Mary is Sabotaging your SAP Integrated B2B eCommerce rollout

Who is Mary?

She’s one of your most senior Customer Service Representatives. 

She’s been working at your company for 20+ years. She loves your most important clients, and they love her.  They think she’s psychic because she simply knows what products they need and when they need them… in spite of what their emailed orders specify.  Like a doting parent, she fixes all of their orders and expedites them through the factory on their behalf. Never once does she complain or ask them to stop making unreasonable requests upon her.  She takes great pride in her work.

She is here to serve.

She’s been through your upgrade to SAP oh-so-many years ago.  She’s been through your Private Equity leveraged buyout. She’s been through all of the faddish TQM, Lean, Baldridge Award process improvement efforts that your string of new CEO’s brought with them to your company.  Through thick and thin, Mary has been there. She’s one of your most loyal employees and has developed enough tribal knowledge about your clients, and order to cash processes, to write a book.  

And that is how Mary is sabotaging your SAP Integrated B2B eCommerce rollout.

Mary is an enabler of broken processes and bad data.  

It’s not that Mary is a bad person.  It’s just the opposite. It’s simply that she and her sticky-notes-adorned cubicle have been keeping the Order to Cash process together for so long that nobody in IT has prioritized codifying her tribal knowledge back into SAP.  Complicating the situation is her grasp of the most nuanced of edge cases, i.e., that semiannual big order that needs to be split into 3 separate shipments which “Best Client ABC” is known for.  Funny how quick she is to insert that example into the many attempts to automate her department. Those edge cases always reduce even the most experienced of hired gun SAP experts into a quivering mass of Jello–at which point they say, “Let’s focus on something else”.

What Mary won’t admit, even to herself, is that deep down in her subconscious mind she believes that her Tribal Knowledge Mastery is her ticket to job security.  If anyone tries to computerize her expertise, she protects it like a mother bear protects her cubs. Her survival instincts are so strong that she is clever enough to masquerade her protectionism as passion for her customers.  And her customers support her with equal amounts of loyalty since they’ve been working with her for what seems like forever.

  1. She knows how to translate her customer’s product numbers into your product numbers. 
  2. She knows how to find the right product when her customer has only specified the model number and not the specific variant within that model family.  
  3. She knows what additional products to put on an order to make sure that her customer doesn’t come back later to order the thing they forgot to order that would allow them to actually get their job done.  
  4. She knows what promotions are available to apply to the order so that her customer gets the maximum discount.  
  5. She knows people in the factory, and she can call in favors to them to free up inventory for her customer.  
  6. She knows how to make sure that her customers order enough product to get free shipping.

These are just some of the things that Mary does for her customers that senior management laud as fostering “the kinds of deep relationships we want with our customers.”

But Mary’s system isn’t scalable.

The problem with this scenario is that it isn’t scalable.  It’s actually a ticking time bomb that will explode when customers are replaced with Millennials who think that Mary is as much of a relic as the fax machine that she dusts clean at the end of every shift. Or worse yet, what will happen when Mary retires in a few years and she reveals that she never really had the time to write that Tribal Knowledge book that she’d been meaning to write all these years?

Digital transformations are all about adding value to your increasingly digital-savvy customers in a scalable way.  That means selling more products to more customers without having to linearly add more employees. Mary can only manage so many customers by herself.

What do you need to do to get Mary on board with your digital transformation team?  

Promote her to a lead Super-User position.  Charge her with working with the resources you will allocate to her to prioritize the above 6 use cases…and myriad others…and make sure that they are supported by your eCommerce website and rolled out to your customers.  Have her imbue the team with her passion for your customers and help her see that edge cases shouldn’t grind the project to a screaming halt. Let her know that her knowledge and passion will always be cherished on the continuously learning (and improving) digital transformation team.

Recognize that she really doesn’t want to sabotage your SAP Integrated B2B eCommerce rollout afterall.  She only wants to make sure that her customers’ lives will be improved by your IT investments. Unfortunately, IT doesn’t have a great track record of leading fun projects that add value to people’s lives.

Make this one an exception.

Onward!

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About Author

, Mary is Sabotaging your SAP Integrated B2B eCommerce rollout

Sam Bayer

Sam Bayer is the Founder & CEO of Corevist. His mission is to capitalize on the convergence of the growing popularity of Cloud delivered services and the consumerization of B2B ecommerce to build a company that delivers real value to his clients and a great place to work for his team.