselves capable and motivated to take on more responsibility, they would be promoted to a supervisor role.At this point they had to make a life changing career choice. They needed to choose between a technical career and a management career.

Those who chose a technical career would embark on a lifetime pursuit of excellence in their chosen discipline. They would move between divisions to broaden their experience of Honda technologies before they chose their specialist field. They would be encouraged to pursue academic study and research in Honda’s development and production divisions. They would enjoy a similar status to that of their management counterparts, and exercise great influence over strategic decisions. The greatest accolade for a lifetime of contribution to Honda’s engineering excellence was likely to be the endowment of a personal professorial chair in a prestigious university to ensure them a comfortable retirement and the opportunity to guide the careers of the succeeding generations.

The choice of a management career led to a series of managerial appointments that would last for around 9 years. They could expect to move between divisions, and into functional areas of which they had no knowledge or skill. They could expect to move typically from marketing to accounts, then to retail management or distribution. Their job was to manage. There would be no promotion before they had learned to manage the whole company through this management apprenticeship.

They could not be successful in their management role without the active support of their staff, and depended on the technical skills and experience of the specialists. I believe that this interdependence led to a very different management style based on mutual respect rather than the command and control attitude that was so prevalent in those times. This was management as a set of disciplines; one that required a broad understanding of the inter-relationships between business functions. After 9 years of gaining broad experience, managers had an overview of the whole business, and could manage any function. The best of them were ready for the only promotion available, a divisional manager role.

For the whole nine years, all departmental managers enjoyed equal status and pay rates. Then they were considered ready to do a really important job, with the responsibility for leadership and direction at the highest level available in their own country. They had served a long apprenticeship.

As an outsider, I observed and reflected on the culture that this management system and structure generated. It was distinctively and uniquely Honda. Everyone I met in the company was in love with the product, and took enormous pride in the quality of everything they did. There was only one place to join the company, on the shop floor, and talent was rewarded quickly, but there were only three steps to the top. I have never seen an organization with less tension between divisions, departments and functions. There was no competition between functional silos for resources, because there were no silos. The goal appeared to be optimization rather than maximization. This culture created a breadth and depth of capability that enabled Honda to achieve great things.

Two examples.

In 1988 the whole global company celebrated the achievement of Honda USA when it delivered the first ever shipload of Honda Accord cars from an overseas plant to Japan. After years of striving Honda USA had matched the Japanese quality standard.

The personal rewards for talented staff were good too.
I worked with a marketing manager who had joined Honda just three years earlier. He had worked as a cleaner in the store as a university holiday job, and took his turn on the waiting list. He had progressed from storeman to manager in three years, and was soon to move on to manage the finance division. He knew nothing about accounting, but as he explained to me, the accounting specialists were outstanding. His job would be to help them do their jobs. He fully expected to be appointed to a divisional manager role in 4 or 5 years. 
The Honda system was built on trust.

Honda treated trusted suppliers as partners, and judged them to by the way they trusted Honda. The story of how we won the management development contract shows how deep this goes.

At the time my business partner and I had created from scratch a successful boutique training consultancy. We were invited to a meeting with the Honda divisional management team, to discuss a training project. They indicated that we had strong competition. The meeting concluded with an invitation to prepare a presentation to the business that would demonstrate our understanding and approach to supplying what they needed.

I said that the research would take three months and require them to open up the company to us so we could understand their business. It would cost us several thousand dollars and was beyond our ability to fund it. I argued that we would be doing essential preliminary work, and asked that they advance the funds to us. We were met with a flat refusal. I suggested that we would do the work at our risk if they agreed to pay us a fixed fee for the research and programme design as soon as we were awarded the contract. We shook hands on the deal and started work.

The presentation was a roaring success; it was a celebration of Honda product excellence with cars, bikes, pumps and generators and loud music. We showed how we had become personally committed to the Honda way. They loved it. We presented our first invoice and they handed over a cheque.
A week later we were astounded to be asked how much we would discount our first year’s fee if they pre-paid us. All our working capital problems were resolved and we had acquired an obligation to do outstanding work in partnership with Honda.
This was the real meaning of trust in business. We had to trust ourselves to do great work, then trust them to make a good decision. Then they trusted us with hundreds of thousands of prepaid fees for a major project.

It is hardly surprising that, to this day, I have a huge admiration for the late Soichiro Honda, the founder of a great global company, with a unique culture.

– Michael Taplin