In an effort to minimize the impact of the current COVID-19 crisis on our clients’ procurement transformation initiatives (initiatives geared to deliver savings that are more important than ever these days), we, at HCL’s SAP Ariba practice, are busy tightening up our ability to deliver end-to-end Ariba projects in a largely virtual manner.
Consistent with SAP’s Activate methodology, we have moved from the traditional, requirements-driven model (prone to high customization) to an agile approach based on leading practices, a fit-to-standard mindset, and bolstered by accelerators, templates, and pre-defined content.
At a higher level, we have been fortifying our overall corporate capabilities to adapt and respond to the sudden, almost complete virtualization of our workforce. We are in the midst of a campaign to educate, coach, and support our people as they strive to deliver the same high-quality delivery amid the unprecedented global disruption. We have adopted additional tools to augment the collaborative features of commonly used web-conferencing products such as Skype and Microsoft Teams. In the Ariba space, we have procured our own demonstration environment (apart from our existing production and test environments) to better foster internal and external training, demonstrations and the development of additional accelerators and add-on enhancements.
Let’s take a look at how all of this comes together to successfully deploy a typical SAP Ariba P2P implementation.
As you can see in the matrix above, we are ready and have practiced with a number of tools and how to use them in concert to deliver projects in a virtual fashion. You will notice that most of the phases employ a common set of tools that is consistent across the board. In highly critical workshops and decision-making activities, additional tools are added to enhance the collaborative experience.
Once the project moves from Realize to Deploy, less emphasis is put on scheduled meetings and more on a continual virtual “project war room” that is operated and staffed during all project working hours across time zones. Team members can check-in whenever there is a problem or an important update. Regular standup meetings will be held at appointed times and breakout sessions scheduled on a separate line for focused discussions not involving the whole team.
It is also a good practice for project leads to hold virtual “open office” hours when anyone can connect in a more flexible fashion for any reason.
Still, awareness of the cons of these virtual methods must be understood, expected, and mitigated to the extent possible. Some of these include challenges around multiple time zones, technical limitations, and disruptions that are difficult to control due to distributed participants’ locations and situations.
At the same time, we can balance our acceptance that “this is how it must be” with an openness to embrace the benefits that a virtual approach to SAP Ariba brings with it. These include adhering to your original schedule as closely as possible with the added benefit of reduced costs for things like travel and logistics. There is also a school of thought which believes that participants who would normally be shy of public speaking in a physical setting are relatively more confident and open about sharing thoughts in a virtual setting, which may enhance effective collaboration.
HCL is here to help you with SAP Ariba in your effort to navigate these challenging times. We encourage you to read the rest of the papers in this series on success in the virtual workplace.