Value Beyond Implementation
The completion of an SAP project can feel like crossing a finish line. Consultants celebrate deliverables met, timelines achieved. For many, that moment also marks the end of the client relationship.
This project-based approach, which is the foundation of many successful consultancies, can also be seen as a missed opportunity for both consultancies and their clients. It overlooks the potential for ongoing value creation that lies beyond the initial implementation.
This post advocates for moving from a series of transactional engagements to enduring partnerships. We’ll explore the concept of value beyond implementation, where consultants go beyond being vendors delivering individual projects, to trusted advisors guiding clients on a journey of continuous optimization and innovation.
This approach offers significant benefits for both parties:
For clients, it adds sustained value creation through ongoing system optimization, process improvement, and access to the latest SAP innovations. This translates to improved business performance, increased efficiency, and a competitive edge.
For consultancies, these deeper client relationships bring recurring revenue streams, and the chance to demonstrate expertise beyond implementation. This creates long-term stability, attracts new clients, and also positions consultancies as strategic partners, not just project providers.
By engaging in a partnership to develop value beyond implementation, consultancies and clients can find a more rewarding and sustainable future.
In this post we’ll explore practical tactics for building enduring partnerships, optimizing SAP environments for continuous value, and harnessing the power of innovation to drive business transformation.
From Vendor to Partner
A project-centric approach in SAP consulting holds inherent limitations. While efficient in delivering specific outcomes, it often creates single engagements with a clear beginning and end. This transactional relationship overlooks the dynamic nature of businesses and the ever-evolving landscape of technology.
Projects, by definition, have defined scopes and timelines. Once these are fulfilled, the value stream often dries up until the next engagement. This leaves clients with a limited ability to adapt to changing business needs.
The project-based consulting model usually incorporates a measure of long-term strategic planning and exploration of future-proof solutions, but within a year leaves clients lagging behind competitors who are using the very latest innovations, due to the rapid pace of software services development.
Focusing solely on project deliverables leaves little time during the implementation for identification and mitigation of potential issues. The problems you don’t see can lead to costly downtime and disruptions down the road.
Short-term engagements limit the development of trust and understanding between consultant and client. This limits open communication and collaboration, which are required for the long-term success of both parties.
To overcome these limitations, consultants should reframe their assumptions about the client relationship. Instead of vendors delivering projects, consultancies must evolve into strategic partners guiding clients on a continuous value creation journey.
The Elements Of Continuous Value Creation
This reframing of the consultancy model is based on the following key elements:
Building Trust and Collaboration: Open communication, transparency, and a shared vision is fundamental. By aligning business goals with project outcomes, a collaborative environment emerges where both parties actively contribute to success. With ongoing relationships, mutual trust builds with each interaction.
Expanding Focus Beyond Project Scope: Expanding the focus from implementation to ongoing optimization and innovation ensures clients derive maximum value from their SAP investment. This requires examining the client’s assumptions, understanding their long-term goals, and actively seeking solutions that provide further information and support.
A Continuous Improvement Mindset: Adopting methodologies like Agile principles creates a culture of continuous improvement. This ensures the SAP environment remains optimized, adaptable, and ready to respond to changing market demands.
Deep Client Understanding: Successful partnerships require a nuanced understanding of the clients’ unique business challenges, industry trends, and future aspirations. This in-depth understanding of their needs and how they are changing over time forms the basis for tailored solutions and ongoing strategic guidance.
Optimizing for Continuous Value Creation
Successful optimization requires a continuously collaborative approach, where the consultant acts as a trusted advisor, understanding the client’s specific context.
After the initial implementation, ongoing optimization focuses on continuously extracting maximum value from the SAP investment, ensuring clients stay ahead of the curve and are able to grasp new business opportunities.
Data analytics tools offer valuable insights into system performance, user behavior, and process inefficiencies. These insights inform targeted optimization efforts, leading to better resource allocation, improved user experience, and streamlined processes. They can also guide more substantial changes to a client’s operations, and reveal new sources of revenue.
SAP systems, like any technology, evolve and require regular maintenance. Ongoing performance tuning ensures optimal system health, minimizes downtime, and maximizes throughput, contributing directly to business efficiency.
Whether they are concerned with processes or technical issues, the optimization approach must be tailored to each client’s unique needs. This could involve integrating advanced SAP modules, industry-specific solutions, or exploring AI and machine learning to automate tasks and gain further insights.
The SAP Ecosystem as a Launchpad
Today, companies must continuously adapt, exploring new technologies and disruptive ideas to stay ahead of the curve. This is where the SAP ecosystem as a whole has been particularly successful: providing a launchpad their customer’s innovation journeys, but the need for innovation and the pace of change is accelerating.
Traditional business models are being constantly challenged by new entrants and innovative technologies. Clients need to stay ahead of these disruptions by embracing new possibilities.
In an increasingly competitive market, optimizing operations and driving efficiency are a necessity. Innovation unlocks new tools and processes for streamlined workflows and cost reduction.
Customers now demand personalized experiences and seamless interactions across their preferred channels. Innovation fuels the development of solutions that meet these evolving expectations.
SAP has invested heavily in fostering innovation within its ecosystem, and acquired exceptional startups when those technologies complimented their own: curating an expanding collection of services that are considered crucial for many of their own customers.
SAP consultants play a crucial role in helping clients get the most from these offerings.
With deep expertise in the SAP ecosystem, consultants navigate clients through the various offerings, ensuring they choose the right solutions for their specific needs.
From technical expertise to change management support, consultants provide comprehensive and essential guidance throughout the implementation process.
SAP customers who partner with other SAP specialists, technology providers, and industry experts, open up further innovative potential. Consultants can facilitate these partnerships to bring about co-creation of solutions that address complex challenges and accelerate business transformation.
The most successful partnerships ensure clients have the guidance and support they need to continuously explore new possibilities and stay competitive.
Building Enduring Client Relationships
The journey beyond implementation depends on building strong, enduring client relationships. These partnerships require the following behaviors.
Open and honest communication. Regularly sharing project updates, addressing concerns promptly, and constructive discussions builds trust and helps clients feel valued and informed.
Setting realistic expectations, and actively managing them through the engagement: This involves clear communication of project scope, timelines, and potential challenges.
Demonstrating ongoing value creation. Simply completing a project doesn’t guarantee a lasting relationship. Consultants must actively document how their efforts translate to tangible business value for the client. This could involve quantifying efficiency gains, cost savings, or improved customer satisfaction metrics.
Proactive engagement: Regularly assessing and addressing client needs, anticipating potential challenges, and offering strategic recommendations demonstrates genuine care and commitment to their success.
Partnering for Continuous Growth
We’ve explored how this shift from vendor to partner provides significant benefits for both consultancies and their clients. As the SAP consulting landscape evolves, several key trends demand attention.
Clients will increasingly seek specialized partners with deep industry expertise to tackle unique long-term challenges.
The rise of AI, machine learning, and blockchain will allow all consultancies to drive automation, optimization, and data-driven insights. Optimum design and implementation of these technologies will become more of a differentiator between consultancies.
The acceleration of cloud adoption will push consultancies to offer expertise in migration, integration, calibration, and ongoing cloud management.
Finally, a growing demand for outcome-based models will require consultancies to adopt outcome-based pricing, and be able to demonstrate delivery of measurable value creation.
The industry needs trusted advisors, and partners to guide clients towards continuous improvement and innovation. So, move beyond transactional engagements and realize the value beyond implementation. In doing so you unlock the full potential of your client relationships and secure a firmer foothold in the SAP services market.
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