INNOVATE. INTEGRATE. TRANSFORM.

Business Solutions with SAP

SAP Project Manager – SAP Program Manager, Lessons from the Trenches

July 25th, 2011 by
SAP Project Insight

SAP Project Insight

This is a continuation of the previous post which addressed early requirements for good SAP project management (see Effective Results from SAP Project Managers – SAP Program Managers).

SAP Project Management Responsibility

A manager’s primary responsibility, above all else, is to ensure the success of those they are responsible for managing.  Overall success of any initiative is directly tied to the success of those responsible for delivery of that initiative.  This is especially true in fast paced, moderate to large scale SAP projects.  If your reports succeed then you as a manager automatically succeed.

An SAP project manager or SAP program manager must focus aggressively on removing obstacles, encouraging success, and fighting against those things that would impede momentum.

Once again, I will re-emphasize:

I don’t blame client project managers because if they had all of the resources, skills, and experience, they would not need outside help.  These posts are focused on contracted help who are supposed to ensure your success.

What can SAP Project Managers or SAP Program Managers Do to Help Ensure Success?

One of the first requirements of a contract SAP project manager is to build momentum.  Once momentum is built that contract SAP project manager or program manager must do everything possible to sustain that momentum.  Some of the things which help to build, sustain, and then manage momentum include:

  • An articulated obsession with building and maintaining momentum.
  • Activities, tasks, responsibilities, and value added tools are defined ahead of time and not made up in real time.
    • People must understand what is expected of them – project requirements in the form of deliverables, tasks, and timelines are communicated early in the project and reinforced *before* transition points throughout the project.
    • These “expectations” must be laid out early in the project, throughout the entire project lifecycle (beginning to end) and have proper transitions built into the planning.
  • Tracking mechanisms must be simple, easy to understand, and easy to manage.  Overly complex or involved tracking mechanisms destroy momentum and “cloud” visibility into progress.
  • During blueprint emphasis is focused on design that will enable execution, if it doesn’t enable execution (or Realization) it is a waste of time (see  How “As-Is” Process Mapping Can Damage Your SAP Project).
    • Project emphasis must be on execution – execution builds momentum.
    • There is an emphasis on coordinating activities rather than administrative overhead–, some administrative overhead is necessary but only to the extent that it directly supports execution).
    • Project management is actively and directly engaged in coordinating execution activities beyond checking off spreadsheets.
  • After blueprint emphasis moves to execution over design.  Areas where design continues to be evident must be aggressively managed so that design only supports directly executable activities that are in scope.
  • Risks to success are identified and mitigated throughout the project.
    • Issues, risks, decisions, or other obstacles to project success are regularly captured and worked to resolution.
    • Periodic QA reviews at appropriate milestones or intervals.
    • Obstacles to activity or execution are aggressively managed (with few exceptions there is no “we can’t do ‘x’ until ‘y’ is perfect)

Do You Have a “Slick Politician” or a Real SAP Project / Program Manager?

There are unfortunately too many politicians in the project manager ranks and too few “straight shooters.”  Project manager politicians are destructive to morale, on-time delivery, and are dangerous to budgets.  However there is a measure of diplomacy that is required so how do you know when you have a political SAP project manager or SAP program manager rather than a skilled and talented one?

A manager’s primary responsibility, above all else, is to ensure the success of those they are responsible for managing.

Think about that a minute.  If a manager’s primary responsibility is to ensure the success of those they are responsible for then what would be a sign they are not a good contract project manager?

If your reports succeed then you as a manager automatically succeed.

The worst kind of project manager is the one who will “throw others under the bus” to deflect from their own shortcomings.  They demoralize and discourage project team cohesiveness while crushing momentum.  They create an environment where people do not want to do anything at all for fear of becoming the next scapegoat.  When things go well they are the first in line to take credit for what went well (even when they weren’t involved).  They lack integrity and character.  They spend more time and effort trying to cover their own back side than on trying to ensure the project is delivered successfully.  If you see these signs in your contract project manager you should seriously consider firing them.




Popular Searches:


  • explain the economic hardware and software factors for vendor selection
  • what does a sap project manager do

Related Posts:

Effective Results from SAP Project Managers – SAP Program Managers

July 18th, 2011 by
SAP Project Success

SAP Project Success

In all the years I’ve been involved with SAP I’ve often puzzled about what makes a really good project rather than some of the freak shows they call SAP projects.  After involvement in over 20 SAP projects I’ve seen a few of them go really well, a few that were more like horror shows, but most were mediocre.  I’ve often asked myself “Why?”  What makes the difference between a good project and one that is nothing short of a mess?

One key item that stands out is project management.  Even with the most talented and dedicated resources bad project management can ruin an otherwise great SAP project.

 

I don’t blame client project managers because if they had all of the resources they would not need outside help and guidance.

 

Before I get into this, let me define what I consider a “good” project.  A good project is one where there is a lot to do, but the stress level is not intense.  The timeline may be tight but it is achievable (maybe a little bit of a stretch).  The project is delivered on time, on budget, within scope and the result is high quality (a fairly smooth transition without a chaotic go-live).

Methodology Considerations for a Good SAP Project or SAP Program

The list below is from a synthesis of materials from SAP’s ASAP methodology, the PMI (Project Management Institute), and my personal experience over the years.  Much of this is contained in the SAP ASAP methodology in one form or another so you really have to wonder what any consultant is following if they claim to use it and these items are lacking.  In fact the latest ASAP Methodology version 7.1 includes a project start-up checklist to ensure key components are addressed.

Unlike several years ago when contract project managers had to rely on experience alone – the SAP ASAP Methodology is well-proven and mature today.

There are several key characteristics of a well managed SAP project which includes:

Early SAP Project or Program Management Activities (Before the Overall SAP Project is Fully Underway)

  • Success criteria defined and communicated for the project.
  • One of the first things that is defined for the project are the key roles, responsibilities, and tasks that will be performed by each participant group in the project.
  • A clear, definitive project plan with WBS elements, networks, and activities planned for every major work-stream throughout the entire timeline.
  • A clear list of deliverables, milestones, templates, and instructions on their usage are provided for the entire project.
  • Deliverables are clearly tied to project value rather than useless administrative exercises (value added activities) (see SAP System Vendor Project Success Criteria & Factors 1 scroll down to Sections 8 and 9).
  • Scope, time, issues, risk, cost, communication, and integration management plans, together with additional key components are defined.
  • Various standards for the project are defined and documented, including but not limited to business process, development, configuration, enhancement, transport management, testing, etc.

If you are using outside contract project management resources and  these items are not substantially in place by the time you start your project you will likely have your timeline and budget destroyed.  Along with the blown schedule and budget your project will also be a pressure cooker filled with stress, anxiety, and frustration. These are also characteristics you find when an SAP project manager or SAP program manager is not qualified.  The chaos, tension, stress, and confusion caused by their inability to coordinate the many moving parts of the project are a direct result of their lack of experience and ability.

I don’t blame client project managers because if they had all of the resources they would not need outside help and guidance.

The project should be delivered on time, on budget, within scope and with high quality…

Conclusion on Effective SAP Project or Program Management Practices

You are headed for a project disaster when a contract SAP project manager or SAP program manager fails to ensure the following items are in place early in the project:

  • responsibilities by group and role are defined,
  • deliverables are well laid out,
  • templates are properly prepared,
  • forward looking expectations are set,
  • coordination occurs between all project groups,
  • etc.

I’ve only ever been on a few projects when the SAP project manager or SAP program manager failed to produce a properly detailed project plan.  Every one of those projects had one thing in common, they were absolutely horrendously stressful, difficult, and took more time and cost more than necessary.  Along with the failure to produce a proper project plan the lack of proper deliverables, proper roles and responsibilities, and all of the other things a good project plan would help you define were also missing.  If this happens to you FIRE those contractors, you are being bled dry and are headed for a budget and timeline disaster.

For much more detail on what happens when you have bad contract SAP project managers or SAP program managers see the post Some Reasons SAP Projects are Over Budget and Over Time.




Popular Searches:


  • sap implementation plan
  • sap project manager roles and responsibilities
  • sap deployment plan
  • sap project manager responsibilities
  • sap implement plan
  • JD for SAP Project Manger
  • sap project manager description and duties

Related Posts:

Steering Committee Governance for an SAP Center of Excellence

July 11th, 2011 by
Business to IT Convergence with an SAP Center of Excellence

SAP Center of Excellence Governance

This post is based on information from my recent ASUG presentation in Atlanta…  Beyond Technology Alignment – Building a Center of Excellence @ http://bit.ly/jJefxP

————————-

At the intersection of business and IT you have convergence.  At the place of convergence is where the Center of Excellence exists.

————————-

One of the key SAP project success factors is to use a steering committee made up of key business stakeholders.  They can meet once a week or once a month, but generally they are involved to provide business level guidance to an SAP project or IT programs.  The most effective steering committees include at least one executive and several senior leaders from throughout the business (see The Real Reason Executive Participation Creates IT Project Success).

That steering committee performs a critical function over large projects like SAP implementations.  This group is critical to your project’s success because of the amount of time from company employees, capital from the organization’s coffers, and decisions which change the business.

Some of the key functions a steering committee carries out during the course of your SAP project include:

  • Set SAP project scope and then help manage it.
  • Define project objectives and evaluation criteria.
  • Monitor project progress, including key milestones and deliverables progress.
  • Oversee Quality reviews at key check points.
  • Evaluate and mitigate organizational impact of business changes.
  • Promotes the project throughout the organization.
  • Coordinates staffing and resource levels from key business areas.
  • Makes critical decisions which the project team is unable to resolve (escalations or key business decisions).

The ongoing functions and tasks of the SAP steering committee cannot be underestimated. During the course of their duties they gain that list of unique and critical skills related to applying technology to business issues and problems (see Using Your SAP Steering Committee for Business Transformation).

You go live and WHY do you disband your steering committee???

Integrating the SAP – IT Organization Into the Business

In an SAP Center of Excellence, after your SAP implementation goes live, the steering committee functions change to one of developing and managing technology road-maps.  Their skills with scope, schedule, cost, performance, prioritizing, and evaluating risks / rewards are ideally suited to their continued involvement in the application of technology to the business.  But the underlying issue here is that they must continue to function –, they should not be disbanded.

One of the key benefits of continuing to leverage the SAP Steering Committee after the SAP business software goes live is you continue to build on their experience and unique skills.  Even as they rotate out of the steering committee role these individuals move through the ranks of the larger enterprise and take that technology to business integration experience with them.  If they have served on a steering committee long enough to see the benefits technology can bring to the larger enterprise their exposure is invaluable to building a long term Center of Excellence –, an organization dedicated to converging business and technology to meet business marketplace requirements.

These individuals have worked through many key business decisions, budget decisions, scope and schedule decisions, and how to move to technology integration project success.  As a result of their experience applying technology solutions to the business they develop critical skills for the converged and integrated organization, these skills are difficult to replicate.  In a nutshell this steering committee develops a convergence of three critical skills for tomorrow’s powerhouse enterprises: they understand management, technology, and business integration.  Those are the key ingredients to the converged SAP enterprise.

Related Posts: