Redefining the Value and ROI Narrative and Outcomes of ERP Implementations: Part 2 in a Conversation with Daniel Serghi from LeapGreat

In Part 2 of 2 of our Q&A wih Daniel Serghi, leader of Factory Operations at LeapGreat, we continue our discussion with a focus on what it takes to extract maximum value from ERP implementations – and how LeapGreat is poised to change the paradigm through intelligent automation and customer enablement.

Q: Daniel, let’s pick up where we left off. In our last blog, we talked about the financial and business impact of the LeapGreat approach to automating ERP implementations. Now let’s talk about how we make that happen. One of the biggest differentiators we have is our people. You have years of experience in business process optimization. Can you share examples of specific business processes that have been optimized as part of your role? What benefits will these optimizations bring to ERP customers?

Daniel: I consider one of the major highlights of my career a cost allocation design – which is an arcane term for how to account for the value that was added during production – that the chief controller of a company part of a multinational conglomerate, and I put together. It became a standard at the group level. Somehow related to it is that, for the same customer, we onboarded a newly acquired production company in the span of essentially one month. This is not a typo.

Q: Now that is a highlight! You just shared a really good example of a significant change that you and the Chief Controller brought to life. Change management is a significant aspect of ERP implementation and it is also one of the biggest points of failure. You can change processes, but you can’t change people. How do you approach and oversee change management efforts, and what challenges have you encountered in this regard and how will the LeapGreat approach help?

Daniel: I started as a junior consultant, more than 30 years ago, implementing concomitantly ERP in two oil refineries. One was a success, the other – not so much. I realized from the onset that implementing a technical solution is a cultural challenge, for the C-level as much as for the line operator. It influences the balance of power, sanitizes hidden agendas, etc. This is a larger subject that deserves its own limelight. Simplistically said, I try to highlight the solution benefits and stimulate its acceptance at all levels. In fact, this is a vastly more intricate matter, worthy of a dedicated analysis. Experienced people at all levels and in all compartments of a business are usually well aware of needed improvements. While human change avoidance is usually the first listed culprit, I deem that silo work, dis-integrated business support systems, policies and politics, a plethora of other factors contribute “process calcification”. This is why, the implementation “shock” of an integrated ERP system is a rare opportunity for any organization to make a quantum leap, this is why change management is so close to my heart and mind. 

Q: As a first step in enabling customers to work differently, user acceptance and training are crucial for the success of any ERP system. How do you ensure a smooth user transition and provide effective training?

Daniel: If you read Dean Milne’s Q&A blog, you would have learned that LeapGreat incorporates customer data from the onset of our product realization. One of the benefits is that we can present an environment somewhat familiar to the end user very early in the process. Users have a chance to input suggestions, as well as understand how the solution reflects operations they already know. 

By allowing the business user to train early, and on familiar elements, critically cuts the number of errors in the first days of operation, which was always one of my critical metrics for implementation success. 

Q: There is countless research and our own decades of experience that helped us learn that value of early engagement in realizing change. Changing what people do, how they do it, and why they do it requires transfer of new knowledge and new enablement tools. What is the role of documentation in your ERP automation projects, and how does it aid in achieving your objectives? 

Daniel: Documentation is almost always an implementation’s Cinderella, only there is no fairy grandmother. Best consultants always love to solve problems, often like to explain, but hardly “find time” to document, so over-realized and under-documented ERP solutions are quite common. If a highly-polished realization, often of great prowess, is hard to understand a while later, when business evolution or upgrades require changes – let’s reckon this is a failure of truly enabling one’s customer. Two layers are usually documented: business demands and – to some extent – software configuration. Yet the critical business component is in my opinion – and by far – the process documentation. It requires a major, sustained effort, but is a key ingredient for transition management, for consistent day-to-day operations, as well as for training and effectively onboarding new hires. 

Q: Can you share any specific strategies or best practices related to SAP implementation that you find particularly effective?

Daniel: Yes, the ones that we incorporate in the LeapGreat experience include involving the customer early, at top level and key business user level; making the design clear; proofing with the simple pudding; and testing the solution. Did I mention customer involvement and extensive solution testing? It’s all part of this process from the beginning.

Q: How do corporate strategy and profitability analysis factor into your role as a Leader of Factory Operations in the context of ERP automation?

Daniel: Any decent implementation of a business control system – which an integrated ERP solution is – reflects a corporate strategy and aims at increasing profitability. This is unarguable, as it is generic. It is a different challenge for the solution designer to understand “what makes the machine tick”, in order to not only SUPPORT the corporate strategy but ENABLE its control. We can play with words more, but the difference is between static realization and dynamic adaptation. A good solution must incorporate as much flexibility and adaptability as possible, from the get-go.

In summary, some of the critical factors behind ERP implementation success include optimizing complex business processes like cost allocation to tackling change management challenges and emphasizing the crucial role of user training and documentation. LeapGreat places a lot of importance on early customer engagement, meticulous testing, and aligning the ERP solution with corporate strategy, underlining the dynamic nature of achieving profitability through adaptable and flexible solutions.

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