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Creating SAP Teams

For SAP consultancies, the ability to deliver project objectives through strong teams defines reputations, and their potential for growth.

Successful SAP implementations hinge on more than just technical expertise. Clients are increasingly aware they need SAP service partners who can understand their specific needs and navigate the technical complexities of SAP implementations, and also create a collaborative and efficient team environment.

Every industry has its own unique processes and regulations, and SAP systems need to be configured to accommodate these. Understanding these details is crucial for assembling a team with the appropriate functional and technical expertise. The required skillsets and experience levels for each team member must be clearly defined, based on customer requirements. This includes functional or technical knowledge, and soft skills like communication, collaboration, and problem-solving.

This week IgniteSAP will explore what it takes to assemble and manage an SAP project team that consistently meets and exceeds customer expectations.

Key Roles in SAP Project Teams

Assembling a high-performing SAP project team requires a strategic combination of diverse skillsets.

The Project Manager leads, managing timelines, budgets, and communications. Business Analysts bridge business needs with technical solutions, facilitating smooth transitions to new SAP systems. Solution Architects design the SAP framework to align with client requirements and integrate with existing infrastructure, following best practices. Developers implement this design through coding and testing, while Functional Consultants translate business needs into SAP configurations and assist users.

The Project Manager ensures a collaborative team environment where open communication allows each member to leverage their expertise and contribute to achieving the project goals. Regular meetings, knowledge sharing sessions, and a culture of collaboration are essential for ensuring a seamless flow of information and tasks between team members.

Building High-Performing Teams

The foundation for a high-performing SAP project team is a careful selection process built upon a clear understanding of project needs.

Needs Assessment

This initial step involves a comprehensive assessment of the project’s scope and client requirements. By clearly defining the project landscape, you can identify the exact skillsets needed to assemble a successful team.

Here are some key aspects to consider during the needs assessment:

Project Scope and Complexity: The project’s scope and complexity will directly influence the depth and breadth of technical and functional expertise required within the team.

Client Industry and Specific Needs: Every industry has its own unique processes and regulations that SAP needs to be configured to accommodate. Understanding the client’s industry and their specific business needs is essential. This knowledge will help you identify team members with the appropriate functional expertise.

Required Skillsets and Experience Levels: Consider the specific functionalities of SAP that will be utilized in the project and identify the necessary technical knowledge for each team member. Soft skills like communication, collaboration, problem-solving, and adaptability are crucial for navigating complex project dynamics.

Talent Pool Identification

Don’t overlook the potential within your own organization. Look for consultants with relevant experience on past projects or those who have expressed interest in expanding their skillset in specific SAP modules. Utilize internal talent pools or knowledge-sharing platforms to identify potential team members with the required skillsets and experience.

Partnering with established an SAP recruitment agency like IgniteSAP can be a valuable asset. Recruiters with a deep understanding of the SAP ecosystem can help you source highly qualified candidates who possess the specific technical and functional expertise your project demands. Look for recruitment partners like IgniteSAP with a proven track record of placing SAP consultants and a strong network within the industry.

Many user groups maintain online job boards or host networking events where you can connect with experienced SAP professionals. Tapping into these communities can help you identify individuals who are not only technically skilled but also possess industry-specific knowledge relevant to your client’s needs.

A Focus on Soft Skills

When identifying potential team members, consider the following soft skills that are essential for project success:

Communication: The ability to clearly articulate ideas, actively listen to others, and facilitate open communication is vital for collaboration within the team.

Collaboration: Successful SAP projects rely on teamwork. Look for individuals who demonstrate a history of successful collaboration and the ability to work effectively towards a common goal.

Problem-Solving: The ability to think critically, analyze situations, and identify creative solutions to challenges is essential for navigating project complexities.

Adaptability: The project landscape can be dynamic. Look for individuals who are comfortable adapting to changes and readily embrace new technologies or unforeseen situations.

Team Onboarding and Development

A well-structured onboarding program prepares your consultants for success. This includes familiarizing them with project goals, methodologies, tools, and communication channels

Invest in your team members’ ongoing development, as it is essential for ensuring they have the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in their roles and contribute effectively to the project.

The SAP landscape is evolving, with new features, functionalities, and best practices emerging constantly. Ongoing training equips your team with the latest knowledge and keeps them at the forefront of their expertise.

Encourage team members to share their expertise with each other. Regular knowledge-sharing sessions can be a valuable platform for peer-learning and continuous improvement.

Pairing senior consultants with newer team members can provide valuable guidance and support. Mentors can offer insights, share best practices, and help mentees navigate project challenges.

Collaboration with Client-Side Teams

Effective collaboration with the client’s internal team is a key aspect influencing your team’s success.

Both teams share a common objective: a successful SAP implementation that delivers value to the client’s business. Working together reinforces a sense of shared ownership and ensures everyone is working towards the same goal.

The client’s internal team possesses a deep understanding of their specific business processes and challenges. Collaboration allows for knowledge transfer necessary to the project.

Open communication and collaboration simplifies and accelerates the entire implementation process. By working together, both teams can anticipate and proactively address potential roadblocks.

Establish clear communication protocols from the outset. Define preferred channels of communication (email, project management tools, instant messaging) and set expectations for response times. This ensures everyone stays informed and avoids misunderstandings.

Regular joint workshops and planning sessions bring both teams together. These can be used to define project goals, discuss functionalities, and address any concerns early on.

A culture of mutual respect and open communication is crucial. Encourage open dialogue and active listening from both sides to establish trust and a willingness to address challenges together.

Tools for High-Performing Teams

The next step is equipping your team with the tools they need to maximize their productivity.

Technology can be a powerful enabler of collaboration. Use project management platforms, cloud-based document sharing tools, and video conferencing software to facilitate seamless communication and information sharing.

Use tools that offer functionalities like workload management, real-time collaboration, progress tracking, and reporting. These can help maintain project visibility, and ensure accountability.

While digital tools offer many advantages, don’t underestimate the power of visual aids. Use Gantt charts for project timelines and Kanban boards for visualizing workflows. These provide a clear overview of project progress and can be valuable during team meetings and planning sessions.

Create a central knowledge repository where team members can access project documentation, best practices, and training materials. This ensures everyone has access to the information they need and avoids reinventing the wheel for recurring tasks.

Explore any opportunities for automation within the project lifecycle. Tools like automated reporting, data integration, and task reminders can free up valuable time for more strategic work and minimize the risk of human error in repetitive tasks.

The Impact of Remote Work on Team Dynamics

Remote working has significantly impacted how SAP project teams collaborate. While geographic flexibility offers numerous advantages, managing remote teams presents unique challenges. Maintaining clear communication, a sense of team spirit, and ensuring everyone feels connected can be more difficult in a remote setting.

Remote work also allows you to tap into a wider talent pool geographically and promotes a focus on results-oriented work rather than physical presence.

Regular video conferencing meetings and check-ins are crucial for maintaining face-to-face interaction and a sense of connection within the team.

Establish clear communication protocols for remote team members. This includes defining preferred communication channels, setting expectations for response times, and outlining guidelines for virtual meetings.

Don’t underestimate the power of virtual activities to build team spirit and collaboration. Use online collaboration tools, and schedule virtual team-building exercises.

The Rise of Agile Methodologies

SAP implementations are experiencing a growing shift towards Agile methodologies. These can be extremely useful for guiding the creation and management of a high-performing SAP team, and have a significant impact on team composition, performance, and collaboration.

Agile project management in SAP implementations emphasizes the importance of cross-functional teams. These teams bring together individuals with diverse skillsets (including developers, business analysts, and end-users) to work collaboratively on short iterations or sprints, for a more iterative and responsive approach to project delivery.

Regular team meetings, daily stand-ups, and collaborative planning sessions are an essential aspect. This enables a transparent and dynamic work environment where team members are constantly adapting and learning from each other.

The Agile approach thrives on a growth mindset. Team members need to be adaptable, comfortable with change, and eager to learn new things. Look for individuals who demonstrate a willingness to embrace new functionalities and adjust their approach based on evolving project priorities.

The Social Dimension

Successful teams are built on a foundation of complementary personalities and working styles. While it is essential to have the requisite skills in place among team members, they also have to build and maintain constructive social relationships between themselves, and understand to some extent the professional duties of others.

In short, all team members must show empathy. This consideration is often overlooked as all team members are expected to behave “professionally” but sometimes personality clashes can lead to difficult working conditions for all involved.

A team with a healthy mix of personalities leads to a more supportive environment, leading to better outcomes. Individuals with strong analytical skills can be balanced by those with excellent communication abilities. This synergy ensures all aspects of the project receive the necessary attention and expertise.

Understanding personalities helps identify and avoid potential clashes. For example, pairing a highly independent worker with a micromanager can create friction. By seeking a balance of personalities, you can minimize conflict.

Let’s explore some positive personality attributes that tend to benefit SAP project teams:

Conscientiousness: These individuals are reliable, detail-oriented, and organized. They excel at following through on tasks and ensuring accuracy, and consider how their actions affect others.

Open-Mindedness: Open-minded team members are receptive to new ideas and approaches. This is crucial in SAP projects, where unforeseen challenges may require adjustments to the initial plan.

Team Players: Look for individuals who prioritize the team’s success over individual glory and are comfortable working collaboratively towards shared goals.

Communicative: Strong communication skills are essential. Team members who can clearly articulate ideas, actively listen to others, and provide constructive feedback contribute to a transparent and productive work environment.

Proactiveness: This could also be described as a tendency toward action, seeking out challenges and resolving them before they become more problematic, to the extent that they are prepared to fail if necessary, in order to learn and discover better solutions.

While some personalities and attributes complement each other, others can be detrimental to team dynamics. Here are some examples:

Dominant Personalities: These individuals may try to take over discussions and decision-making processes. This can stifle creativity and discourage participation from other team members, reducing the team’s ability to find innovative solutions.

Micromanagers: Micromanagers can reduce confidence and restrict team autonomy. Look for individuals who can delegate tasks effectively and trust their team members to deliver.

Negative Thinkers: A constant stream of negativity can bring down team morale and hold back progress. While a healthy dose of skepticism is valuable, overly negative personalities can be a drain on overall team energy.

It is important to note that individuals do not fall easily into these simplified categories, but may unconsciously lean toward negative behaviors in certain circumstances. In some situations “negative” behaviors may be constructive, and allow the group to move past issues or obstacles to progress.

“Dominant personalities” can also be described as assertive, or proactive: they just need to listen more. “Micromanagers” can also be seen as displaying attention to detail. Use your intuition and awareness of the professional context before categorizing behaviors as negative.

Team members should not be called out on their behavior in front of colleagues. If necessary, make team members aware in a private conversation of how their behaviors are impacting the group’s dynamic so they can avoid doing so in future.

Building a Balanced Team

The key isn’t to eliminate certain personality types but to create a well-rounded team with a balance of strengths. During the selection process, consider using personality assessments or behavioral interview questions to gain insights into a candidate’s working style and how they might interact with others on the team.

A successful team needs an environment where everyone feels valued, supported, and empowered to contribute their unique strengths towards achieving a common goal. By understanding team dynamics and nurturing a culture that celebrates diverse personalities, project managers can build a strong foundation for a high-performing and adaptable SAP project team.

The Future of SAP Teams

The SAP landscape is constantly evolving, and the way we build and manage project teams needs to keep pace.

Automation and AI may necessitate new skillsets within project teams, with a greater focus on individuals who can configure, manage, and interpret data from automated tasks and AI-powered insights.

Cloud-based SAP solutions will likely have a significant impact on implementation methods, team structures and collaboration. Cloud deployments offer greater flexibility and accessibility, potentially leading to more geographically dispersed teams and a renewed focus on virtual collaboration tools and strategies.

Agile methodologies will likely continue to evolve, and advancements in Agile practices, such as the use of DevOps principles will lead to even more streamlined delivery and integration. This will require team members to be adaptable and comfortable working within constantly changing project management frameworks.

By staying informed about these future trends and proactively building teams with the necessary skills and adaptability, you can ensure your SAP project teams remain able to utilize the latest innovations and continue to deliver successful implementations well into the future.

Building More Than Just a Team

While technical expertise is central for successful SAP implementations, building a high-performing team goes beyond just confirming technical skills. A team environment must be developed that leverages the strengths of each individual. This requires attention to team dynamics, open communication, and a shared commitment to continuous learning and growth.

The Project Manager plays a primary role in orchestrating this success. By creating a positive, collaborative environment that values individual contributions, Project Managers empower their teams to excel.

High-performing SAP project teams are not simply assembled; they are nurtured, empowered, and inspired to deliver exceptional results for clients. The needs and the concerns of all individuals must be closely aligned with the needs and requirements of the team as a whole.

By combining these requirements, your SAP project team will be more than the sum of its parts, and able to consistently meet or exceed your clients’ expectations.

If you are looking for qualified and experienced SAP consultants to join your team, IgniteSAP can provide you with access to these professionals through our extensive SAP talent pool so reach out and let us know your requirements.