Thrive using unconventional wisdom: ignorance and arrogance may cost you millions

By William Seidman SAP  is the holy grail of IT systems: it integrates almost all functions needed to run a big business. Sales links to orders, links to manufacturing, links to inventory, links to shipments, etc. SAP is huge and  difficult to use. However, it is better than the separate alternatives.    SAP’s size and complexity often overwhelms organizations. I used to go around asking people if any company had ever been successful with SAP and the answer was almost always “no.” At least one Fortune 500 company nearly went under because of SAP problems.  The trick is that SAP can be successful, but only if you go against everything  you were ever taught about how you do these deployments. We work with Intel and,  after years of grappling with SAP,  Intel eventually recognized and adopted the unconventional approach we suggest as the only way to go.  But it took them literally years of unsuccessful effort to accept a perspective that was so different – and successful. I am involved in two other projects with SAP.  The conventional wisdom just does not work, but the unconventional wisdom is so counter-intuitive that it is not accepted until an incredible amount of damage is done.  It is very frustrating at times. To be successful with SAP, take SAP defaults (literally) and make the business conform to what SAP can do. Companies reject this idea until they have spent millions and substantially failed. The teams I am working with right now are convinced that they know what they are doing because they are following the conventional wisdoms.  No one on the teams has done work like this before. It’s really, really difficult to believe that the conventional framework won’t work,  because for so long it’s been  the mainstream, accepted way. To do something in an unconventional way- but in a way which actually works – is just so contrary to their framework that they can’t understand why anyone would do it the unconventional way.  Unfortunately, unless they embrace an unconventional way of utilizing SAP they will all fail, and there is nothing that will convince them to approach the work differently.]]>

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