Solidigm Cloud ERP: From Mandate to Implementation in 12 Months with RGP

May 28, 2024
5 Minute Read

When Solidigm — maker of NAND flash memory solutions — spun off from a global semiconductor company, the operations team had to quickly become self-sufficient. They could not remain on the parent company’s legacy systems, and the transaction service agreements included paying a hefty price for extending past the aggressive timelines. The team decided to stand up a full stack SAP S/4HANA cloud ERP solution but had to do so quickly and with few team members.

“We were tasked with landing an ERP system, which would typically take 18-to-24 months, and we did it in 12. It was a fast and furious effort,” says Mike Knapp, Senior Director of Supply Chain Operations for Solidigm. “Thank you to RGP for coming in and saving the day!”

Why Solidigm Engaged RGP for Their SAP S/4HANA Implementation

Solidigm was in the midst of designing their organization and hiring their team. At the same time, they had to build out corporate functions like treasury, HR and legal, which didn’t exist when they were a business unit inside of the parent company. RGP was able to provide an operationally focused team to get the project off the ground, and later, seasoned professionals to help run the company while the project team focused on building out the ERP.

“We were standing up a new ERP platform and trying to undo 40 years of [the parent company’s] processes,” says Knapp. “We were not getting the support we needed from our other partners.”

It was critical for Solidigm to have a partner who understood the intricacies of change management and technology adoption — for internal users as well as external suppliers and customers. The team had to rebuild and retest all of their operational connections, including everything from banking transactions to paying suppliers and employees changed.

“I’ve never had a relationship with any external supplier as good as the one I have now with RGP as a result of going through this together.”

Mike Knapp, Sr. Director of Supply Chain Operations, Solidigm

RGP collaborated with Solidigm to build appropriate training, communication and follow-up mechanisms to gain full adoption from everyone involved. “When we were ready to transition from design to a workable solution, the RGP team rolled their sleeves up, sat down with us and started to produce output that helped us pull this thing across the line,” Knapp says.

Moving Fast and Breaking Silos During Implementation

“A lot of the issues we saw were because of the timeline,” Knapp says. “Everybody was working in their own individual silos — the integration of all those silos is where we saw issues. Connecting supply chain operations with finance and HR altogether was where we saw issues.”

It was critical to integrate RGP team members into the workstreams quickly. Knapp was impressed with how different that team-building experience was with RGP, compared to prior consulting firms they’d worked with.

“There was an immediate connection of trust and credibility that I didn’t expect,” he said. “Being at [large multinational corporation] for 20-plus years, I worked with almost every consulting firm out there. So, I’ll be honest, I was a little bit skeptical. Was this going to be another group that was going to come in and tell me all the things I should do but not actually help me do any of it?”

During this process, Solidigm found the process integration pain points affected more than internal members of the project team, it also started to impact their customers and suppliers.

“We turned on the ERP, and we initially couldn’t confirm orders because we couldn’t trust the accuracy of the supply in our system,” says Knapp.

The team mitigated risks by talking to their customers about the roadmap for the ERP implementation and assuring them their orders would be filled. Knapp notes that it’s easy to overlook this kind of proactive communication.

“It’s not just self-contained to the company — it’s your customers, your suppliers, it’s the whole ecosystem that has to go on this journey with you,” he says. “We expect these things to happen, so it shouldn’t be reactionary — we can be more proactive in that education.”

Solidigm understood that the key to their implementation success would be getting the entire organization in the room and aligned on the initiative. “We pulled almost 60 people from the organizations together and had enormous map days and where we focused on those integration points,” says Knapp. “Critically, we focused on the fact that we couldn’t fail.”

RGP Helped Solidigm Deliver Results Nearly a Year Faster Than Plan, Rescuing $70M+ in Revenue

When RGP joined the project, Solidigm was faced with three weeks of order backlogs they couldn’t ship out.

“We went in knowing it was going to be painful, and I think I think we called it pretty right on where those pain points were going to be, which was integration across modules data,” said Knapp. “We kept things going with manual processes. But by the end of the quarter — and we actually had a very strong quarter revenue-wise — we thought we were going to lose that revenue because of the integration issues. We couldn’t get anything out of the warehouse. Without RGP, we would have not gotten through the first quarter.”

“Having my RGP counterparts at my side, helping to refine the messages and mitigate the chaos was invaluable. They helped with everything from the transactional level all the way up to executive messaging — it was fantastic.”

Mike Knapp, Sr. Director of Supply Chain Operations, Solidigm

Around the same time, executive turnover meant Knapp took on a larger leadership role and took ownership of the project’s change management strategy — all things outside the initial scope of work. The RGP project team quickly assessed the new needs and added in the right talent and skill sets to adapt.

“I was spending a lot of my time with executive staff, focusing on damage control and messaging,” he said. “Having my RGP counterparts at my side, helping to refine the messages and mitigate the chaos was invaluable. They helped with everything from the transactional level all the way up to executive messaging — it was fantastic.”

The RGP team was able to adapt and support Solidigm’s changing needs throughout the project. “We didn’t just have big massive, bloated teams who sat in the room and advised — it was people with specific expertise who drilled down to get the work done where needed,” explains Pamela Mudge, RGP Vice President and Strategic Client Accounts Group Leader. “As a result, we ended up completing probably 9 to 12 months earlier than what we expected.”

Lessons Learned from Solidigm’s SAP S/4HANA Implementation

After completing phase one of their ERP implementation, the Solidigm and RGP teams convened to identify lessons learned throughout the project, including the “phase zero” discovery and preparation that are critical to the success of the project.

“The more time you spend in phase zero, the less time you’re going to spend in deployment because you’re going to get it right the first time,” Knapp says, adding that it’s important to focus on how the ERP upgrade or update will support your business in the future, rather than how it worked in the past.

“That’s a very important mindset change for the organization and for the leadership to understand where you’re going. Once we got aligned to undo a lot of the [parent company] processes and build up our own Solidigm processes, we started to make a lot of progress.”

Key recommendations:

  • Make sure to have a clearly defined target operating model.
  • Clearly define business requirements.
  • Spend the time to ensure the right tools and technologies are selected.
  • Look across your entire technology landscape to see where you may be able to consolidate and reduce your overall architectural footprint.

Throughout the process, it’s important not to underestimate the resource needs. Frequently, system integration partners will not kick off the project until the client’s project team is fully staffed.

It’s not realistic to expect team members to be able to fulfill the requirements of this sort of mission-critical project while also being responsible for their usual work. RGP can help you understand what roles and responsibilities you need to pull from the business to effectively staff up a full project team. And unlike other consulting partners, we can also provide the right operational backfill resources so you can continue to run the business while successfully executing the project.

RGP’s Collaboration Brought the New Solidigm Team Closer Together to Deliver Exceptional Results

Launching a new ERP system is a big accomplishment for any team, but it’s an even bigger one for a team that was forming its own new corporate identity.

“I think everybody is finally getting to that point of looking at the incredible amount of work that we did,” says Knapp. “We came together as an organization and stabilized an ERP system that was nowhere near being ready to run our business. And we really didn’t skip a beat from a revenue perspective, which is a great measure of success.”

Would Knapp recommend RGP to a peer in a similar situation?

“In a heartbeat,” he says. “I’ve never had a relationship with any external supplier as good as the one I have now with RGP as a result of going through this together.”

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