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Transcripts from select JonERP.com podcasts are posted on this page. We do not transcribe all of the podcasts our our site, but all the transcripts we do have available will be posted here. For text "overview briefs" of all the podcasts available on JonERP.com, check out our podcast descriptions blog.
Jon Reed Interviews Dan Lubin: Podcast Transcription Print E-mail
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Franke: You guys both brought up some points that I think were interesting. Dan, you had said during this fast implementation [that] it was almost like people were working two jobs. And Jon, you made the point - and I also know very few employees who are actual robots - because it's a topic that tends to get a little bit lost in the technology and other aspects of a project, could you maybe just talk a little bit more about keeping morale up and keeping people motivated?

Lubin: Well, ultimately what I'll say is [that] you have to put a lot of effort into not only being that extra shoulder when someone needs to push the door open, but also to keep people motivated. And certainly we did make sure that we recognized the efforts of the employees that worked on the implementation.

I'm glad you brought the question up, because I think that this is a mistake that companies tend to make. I've seen it in other companies, where people think about something like ERP as just another part of the job, and don't realize that, as I had said earlier,  it's a second full-time job during the course of the implementation and beyond.

It's critically important that senior management recognize that this is a huge effort and it's a huge set of responsibilities you're putting on to your team, and that people are going to have to go above and beyond the call for the project to be successful.  And, in turn, the company's got to make sure that they reward and recognize them. And I think we did a good job of that here.

Reed: Absolutely. SAP talks a lot about SOA functionality and the new enterprise services architecture, and how it can help companies add functionality with less ripping out the code from the interior and doing custom work. Have you guys looked at SOA functionality as part of your implementation either now, or going forward?

Lubin: By the nature of what we implemented, we have SOA. Because we implemented the NetWeaver platform, we implemented the landscape that is designed around the SOA concept. At the same time, our commitment as a company in terms of our strategy is to leverage SAP out of the box as much as we possibly can. Where we have a system that isn't SAP, we have to really challenge whether it needs to exist. If it does need to exist, can we do whatever it does inside of SAP? And if we can't, then what level of integration can we achieve?

What we're not looking to do is develop applications in the NetWeaver platform that are unique. So that again, in the midmarket, I think that's probably common, maybe not. You would certainly know better than I would. But our goal at this point is to continue to leverage the immense functionality out of the box as much as we can for as many areas of the business as we can.

Reed: One of the things that intrigued me about your implementation is [that] you mentioned you estimated up to 35% of the work involving implementation was directly related to compliance. Can you say more about how you integrated the compliance initiatives into your SAP install?

Lubin: Sure. So again, we take compliance very seriously at Abiomed, as you would hope that we would. And so, whether it's Sarbanes-Oxley, or whether it's FDA and the validation process, those are incredibly important to us.

We have resources, external resources, who are experts in both of those fields that helped us with areas like the design of our roles: the design of who can do what in SAP to ensure that they can do their jobs, but, so that we don't have any issues with segregation of duties with other areas, to ensure that we're monitoring the right things so that spurious or inappropriate transactions aren't being conducted in the system - and if they are, that they're being caught.

Luckily, a year later, that hasn't been a problem for us. To ensure that from an FDA standpoint - and this is most important - the system does what it's supposed to do, that the expiration date on a component, that the raw material that we received, is properly reflected on the finished good that we ship.

Going back to some of the outsourcing that we talked about earlier, we leverage a firm who are experts at SAP security. We leverage a firm who are experts at Sarbanes-Oxley in an IT or in a technology world. And we leverage experts at validations and testing in SAP to ensure that we were compliant in that way, as well as keeping our external auditors in the loop throughout the project, so that everyone knew. Internal audit, external audit, the project team, the consulting team: everyone knew that these tracks (we had tracks on the implementation, but also tracks on infrastructure, security, compliance, and so on) all had equal weight in the success of the implementation.

Reed: It's interesting how you mentioned earlier that your users have given you a bit of push back on how heavily structured things have become. But, I also have to wonder if they might feel a little bit easier going to sleep at night knowing that the compliance structure is so built-in now, where they know that everything they're doing relates to whatever the FDA and other regulatory bodies expect of your company.

Lubin: Yeah, I would tend to agree. The kind of data we can get from the system now, with every passing day, becomes more useful. And that feeling that the system will do what you tell it to do flawlessly, I think, does add a level of comfort. It certainly added a level of comfort for me as I work with the audit teams, to know that the system - if it's designed correctly - that the logic is going to execute flawlessly the first time you go through a process, and the millionth time you go through a process.

I think the other thing, too, is that people are gaining comfort in knowing that. And this is typical in midmarket companies, in smaller companies, where you have process dominance between the ears of an individual. Meaning that, Jon, if you worked here, you'd be the expert at this area, and there'd be certain things that only you would know how to do, no matter how well documented your business process was. And people are gaining comfort from the fact that SAP gives us a standard way of doing a lot of things. They know that you could be sick today, and those processes could continue to flow.

Reed: So, are there any other lessons learned from going through this rapid install that we haven't covered that you want other small-medium sized companies to know going in?


 

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