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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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Lubin: Sure. I think that every implementation certainly is different.  Every company is different. But, I think there's some common lessons learned for us that are probably worth covering. One of the things that we learned is we tried to - as I mentioned it being a podcast - go with a completely part-time team from an Abiomed perspective. Meaning none of our folks were full-time on the project. And that worked in almost every area.

But the one area it did not work in was project management. The one role that I didn't fund, that I absolutely would have funded given the opportunity to do it all over again, was that key project management's role. So that's the first thing.

The second thing is there were areas - as you know in the SAP space, SAP gives you not one, not two, but five or ten best practices that you can adopt in your implementation. And where we decided that we had to be special, where we were so unique that we couldn't use any of those best practices, where we did something completely different: we now realize we've taken on a management burden, or a maintenance burden for those proprietary processes.  And that's something that, again, if we could do it all over again, we would have pushed harder to align with SAP best practices.

I think the last piece, and probably, again, the one that you've probably heard a million times, is we could have done more training. We could have done more knowledge transfer. We could have done more to take possession of the system at the point that we went live with it than we did. And that, I think, also goes back to the amount of attention that we could put into the implementation.

And just to give you a fourth one: the areas that put a lot of effort into documenting the business processes - the areas that put the most time into the most boring part of the implementation, which is writing everything down - are the areas that a year later are having the most success with SAP today.

Franke:  Great, great. And one other thing I was just kind of interested in also: you hear a lot - or at least I've heard a lot - about knowledge transfer and training in these projects being so important. But, also I feel like a lot of small and midsized businesses have a very limited budget for their project as a whole. Where would you take away in order to bolster this knowledge transfer and training component?

Lubin: It's a good question. I think that knowledge transfer, in a well-run implementation, knowledge transfer is a bi-product of the implementation. I think the training is a little bit different story, where you tend to have to allocate a budget line to it. But, I think where I would do things to ensure that we had knowledge transfer is, if necessary, I'd reduce the scope of functionality. I would assign more resources to the project.

The only thing I wouldn't do (and this may seem counterintuitive) is stretch out the timeline, because there's a natural progression to an implementation, and there's a point of diminishing returns, where you, at some point, realize you just have to take the system live for the project to proceed. So, again, I would do less.

And I would try and put more people at the initiative, internal resources at the initiative, before I would do something with the timeline. The other logic behind that is you learn so much by doing, and no matter how much testing and configuring you do, you don't start doing until you go live.

Reed: Well, that's an excellent point. One of the funny things you said at SAPPHIRE that I'm going to wrap with here, I'm going to put your words back on you and see what you have to say today. You talked about the great benefits you receive from SAP, but you also joked you would never implement SAP again. So as we wrap today, how would you reconcile those two perspectives for us?

Lubin: Jon, the one thing I do have is a pretty good memory. The comment was: I've done ERP a number of times in a few different industries, and the joke that I always tell is that every time I complete an ERP implementation, I say I'm never going to do this again. If you've ever built a house, if you've ever moved cross country, or any of those things, I'm sure you would probably say the same thing: "It was a great experience and I hope I never do it again."

Reed: Sure.

Lubin: In terms of SAP, specifically, the fact is - and I've done other sort of second- or third-tier packages - you get a whole different level of consulting resource. They're fantastic compared to the folks you get with some of the lower-end packages. You get a methodology that was a huge differentiator for us when we were looking at selecting a new ERP system. You get a tried and true methodology. You get an incredible library of best practices that, as I mentioned earlier, that if you choose to adopt, you'll get huge benefit from.

And you get - not to sound like a salesperson or a magazine writer - an ecosystem in the SAP world of consulting resources, support resources, off shoring and outsourcing services, that doesn't exist in any other ERP environment. And that's not because SAP needs it. It's because so many people use it. I mean, it's just fantastic to be able to go out there and ask a question and know that there are a million people who could answer the question. And what I found in the SAP world is people are pretty friendly. If they know the answer, they're happy to help you out.

So those are the things that coming from a proprietary system, or a system that less than 30 companies in the world still used, going into this broad world of SAP where there's so many people using it, it's just been fantastic. If I had to do it all over again, meaning if I had to do ERP all over again, I certainly would do SAP again. The proof to that is that we kicked off our implementation in Europe a week before last, and I'm headed back over there to really what has turned out to be a very excited team, who can't wait to start to use it.

Reed: Great. Well, best of luck with the European implementation. And we hear your message loud and clear that the gain was definitely worth any pain you might have encountered. And I think a lot of listeners will appreciate the fact that you didn't spin that too much, but were honest about what you went through. So, thank you so much for joining us today and sharing those insights.

Lubin: Oh, it was fantastic. Thanks for having the conversation.

Reed: Great. Well, with that I'd like to thank our listeners for joining us today for this podcast interview on SAP staffing trends. This podcast was a joint venture between SearchSAP.com and my website, JonERP.com, bringing you career answers for SAP professionals. And with that, I'd like to turn this back to our host, Jon Franke, of SearchSAP.com.

Franke: Thanks so much for joining us, Jon and Dan. And that about does it for this edition of SearchSAP.com's podcast series. Until next time, I'm Jon Franke. Thanks for joining us.

Editor's Note: This interview is not a verbatim conversation from the podcast; it was edited for clarity and readability. However, no content from the original conversation was removed.

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