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Keys to the Next Frontier of ERP Implementation: Simplification, Agility, and Standardization (SAS)
By David Wills, Director Global ERP Projects, Merck
The mission of my global team of Healthcare Business Process Architects (BPAs) was to guide the business through the transformation of implementing the latest “state-of-the-art” SAP HANA technology. Our keys to unlocking the business value were:
• SIMPLIFYING the processes, respecting compliance and financial guidelines;
• AGILITY by empowering users with an intuitive way of working and business insights;
• STANDARDIZATION in connecting Healthcare globally with a common way of operating.
Our LEAN (code name for the project) global template needed intuitive, simplified, standardized processes to compel the Key Users to move away from their bespoke, customised ‘as-is’ processes. Often, they are so busy working a certain way, they never think to question why.
A big transformation program does not necessarily flourish with the first deployment, as the real value from standardization comes with more countries in the system. One of our first deployments felt the LEAN template did not bring them an advantage over their old local customised system. Yes, we had implemented simplified processes, but the business benefits were difficult to quantify. Furthermore, the deployment itself was a painful journey for the team.
This provided a stimulus to rethink our approach. Business Process Architects with their technical colleagues looked long and hard at the lessons learned from our local Key Users and concluded for SAS to be successful we needed to:
1. Improve the overall experience of the deployment journey by making methodology changes;
2. Get the Healthcare business’ mindset ready for simplified standardized processes;
3. Build closer relationships to the key Healthcare business stakeholders to engage them in this transformational change.
Germany was the next and biggest challenge for our template as it was our largest market and manufacturing site (located in Darmstadt with the Headquarters). No one would say that business operations here are simple! But, I can report that the Germany/ Darmstadt deployment went smoothly from start to finish with go-live on 4 April 2019.
A big transformation program does not necessarily flourish with the first deployment, as the real value from standardization comes with more countries in the system
This successful deployment, with so few incidents in Hypercare, demonstrated that we had heeded the lessons learned in our approach:
1. Improving the deployment journey
In collaboration with the LEAN project management we succeeded in:
• Focussing on the key real business scenarios flowing across the project Streams;
o Testing process integrity across purchase, manufacture, distribute and sell scenarios with consistent genuine data;
o prioritising issue resolution with an impact on a business scenario.
• Resolving the big gaps with local management before the project starts;
o Only by understanding the local ‘as-is’ processes can the BPAs determine the impact on ‘to-be’.
• Managing Key Users’ expectations of the ‘to-be’ process;
o Early hands-on execution of ‘to-be’ processes in the system gave more time to become accustomed to the change and avoided last-minute escalations.
2. Changing the Darmstadt organisation’s mindset.
We united with a key influencer in the organization, Andreas Pies (Head of Healthcare Technology and Engineering) to deliver a message of “creating the gold standard” for future LEAN countries --movingfrom a local-focused perspective to thinking globally.
As no direct replacement for the heavily customised and complex local processes possible, we needed the business to ‘Think differently’ and ask themselves ‘Can we reduce complexity?’
3. Building closer relationships to the key Healthcare business stakeholders
We focussed our BPAs involvement in the decision-making process, where they would gain exposure to senior business stakeholders. Framing the right questions engaged stakeholders into a discussion of the benefit and need for transformational change occurring in the process.
Clearly, our cycle of improvement will bring these lessons learned into the next deployment!
Both Alessandro de Luca (CIO, Merck Healthcare) and Nico Baldanzi (SVP Corporate IT) agreed: “the main reason of the success of LEAN is due to the dramatic contribution of the BPAs making ‘clear’ these processes and indirectly clearing the eventual local gaps.” Not only can the Business Process Architects take pride in their collaboration in this success, but they strengthened the Healthcare business’ trust to drive future transformation and simplification.
How many teams can translate the high-level company strategy, engage with the business and create the needed supporting business processes to make the transition happen?
Such a highly engaged IT team can be empowered to grow from ‘IT Service Provider’ to ‘Business Trusted Advisor’ by following the three key principles of Simplification, Agility, and Standardization (SAS). Not just buzzwords, as since we have embarked on this journey, we are truly partnering with our business colleagues to shape together the next frontier of ERP implementation to enhance business value for Merck.
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