CIO Kevin Ubert came on board at Burton not long after, where he is presently preparing the company for an upgrade to SAP ERP 6.0.
"There's no silver bullet software solution.
You have to take the people, the processes, and the technology, and align them with the strategy - and that's how you're going to maximize success."
- Kevin Ubert, CIO, Burton Snowboards
arrived at Burton, from a technology perspective, he
found a very complex environment composed of a bunch of loosely implemented, underutilized software instances.
"I established a couple of mantras fairly quickly," he
"If we started adding more complexity, we would just accelerate our issues rather than solve them," says Ubert
"There's no silver bullet software solution.
You have to take the people, the processes, and the technology, and align them together with the strategy - and that's how you're going to maximize success."
Simple, standard, supportable refers to reducing complexity.
"The closer we can get to standard off-the-shelf, the better off we'll be," Ubert
"We're only going to use whatever is built into the standard software or considered a best practice.
And this mantra doesn't just apply to SAP software
Burton has been moving toward standard functions and capabilities across the board.
"Standard systems are easier to support, easier to upgrade, less time-consuming for the internal team to manage, and more efficient and effective for the user community in general," Ubert
"My rule is that unless it can be demonstrated how a unique process provides competitive advantage or increases profits, then that uniqueness is going away."
Running Better with the Help of SAP Enterprise Support
When it comes to supporting the company's SAP solutions, Ubert and his team don't have to go it alone, as Burton opted to take advantage of SAP Enterprise Support, the leading SAP support offering.
To demonstrate the key customer benefits of this support program, SAP
partnered with SUGEN - the SAP User Group Executive Network, which facilitates information exchange and best-practice sharing across 13 SAP user groups - to develop an index of the 11 key performance indicators (KPIs), such as data volume management and CPU utilization, that are of highest importance to its customers.
Through this partnership with SUGEN, SAP
committed to work with select customers to identify their pain points and deliver support services through SAP Enterprise Support.
"I recognized that, with this initiative, SAP
was looking to demonstrate the value and benefits of its support to customers, and I figured it provided a great opportunity for us," says Ubert
could help us, and we could validate the benefits together through metrics, it would be a big win for both of our companies."
signed Burton up to become part of the SUGEN initiative and got straight to work.
For starters, Burton wanted to identify long-running processes, backlogs, and overall design gaps in its business process flow, and leverage SAP Enterprise Support services to bring potential reasons for the process issues to light.
For example, SAP's
business process analysis service identified instances of delayed deliveries in the company's order-to-cash process, as well as overdue purchase orders in the procure-to-pay process.
"We took all that data from the business process analysis, filtered out the pieces we knew were there for a particular reason, and then talked to users in the various areas to confirm and prioritize the remaining legitimate issues that should be resolved and cleaned up," says Ubert
As a next step, Ubert's
team collaborated with the SAP
Enterprise Support Advisory team to identify the top five transactions critical to Burton's business operations that needed optimization from a system performance standpoint.
"With thousands of SKUs moving around and many transactions going back and forth between the parties on a daily basis, this process needed to be more efficient," says Ubert
"And we didn't just reduce the size of the database," says Ubert
Getting rid of those unused custom objects will ease the upgrade and help us come out of it with a much cleaner system," Ubert
"That quality check identified opportunities to simplify how we manage our user profiles and grant security appropriately," says Ubert
"It gave us a roadmap to start cleaning up those profiles.
And while we're not done yet, we're working on the last set of recommendations now."
Instead of the previous method where every user's security profile was unique and users were granted access to applications on an individual transaction basis, users now are assigned roles with associated permissions.
"If a certain type of a role requires users to perform 12 different transactions, we now give those users the full set - even if they may use only a handful of them on a daily basis and not touch the others," Ubert
"These job-based security profiles are pre-approved and any request that becomes additive requires a formal review and approval process to ensure we're not venturing into conflict of duties or sensitive transactions situations.
This change simplifies the ongoing maintenance of our profiles, but then also closes some holes in terms of access that we had."
Industrializing Solution Operations
In addition to completing the SAP ERP 6.0 upgrade, Ubert's team will also be incorporating the monitoring capabilities of SAP Solution Manager with data analysis from SAP NetWeaver BW so business users can report on business process monitoring.
With the help of SAP Enterprise Support, the team is creating a management dashboard that will gauge how smoothly a critical business process is running at a certain point in time.
Using this dashboard, Burton's key users can get real-time information within that process and analyze it to discover inconsistencies, gaps, or other areas where they should focus on monitoring.
"While the automation from SAP Solution Manager is great, the real benefit is the way it points out potential issues or flaws in our processes," says Ubert
"Because these processes span multiple people and departments - and this visibility isn't something we had previously."
Another key benefit Burton has realized from its experiences so far, according to Ubert
, is the true collaborative partnership that SAP
"The SAP Enterprise Support team feels like an extension of our team," he