Business Solutions with SAP

SAP Customer Responsibility for SAP Project Success

April 23rd, 2012 by
SAP Success Criteria Formula

SAP Success Criteria Formula


Some time ago I put together a synthesis of SAP success criteria based on academic literature and my own personal experience.  The table below is part of the list of SAP Success Factors for Vender Selection – Responsibility Matrix. For a more detailed explanation of each of the vendor related items see the posts listed in the Series on SAP ERP Project Success Factors.

In the prior series we went through SAP success factors with shared responsibilities between the company adopting the SAP application and the integrator they use for the implementation (listed below) but today we will briefly review customer-specific success items (further down).

No. SAP or ERP Critical Success Factor Company Integrator
1 Senior Management Support (and steering committee makeup) A  
2 SAP project champion A  
3 Empowered business project team decision makers A  
4 Company SAP project team (quality and time allocated) A  
5 Experienced SAP consultants   A
6 SAP project success criteria, goals and objectives 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
14 Business process engineering – interdepartmental cooperation A  
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
24 Company end-user involvement and end-user testing A  


A = Primary responsibility
z = Secondary responsibility (can influence success but limited control over success)


The previous series did not address several of the customer-specific items where organizations should focus internal efforts.  As part of the recent series on Organizational Change Management Inside the SAP IT Support Organization it is time to consider the SAP customer specific items now.  That list of items includes:

No. SAP or ERP Critical Success Factor Company Integrator
1 Senior Management Support (and steering committee makeup) A  
2 SAP project champion A  
3 Empowered business project team decision makers A  
4 Company SAP project team (quality and time allocated) A  
6 SAP project success criteria, goals and objectives A  
14 Business process engineering – interdepartmental cooperation A  
24 Company end-user involvement and end-user testing A  

1.  SAP Project Senior Management Support – 2. SAP Project Champion

You just can’t overlook strong senior leadership support and a strong project champion for SAP project success.  If the wider organization perceives it is important enough for executive leadership they will see that it is a key initiative to focus on.  The Real Reason Executive Participation Creates IT Project Success is related to the nature of their position which deals with corporate strategy. The enterprise also needs an SAP project champion to help cut through red tape, encourage organizational support, and marshal additional resources when needed.  The best project champion would be at least one NON-IT executive so this isn’t seen as “just another IT thing.”  The contribution of a well respected and strong internal leader can not be overlooked.

3.  Empowered Business Process Team Members to Make Key Business Decisions About SAP Setup

If you want your SAP project to make any progress then it is absolutely critical to ensure core team members from the business are able to make many of the important process decisions. There will be some decisions that have more widespread organizational impact and the business users will need more senior level managers to make some decisions.  For example one of the key reasons for Using Your SAP Steering Committee for Business Transformation is to help mentor, guide, and direct business project participants in designing the future state business.  This would include making “critical decisions which the project team is unable to resolve (escalations or key business decisions).”  On the other hand if they are so compliant or risk averse that they will not make any decision without gaining consensus you may be headed for problems with the project timeline and budget.  This doesn’t mean you need an autocrat either, just someone who has enough organizational insight and connections to make the right decisions, escalate the ones that should be escalated, and has an open line of communication to keep interested stakeholders in the loop.

4.  Business Process Team Members who are DEDICATED to the SAP Project Delivery and Success

Too often I see core SAP project team members, whether from the business or the internal IT organization, who are not assigned exclusively to the SAP project.  While they are given the new role they often still have their “day job” to continue overseeing and managing.  This is a significant distraction from a very serious undertaking.  When an SAP project is done effectively, and what I call “correctly,” there is significant business change that takes place.  To help manage that change and to ensure business users have their needs most properly represented requires a full commitment to the SAP project.

Unfortunately there are a lot of system integrators who are happy to have your business users commit to just “part time” on the project.  It helps the system integrator increase their billing, allows for lots of excuses for missing dates, and provides them the opportunity to push any solution they deem you should have.  Because core team members from the enterprise have divided attentions they can not ensure the same level of quality if the SAP project were their only focus.

6.  SAP project goals and success criteria

I was recently reading an article where a study of several hundred companies who had implemented enterprise applications were asked about having defined business related goals and success criteria.  The referenced study suggested only 4% of companies who implement enterprise applications complete the entire process of defining goals and success criteria and then actually follow up on seeing that they achieved the promised benefits. 

To achieve Sustained Business Value from SAP Business Software it is important to incorporate a Change Management Program within the SAP / IT Organization itself which is focused on Achieving Business Value from SAP Investment.  Another key part of the goals and success criteria is to Change How You Look at SAP to Create ROI because SAP Implementation is an Investment NOT an Event.

14.  Business process engineering – interdepartmental cooperation

 This is directly related to the first 3 items in this list:

  • Senior Management Support (and steering committee makeup)
  • SAP project champion
  • Empowered business project team decision makers

Because of the nature of the integration in SAP some of the data entry responsibilities change, for both upstream and downstream process steps which may be in different departments.  There are also significant process changes and responsibility changes as a result of the SAP implementation.  All of these require a focus on processes, communication, and cooperation.  Because this can also be an area of political “friction” between departments or leaders it is critical to have a strong executive SAP project champion. That executive sponsor can help to reduce a some of the inter-departmental “border wars.”

24.  Company end-user involvement and end-user testing

Even a great implementation effort can turn into a painful disaster at go-live if end users are not prepared to use the new system, security and authorizations are a mess (VERY typical), and testing was not thoroughly performed.  Unlike other systems which were built in silos and without the level of integration a data or process mistake that is not uncovered during testing can have significant up and downstream effects.  Unwinding and correcting the error can prove to be very challenging.

For all of these items I only touched the surface, but none of these items can be ignored and are important for a successful SAP project.  Every one of these items is completely within the control of the enterprise or organization who implements SAP.  Good luck on your SAP journey but be sure to pay special attention to all of these success criteria for your SAP project which are provided in more detail in the Series on SAP ERP Project Success Factors.

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Series on SAP ERP Project Success Factors

December 19th, 2011 by
SAP Project Success Criteria

SAP Project Success Criteria


This is a compiled sets of posts related to SAP project success criteria


The Top 5 ERP Success Factors by Project Stage from 22 Critical Success Factors

SAP Implementation Partner or Company Selection Criteria

SAP Success Factors for Vendor Selection – Responsibility Matrix 1

SAP Success Factors for Vender Selection – Responsibility Matrix 2

SAP System Vendor Project Success Criteria 1

SAP System Vendor Project Success Criteria & Factors 2

SAP System Vendor Project Success Criteria & Factors 3

SAP System Vendor Project Success Criteria & Factors 4

SAP System Vendor Project Success Criteria & Factors 5

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5 More Leadership Tips for Successful SAP Project Management

November 21st, 2011 by

SAP project performanceOf the previous 5 tips I reviewed last week the first 3 are all related to project momentum. Let’s look at a key to maintaining that momentum while also reducing the impediments on your SAP project.

One SAP critical success factor for maintaining project momentum requires SAP project management that is fully integrated in the day to day project activities.  That hands on approach to project management is one of the SAP best practices for overall project success.  The tools, resources, and templates SAP provides is a key reason for Why to Use the SAP ASAP Methodology .

Unfortunately there aren’t very many SAP project or program managers who are engaged in the day to day project execution activities.

SAP Project Management Best Practices

“An SAP project manager or SAP program manager must focus aggressively on removing obstacles, encouraging success, and fighting against those things that would slow momentum” (SAP Project Manager – SAP Program Manager, Lessons from the Trenches):

  1. Develop project deliverable and task tracking tools that are simple, easy to understand, and forward looking.  If a status tracking tool has more than 10 columns for a deliverable or particular task it is probably getting too involved, if it has over 15 columns (not task rows but details, status, and note columns) it will probably kill any momentum.
  2. Set, then communicate, then reinforce an expectation that anything slowing down project momentum must be raised by project members immediately.
  3. Create a formalized but simple decision escalation process.  If any project execution process is overly complicated it will reduce momentum or not be used.  This is especially true for decision making. 
  4. All project activities MUST focus on execution because it is execution and action that maintain momentum. 
  5. Keep the project focus FORWARD looking.  Continue to communicate the timeline, and use presentations for all key upcoming project activities–, have templates, deliverables, and instructions in plenty of time for project members to transition to the new tasks (a RACI chart can help here).

A Key Psychological Affect on SAP Project Momentum

Some time back I read an interesting study by a researcher about high performance teams that consistently met “stretch” goals.  The key difference between consistently high performing teams was in how they approached their assignments.  High performance teams consistently looked ahead at what needed to be done next to achieve their goals.  One of the interesting discoveries was when these same high performers were allowed to focus on their achievements and accomplishments their performance suffered.  They discovered when people stop to reflect on how much they have achieved and how far they have come they tend to become more satisfied where they are and naturally slow down.  That sense of achievement causes them to pause and become more content and therefore their forward looking productivity suffers.  However, as we will explore next week, there are times this is an effective project strategy to reduce tension and stress.

Looking forward creates and sustains momentum

We see this all the time in the high performance area of professional sports.  How many times have you seen a professional team start out strong and gain a lot of ground on their competitors only to ease up and then lose that ground by the end of the game.  Sometimes these large gains are even erased and the other team wins!  The team that started strong started to look at where they were and relaxed a bit while their opponents, who were behind, started to look ahead and focused on how to turn things around.  The coaches and players of the team that was behind started looking ahead and planning for how to systematically win the game.

You SHOULD celebrate SAP project milestones and achievements but ONLY as a passing measurement point.  Part of that celebration or recognition of a milestone must be about the passing of that mark and looking forward to, or celebrating, how the next upcoming milestone or major achievement will be met.  You can also use  these recognition events to relieve project stress and pressure at the appropriate times.  Looking forward creates and sustains momentum.

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