sap contributor

5 Ways to Be an Irreplaceable SAP Contributor

SAP is a highly competitive industry. Are you leading the charge to improve your own SAP shop? Here are five things you might do to increase your value at your organization immediately.

We’ve always done it this way. Why should we change? It isn’t broken, don’t fix it. This “old school” mentality only gets you so far, and in today’s climate, that mentality might get you downsized.

Ask the Antarctic penguins. Huh?

The penguins in the book, Our Iceberg is Melting, realized their iceberg was melting and correctly made the appropriate changes to survive.

This wasn’t easy.

Fred, the quiet but observant penguin who “first” detected worrying signs about their home (an iceberg) and how it was melting, wasn’t listened to at all and even received sneers. Fred is one of the characters in this story who realizes that a change needed to happen for the colony survive. Many of the characters in the story – Fred, Alice, Louis, Buddy, the Professor, and NoNo – you could probably recognize at your organization and even in yourself.

Are you the Fred character at your organization? Do you encounter NoNo?

Fred must cleverly convince and enlist key players to help the penguin colony face the future and act as soon as possible to survive.

As we know, change is hard.

It is tough to be Fred, but someone has to be Fred. You want to be Fred.

Innovation starts with you, as someone who works with one of the most commonly used ERP platforms available today: SAP. Companies like yours who run on SAP continuously seek improvement. Your leadership is hungry for competitive advantage and knows it’s a huge risk to fall behind the innovation curve.

Companies who run SAP are progressive and there is competition within these dynamic organizations. If you are not willing be bold, someone else will. Many SAP contributors are scared to raise their hand and offer any type of cost reduction ideas – especially those initiatives that upset the status quo – like liberating resources and/or utilizing the cloud for IT infrastructure. Many “SAP’ers” clearly see these opportunities but don’t want to advocate for them.

Yet, you want to advocate and champion for these changes and be a part of delivering the benefits. You don’t want your organization to launch an initiative without you or don’t want your company to not realize their “iceberg is melting” and perish.

How to become invaluable at your SAP shop

To start adding more value, become invaluable, and make a more meaningful contribution to your company’s SAP landscape, you should consider these five things:

  1. Embrace trends, don’t ignore them

It is very important to understand the direction your business is taking and how your business is evolving in order to compete. One example is the financial shift from capital expenditures (CAPEX) to operational expenditures (OPEX).

Cloud adoption, for instance, helps move-the-needle on shifting CAPEX to OPEX.

It is critical that you imagine yourself as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or Chief Financial Officer (CFO):

    • What are the goals for our business?
    • What are our competitors doing?
    • How can we adapt and increase our market share?
    • How can we deliver a better customer experience?

Sometimes in IT, many SAP contributors are only order takers ­— taking requests to fix this or upgrade that. They may not know the overall business drivers or the “why” behind these requests nor how these changes will help the business reach its goals. You should not only fully understand the technology but be the outspoken contributor who advises business executives on how to best use SAP and deploy it more cost effectively. Cloud and application managed services deliver these desirable outcomes.

  1. Embrace your partners, don’t ignore them

How well do you know your partners? Do you know who is well performing and who is not performing? Do you have alternative providers ready in case you are asked for another company to replace the current partners?

You can speak up and say: “I know of a provider that I’ve been doing due diligence on and I like because of their specialty in X, Y and Z.” By knowing this information, you add immediate value and by offering options against the status quo, you look smart and informed.

Here are some things to think when vetting partners.

    • No partner can be all things to all people. Some focus on broad transformation such as the global systems integrators (GSIs) and some focus on niches such as cloud managed services.
    • Find out what sets a partner apart and what do they do that no one else can do or has a hard time doing at an attractive quality level and price point. You get what you pay for so avoid the lowest cost provider trap, you do not want the cheapest option. Your company probably does not by the cheapest raw materials or pay the least salaries in your particular industry otherwise they would not survive long.
    • Location, location, location. In region support from a partner is becoming very important. Do you know where the services will be supplied from? It might sound less costly to get support from a far-shore provider, but the time zones and distance usually create communications problems and rework.
  1. Be proactive, don’t wait for others

To be proactive, look for areas of opportunity and where resources could be more effectively deployed. For instance, SAP contributors with many years of experience should be focused on driving transformation and not break/fix. These lower level skills should be move outside the organization to a partner who can utilize a deep skill set across many companies. No outfit can afford to continuously retain the dynamic skillset needed to support a broad SAP deployment.

  1. Complacency isn’t sustainable, don’t get comfortable

What are our competitors doing? Do you look like a laggard if three of your competitors have already moved the cloud? How might we become more unique and differentiated? If what you are doing every day isn’t improving, you will quickly fall behind the curve and not be innovative enough.

Here are some ways you can keep track of your competitors:

    • Review your competitors’ websites. The internet has made it easier than ever before to track and monitor your competition. Spend time on their websites, download their content, see how they talk about themselves, and how they position their products and services.
    • Set up Google Alerts. Go to Google Alerts for certain keywords and have the new information arrive in your email inbox. You can set up alerts for specific companies, industries or keywords so you remain up to date on any news stories related to your competitors.
    • Follow your competitors on social media. Your competitor’s social media profiles such as LinkedIn company pages provide a great platform to keep track of the competition.
  1. Be bold: “Just Do It”

Be the one who thinks outside of the box. If you are not making waves throughout your organization, then you are not pushing hard enough. It is important to be perceived as a thought leader and someone who continuously seeks to improve things and challenges the status quo.

The real genius of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was that he was The Tweaker. Steve’s gift lay in taking what was in front of him and ruthlessly refining it to make it better.

Don’t hoard your knowledge, thinking it will make you more valuable. The more you share, the more you learn. If you want to become an expert in your field, you should share your SAP knowledge generously because you will receive so much more in return. Go the extra mile to share information with others. For example, contribute to SAP Help, ASUG, and other IT industry websites. Break down the barriers around you, start learning more, and share your expertise.

I can, I will, I must bring it all together

If you start working on these key areas above, you will rapidly and extraordinarily enhance your SAP contributions and put yourself on the invaluable track. Have a dialogue with your partners, competitors, and other companies outside your industry.

Find out what they are doing and learn to be comfortable saying:

  • Why don’t we try this?
  • Why don’t we consider this?
  • Why don’t we evaluate that?

You may get some nasty looks and comments at the beginning when you start seeing worrying signs about your company and begin to share that your iceberg may be melting. It is going to be tough to be Fred at first. You are quite fortunate to work in the SAP ecosystem. It provides incredible opportunities to better your organization and you work on the mission-critical applications that are at the heart of your business, every day.

Be invaluable. Be irreplaceable. You are worth it.