The common denominator of a championship caliber NFL team is great quarterback play. One of the greats, Peyton Manning, recently retired after winning Super Bowl 50 and leading the Denver Broncos to four consecutive playoff berths. Most notably, he did so after switching teams and learning a brand new offense. In the spirit of mid-season NFL analysis, let’s compare how Peyton Manning and West Monroe consultants use a similar approach to adapt to different scenarios and achieve success.
At the most basic level, the job of an NFL quarterback is to manage the game, read the defense correctly, and execute on that information to give the team the best chance to win. Sure, there are different offensive coordinators for each team and diverse player skillsets on the field, but at the end of the day all 32 starting quarterbacks share a similar responsibility – and approach their job the same way. Peyton Manning was one of the best game managers to play in the NFL and his core football knowledge is a big reason for his consistent success during his long career. After being released by the Indianapolis Colts and signing with the Denver Broncos, Manning had to learn a whole new offense and develop chemistry with unfamiliar teammates. Although he played for the Colts for 14 seasons, he was able to make a smooth transition to Denver because of a strong knowledge of the fundamentals needed to play the quarterback position. In four seasons with Denver, Manning reached the playoffs every year, became the NFL’s all-time leader in passing touchdowns, was awarded his fifth MVP title, and won his second Super Bowl. Remarkably, it only took Peyton Manning a few weeks to learn the new playbook and succeed in the starting role.
For those familiar with SAP systems, the same comparison can be made to performing SAP work for different companies, regardless of industry. SAP is able to manage a company’s operations successfully if all of the firm’s business processes are mapped and tested correctly within the system. Many of these processes are universal across every company. However, the individual steps that make up the process could vary based on the company and the industry. Let’s use the procure-to-pay cycle as an example.
From manufacturers to technology firms, every time an item is procured within SAP, a purchase requisition will be created internally and a purchase order will be sent to the vendor. The next steps in the procure-to-pay cycle might be customized depending on the business or industry though. For example, many firms have a separate step for the generation of a goods receipt, an invoice receipt, and finally the payment process. However, in the SAP system of a steel manufacturer our team partners with, we encountered a customization that merged the steps for the generation of purchase orders, goods receipts, invoice receipts, and the payment process into a single transaction screen. While these are normal steps in the procure-to-pay cycle, the consolidated transaction required custom configuration to guide the program when the transaction was being processed. These customizations in the procure-to-pay cycle vary on a company-to-company basis, just like Peyton Manning’s progression during play-action passes would be similar, but ultimately differ, depending on the opposing team’s defense.
At the start of a play-action pass, Manning would fake a handoff to a running back to draw the defense closer to the line of scrimmage, giving his receivers space to separate from coverage. What happened next, i.e., the types of routes being run by the receivers, would be based on the players’ skills and the opposing team’s defensive tendencies. For example, if a wide receiver with elite speed was on the field, like Demaryius Thomas of the Broncos, Manning would look for the receiver to beat his defender and then throw the ball deep (assuming the fake worked properly and froze the defense). However, if Manning was playing a team that had a tendency to crash defenders on a run fake, a tight end doing a post in the middle of the field would be open because of the gap created by linebackers trying to stop the run. Thus, you have the same play type with a universal first step, but different progressions and routes that change on a consistent basis. While a company’s processes will not vary week-to-week like the types of routes run on a play-action pass, business processes do differ company to company, or industry to industry.
In the past, encountering customizations in business processes during an SAP carve-out could cause complications. However, West Monroe has created a process centric approach built specifically for M&A clients going through carve-outs, consolidations and divestitures called our SHIFT methodology. So, only an understanding of business processes is initially required to perform effective work on an SAP carve-out. The first step of applying SHIFT successfully is to identify the custom processes of the specific company within SAP in order to appropriately test the migrated system. After custom processes are documented and tested, the rest of the system will be operating on standard processes within SAP – saving time and money. With this approach, if the consultant has an understanding of core business processes, the mapping, testing, and validation of data can be completed accurately and efficiently within the project budget and expected timeline.
It may seem straightforward, but football and SAP are alike in that preparation is needed before you are able to achieve success. Approaching an SAP carve-out with a knowledge of core business processes will give you a leg up on the competition, but at the end of the day it comes down to how well a team can adapt and learn all of the custom transactions and processes of the business quickly. Just as Peyton Manning did with the Denver Broncos.