Using the success criteria table laid out in SAP Success Factors for Vender Selection Responsibility Matrix 2 as a starting point for shared SAP project success we will look at some strategies, tactics, techniques, and ideas for managing these shared responsibilities. By more aggressively managing these shared SAP critical success areas we can set the correct tone and expectation for the SAP project. [FN1]
This series will look at the types of things you should expect from your SAP system vendor, and how to ensure your SAP vendor is focusing on the critical issues for project success.
Because of the importance of each of these SAP Critical Success Factors a set of posts covering the shared responsibilities will be evaluated. Because of the shared responsibilities for each of these success criteria they are often some of the most common problem areas. When one party (either the vendor or the customer) falls short of success it is a common (and maybe natural) practice to try to deflect the blame by pointing at the other party.
Both customers and vendors must aggressively address the areas of success where they have the primary responsibility. Several of these success criteria have been extensively written about on this site and rather than re-phrase some of those high points the links to posts with more detail are included. For SAP project success it is critical for customers to manage the SAP partner relationship by regularly verifying these critical success criteria items are being properly addressed.
Do not allow the overall control of your project to be taken over by the consulting project manager
|No.||SAP or ERP Critical Success Factor||Company||Integrator|
|5||Experienced SAP consultants||A|
|7||SAP implementation strategy||z||A|
|8||SAP project management||A||z|
|9||SAP tools, templates, and resources||A|
|10||SAP scope development||z||A|
|11||SAP scope management||A||z|
|12||Strong SAP project and business communication (inward and outward)||A||z|
|13||SAP change management||A||z|
|15||Sufficient SAP training (user and project team training)||A||A|
|16||SAP system vendor and customer trust||A|
|17||SAP system design decisions||z||A|
|18||Amount of custom ABAP or other SAP coding||z||A|
|19||Appropriate SAP software configuration (system settings)||z||A|
|20||SAP system change control process||A|
|21||SAP data analysis and conversion||A||z|
|22||SAP test planning||A||z|
|23||SAP test development||z||A|
A = Primary Responsibility for the success factor
z = Shared but secondary responsibility for success
Your approach to any or all of thse SAP success criteria items may be different. In the end it is important to understand that failing to address any of these success items creates risks that should must be mitigated. Your responsibility as a customer is to do whatever it takes to manage the SAP partner relationship rather than allowing the SAP partner to manage you.
5. Experienced SAP Consultants
You entrust your entire business to “seasoned” SAP consultants that your SAP system integrator provides. However too often these same system integrators, anxious to keep high margins and remain “competitive” often bring in consultants with less experience than you need to be very successful. This topic has been explored in detail on this site with what you need in a “good” consultant, the consequences of bad consulting, and the steps to take in finding a good consultant.
To ensure the best possible results it is important for you to verify and validate the skills and experience of EVERY consultant your SAP system integrator provides. Failing to do so may cause areas of your project to fail to see any business benefit.
How well the project is managed and delivered is up to you as a customer
After all of the time, effort, and trouble through the entire selection process that last part of due diligence, in verifying EVERY vendor consultant, is critical for success. Here are some key resources to consider when it comes to selecting consultants.
- Successful SAP Project Team Composition – Technicians or Experts?
- SAP Technicians or Experts
- Screening Methods to Find the Right SAP Consultant
- Screening and Interview Methods to Find the Right Consultant – Part 2
- Certainly Certifiable – SAP System Integrators Not Just Consultants
The SAP implementation vendor is almost exclusively responsible providing high quality resources for your business project’s success. However, because of their margin requirements you don’t always get good resources from them. Therefore you will have to do some of the important due diligence to ensure you do not get taken.
7. SAP Implementation Strategy
There are three key factors to consider for your SAP implementation strategy. These are the implementation methodology, vendor type, and the project implementation approach. Each of these components of your overall implementation strategy are important for achieving SAP and ERP project success. To gain greater understanding and insight on these key SAP implementation strategy factors the following post provides details to consider:
8. SAP Project Management
The key parts your SAP project management efforts usually involve budget, scope, timeline, resources, and deliverables. The various types of flavors of monitoring and managing tools are as different and as diverse as the companies or project managers performing the function. The SAP ASAP methodology provides deliverables lists and templates with full explanations for the entire project lifecycle.
Properly structured deliverables will help to monitor execution progress.
Here are some key resources from this site related to project management:
- ERP, SAP, or IT Project Management and Prototyping for Success
- ERP Project Planning – Getting Real (Part 1)
- ERP Project Plan: Getting Real (Part 2)
- ERP Project Plan: Getting Real Part 3
- ERP Project Plan: Getting Real (Part 4)
The primary responsibility for successful project management falls to you as the customer. This means that you must not allow the overall control of your project to be taken over by the consulting project manager. That does not mean they should not have input, and it is almost exclusively the SAP partner’s responsibility to provide an initial project plan, but at the end of the day how well the project is managed and delivered is up to you as a customer.
The SAP ASAP methodology provides deliverables lists and templates with full explanations for the entire project lifecycle.
For SAP project managers from consulting firms one important “skill-set” is the ability to set, manage, and deliver expectations. Part of that also involves social skills that might be more political in nature, including the ability to deflect criticism of their project management. As a result when reviewing a potential SAP project manager it is critical to dig past a possible “glowing reference” to actual results. Part of the successful SAP project manager’s job (from the consulting firms) is to help set and manage your expectations. Some of this is necessary but some of it can be abused as well. Do not allow yourself to give up control of your project to a consulting project manager.
At the end of the day, the most effective project manager will personally “own” the success of the project. What I mean by that is they will avoid laying blame because the success of every project team member (both of the consultants and of your own staff) is a direct reflection on their success. A project manager who finds “fault” with a resource but does not take clear corrective actions before it becomes a crisis is not much of a project manager.
A good SAP project manager from the consulting world has enough experience with using properly defined and designed deliverables to be able to track and monitor project progress. If they have enough skill and experience at managing those deliverables as well as the tracking and monitoring tools then they can do the necessary resource adjustments and resource leveling that are necessary for success.
A good SAP project manager must take clear corrective actions before an issue becomes a crisis. In any reference check make sure you drill down to the details of the actual project delivery, not just personality issues.
Some of the steps, techniques, tactics, or strategies for finding a good SAP project manager are:
A. Look for an experienced SAP project manager who has actually done SAP configuration before being a project manager in either a supply chain area (SD, MM, PP) or in finance (FI or CO).
B. When checking references it is CRITICAL to ask results-oriented questions that go beyond the personality of a particular project manager. In any reference check be sure to drill down to the details of the actual project delivery.
a. Was the project delivered on-time or on budget? If not it may (or may not) reflect poor management or poor scope development, in either case it is a warning flag.
b. Did the project manager provide the necessary tools and templates ahead of time for success?
i. Project plan – BEWARE project or program managers who do not provide a project plan or seem to have a hard time working with very basic project tools such as MS Project.
ii. Deliverables list. Properly structured deliverables will help to monitor execution progress and roll up to higher level project plan items to prevent micromanagement of project activities.
iii. Training, Change Management, Knowledge transfer plan
iv. Progress monitoring and tracking resources down to the delivery level. Many PMs will monitor budget and not the actual execution level of project delivery. If they do manage the execution it is usually at a micromanagement level of the project plan which can kill productivity.
C. When checking project manager references remember, the project manager is responsible for overall results of completion of deliverables related to project success. So it is important to ask prior clients about:
a. Testing, was this purely “success testing” to get signoffs or was “challenge testing” allowed to discover defects outside of the scope of testing documentation?
b. Were there significant data problems after go-live?
c. Was the project delayed several times because the scope and timing were so tight that the go-live was excessively risky?
d. Were the consulting company resources underestimated or scope changes so significant that many more consultants needed to be added?
e. What about additional software or technology, were those things missing from the original scope, quotes and estimates?
9. SAP Tools, Templates and Resources
Assuming you are using the ASAP methodology, many of the templates, tools, and resources are clearly defined and initial examples are provided, see SAP Project Implementation Strategies and Approaches.
Where these may need to be supplemented with vendor specific examples is for training, change management, security / system authorizations, and the deliverables tracking tools. The deliverables themselves should be defined right from the beginning of the project and the SAP ASAP Implementation Methodology contains a presentation template with a full deliverables list and includes many templates for those deliverables.
Effective SAP deliverables will include a mechanism to monitor progress toward completion.
With this background, during the sales cycle, it is absolutely imperative to insist that every vendor provide ACTUAL example templates that show experience in this area. Every one of them will claim they have the resources every time. None of them will admit otherwise so you primary job is to verify their claims.
Vendor sales people are taught how to say “yes” even as they are telling you “no”
The key factor to consider when looking for templates, tools, and resources are do they support proper tracking and monitoring of deliverables progress? In other words, beyond the project plan itself, are the deliverables designed to integrate progress monitoring?
[FN1] Please see the following links for more background information on the development of the SAP Project Success Factors with Vendor Selection Responsibility Matrix and some of the source material from The Top 5 ERP Success Factors by Project Stage from 22 Critical Success Factors .
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- interview question to ask a pm for success factor implementation