Communication the Key to Consolidating
ERP Systems for Utah Department of
Workforce Services
When the support o...

impossible to enhance the SAP Learning
Solution for future initiatives such as                        We	wanted	...

Assistance from Across                                    Lessons Learned                               tion was...
conferences  education

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Consolidating ERP Systems


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ERP Expert October 2008 Article
"Communication the Key to Consolidating
ERP Systems for Utah Department of
Workforce Services"

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Consolidating ERP Systems

  1. 1. strategy Communication the Key to Consolidating ERP Systems for Utah Department of Workforce Services When the support of your SAP ERP processes unemployment claims, provides system relies almost exclusively on one economic and wage data, and provides We have very specific training knowledgeable person — and that person public assistance services. requirements for new employees takes another job — the challenge of As a government agency, the department to learn the policies and regula- supporting the system can be nearly insurmountable. is strictly regulated, which in turn puts a tions for these programs, so the premium on employee training. DWS (SAP) Learning Solution is The State of Utah Department of Work- relies on SAP Learning Solution and SAP absolutely critical to our success force Services (DWS) found itself in that NetWeaver Portal to help train more than exact predicament when its one-man 2,000 state employees. New employees as an agency. support team left the department. DWS, have anywhere between 60 and 80 train- — Chris Gordon, DWS the state’s primary job assistance agency, ing sessions to learn their specific limped along for a couple of years without functions, estimates Gordon. dedicated support for its implementation An example screenprint of the department’s The department also processes its payroll of SAP ERP 4.7 and the SAP applications portal application is shown in Figure 1. within the SAP ERP system. on which the department runs its learning management technologies. “We have very specific training require- Despite its broad responsibilities, DWS is ments for new employees to learn the a relatively small unit within the state “We sent some of our people to classes policies and regulations of our programs government. With few resources for main- but realized over time that if someone and services, so the (SAP) Learning taining and upgrading the SAP system, leaves, then we essentially have to start Solution is absolutely critical to our Gordon says the ERP implementation had over to train a new person. We realized it success as an agency,” she says. fallen woefully behind — making it would be extremely costly and time-con- suming in the long run to continue to do this on our own,” says Chris Gordon, project manager for DWS. Fortunately, another department within the state government — the state Department of Administrative Services, Division of Finance— was using a fully supported implementation of SAP ERP 2004 to run the state’s payroll and other financial functions. Consolidating the DWS and Finance systems would allow the state to run many of its critical functions from a single instance of SAP. Mission and Cost Drive Consolidation Plan Put broadly, the task of DWS is to connect job seekers and employers within the Figure 1 A typical employee homepage created in SAP NetWeaver Portal state. The department posts job ads, © 2008 ERP Expert Reproduction prohibited. All rights reserved.
  2. 2. strategy impossible to enhance the SAP Learning Solution for future initiatives such as We wanted to be able to run on one environment without having to develop manager reports, correspondence, and duplicate expertise under another agency. So it becomes a cost-saving online performance management. benefit to us and it provides an upgrade that gets everybody working on the So representatives from DWS, the same system. Division of Finance, and the Department — Chris Gordon of Technology Services investigated the possibility of merging the two systems. The consolidation now offers Planning on a Budget “We discussed some of those things in our kickoff meeting, but realized we needed to DWS a fully upgraded and supported To sell the project to state officials and stay focused on the merger initially. Once version of SAP ERP on which to run secure the required project budget, Gor- that was in place, we could move forward its solutions. don’s team created a business case with some of the other things we’d like to focused heavily on the cost savings and incorporate,” she says. “Our goal is to run on one SAP environ- potential functionality enhancements of ment without having to develop duplicate the consolidation. From the beginning, the expertise. We’ve created a service level Because the team would hold off on team was aware of the delicate nature of agreement with State Finance so that they enhancements to the existing system until tinkering with a system that processes are essentially hosting our system. after the initial technical upgrade, the nearly 20,000 paychecks for state Together we’ve developed working rela- metrics used to measure the success of the employees. tionships, with the ability to work together project were defined largely by the as an SAP team going forward. The Gordon’s group also needed to rein in the smoothness of the transition. merger with State Finance provides a cost- scope of the project, which originally saving benefit to us and it provides an included enhancements to the SAP Learn- “If we haven’t impacted payroll and DWS upgrade that gets everybody working on ing Solution that would have complicated employees can still do their work, then the same system,” says Gordon. the upgrade process. we’ve been successful,” says Gordon. Figure An early draft of the project plan For group rates on electronic access, call 1-781-751-8799 Volume 1, Number 4 •
  3. 3. strategy Assistance from Across Lessons Learned tion was fundamental to the success of the the Globe While the SAP ERP consolidation project collaboration. has gone smoothly to this point, Gordon “When you can’t actually sit down with a To execute the project, Gordon relied on a says project managers attempting similar team member and show them what you team of consultants from LAZAR Consul- projects should heed three critical pieces mean or do a demo on the screen, you tants led by Michael Prakhina. LAZAR of advice: realize you need to be careful and not Consultants helped with every facet of the assume that someone knows what you’re technical upgrade, from extracting and uploading the DWS Portal data to the 1. Find consultants who can work talking about. You might need to add a Finance SAP ERP system to configuring within your means. little more descriptive information in your request to ensure that it’s clear for the the SAP Learning Solution. Because DWS was working within a tight reader,” she says. budget for the upgrade and consolidation, “We were incredibly fortunate to select it was under pressure to keep costs down. To deal with communication misfires, consultants that have experience with a Flying a team of on-site consultants to Gordon and Prakhina occasionally found remote project. That was critical for us Utah for the project would have been too themselves arranging group meetings to because it saves us time and money from expensive. Because LAZAR Consultants clarify requests and objectives. having people fly out here to be on site,” had experience working remotely, the firm she says. “You have to be able to say, ‘You know, was able to manage the technical aspects with consultants spread from Canada to you really have to explain this better and Because the LAZAR team was distributed maybe we need to get on a conference call Russia. geographically, communication among so that we can talk about it.’ Maybe the team members was critical to the success team can send some screenprints back and of the project. An early version of the 2. Reconcile your project manage- forth and try to replicate the issue or the project plan is shown in Figure 2. ment processes. environment they are looking at,” says When teaming up with experienced con- Gordon. To accomplish this, Gordon and Prakhina sultants on a project, as DWS did with engaged in two or three unscheduled con- To assist with effective communication, LAZAR Consultants, it is important that versations per week about the progress of the project team implemented an “as project leaders from both sides agree on the project. The pair also opted to enable needed” Project Update system. An how progress will be measured and team team members to circumvent bureaucratic example Project Update is shown in members will communicate. channels when discussing project points. Figure 3. In addition to ongoing email “I suggest negotiating project management and phone conferences, the Update pro- “We wanted to make it clear up front that vided a concise overview of the team’s processes up front with the other project project members didn’t have to go through progress. manager to ensure that there is a system in Michael or me to communicate with each place that will work for both entities to other. We used project plans to ensure that we were accomplishing the assigned tasks. track completion of tasks and the project A Foundation for the Future as a whole,” says Gordon. Everyone has been very cooperative. As with most technical upgrades and con- We’ve had questions, and we’ve had solidations, Gordon hopes the project has issues arise, of course, but once we got 3. Push for clarity of communication. no immediate impact on the department’s everyone together we were able to clarify Because Gordon and Prakhina had SAP users. In the future, however, the the issues and determine appropriate solu- enabled their respective teams to commu- upgrade will serve as a framework for tions,” says Gordon. nicate with each other directly, they system-wide improvements. In return, the quickly learned that clarity of communica- Finance department will benefit from The project kicked off in late January 2008 and is scheduled for completion We were incredibly fortunate to select consultants that have experience with around the time this issue is published. a remote project. That was critical for us because it saves us time and The team recently found a bug in one of the approval processes in the payroll money from having people fly out here to be on site. system, but will be ready to go live once — Chris Gordon that issue has been resolved. 10 © 2008 ERP Expert Reproduction prohibited. All rights reserved.
  4. 4. conferences education DWS’ expertise with the Learning Solu- Career Management Services tion. And together they plan to use SAP’s Project Update Homepage Framework to further custom- 03/18/2008 ize portal content. SUMMARY “This provides us a foundation from I am pleased to report that all of the Basis activities are complete! The State Finance which we’ll be able to make changes and Basis team has finished their required activities, so that configuration work can enhancements. Once we’ve got the key proceed. This is a huge step forward! Our LAZAR consultants have begun configuring pieces in place, we’ll be able to upgrade the R/3 environment on the State Finance system, and the DWS team will begin their the system along with the State Finance configuration activities this week. system. They have a regular schedule for ACCOMPLISHMENTS upgrades and support packs, whereas DWS has had a lack of technical support • All Basis activities are complete. This means that the LSO is ready to be config- and is severely behind. With the merger, ured on the State Finance system. everything will be in place so that we can • Some of the LSO configuration has been completed by LAZAR. move forward. That’s been our stumbling • Michael, Anna, and Chris met to determine which configuration activities will block all along — we didn’t have the be completed by LAZAR, and which will be completed by DWS. Those involved in pieces in place so that we could move the configuration will be notified. Primarily this will involve JJ, Victor, Quinten, forward,” she says. n and Chris. • A Project Team Organization Chart has been added to the FTP site, in the Project Preparation folder. UPCOMING EVENTS / NEW DEVELOPMENTS • Igor Khmel (Portal Consultant) and Ekaterina Savvina (HCM Consultant) from LAZAR have joined the team and begun work on the project. Welcome! • The Security group is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, March 25th. TASKS IN PROGRESS • Work is underway to determine roles needed for DWS staff in the State Finance system. • The Project Plan is currently being updated. Please check the FTP site for regular project plan updates. DECISIONS • QUESTIONS / SUGGESTIONS • Figure A sample Project Update