You have successfully implemented SAP Strategy Management (SSM) in your company and users are gradually becoming familiar with that new tool. What’s next? How do we motivate managers to adopt it and use it as a support to their decision making tasks? In this article I would like to share my thoughts about the following topics
- How can we use the tool to get the people more involved with the company strategy?
- How can we lower the system total cost of ownership (TCO)?
- How can we support the Strategy Management Office by making their jobs easier when working with SSM?
- How can we enrich the information available in SSM?
To address these topics, in Clariba we have been working to provide value added developments or solutions to SSM pitfalls. We will be detailing these in following sections.
How can we use the tool to get the people more involved with our company strategy?
Many companies manage the business and their departments by objectives. Directors and Managers, in addition to their daily operative tasks, have other assigned responsibilities that are aligned to the company strategy. Why don't use the SSM system as the tool to properly assign objectives to Managers/Directors and to monitor their performance? In SSM we can assign responsibility to many strategy items of the company: Initiatives, KPIs, Objectives, Themes...
From our point of view, all items in the strategy must be assigned to an owner. If you assign a name to an objective, KPI and Initiative, you make sure that somebody in your company is working and making decisions in order to achieve or complete what they have been assigned to. They will also respond in case of poor performance.
Managing the business by objectives could be achieved with the following scenario:
1- Make sure all strategy items have been assigned to a Manager
2- Update the data in SSM on a monthly basis (KPIs and Initiatives)
3- Send personalized reports to all Managers and Directors. In that report they can see what is the current status of their KPIs, Objectives and Initiatives. This way we kindly remind Managers of what they have to care about and respond. Below there is an example of a personalized report we have implemented and that can be sent to all SSM users.
4- After receiving their performance summary, Managers and Directors can access SSM system and provide comments to their KPIs initiatives and Objectives.
How can we improve the system TCO? How can we support the Strategy office by making their jobs easier when working with SSM?
Integrating and automating the SSM solution
- Does your company have many KPIs currently managed in other systems? You can retrieve the actuals of your KPIs from systems such as SAP BW, SAP ERP, Oracle, Data Warehouse, etc and feed them to the SSM.
- Does your company have a Planning solution? You can automatically provide the targets of your KPIs to the SSM from your Planning systems. It can be a solution such as SAP BPC or any other planning system.
- Does your company have a Project Management system? Do you use that system to maintain and monitor your strategic initiatives? You can take advantage of that already existing information and automatically update the initiatives in your SSM system with an ETL. In Clariba we have implemented ETLs to connect Project Management systems with Initiatives in SSM.
Making work easier for the Strategy Management Office
Usual requirements in many SSM customers are that they want to get a printable version of their SSM content. In Clariba we have implemented the following plug&play reports
- Scorecards Report: you can get a nice printable version of the scorecards in your SSM system. You can filter the information by department, by user or other variables.
- Initiatives report: many customers find the Initiatives front-end in SSM very nice and useful. However, they cannot print all Initiatives’ information at once and take a copy home. That’s why we have implemented a report displaying all initiatives’ information at once.
- Entry & Approval report: we all know that the usability of the Entry & Approval interface in SSM could be improved. If you want to display data from Entry & Approval in a printout, you will have to go through many windows and clicks to get it. If you want to display a listing of KPIs historical data... You cannot. To enhance this we have implemented a report to list all KPIs in Entry & Approval and to show what the historical data of the KPIs is. You can get your entire E&A data in a single printout and realize what historical values are right or find out what KPIs have no data.
- Comments report: in many places of the SSM system users can insert comments to provide additional information on KPIs, Objectives, Perspectives or strategy map. However, it is not currently possible to collect all these comments at once. Imagine that after your Strategy Meeting several comments have been inserted in the SSM and you want to collect them to summarize what was discussed and decided and what the follow-up actions are. In the SSM you have to go screen by screen, initiative by initiative, KPI by KPI, etc, to find out where the comments are and what they tell. Therefore, we have implemented reports in which all comments in SSM are collected in a single printout. You can filter the report by date, by user, departments, etc...
How can we enrich the information available in SSM?
The Strategy Management system lays on top of the systems pyramid in your landscape. Transactional information is stored in ERP or other business related systems. Analytical information is stored in BI/Data Warehouse systems. The highest level and most aggregated information is stored in the Strategy Management system. For Directors or executives, SSM is the entry point to their business information. KPIs and information is available in the SSM at a very aggregated and summarized way. You can display KPI across time dimensions and very few dimensions.
Sometimes, SSM customers would like to have more analytical information in the SSM. Adding more dimensions for analysis in SSM is not possible as it is not the purpose of the solution. However, we can give a couple of recommendations on how to enrich the SSM with more data:
- Using the linking functionality in SSM. You can add links to Objectives, KPIs or initiatives. These links can direct the user to a more detailed report located in a BI system (and with SSO configured, the step could be quick).
- Implementing reports in SSM. Report functionality in SSM is very basic and is used only to provide little additional information. We do not recommend that option if you want to provide the user with advanced reports with analytical capabilities.
- Embedding external content in SSM. You can create Dashboards or embed external documents in some parts of the SSM application. Why don’t you implement Dashboards and embed them inside the SSM? You would be providing additional information to Managers and Directors without forcing them to jump to another system.
We want Managers and Directors in our customers to use SAP Strategy Management as a support for their decision making processes. We can improve the capabilities of the tool and use some methods to get the attention of these users.
SAP Strategy Management is just the starting point in our strategy. It’s a repository where everybody can access and get information related to the strategy. It is on the customers’ hand how they use, enrich and exploit that information.
Partners and implementers like us can provide recommendations and reports that can be very valuable for SSM customers and should always be open to listen to new ideas or further reporting requirements.
If you have any experience implementing SSM, or if you are a customer interested in what we have enabled in our current SSM customers, leave a comment below.