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Executive Interviews – A key ingredient for SAP S4 HANA Implementation

Published on 15 December 2020
A key ingredient to jump start your S/4 HANA project

About Authors

Norb Brumbergs
Norb Brumbergs
Senior Vice President - SAP Delivery

Norb Brumbergs is Vice President, SAP Delivery at Applexus. With over 30 years of management expertise, Norb has delivered large transformational programs enabling growth and business value for Fortune 25 companies including AT&T, Walgreens, The Home Depot, GE and Verizon. At Applexus, Norb provides executive oversight and is responsible for leading and growing its successful SAP consulting practice.

Binu Namboodiri
Binu Namboodiri
Delivery Manager

SAP Certified Activate Project Delivery Manager, Binu Namboodiri takes overall responsibility for the S/4 HANA Implementation programs across Applexus Technologies. Extensively experienced in SAP S/4 HANA Greenfield Implementation, Binu has been managing both of Applexus functional and technical teams along with the stakeholders building plans for strategy, risk mitigation, and resource hiring strategies across multiple projects.

The very first step to solving a problem is to understand it. Every organization is different, and the executives have certain expectations for their return on investment on an SAP S/4 program.  More often than not, the executives have prioritized the benefits, determined the cultural impact, and have a strong opinion on which processes are untouchable and which can be optimized. However, this vision tends to get diluted as you get deeper into the organization.   Executive Interviews are a simple yet effective tool that can set the direction for your S/4 program and minimize the distractions that come with entrenched out of date processes that the team will want to replicate.

As part of the Applexus RunningStart project methodology, we have implemented Executive interviews with Key Senior Stakeholders during the first weeks of the project to knock down some of the key and often controversial decisions.  Where possible, we use these decisions to personalize our preconfigured Industry Focused Solution allowing for workshop demos to be more relevant to the customer’s business. We found that the Executive interviews lead to a faster and more focused Explore Phase where the S/4 solution is defined.

For S/4 HANA implementation projects, both the Greenfield and the Brownfield, Executive interviews are an effective tool when time and cost are critical factors for your organization.

Key benefits of Executive Interviews:

  • Help set the vision for the solution ensuring project team members understand which processes can be more generic and remain standard and which may need additional attention to address key business differentiators due to industry, branding or other factors that are worth the additional investment.
  • Allow the project team to focus on getting SAP S/4 to adapt where necessary and focus on user adoption where the change will impact the organization.
  • Can significantly accelerate your SAP S/4 program as enhancements are minimized and limited to where they bring value to the business.
  • Help create alignment of Executive vision for the organization with the people that are being asked to execute it.
  • Reduce the cost of the program through shorter timelines and significantly reduced development efforts.

The first round of Executive interviews is focused on the business processes in terms of the following parameters:

  • What differentiates this company from others in your industry?
  • How do you measure success?  What are your targets?
  • How does your organization align with conventional SAP structures and is it important to keep them that way?
  • Tell me about your current processes and which ones are unique to how you do business.
  • What are the sacred cow processes that really need to be the same or similar as what you have today and why?
  • What processes are known to be inefficient or out of date and need to be eliminated or replaced?
  • What do you want to achieve with this project?

Follow up interviews will dig a bit deeper and look for some key decisions to be made so that Applexus can personalize the Industry Focused Solution and prepare demos that align with the Executive vision for the program.  These demos will be a key part of the workshops with the business participants on the project as the solution gets defined. 

Overcoming Challenges:

Executive interviews will require the project sponsors and key stakeholders to spend some up-front time establishing priorities and guiderails for the program.  Applexus has prepared, structured questionnaires that should optimize the senior leader’s valuable time.  This time investment will yield significant time savings for the project team so that they do not burn unnecessary time on personal agendas or favorite outdated processes.

At times we have found conflicting priorities or an inconsistent vision for the program.  This is an optimal time to identify these differences and our SMEs will attempt to reconcile them before the rest of the project team gets engaged.  We may even organize a meeting of multiple leaders to gain the executive alignment required for a successful project.     

Applexus has found Executive Interviews are very effective in getting the entire project team aligned and accelerating your SAP S/4 project.  Many of these documented decisions will be used as reminders during workshops and may be revisited during Steering Committees as detailed process reviews may challenge the intent of the decision.  The result is that these moments create an opportunity for program Sponsors to reinforce the mission throughout the project keeping everyone on track for an on time, on scope, on budget project.

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