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Design Support organisations  I  
Designing Support Organizations in a complex environment –How to set up an efficient organization for SAP support. We have tried it several times. We start with a SAP project in a business blueprint or through a prototype where everything is possible.You can create your own transports, you can suggest changes to the project, which is approved on the next project meeting, there is short response time and creativity is in charge. Then we come to the realization phase, the deliveries starts to be produced, documentation, end user procedures and test scenarios are described. The organizations around the SAP projects starts to grow and staff functions for the SAP projects is created such as education department, test groups, Solution offices where change request are approved or rejected. The project ends with a go live and now it needs to hand over the system to IT operation where an organization with super users and supporters first as second liners are ready to handle the end users incidents. Most are aware of the transformation from a rather organic organization to a more mechanistic organisation where incidents are handled in distinct support teams with their specific knowledge of the SAP process or functional area. But is this an optimal way of organizing the support? Many has seen newly created support organisations drown in bureucratic rules and procedures because the context of the support organisation is highly uncertain and managers as well as employees feel a large extent of stress due to information overload. The solution for handling this situation needs to be studied because additional rules and procedures might not release our resources for productive work, but only tied them up in administrative tasks. This is why I will suggest managers as well as employees to read this article and see if the framework of Jay Galbraith can add some thoughts to your decisions of how to structure a support organization. Most are aware of the studies made by Burns and Stalker when they observed 20 UK companies organizational structure and identified the two types of organzations organic versus mechanistic. Woodward found in another study the relation between structure and effectivness was a matter of the production form. Small batch, project based with a large extent of customer specification where supported by flat organizations with little use of staff departments. In the other end of the scale of this procuction environment we found the mass production industry where the organizations are tall with a large extent of supporting staff departments. Another dimension which has an effect on the way we organize is the growth strategy of the company. Those companies who pursue single markets utilize it through a centralized organization where those companies who pursue growth through diversification utilise the decentralized organizational form. This empirical fact made by Chandler is supported by other studies. In many cases the research and development department prefer to have organic forms while the production and support organisations have mechanistic forms. The same structure can be found for SAP support organizations. When a project is being implemented and hand over is made to the supporting units. The projects have flat organic structures in contrast to the supporting units who in many cases have a mechanistic form. In the period of burn in the SAP project are faced with an organizational design problem. The first issue is to facilitate the effectivness of performance for the projects where there are a high degree of uncertainty related to the tasks performed. The project itself is trying to customise the business demands into the system, the business is testing the system and realise there is differences between what they thought they received. The business will also find gaps in their understanding of their business and the processes, which was being described during the business blueprint. The project will continue to be under pressure from different involved parties of the organization and they will return to the project with last minuet change request. The project is a taskforce which represents different stakeholders of the organization. The project form is ideal for handling the uncertainty which they confront during the SAP project stages: Pre analysis Business blueprint Realization Testing Implementation Burn in (Support in operation.) During the last phase of the project ”Burn In” to operational mode the organisation must set up a support structure, which can handle the volume of incidents which starts to flow in from the endusers. A Sap project has an problem in the way to organize. The project itself faces a lot of uncertainty and there is a high need for information during the first stages of the project and therefore the project is organized rather organic with highly specialized reources and informal ways of gathering information and decisions, but the project must deliver the result of an implemented proces to the business and here it will be inefficient to keep this form of organization so there is a need for another organizational form when the project is being transformed to operational mode.   Support organization The presumed optimal support organization is based on a rather mechanistic organizational form where a rather large volume of incidents is handled by a workforce who knows how to act on the incidents they receive. This could be the request for new users to employee and manager self services,  the request for resetting a password for a user or the request for setting up master data for a new site/ plant... To work with an mechanistic organization the tasks handled by the workforce must be repetitive and delivered in predetermined forms, which describes exactly the information needed for processing the task in the workflow. The mechanistic form for working with the support organization also creates a need for the business to deliver exact the information needed for the support organisation to work efficient. Lets take an example of the creation of an new user who needs access for employee and manager self services. The support organization expects the following information: Who, Where, What  and When e.g New user NIKNU Niels Knuzen (Who) needs access for MSS and ESS (what) the 1th. Of january (when) in Division West (where) This is what the support organization received: ”Hi Support we have a new employee who needs access please handle it asap. Very urgent!” In this case the support organization is forced to return to the caller and ask for the needed information, which is inefficient because each supporter must loop back one or several times to the requester for information to handle the support. But the support can also be overloaded with information such as this example ”Hi Support I CIFRER is the super user from division West  I have before requested access for new user such as ALFA and BETA . GAMMA needs the same access as ALFA but without manager self service. BETA also have issues with his access as personnel administrator for Division West. The user should be assigned start of the month.” In this case the supporter will use some time analysing the text to piece together the requesters need. Imaging the supporter is handling many incidents each day. Each time the supporter is receiving unclear instructions the mechanistic form fails because there is a need for several reloops between requester and supporter until the incident is handled. The education of endusers to hand in correct request is an continuous task which must be performed at a certain frequency. The context for working with the mechanistic form requires a stable environment where the technology used works as described and there is a well defined coordination between all the activities. This is when we have an SAP environment without any major projects who can influence the work conditions and tasks required solved by the support team.
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