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Where Does Agile Fit in SAP Projects?

November 12th, 2012 by
Agile on SAP projects

Agile SAP Success

After offering insight based on my personal experiences around “Agile Project Methods for SAP ERP Projects?” I thought it would be helpful to highlight a couple of areas where Agile does work.

  • Development efforts (i.e. coding)
  • Data conversions

Once you begin to move very far beyond these two areas you quickly encounter dependent work streams that need much more coordination.  Those additional dependencies make it difficult to apply Agile methods beyond development and data conversions.

While Agile tends to emphasize the 1 week to 1 month “sprint,” I would define a “sprint” in more of a completed requirements and planning package rather than a pure time-box approach.

Applying Agile Methods to ABAP Software Development and SAP Data Conversions

Development (ABAP, Java, or other coding)

Since Agile methods have been used for some time with small, discrete components of software development I won’t spend a lot of time there.  On a typical SAP project you will end up with a functional spec which defines the program requirements and a technical spec which informs the development details.  Even though the more typical “Agile Manifesto” method would not require the documentation it is well-placed on an SAP project.  In fact, it is foolish not to have it for long term support and maintenance. 

Development can work well for the Agile stages of build / prototype, demonstrate, gather feedback, adjust, and repeat.  The key here is to limit the number of these “Agile” cycles to no more than 3 for software development.  By 3 cycles I mean 3 completed cycles too.  This is not a demonstration with feedback that is only partially built.  If the feedback cycle is not completely implemented then it is not a complete cycle.  Even though Agile would consider these “sprints,” I would consider them a FAILED sprint if the requirements of the current plan, or the subsequent plans, are not fully realized in the prototype or demonstration.

SAP Data Conversions using Agile Sprints

With data conversions I suggest at least 3 complete cycles or “sprints” (not including a minimum of 1 mock go-live conversion, probably 2 or more if you can). 

  1. Build the initial conversion program to all of the requirements (again, partial requirements do not count as a full cycle).
  2. Pilot a test conversion with all data, no matter how much fails, and capture all necessary changes.  This will include data dependencies and sequencing.  At this point you will be lucky to achieve a 70% success rate when considering all of the data dependencies.  This step is not about getting things perfect but about identifying data and programming issues to resolve.
  3. Implement all SAP data conversion changes the conversion pilot exposes, script every conversion step and rough timings, and aim for a successful test target of at least 90%.
  4. Make additional changes and attempt to follow the scripted conversion, making adjustments to the conversion script where necessary, and achieve a goal of at least 98% conversion completeness and accuracy.

Once you achieve this level of conversion consistency it is ready for a mock-conversion.  These Agile “sprints,” or as they are starting to call them now “Scrum-ban” (as a spinoff of Kanban) will help to ensure a successful data conversion.

Conclusion on Agile ABAP Development and Data Conversions

Even with newly packaged Scrum, Agile, or other methods, on an SAP project there are so many moving parts and work streams to coordinate that there is no substitute for a good waterfall project approach.  Using “Agile-like” methods for the ABAP development or data conversions is not a substitute for good project management either.  Done properly this approach can work well as long as it is carefully managed along with the rest of the work streams.




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Building an Effective SAP ERP Delivery Organization

November 5th, 2012 by
Effective SAP Delivery

Effective SAP Delivery

There are generally 3 big components for improving SAP delivery.  These 3 components have the capability of improving SAP and technology delivery in general while impacting corporate business performance and marketplace success.

  • Delivery Approach
  • Delivery Methodology
  • IT Organizational Development

The following content is written with a focus on SAP, however it can be completely generalized to virtually any IT organization.

  1. A careful focus on the delivery approach is needed.  Here there are 2 key paradigms to focus on.  The first paradigm is service delivery vs. value delivery (SAP Service Delivery versus Value Delivery), and the second paradigm is software engineering vs. business process engineering (SAP Implementation Focus: Engineer Software or Business Processes?).
  2. A formal, structured, internal delivery methodology.  This should include a “checklist” of all project requirements including templates, tools, and resources for project delivery.  Because I know SAP I use it, however they have a powerful methodology which can also be generalized to virtually any IT project.  For more information see Why Use the SAP ASAP Methodology?
  3. A strong focus on IT organizational development.  The current “best practices” around IT Organizational Development includes a 3 tiered maturity structure:  Service provider, Business Partner, and Business Peer (Organizational Change Management Inside the SAP IT Support Organization).  The second part of that is a structured approach to creating the premier IT “Center of Excellence,” converged business-IT delivery organization (see SAP Service Provider to Business Peer Through Center of Excellence Maturity).  You can use 3 Development Phases for SAP Center of Excellence Maturity as a completely structured organizational outline.  It includes key activities and maturity steps.

Adopting these three pillars will create a great foundation for your company or organization for the long term.  They will also help immediately and transform your enterprise in the mid-term.




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SAP Change Management Program Success

July 30th, 2012 by
SAP Change Management

SAP Change Management

Lots of literature, information, and resources focus on change management for successful enterprise application projects.  To help address SAP change management the SAP ASAP Methodology provides lots of resources, tools, and templates along with guidance for Change Management during your SAP project.  This is one of the key reasons for Why to Use the SAP ASAP Methodology?

Even though the ASAP methodology and various other resource provide some great sources the high level guiding framework always seems to be a little vague.  For example, there is a constant message that people resist change and that it is so hard.  That is not true.  As I have often said, if people resisted change no new product or service would ever be sold.  No new invention, gadget, method, or anything else would ever be developed.  There would be NO innovation in anything.

People do NOT simply resist change–, they resist change they do not understand and change they perceive is a threat.

Applying Sales and Marketing Principles to SAP Change Management

If sales and marketing departments for every type of organization in the world manage to sell new products or services maybe we should look to them for what works.  For both marketing and sales there are four key phases for customers considering a purchase:

  • Awareness (Marketing)
  • Consideration (Marketing, sales)
  • Evaluation (Sales, marketing)
  • Purchase (Sales)

These four general stages or phases of buyer behavior correlate well to a solid change management program–, messaging, engagement, credibility, and commitment.  To be successful you must be committed to Leading Change (and Change Management).

1.  Messaging – This is the beginning of the stakeholder analysis process.  Exploration, active listening, and facilitation are critical.  At this stage messaging is outbound.

Product or Service Sales Phase

Awareness

Customers understand and can communicate their desire or problem or need.  What are your constituents facing?  What are their struggles and what will help them do what they need to do better?  If the change will add more burden to them then why is the change necessary? 

Enterprise Change Phase

Discovery and blueprinting

A good SAP or enterprise application change program must start right from the beginning of the project.  First the identification of the key stakeholders at all levels of the organization must be made.  Afterward a clear effort must focus on the benefits to the affected users.  You must focus on the WHY of Achieving Business Value from SAP Investment.

A system-centric blueprint which does not connect to user needs will only breed mistrust and fear.

Analysis

Surveys are distributed and results tabulated.

2.  Engagement – Deeper determination of the issues, active communication, and targeted messaging.  Stakeholders at all levels must be encouraged to participate and be heard.  At this stage communications and messaging just start to go both ways (inbound and outbound).

Product or Service Sales Phase

Consideration

Marketing and communications are directed at addressing customer desires, problems, or needs.  Assurances are provided that the product or service will meet those issues.  The customer begins to solidify whether or not to explore a purchase decision.

Enterprise Change Phase

System functionality demonstrations and stakeholder feedback

Key stakeholders have the first part of their issues addressed.  There are 4 key types of change categories each user fits into here.  They are:

  • Opposed
  • Unsure, anxious, or fearful
  • Accepting or willing
  • Promoting

This phase of the change process is designed to aggressively uncover and then address those who are opposed or anxious about the upcoming changes.  These key stakeholders must be heard and their concerns answered.  It is also where the key message around SAP Service Delivery versus Value Delivery is promoted.

Analysis

Survey results are synthesized, reviewed, and then communicated to the broader enterprise.  Action plans to address the survey results are developed.  Any evaluation metrics are defined.

3.  Credibility  - benefits messages, demonstrations, insight, and information.  Change activities must promote openness and clearer understanding of the reasons for change.  More of an inbound and outbound dialog begins to occur.  Communications are actively going both ways.

Product or Service Sales Phase

Evaluation

Understanding of key features of a product or service and how they are different or better than competitors occurs.  Price considerations are also important.

Enterprise Change Phase

Aggressive information sharing and open dialog

One way you can Achieve Business Benefit is Through SAP Prototype Demonstrations.  Part of the communication and benefits program involves live system demonstrations (demo days), active engagement of super users, subject matter experts, and key change agents throughout the organization.  Messaging would also include external web resources, links, presentations, and other information to help “sell” the organization on the coming changes.

The goal of this phase is to overcome objections, fear, and anxiety.

Analysis

Action plans from the surveys are communicated to the organization and execution activities are carried out.   Evaluation metrics are refined, communicated, and adjusted to the organizational requirements.

4.  Commitment  - full user participation is critical at this stage.  If they are not involved in the process all of the previous effort falls apart here.

Product or Service Sales Phase

Purchase

For the purchase of a car this is the test drive and price negotiation.  For services or other items it is the understanding of key differentiators and how the service will help or enhance the customer’s issue, customer references, and possibly case studies.

Whether it is a test drive, understanding differentiators, price negotiations, or the benefits of a product or service these are all directly related to building a level of trust which in turn produces commitment.

Enterprise Change Phase

Acceptance, Adoption, and Promotion

More user demonstrations, training, super user network, subject matter experts, and pilot processes are all important here.  This is where everything starts to come together. 

This is also where any changes to originally expected benefits or reductions in scope must be carefully managed.  Another key area is the Organizational Change Management Inside the SAP IT Support Organization.  A key component at this phase involves Change Management Strategies and Knowledge Transfer Processes for a Successful SAP Project 1 (and Part 2).

The goal of this phase is to produce acceptance and even promotion of the changes.  However acceptance, adoption and promotion are not possible if the stakeholders have not established trust in the coming change. 

Analysis

Execution activities are carried out and nearing completion.  Reviewing, analyzing, and then distributing the results of the previously defined metrics results occur.  Lessons learned are captured and communicated.

Conclusion on SAP Change Management for Business Application Project Success

Every phase of your SAP or enterprise application project must be wrapped in the appropriate change management processes.  Just as with sales and marketing people do not resist change as much as they resist change which they perceive as a threat or do not understand.  So the key is to learn to sell the change and its benefits so that the perception of a threat is removed.  In doing so you will help to transform your project and company into a winner, both now and in the future.




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