Mar 17, 2014

7 steps to do nothing and ensure your HANA project success

For existing HANA customers: How often we get this email at 5am that something has gone wrong with your new BW-on-HANA production environment or your BI is down and will not meet business needs at 8am in accordance to SLA’s. Our normal reaction is to wake everyone else at 5am, et angry, shout at a few people and still not achieve the desired results by 8am for delivery.  At he end of it all we feel frustrated, angry, guilty and afraid all at the same time.
For potential HANA customers: How often we get this email to take a protocol decision on a topic that it totally outside our skill sets, i.e. a BW on HANA technical decision request to the CFO, VP Sales or other steering committee members. Or, similar from the CIO, BW lead and current SAP technical leads. It is important to remember that both groups that have very little idea on what works and what does not work in BW-on-HANA migrations. In fact on the planet there are few resources that clearly understand what works and what does not in HANA initiatives.
Your best solution to all such decision is to firstly stop from taking a knee-jerk reaction, take a deep breath and then do nothing.
All our governance instructions and guidelines tell us to take rapid decisions. Our productivity books tell us to take more and more decisions in a world that is already overloaded with decision in our areas of expertise.  As a Sales Super User I am already taking decisions on critical sales matters and now the company expects me to take tactical decisions on technical HANA issues about which I have not been adequately trained. Yes the sales reports fall under the jurisdiction of  the super user but is it their responsibility to ensure the 8am delivery – probably no.

Thus most time the best thing is to do : Nothing
However, underlying this statement are two fundamental assumptions

[1] “Plan your work and only then work your plan”, i.e. your basic global HANA methodology is documented, communicated and governed at a global level. If not then your start is defective.

[2] Your processes are not only clearly documents in RACI and SIPOC formats but also include clear ownership and accountabilities for tasks and escalations. Your resource role vs. skill maps are documented and available to decision makers to assign the right resource to the right task

In order to be effective you need not be reactionary but get into an elimination mode. In order to remain successful you need to plan your productivity by preassigned roles and responsibilities. The key is to not get involved in anything that can damage your productivity with a clear understanding that organizationally once you officially pick any baton you will need to run with it even if it is later found to be damaging to your role, ownership, accountabilities and productivity. 

Here is a checklist I recommend for when to do nothing. 4 things not to do and 3 to do’s:-


1.   Do nothing if you don’t understand the problem not own the solution: Most executives think that management needs to take decisions on anything thrown their way. This can be toxic. Firstly if you do so without understanding the problem or its ownership you are walking towards a cliff. Then if you take a decision without understanding tactical or strategic ramifications you will walk right off the cliff. Time to review your global governance model in order to identify who owns the solutions and then just hand it over. Good manager’s delegate, great manager manages.

2.      Do nothing when you’re angry, anxious or paranoid: Some executive’s thing that anger is a way to get things done, little realizing that anger is a sign of paranoia and anxiousness. Anger routinely freezes the recipients as it instantly puts them into a defensive mode. Thus rather than finding a remedy their concern is more not to make any mistakes. This causes a mental freeze and is not the mode you want your respondents to get into. Wait until anger settles down as anger blurs logic. Paranoia also freezes the brain to get into survival mode, as byproduct is anger and anxiety. Both are not conducive to building slow or rapid solutions. Fear causes a focus but paranoia does not have a direction and thus no focus. Use the same rules as for anger. Anxiousness causes one to react with haste or anger. It makes you communicate to people who need not be on that string. Everything is best served with patience and due diligence- even a crisis. Use the same rules as for anger.

3.      Do nothing when you are overburdened or tired: Sometime in 2008 each one of us got our hands wrapped around more than our jobs. Today, for most of us, it has become quite routine to work 12-14 hours a day and then some more. I was up till 1am the other night and then got an urgent call from one of my AE’s who wanted a resolution in 1 hour- and I was on a holiday on the other side of the planet at that time.  I was simply too tired and knew it would take hours to find a good solution so I took a 30 second break and recommended that the AE contact someone on the same time zone who would better serve her. There are times our families need to peel us off our keyboards and drag our minds out of the quagmire created by our complex obligations. Just as there are times to do things there are equally important times to simply say no. My 30 seconds decision worked. The alternative resource was fresh, spent the next 3 hours with various stakeholders and came through with a winning solution that he ran by me prior to submittal.

4.      Do nothing to win a popularity contest: We are all paid to get the work done but often we do things to keep someone happy, or to be liked. Each one of us has done things to be liked and mostly these are decisions that are not the most professional ones in our lives.  The path to a favor or flattery is an illusion that often leads to small or big nightmares – avoid it.

 3 TO DO’s

1.      DO find yourself a reliable strategic HANA advisor:  The best way for executives to take HANA decisions is to find a trusted ‘HANA Business Value Architect’ as their right had advisor. As a CIO your goal is to manage the IT environment and not take HANA specific decisions; as a BI manager your role requires you to know about current technologies and not become an experts on future options. As  CFO you role is to take financial decisions and not decisions on a HANA project in areas that are outside your expertise. Each one of these scenarios could lead you right off the cliff and they are not supposed to be yours to take. A good “HANA Business Value Architect” can save companies over 40% in initial investments and a same number in annual support costs by applying simple scientific methodologies. Once again a ‘Good manager’s delegate, great manager manages’.  The best advice I can give to any leader is to let the experts decide, define business goals and then own and deliver it. Good ‘HANA Business Value Architects’ will save companies hundreds of time more than their expense over strategic time scans. Send email to for this role vs skill definition. This is a key decision for success..

2.      DO start HANA project with a Global Methodology:  HANA is three things. [1] It is a net-new SAP Platform and no longer a database. [2] It will run optimally only on new standards and processes- and they need to be defined, documented, communicated and governed for all new developments. [3] Gartner 2013- What got you here will not get you there. “Fewer that 30% of current BI projects will meet business expectations” – translation- over 70% of reports in your production environment are not being used by business. Question: What is the business value of taking a 715 second report and accelerating this to 1 second if business will never use it? What if this represents 50-70% of the reports in your BI system?

3.      DO plan only for success: Whatever you put into place today is YOUR plan for the future. If the project fails in the future then failure is imbedded in your plans. If the project succeeds in the future then success was imbedded into your plans. Executive owners need to take ownership for the future as much with its success as its failure. BW on HANA is not longer an art but a scientific methodology. At each step of the project phase if is now possible to accurately identify defects and best practices and their impact on the overall HANA project. It is possible to guarantee a 50% reduction of TCO for BW customers, as it is possible to guarantee a 60% reduction for BW + BWA customers. Only experience can guide you through the meandering  decisions and options that make the difference in HANA success and or failure. Every project can meet technology expectations – i.e. a HANA technical installation. However, less than 30% will meet business satisfactions and therein lies the key to future success.
The choice is CLEAR and it is now yours to take.

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