There has been a shift in mindset regarding the acceptance of SAP as a reasonable or good solution for enterprise work management. However, some SAP users have a negative perception due to significant knowledge gaps of the functionality and navigation of SAP and only use the system when absolutely necessary.
There are many ways to improve the overall use and interaction within SAP. Below are 10 ways that we have used to shift users’ perspectives about SAP and to significantly increase the usage.
1. Conduct an assessment
One of the best ways to pinpoint why and where SAP usage is low, is to do an assessment. The assessment helps to pinpoint which system functions are active, which are in use, how they are being used, and how often they are used. Also, the data content and quality is evaluated to see where SAP is well used or underused. This information can be used to help form an initial functionality and data improvement roadmap. Typically, the recommendations made are based on industry best practices.
2. Align SAP configuration, functionality and data to support business requirements
In part, low SAP usage is due to incomplete and incorrect SAP configuration. Functions that should be available are not activated, unused fields and data segments are displayed, and standard report selections and layouts are not set. This makes it difficult and confusing for the end user, resulting in frustration and resistance.
In addition to the assessment, a Business Process Design effort, that is specific to the company or location, will bring gaps and issues to surface. The design effort can be formulated to further improve the SAP configuration and data aspects.
3. Comprehensive training
Lack of basic and advanced user training is normally the biggest contributor to low usage. Some organizations do not have a formal SAP training program in place for current and new employees. As a result, most new users learn from others in their department who usually don’t use the system effectively or efficiently, so bad habits perpetuate. Developing and implementing a training program will uplift the organization’s knowledge and skills within SAP.
4. Complete documentation
The impact of training can be limited unless documentation is available. The documentation should be easy to access, navigate and understand. Documentation should include procedures and process workflows for the business. In addition, SAP documentation should contain transaction workflow, quick reference cards of transactions, with supporting checklists and user responsibilities.
5. User setup
Often basic user setup is not performed and the users have to set up their own favorite transactions and reports. This wastes time and limits the usability of the system, and each user creates their own reporting versions, introducing unwanted variations and uncertainty. Standard setup routines and training can be performed to overcome this limitation.
6. Change management / continuous improvement programs
If low usage exists due to resistance, it is usually because users don’t understand why they are doing certain tasks in SAP, or they are uncertain on how to perform these tasks, and they may not see the benefit for the organization. As a result, important data is simply not entered. Focusing on educating the organization on the what, who and why will help to create permanent change. In addition, it is important to follow up on improvement activities to sustain or drive further improvement.
7. User coaching
Individual coaching is a very powerful tool to take usage to the next level. Every person has a perception of how they should be using the system. They also have their own challenges to overcome. Coaching, combined with training, lifts everyone to the same standard and encourages people to follow all of the business processes and system requirements to higher levels. Listening to each person’s concerns and obstacles can completely change the mindset of an entire organization.
8. Create and improve KPI’s to measure results
Performance and utilization measurements are another way to see where utilization gaps still exist. Important measurements for Plant Maintenance include the Percentage of Planned vs. Reactive Work, Schedule Loading and Compliance percentages, Overtime Hours/Cost percentages, PM Schedule Compliance, as well as how much was spent on maintenance for the various production units, support areas, systems, equipment groups/classes.
9. Fix the technical structure and actively manage your data (SAP PM)
Users tend to take the path of least resistance when working with equipment hierarchies. If users find it difficult to pinpoint the correct equipment number in SAP they will either, not enter the data into the system, pick a piece of equipment that most closely resembles the one they are working on or choose a higher level functional location such as a building or area. The equipment they select is often incorrect and any repair history logged becomes unusable or distorted.
An asset hierarchy should have well-defined levels with clear definitions. This enables easy navigation and selection. Also, functional locations should be created for all areas, systems, sub-systems and equipment. This will simplify data entry, search options and enhance reporting capability.
10. Capture all equipment repair history (SAP PM)
Equipment repair history is one of the cornerstones of reliability reporting. The importance of capturing and assigning this history to the correct equipment cannot be overstated. As history builds up, the system becomes more useful to the reliability and management teams. They can use the information to identify repeat failures, understand Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) and focus Failure Mode Effects Analysis (FMEA), Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) and Root Cause Analysis (RCA) efforts on the correct equipment, systems and processes.