As enterprises do the necessary exploratory and preparatory work prior to undertaking an SAP S/4HANA transformation initiative, their efforts are often focused on defining their strategic imperatives and mapping their technical approach. While these are critical, I would posit that there is a third essential component that requires thoughtful consideration and planning: how they will identify and retain the highly specialized expertise needed to sustain the initiative. The reality is this: the right expertise can make a significant difference in the outcome of the program. IT can minimize risk, speed time to value, ensure that your strategic objectives are met, and ultimately position you to use your technology to drive stronger business performance.
However, both defining the skillsets needed and finding the right expertise, at the right time, for the appropriate investment, can be more challenging than anticipated. Following are five key considerations I recommend enterprises think through and discuss with their implementation partner in the early planning phases of the project.
One: What expertise will your systems integrator bring to the table?
Given the complexity and impact of an S/4HANA transformation, most enterprises will partner closely with a systems integrator (SI) that will bring strategic expertise to the table and guide them through and manage the process. In fact, many will have a pre-existing relationship with one that they can leverage. However, each engagement will necessarily look very different, and given the broad range of highly specialized skillsets needed to staff the initiative, most enterprises will either need or choose to supplement that engagement with additional resources. There are any number of reasons for this—a tight labor market may mean the SI has committed their available resources or perhaps the enterprise is looking to explore different approaches or pricing strategies. For every enterprise, their will be a sweet spot that maximizes the strengths of the SI relationship while leveraging the opportunities within the contingent labor market.
Two: Who on your internal team will contribute substantively to the initiative and how will you backfill their positions to maintain your current system?
No one knows understands the nature of your business and transformation goals better than your own internal team. Because of this, enterprises often choose to move key members of their existing internal team into pivotal roles in support of the new initiative. It’s a wise strategy, but it presents a challenge: how will you backfill their positions and keep your current systems running until your new system is live? If your initiative takes years, as many do, you will need to ensure that your current systems continue to perform optimally for some time. In this instance, a mirrored capacity approach can be an excellent capabilities development strategy. With mirrored capacity, you bring in contingent labor early, and have them work-by-side with your existing team to learn the baseline configuration of your systems and customized processes as well as the nuances and culture related to how your business runs, prior to moving your internal team members to the new initiative.
Three: What specialized expertise will you need to support the new initiative?
Throughout the course of a years-long S/4HANA transformation, you will need to access dozens of skillsets, including expertise in emerging technologies where there are few people with theoretical knowledge and even fewer with practical experience; areas that are highly specialized, unique to S/4HANA, and highly competitive to source; as well as a variety of broader, but still somewhat specialized skillsets. However, you will not necessarily require all these resources at once or for the entire length of the undertaking. Accessing the right expertise, at the right time, for the appropriate investment will be critical to ensuring your initiative remains on track, that you successfully meet your objectives, and that you stay within your budget for consulting support. An enterprise capacity partner who has previously staffed similar initiatives and therefore understands the technology and maintains relationships with proven S/4HANA experience can provide critical guidance as you develop a strategic resources plan.
Four: How will you engage your specialized expertise?
Enterprises can leverage a variety of approaches for engaging specialized expertise for their S/4HANA transformations, and many will employ more than one throughout the course of the initiative, as various approaches lend themselves more readily to different needs and skillsets. Among them are contract-to-hire, contingent labor, on-call support, and off-shore support. The contingent labor model entails engaging resources for a predetermined period or for the express purpose of undertaking a specific initiative or completing a specific project. While the resources are usually engaged full time and are fully dedicated to the company, there is not typically an expectation on either side that at the end of the project the resources will be hired as permanent employees. For most enterprises, this model will be the primary way they access highly specialized expertise necessary to implement an emerging technology or new solution offering.
Five: How will you access the specialized IT labor supply chain?
Accessing the right expertise for your S/4HANA transformation can be incredibly challenging—the skillsets are highly specialized, and the labor market is tight and competitive. Just as an enterprise is well-served by partnering with an SI to scope, guide, and manage its S/4HANA transformation, it would be well served by building a relationship with an enterprise performance partner who understands the strategic directive of your initiative, has proven expertise in the types of technologies at its core of it, and can efficiently build and scale skilled teams to help you realize the full potential of your enterprise technology investment and related business goals. An enterprise performance partner like Baer can help you develop a long-term plan for identifying and accessing the right expertise using proprietary tools such as our SAP Opportunity Edge network, and provide that expertise at the right time and in alignment with your budget. Then, they can partner with you to see it through, including proactively identifying and building relationships, ensuring you can access expertise as it is needed, and addressing unanticipated emergent needs.
Unlike typical technology staffing companies, Baer is a true enterprise performance partner. We have a deep understanding of the scope of enterprise technology transformation initiatives and the highly specialized skillsets you will need at different stages of the process.
To learn more about how Baer can make a positive impact on your enterprise transformation, please reach out to Brian Trout, email@example.com, Executive Vice President, Sales, or John Wilson, Vice President of Strategic Accounts, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to speaking with you and learning about your specific challenges.