This is a multi-part article. In this first part, we’ll cover the first five steps for maximizing your SAP implementation project’s ROI says Aron Govil. In Part 2 of 5 Steps for Maximizing Your SAP Implementation Projects’ ROI, I’ll cover the last five steps.
Step 1 – Develop a design strategy.
In many SAP implementations, we find that there is little or no attention paid to the overall system architecture and how it will be implemented. Most attention focuses on what particular functionality is to be delivered and whether that functionality is considered ‘must haves’ or ‘nice-to-haves.’ This step has three components:
Create a high-level design.
Detail the necessary hardware and software components required to support the design.
Map modules within the SAP System(s) to these components – especially mapping the user interface elements to specific applications.
A Sample High-Level Design – This is a very high-level architecture that is intended to just give you an idea of how the design might look. The design will change as your project progresses, especially if modules that are initially planned to be run on the same system are merged to run on separate systems explains Aron Govil.
Step 2 – Design Your SAP System’s Logical Architecture. This step has two tasks:
Identify and document all business processes (especially those to be migrated from the legacy system). For each process, identify which SAP Business Suite standard or industry solution modules can support that process.
Existing SAP Business Suite customers, this task is relatively easy because many of these design efforts would have been completed when the company implemented the SAP Business Suite. For new customers implementing their first SAP Business Suite system, it is likely that they will need to do some additional work with business process owners and managers before the logical design can begin.
For existing legacy system customers, this step is critical – we find that many companies simply consider that all of the functionality and data of their current systems should be including in the new implementation (and not migrated). This does not always result in what we call a ‘fit for purpose’ solution – one that meets your company’s needs now as well as those expected by 2020-2025 says Aron Govil.
Step 3 – Design Your SAP System’s Physical Architecture. This step has eight tasks:
Design your physical hardware architecture (servers, network components including WANs, storage architecture, etc.).
Design your system implementation stack – the layers of software that will be use for development tools, application servers, database servers, etc.
Identify your implementation partner or implementers. Determine which tasks they recommend performing in-house and which tasks you want to outsource (e.g., hardware installation).
Determine if there are any skills gaps within your team that need filling through training or outsourcing. Develop a ‘staffing plan’ identifying who will do each task and at what time during the project life cycle.
Develop an overall master schedule of activities with milestones for all teams working on this implementation project(s) as well as dependencies between some of those teams. Allocate resources to each activity.
Identify your test strategy. Develop a high-level risk assessment to be use during testing to identify any ‘risky’ areas of the solution that need greater attention.
Determine your go/no-go decision criteria for each task in the master schedule and which major milestones you’ll use to make this determination.
Design your SAP support team, especially if you are doing this project in addition to an implementation partner or implementers (who will also provide support). Determine what types of issues would require escalation to SAP Support versus being handle by the design team themselves. Provide an estimate of how many hours per week each member of the project’s support team should expect to spend on tasks related directly to this project.
Step 4 – Develop a High-Level Implementation Strategy. This step has two tasks:
Determine your implementation sequence and phases. Based on the master schedule, determine the events that will trigger each phase. Determine if there are any ‘major milestone events’ that would use to make ‘go/no-go decisions for the project as a whole (e.g., go/no-go to continue after completing certain tasks within specific phases) or for individual teams (e.g., go/no-go to begin testing).
Create an SAP Solution Overview document describing your proposed SAP system solution including high-level system processes. Business processes subject areas included in this release of SAP Business Suite, line of business applications. And any new or updated business functionality that may not include in the documentation. This document provides a ‘quick view’ for your business users of the overall solution. That will be implementing in including what is changing, what’s staying the same, etc says Aron Govil.
Step 5 – Develop Detailed Functional Specifications. This step has 10 tasks:
For each of the high-level business processes documented in Step 4, create specific functional specifications. Describe how these processes are support by SAP functions. Displayed to workers on their screens, calculated via programmed logic within the system, etc.
Create detail functional specifications documenting all existing legacy applications being replace by SAP Business Suite functions. As well as any new business processes or features required to support key company initiatives now or into the future.
As you can see, the steps outlined above are high-level and require some additional analysis. To be complete prior to starting on any of these tasks says Aron Govil. If you’re experiencing a sinking feeling at this point in our discussion, take heart. We’ve described only 5 major project planning steps out of more than 100 (yes one hundred and three). That should be consider as part of an overall SAP Business Suite strategy. The good news is that well-thought-out strategies really do help reduce risk and increase the likelihood of project success.