Business Solutions with SAP

SAP Program Management Requires a Type of CMMI

November 7th, 2011 by
SAP Program Management

SAP Program Management

Many may be unaware that SAP provides a broad set of tools and resources for Program Management and Capability Maturity Model (or CMM). Very few are familiar with SAP’s broad set of supports for this purpose such as the “new” ASAP Methodology Phase 6 “Run” enhancement. It is loaded with key information which aligns with Program Management responsibilities and CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration) [FN1].


So, what is CMM (or CMMI as it is more properly referred to)?

“CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration) is a process improvement approach that provides organizations with the essential elements of effective processes, which will improve their performance… CMMI models are collections of best practices that help organizations to dramatically improve effectiveness, efficiency, and quality” [FN1].

The entire CMMI methodology and development is maintained at Carnegie Mellon’s Software Engineering Institute. These CMMI standards have been applied in a vast number of organizations together with various methodologies. The CMMI approach is well suited to engineering and software development, design, or implementation. SAP’s entire ASAP methodology, and especially the “new” Run methodology incorporates a number of CMMI principles.

SAP Program Management is all about Capability Maturity Management (or CMM)

The contract SAP program manager is accountable for providing the key tools, templates, techniques, and resources to ensure projects are properly managed and delivered for business benefit. If they are not providing this type of methodology guidance, including key templates and techniques to deliver business benefit, what are you paying them for?  In other words, if the contract program manager is not helping to deliver the key tools, templates, and resources to enhance your project delivery capability then why do you need them at all?

SAP Program Management or Project Management Gaps

After all these years one of my biggest frustrations is the lack of SAP contract program or project managers use of the ASAP Methodology. They all talk about it, and during sales presentations they use lots of SAP’s material, but as soon as the project begins you never see it. They seem to have absolutely no idea what they are doing.

What is the contract SAP Program Manager, or SAP Project Manager accountable for? What are they on the hook to deliver and how is their performance measured?

As I have often said, I never believe that a client / customer of project management or program management services has the primary responsibility for this knowledge. If they did why bother hiring outside help and paying the rates for this service except for that contract “expertise?”

Contract SAP program management or SAP project management that is not able to deliver on a clearly understandable methodology development are fakes. Anyone can call themselves a program manager, but what does that mean? What is the contract SAP Program Manager accountable for? What are they on the hook to deliver and how is their performance measured?

Using SAP ASAP and CMMI to Mature the SAP Enabled Enterprise

The SAP ASAP Methodology, in particular the Phase 6 Run section, should be studied by every SAP program manager before they start doing project or program work. Even though it is in the last ASAP Methodology phase, its greatest effectiveness is realized when you begin your internal SAP delivery maturity planning from the beginning of your SAP project.

One of the critical benefits of starting your CMMI related planning right from the beginning is your SAP project can be structured to support business integration at the outset. Using this type of maturity model integration as part of your project guidance can have significant benefits to the enterprise:

“Many CMMI using businesses have beneficial results to their bottom line… including improvements in schedule and cost performance, product and service quality, forecasting accuracy, productivity, customer satisfaction, return on investment, and other measures of performance” [FN2].

SAP has already done a significant amount of the work for you. All your program manager has to do is adjust the plans, alter the templates, follow the ASAP Methodology instructions, and build the resources to support this transition. You really must question SAP program manager service providers who do not keep up with the ASAP tools and delivery methodology that SAP provides and supports.

SAP’s Capability Maturity Model Starting Point

The following maturity model is just one small example of a powerful tool that is critical for long term technology and business integration [FN3]:

Maturity Level

Action Area


IT Support Provider

  • Vision & strategy
  • Governance
  • Processes
  • Technology
  • Culture and skills
  • Vision and strategy not formulated
  • Controlled by IT costs, focus on IT operations
  • Processes not defined
  • Isolated tool decisions
  • Focus on IT knowledge

IT Service Partner

  • Vision & strategy
  • Governance
  • Processes
  • Technology
  • Culture and skills
  • Strategy derived from IT goals
  • Controlled by IT-focused KPIs
  • Satisfies minimum criteria for SAP solution operations
  • Joint decision about selection
  • Service-oriented, knowledge of SAP solution

Business Support Partner

  • Vision & strategy
  • Governance
  • Processes
  • Technology
  • Culture and skills
  • Strategy developed in cooperation with IT management
  • Controlled by measurable service level
  • Established, role-based process organization
  • Defined standards, SLA reporting
  • Customer-oriented

Business Partner

  • Vision & strategy
  • Governance
  • Processes
  • Technology
  • Culture and skills
  • Strategy derived from company goals
  • Decisions guided by business requirements
  • Aligned with business process model
  • Integrated business processes and tools
  • Expertise in the areas of business processes, SOA, and integration

Value Partner

  • Vision & strategy
  • Governance
  • Processes
  • Technology
  • Culture and skills
  • Strategy as business enabler
  • Controlled on the basis of value contribution for the company
  • Holistic service management lifecycle
  • End-to-end management of business processes
  • Value-oriented, ongoing improvements

This model, provided freely by SAP as part of their standard ASAP methodology is a great starting point. Your contract SAP program manager should be able to use this as it is, or adjust it to fit your particular organizational needs. This is just one very small component of the Run Phase and an even smaller component of the entire ASAP Methodology toolset.

In many cases you would be better off sending your own internal employees to SAP ASAP certification courses and Microsoft Project classes and making use of their new found knowledge. At least then you would have a knowledgeable employee who could help keep an integrator who claims to use ASAP honest. And if they claim to use ASAP in their sales materials or sales pitches GET THAT CLAIM IN YOUR STATEMENT OF WORK AND YOUR CONTRACT WITH THEM!


For more information on related topics please see:


[FN1] CMMI Overview: Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, retrieved November 5, 2011.

[FN2] Why CMMI: Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, retrieved November 5, 2011.

[FN3] SAP ASAP Methodology version 7.1, WBS 6.2.1 – Table 1: Maturity Level Characteristics. For more information on the SAP ASAP Methodology please go to

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Certainly Certifiable – SAP System Integrators Not Just Consultants

July 5th, 2010 by

Business and Technology CoordinationThat hardy perennial “SAP consultant certification” is blooming again but this time in regard to independent consultants as opposed to those in systems integration firms.

Below is a link to Jon Reed’s excellent analysis of a recent survey of SAP consultants in this regard:

Past certification programs, administered by SAP, have been met with partial success at best and have been unfortunately skewed entirely to SAP technical bones and not at all toward consulting skills.

Since 1995, I have come across a lot of SAP consultants who know the software inside and out but are incapable of holding a conversation with a business person (manager level or user level). These consultants would fly through any SAP certification to date but I wouldn’t want them on my implementation team.

More to the point, what problem do we seek to remedy? If it is poor implementation results, I would have to say that consultant performance is only a subset of that problem. The SAP implementation teeter-totter includes two sides:

Systems Integrator

  • Adherence to Methods/Practices
  • Level of SAP Skills
  • Level of Consulting Skills


  • Adequate Budget
  • Realistic/Tangible Goals
  • Project Ownership

A few years ago, I was involved in deep research of SAP systems integrator performance based upon input from 1,502 clients of the leading SAP systems integrators (the usual suspects and SAP Consulting). Roughly two-thirds of the client respondents were project leadership or delivery team members and the remainder were training, change management, and business stakeholders for projects completed between 2003 and 2006. The results of this research were both varied and compelling. Some of the numbers mumble (it is still hard to determine true client interest in an SI’s industry focus) but other numbers scream in perfect grammar.

Some of the screaming results

An alarmingly high number of teams fail to adhere to established methods & practices; in essence, business process white-boarding and seat-of-the-pants configuration prevails far too often. (In this instance, even the best consultants may well be wasting client time and dollars).

Very few clients set tangible goals, so projects drift toward go-live, leading to “till’s empty, time’s up, might as well go live”.

Client ownership and participation in implementation project is regularly compromised by faulty knowledge transfer (attributable to both SI’s and clients).

My long-held belief is that systems integrators, not individual consultants, should be held to a certification/ratings fire. To date, they are not. Most of them tend to claim “our clients love us” but it is readily evident that they are not talking to all of their clients.

Well known “rating” systems such as the Magic Quadrant, the Forrester Wave, and others are not sufficiently based upon field input. All are founded upon a very small client sampling mixed with analyst opinion. Further, none of these rating systems cover various aspects of projects or even types of projects (new implementations, upgrades, geographic roll-outs, or optimizations. For example, one key finding in my studies is that Deloitte (240 clients reporting) is chronically challenged by new implementations but shines at all other types of SAP projects. Another finding is that Accenture (276 clients reporting) performs very admirably in large projects but causes considerable grief in small and mid-sized projects.

(FYI, an identical study of leading Oracle systems integrators was also conducted and yielded very similar results.)

I do agree that efforts to improve field performance are a necessity. In that light, I generally welcome ongoing efforts to certify SAP consultants provided:

A suitable third party (separate from the SAP organization) has a hand in such certification.

Certification addresses consulting skills and is not, as we have seen in past efforts, a conglomeration of multiple choice questions relating primarily to technical acumen.

(I will have to give some thought to the latter consideration. Consulting skills address a combination of experience, communication skills, empathy, and the like and as such are not subject to written examination.)

Further, I would like to see some sort of certification process for project managers whose role in any SAP field endeavor is of paramount importance.

All the same, if we are going to visibly improve SAP systems integration field results, I believe that we should be certifying what matters most: the systems integration firms. Maybe Gartner can replace some of the magic in the Magic Quadrant with actual field data or the Forrester Wave can include hundreds of clients hitting that beach.


Author Michael Doane runs a great site devoted to successful SAP projects.  Author of several books, frequent speaker, and business to SAP alignment analyst.  Visit his site for more information and insight at:

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