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Why Education Is Key to SAP Optimization

October 3, 2016 by

by Ed Elsbury

Recently, I overheard my daughter’s soccer coach instructing the team on when to use certain tactical skills to move the ball upfield. He used two different scenarios to make his point. The first scenario entailed having the ball on the run in the open field and going up against one defender. The second scenario was being in a tight space where multiple defenders were in play. He used these two completely different scenarios to teach why you would use different foot skills. The first incorporated using body lean and speed to get past the defender and maintain upfield momentum, while the second involved small, quick moves to create space, which allows the player an opportunity to pass or continue moving down the field with the ball.

It struck me that this was a great example of the difference between training and education.

Training vs. Education

Training and education are both facets of learning, and although the terms are often used interchangeably, there are distinctive differences. Training is developing specific skills; in the case of soccer, it’s learning the tactical moves or foot skills that will be used in a game. Education is about creating behavior change by developing knowledge. In the soccer example, players need to understand when to use certain skills factoring field position, scenario (one vs. one or one vs. many), location of teammates, etc.

At Reveal, we help SAP-centric supply chain-driven businesses to run better. When working with clients, we often find that users know where to make setting changes in the system, but they rarely have a solid understanding of when and why. When the implementation was done, its likely training occurred to teach users how to execute certain transactions to keep the business functioning. We find very little time and resource was committed to educating users on how to analyze their business, why certain system capabilities and settings are used, and when changes are needed to address evolving business requirements.

MRP Strategy Matrix

MRP Settings as an Example

A great example would be MRP settings. Users typically know where in the system to make the setting change. What they don’t understand is the strategy behind each setting, why you use one strategy for one set of materials and a different strategy for another. In addition, because the life cycle of materials will change depending on finished product changes, users don’t know when to explore different strategies to reflect the new reality. The end result is one MRP strategy, thus setting, is used across all materials, including raw, WIP and packaging, and the material planning strategy is not aligned with finished product strategies, ie. make to stock vs. make to order.

To achieve sustainable business value from your technology, it’s not enough to train users on how to execute the transaction and make setting changes. Users must move beyond execution and develop the knowledge of how to plan and analyze their business and deploy their skills to make the necessary system adjustments. Only then will the organization realize full value from their investment in SAP and achieve improved business results.

Helping companies become educated on how to leverage SAP to uncover the potential of their supply chain is what we do. Improving lives is why we do it.

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