Implementing an integrated solution is hard enough, but when it comes to rolling it out to several countries with variations in process and data, things start looking very difficult. With this blog, I will summarise the lessons we’ve learnt when doing global rollouts of SAP Sales & Service Cloud (formerly C4C) solutions for multiple customers, some with hundreds and others with thousands of users across 50+ countries. And while this has been based on experience gathered from SAP Sales & Service Cloud projects, it is also applicable to template rollouts of other SAP or SaaS solutions.
What is a global template rollout and why should I care?
A global template solution can be rolled out either sequentially or concurrently, with many variations of the concurrent model being possible. Concurrent models are attractive, despite their apparent complexity, because they bring early incremental business benefits whilst providing an opportunity to iterate. The diagram below shows one such variation. However, the points discussed here are relevant for other variations too.
In these diagrams, a feature release brings new capabilities for users whereas a rollout is the deployment of current capabilities (plus localisations) to a new set of users (e.g., from a new region or business unit).
In the concurrent rollout example, each rollout brings all features available at the time. There can also be releases which add features for current users (represented by Feature Release 3 in the diagram).
You also need to factor SAP’s quarterly releases into this strategy to minimize the business change impact whilst still benefitting from the new features released by SAP which is one of the key advantages of a cloud solution.
What are the typical challenges?
Whether you are already on this journey or about to embark on one, there are many challenges that you are likely to encounter:
- Key business needs not met
- Poor quality of data
- Unstable system
- High degree of misalignment in the business processes across regions or business units
- Inadequate communication/insufficient business change management
- Organising user acceptance testing or end user training sessions
- Lack of user adoption
- (Apparent) lack of business benefits
- Changing business requirements
The top 10 tips for a successful global rollout
So how do you deal with such challenges to ensure that the business receives the benefits from the investment they have made? Following are the top 10 tips for a successful outcome.
Agree the specification and strategy
Agree the specification of an initial solution early on and decide your release and rollout strategy. Delivery of a Cloud solution can be extremely quick allowing for a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for a pilot region in a short space of time. This will decrease time to market and provide early benefits. Enhancements and refinements can be made iteratively through subsequent releases. Actively managing and prioritising the product backlog is crucial for this to work effectively.
Ensure team engagement
Ensure you have the correct key users from the Business involved in the project and maintain a high level of engagement from them. Identify the central team responsible for making decisions on the template solution and the local champions who will execute the rollout regionally. This will give you a greater chance of delivering a solution that meets business needs. Remember that they are very likely to still do at least part of their day job and managing both can become very challenging for them individually. Factor this into your plan to reduce project risk.
Adapt business processes
Keep an open mind when it comes to changing existing business processes, particularly to align regional variations which aren’t driven by legal or regulatory requirements. A standardised global template is easier to manage and maintain and will future-proof the solution. Stick to standard, best practice scenarios as much as you can as it will provide greater benefits to the business in the long run.
Set up communication & governance model
A well planned – and executed – communication and governance model is critical to ensure the success of your project as it will prepare the business for change and drive user adoption, thereby providing the benefits that the business is looking for. Strong governance will ensure that the project is managed successfully throughout the release and rollout cycles in the months and sometimes years ahead.
Think about data
You cannot overthink the significance of your data. You can build the perfect technical solution but if the data not migrated correctly, users will blame the system when they do not see what they need and expect. This is even more important in global rollouts where regional data must be made ready for migration at the right time.
Measure benefits from the beginning
Whether you are realising any benefits from the solution or not can only be confirmed if you can measure them. This is often forgotten when planning and budgeting for the project and gets introduced as an after-thought mid-way through the project or even later. Do not leave analytics until late; start thinking about it right from the beginning. Identify the key KPIs that you want to measure and define requirements accordingly.
Test and feedback
Key users should own the solution from the beginning and provide continuous feedback to ensure it is built to meet their needs. Regression testing is essential to check new capabilities don’t break old ones when a new release (including SAP quarterly upgrade) goes live. This can be automated to reduce the overheads on everyone involved.
Train, and then Train again!
You will obviously train the users when the solution goes live for the first time. What often gets forgotten is that you need to train them again whenever you release new capabilities. These ‘delta’ trainings are essential but don’t need the same level of organisation and involvement as the initial training. Short, modular training courses are usually enough and can even be delivered successfully online. Don’t forget to also include any new standard capabilities from SAP product upgrades, if relevant, into this delta training.
Have the right tenant strategy for your landscape
This, whilst sounding technical, is very important to ensure that the release and rollout strategy you have defined can be supported by the available tenant landscape. For instance, to benefit from concurrent rollouts, consider the impact of enhancing the solution for current users in parallel to training new users on the previous release. Having the right number of tenants in your landscape and keeping them in sync is key to minimise adverse impact whilst maximising business benefits.
Learn and improve
Conduct open and thorough “Lessons Learned” session with everyone involved in a release or rollout. Gather honest feedback where the aim is not to assign blame but to improve the next iteration. I always apply the Chatham House Rule to these discussions to ensure participation and derive value.
Learning from experience is the best way to learn; hopefully these learnings are helpful and give some food for thought. If you are already on this journey or about to start and want to discuss more with us or simply want to share your experience, please get in touch.