'Force Multiplier' Effect for SAP Software

David Wascom, CIO, Summit Electric Supply
David Wascom, CIO, Summit Electric Supply

David Wascom, CIO, Summit Electric Supply

In the SAP ecosystem, brand-name behemoths run billions of dollars’ worth of SAP software, and a company like Summit Electric Supply falls into the heart of what SAP considers the SME: Small and Midsize Enterprise.

So how do we make SAP work for us?

Here’s how: The military has a great term that I associate with our SAP experience: Force multiplier.

The idea is that you utilize capabilities that increase your potential that, in turn, increase your probability of success. Finding and using force multipliers is critical for our team to effectively operate and extend our SAP solution, which we’ve been running since 2007.

As a small SAP customer, I do not have the luxury of a large application support team, and so I have to find ways to make the members of my team more effective.

One of the biggest force multipliers we have embraced is active participation in the Americas’ SAP Users’ Group (ASUG). A SUG’s m mission is to provide education, and influence opportunities for its members. It is fairly simple to find a community within ASUG that is facing the same challenges you are and is exploring solutions to those challenges.

Through one of the many events hosted by the chapters and SIGs, chances are you can learn about a solution to a problem you are facing that has already been solved by another SAP customer.

One example of where ASUG education became a force multiplier for Summit Electric was at the time, Summit was faced with a challenge around how we handle a particular order type.

"Force Multiplier makes you utilize capabilities that increase your potential, which in turn increase your probability of success"

The solution we had put in place in 2007 worked, but it involved a significant amount of manual processing and was extremely inefficient. We had developed an idea for a new solution, but had not begun the implementation. At a conference, we watched a presentation by another wholesale distribution customer describing how they had implemented “our” new solution.

During their implementation, they had uncovered some challenges that we had not considered. Those challenges would have caused the solution to fail for our company. By learning from someone else’s experience, we were able to avoid what would have been a costly mistake on our part.

Through our participation in the SIG communities, we have made contacts with other customers and SAP employees that have allowed us to stay on the cutting edge of what works (and doesn’t) within the SAP product portfolio. It has also given us tremendous insight into solution roadmaps that has in turn, allowed us to make more informed decisions about how best to deploy our limited resources and consequently be positioned to take full advantage of our SAP investment.

As a smaller SAP customer, I have fewer bullets in my software investment gun. As a result, it is difficult for me to get the same level of attention as a Fortune 500 company would from the SAP sales channel. By networking with SAP employees and users through ASUG, we are able to increase our potential by increasing our exposure to what is happening in the SAP ecosystem.

Finally, through ASUG’s influence programs we are able to have a voice in the future direction of SAP’s products— something that simply would not be possible as a single SME.

Ultimately, to get value from a users’ group you must participate. By taking advantage of what ASUG offers, Summit Electric Supply has found a force multiplier that helps us successfully run our business on the same software platform that is usually associated only with companies much larger than ours.

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