Not only can the “As-Is” process mapping damage your project, it also adds significant amounts of unnecessary cost.
After over 20 SAP projects since 1994 I’ve participated in the “As-Is” and “To-Be” processing mapping exercises many times. Along the way I learned a few key lessons. First, the old “As-Is” process mapping approach was (and is) critical for software engineering projects. As-Is process mapping efforts have very limited application to an SAP implementation, or for that matter any true Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) business software project.
If you’re buying a COTS application like SAP, Oracle, JDE, or any other major ERP business software package you generally go into it with the idea that you are replacing custom-built applications with “standard” off-the-shelf package solutions. This generally requires an expectation that you will change your busines to match application functions and processes. To keep the application as close to standard as possible you will do business process engineering rather than software engineering (see SAP Implementation Focus, Software Engineering or Business Process Engineering? ). As that post points out, there are times when software engineering is justified, but those are exceptions. Software development or software engineering with a COTS software package may be justified when there is a clear business justification, not just a “convenience” issue to resolve.
“As-Is” process mapping was critical for software engineering but it offers little value to an SAP implementation
If you have made a firm commitment to the business process engineering then the “As-Is” process mapping exercise not only wastes time but it keeps your business stuck in the old ways of doing things and creates a high likelihood of demands for custom development. Correct SAP blueprinting methods will automatically review the “As-Is” processes but only briefly enough to ensure that the future state covers all of the requirements.
Effectively Mapping Business Processes to the SAP Future State (To-Be)
The correct SAP ASAP approach, which is focused on business process engineering rather than software engineering, relies heavily on a good process scope. From that process scope you conduct your requirements workshops to map the old processes to the new SAP “best practices” and determine any gaps. If the process gaps are business-critical they may justify some amount of custom development to meet an actual business need. At the same time doing full-blown “As-Is” process mapping can create serious problems.
Being committed to business process engineering rather than software engineering makes the “As-Is” efforts throw away work.
By focusing on the “To-Be” process state a good SAP consultant will walk through the “As-Is” processes to ensure they have captured all of the future state requirements. In other words, during the blueprint process I may map out the current process on a white board but ONLY to ensure I have sufficiently captured all of the required blueprint details for the future process. Unless there is something very unusual or business critical I only map the future state (To-Be) processes with all of the existing business details.
By mapping processes in your SAP scope to the existing business processes you are only looking for process gaps and process differences that may need to be addressed through change management. You are NOT wasting your time and effort, or expensive consulting resources on mapping “As-Is” processes. You are reducing the amount of time your consultants and your own employees are immersed in something you want to change.
The ASAP Approach that Saves Money, Time, and Reduces SAP Total Cost of Ownership
Because of the huge expense in custom coding and in ongoing support and maintenance of custom coded solutions your SAP Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) can be dramatically increased by getting immersed in the “As-Is” paradigm (see Lower SAP Application Support Costs – TCO – by Reducing Custom Solutions ). Think about it, if your project focuses on the current state rather than the future state you are keeping your employees and project leadership immersed in current ways of doing things. That mindset leads to project team members who believe they must get everything custom coded to match exactly what is done today. Very little business process engineering is done and more money is expended for an army of coders to engage in a software engineering project rather than a business process project.
There are times when custom-coded software solutions are necessary but they must serve a clear business purpose beyond a convenience or desire to do things the “old way.”
Being committed to business process engineering rather than software engineering makes the “As-Is” process mapping efforts throw away work. By reducing the time and effort on “As-Is” processes and focusing on the future state you reduce project costs and TCO by avoiding a huge investment in what will eventually become garbage.
Conclusion on the Dangers of “As-Is” SAP Process Mapping
By spending too much time and energy on the “As-Is” state your employees stay focused and attached to all of the old ways of doing things. Because of this focus they will naturally see more need for custom software engineering rather than business process engineering (i.e. change management). So in the end not only do you pay for the wasted time doing unnecessary “As-Is” documentation but you also get the “bonus costs” of software engineering. Your total cost of ownership for a COTS application goes through the roof.
By focusing the project on the “To-Be” state right from the beginning you won’t eliminate all custom coding but you will reduce it. In this way you reduce meetings and meeting time, reduce the amount of time and effort in blueprinting, and you focus on value-added efforts. By insisting on a forward looking focus on the future state and using a “To-Be” review as an analysis to ensure the project scope is complete enough you will reduce the amount of time employees are enmeshed on the “old ways” of doing thing. This type of expectation setting is critical to a successful business process engineering project enabled by SAP business software applications.
Once again I will clarify, there are times when custom-coded software solutions are necessary but they must serve a clear business purpose beyond a convenience or desire to do things the “old way.” So there are some times when the current way of doing business might justify the “As-Is” approach.