By Tracy Marshall, Chief Financial Officer, Australian Wool Innovation
Implementing a new business-wide system comes with its own set of challenges, from selecting the right product through configuration and training to going live. The stages along a system’s lifetime are ever changing and it is important for system sponsors to keep evaluating and revising how a system is used and by whom.
At Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), we use SAP to manage our global financial reporting and project management systems. A project’s entire financial lifecycle, from proposal through contracting to completion, is managed through SAP.
As the system is used by people across the business to varying degrees, it has been important for the implementation team to understand who uses it and how they use it. This is fundamental for success and unfortunately a one-size fits all approach does not work.
It is easy for project sponsors and regular users of SAP to fall into the trap of thinking that everyone else in the business can also easily navigate the system and know the transaction codes without a second thought, but of course this really isn’t the case.
The area where the business struggled with acceptance and usability of SAP was the project management elements, with the project proposal and variation transactions causing the most angst.
When creating new projects in SAP, there are multiple inputs required to ensure the projects are created with the correct master data information. In our initial implementation, users had to create this information directly in SAP. However, this often resulted in incorrect information or delays (as users shopped around for help) because many users go months between creating each project and can find the multiple tabs and codes confusing. This highlighted the fact that steps needed to be taken to make the project proposal stage easier for users.
The implementation team identified the issue and looked at ways that the user could input this information into the system in an easier manner. The decision was made to simplify the process by providing the users with an online form to create their project proposal, rather than requiring them to input directly into SAP. This new interface allows the casual SAP user to select more recognisable information from dropdown menus, for example selecting a country/project name rather than a code. In the meantime, behind this form, the system converts the options selected into the relevant information required in SAP.
The introduction of this system now means that users are filling out an easy to understand online form, thus reducing SAP training requirements. In fact, new users that are now using this system, do not always even realise they are entering information into SAP.
The key data required from a SAP perspective is driven by the choices selected in the form, so it is always accurate, which has significantly reduced time in resolving issues.
The time spent by the implementation team in creating and linking the forms into SAP has been easily saved in reduced time spent training new users, fixing errors and delays in entering the information into the system. The user acceptance and feedback from implementing this relatively simple change has been extremely positive.