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Stuart Browne 16-Mar-2022 15:01:07 6 min read

Bill & Ted's SAP Centre of Excellence Adventure

Hi, welcome to the future. San Dimas, California, 2688. And I’m telling you it’s great here. The air is clean, the water’s clean, even the dirt, it’s clean. Bowling averages are way up, mini-golf scores are way down. And we have more excellent water slides than any other planet we communicate with. I’m telling you this place is great! But it almost wasn’t. You see, 700 years ago, the two great ones, ran into a few problems. So now I have to travel back in time to help them out. If I should fail to keep these two on the correct path, the basis of our society will be in danger. Don’t worry, it’ll all make sense. I’m a professional.

OK, so it's an old movie, but it's a classic.

A young Keanu Reaves stars as one half of a pair of imbecilic heroes who travel time to complete their school report or risk being sent to millitary school.

They travel time, meeting Socrates, Sigmund Freud, Beethoven, Genghis Khan and Joan of Arc (Noah's wife?) to gather all the facts needed to create an excellent report.

It's ludicrous.

But it's fun.

What can Bill & Ted teach us about building a SAP Centre of Excellence?

1. Be prepared to time travel to create a vision for your SAP Centre of Excellence.

That's right - you need a time machine. Or at least you need to travel forward in time to 1, 3 and 5 years after go-live and ask yourself what will be different then.

Sure, in the heat of an implementation, wave roll-out, integration test or cutover - go-live is REALLY important. But you have to remember that it's the start of something strategic, not the end.

Go-live is where the business of delivering your business case really starts.

And your SAP Centre of Excellence is the thing that's going to ensure you deliver on your business benefits. Not the programme. Not now.

You sow some important seeds during implementation. And, if you're not careful, you can totally undermine your SAP investment early on.

But if your future self were to re-visit you during implementation, this is what you'd hear...

"You should have focused on the post go-live world and design a SAP Centre of Excellence that will deliver your business case."

This, in turn will have changed your focus to consider things like:

  • Why did we invest so much time in cleansing our SAP Master Data but zero time in defining standards and ownership of SAP Master Data after go-live?
  • Why did we spend so much time building training material that amounts to thousands of pages of Word documents that nobody ever read. Which are now completely out of date and useless?
  • Why did we decide not to embed our best people on the SAP implementation programme so that we were self-sufficient and knowledgeable rather than being dependent on expensive 3rd parties?

Build a vision for what your SAP Centre of Excellence will look like in the future and plan back from there. Focus on your business case and benefits - and then define a SAP CoE that can deliver on them.

2. You can't get all of your SAP COE advice from Historical Figures

You're probably working with experts and advisors today on your SAP programme - SAP Systems Integrators, Outsourced Service Providers, SAP Contractors and Big 4 advisory firms.

They know their shit, right?

But they're also in it for themselves. Being brutal - you're a record in a CRM database. You're a bonus check. You're somebody to bill.

And, because most experts will bill you Time & Materials for the privilege of their advice, nobody's in a rush to get over the line.

As you can see, Genghis very much enjoys Twinkies because of the excellent sugar rush


A little. But tell me I'm wrong.

Tell me that they're working on your SAP programme because they care passionately about your business and your business case.

But the biggest issue with a lot of the experts you're using is that they're dinosaurs. They're stuck in the past. They really are the Historical Figures from previous Excellent Adventures.

The methods used by most SAP consultants hasn't really changed for 20 years. While the world around them has changed, their methodologies and techniques are firmly rooted in the past.

Take SAP Change Management and Training for example...

  • Why is it that most SaaS software companies can attract you, give you a free trial, convert you to purchase, support you in adopting their software and then make you an expert (and even advocate for them) with producing Visio business process flows or CBT Training Simulations?
  • Why is that the old ERP world is still focused on the deliverables that get you live, but serve little purpose in achieving the single most important thing that underpins your significant SAP investment? Why are your Historical Figures not advising you to focus on business adoption of SAP?

Read why Adoption is the single biggest factor that affects your SAP Business Case.

Download the SAP Success Report

Accenture is Genghis Khan.

Cap Gemini is Socrates.

Sure - they're clever people with good ideas, but they're doing things in outdated ways.

Which is why 50% of SAP projects don't achieve their business benefits.

If you build a good SAP Centre of Excellence early, you stop relying on external expertise so much and start thinking for yourself.

Yes, you'll need technical expertise but you don't need to rely on others to do everything.

Focus on self-sufficiency and hire a core team who can build a vision for how YOU want to manage your SAP investment.

And, challenge the way things are done - if your SAP SI can guarantee your SAP business case, then follow their methodology 100%.

But if they can't, follow it to the extent that they can guarantee your business case.

3. You're in control of your business case and your SAP Centre of Excellence is central to this.

Most companies who fail to achieve their SAP business case (or in some cases fail to even go-live) point the finger of blame in one or two directions.

SAP or their Systems Integrator.

But here's the news....

It's your business. It's your business case. It's your SAP programme and it's you who's responsible for ensuring that it's a success.

Not your SI.

Not SAP.

Party on, Dudes.

Most people who come to us and ask for help with their SAP Centre of Excellence, have usually made one of 3 of mistakes.

1. They've assumed that their SAP Centre of Excellence is an IT function dealing with tickets and providing user support. #Fail.

2. They've assumed that their SAP Centre of Excellence is the same as a SAP Application Management Service (AMS). #Fail.

3. They've left it too late in the process to build or retain key knowledge because they've built an over-reliance on external parties and contractors. #Fail.

My SI 'bashing' above - calling them dinosaurs - is partly tongue-in-cheek. I've worked for Big 4 firms, SAP Systems Integrators and even ran a large global SAP AMS capability selling outsourced SAP services for a while. So I get the vendor dynamic.

And we're a SAP consulting business too - albeit offering business-side SAP advice.

Seriously, good SI's have a major role to play on making SAP programmes successful.

But you as a business have a bigger role to play in your SAP success.

And, if you're not planning to build a SAP Centre of Excellence, you're unlikely to deliver your business case.

If you're investing millions in SAP. Invest some time and energy into thinking about how you manage your SAP investment and how you underpin your business case with a SAP Centre of Excellence.


Stuart Browne

Stuart has held leadership roles in the SAP ecosystem over an 18 year period, spanning consultancy, delivery management, practice development, sales, marketing and analyst relations. With an eclectic mix of skills and one of the largest SAP networks in the UK, Stuart has established a formidable reputation that has enabled Resulting to guide SAP customers through complex challenges.