Business Solutions with SAP

Achieve Business Benefit Through SAP Prototype Demonstrations

July 16th, 2012 by
Imagine what is possible by showing what is achievable

Functionality Prototype and Demonstration

SAP Conference Room Proof of Concept Pilots

Proof of Concepts with frequent early prototyping drive project costs down.  It is like the old saying that “an ounce of prevention can avoid a pound of cure.”  Proof of concept pilots during the project is one of the rarely mentioned SAP critical success factors. 

Early in my SAP career I used to get a little frustrated by the disruption these prototype sessions, conference room pilots, or whatever you want to call them would cause.  My thought was I had a job to do and didn’t have time for this.  No one ever stopped to help me understand WHY these pilots and prototypes are important.

Before I get into the substance of this let me first be very clear about what I am referring to–, a prototype, pilot, or demonstration is ACTUAL system functionality set up in the application to demonstrate transactional business processing.  I have heard of some system integrators who call PowerPoint process flows these types of “pilots” and that is completely ridiculous.  That is just regurgitating SAP Blueprint process flows and is NOT a prototype, pilot, or system demonstration at all.

Stop the SAP Consulting Merry Go Round – Real Life Experiences

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to work through a complex issue and going around and around with meetings, discussions, process flows, etc.  At one client we had a very complex third party process which involved one foreign company code doing sales deliveries for a domestic company code, but the domestic company would bill the customer and collect the cash, the foreign company would do inter-company billing, etc.  There was not only third party processing involved, there was also foreign trade, batch, and serial number tracking required (YUCK!).

After getting a large and very expensive group of consultants together with key client resources we hammered the first pass out.  Then we did it again a few days later, and then again a few days later.  After about 4 or 5 weeks of this madness it turns out the consultants were the problem more than the client.  Several of the consultants essentially said this couldn’t be done.

To stop the complete waste of time I left the last meeting and spent 3 days setting up a prototype the consultants said couldn’t be done.  Now, in their defense it is complicated and it DOES involve setup in SD, MM, PP, FI, and EDI.  Very FEW consultants have ever done this type of integrated setup.  I scheduled a DEMONSTRATION with all of the key stakeholders and project leadership to put this issue to rest.  The SAP standard functionality covered approximately 90% of the overall requirement and we were now discussing small tweaks or changes that were required rather than trying to over engineer a customized process mess!

Reduce SAP Implementation Cost, Improve SAP Quality, and Manage SAP Scope More Effectively

Using Conference Room Pilots, or Functionality Playbacks is effective for difficult to understand processes system demonstrations.  This technique can significantly reduce meeting times and increase customer satisfaction.

Stanford professors Carleton and Cokayne spent seven years studying the user of physical prototypes in “foresight engineering” which is the ongoing development of products or services that are three or more product cycles in the future.  They studied the use of prototypes for “capturing and communicating a team’s opportunities inside the organization, connecting the company’s vision and strategy with… day-to-day [engineering design work], and helping teams to connect vision to research to engineering design.”  Carleton, T., and Cockayne, W., (2009) The Power of Prototypes in Foresight Engineering.  International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED’09/493, Stanford University, August 24-27 2009, page 1.

The use of prototypes has been found to “make ideas tangible, iterate quickly at a low cost, and develop a shared language” (ibid.).  These demonstrations are part of the change management process and can help to bring the broader organization along in the process. In the second half of the post on ERP, SAP, or IT Project Management and Prototyping for Success more detail is provided for the following items:

  • System demonstrations focus on delivering what is important while allowing for early adjustments.
  • Complex or difficult functionality demonstrations help reduce the overall amount of meeting time.
  • System demonstrations identify gaps and problems earlier reducing the number of testing defects and rework time.
  • Early demonstrations help ensure scope is properly accounted for and last minute process surprises are reduced.
  • Some performance problems are exposed.
  • Possible schedule and work completion issues may be exposed while they might still be manageable.

By doing a LOT of prototypes early in a project you also quickly separate the good IT resources from those who are not so talented or even those who are complete fakes.

Conclusion on Using SAP Prototypes, Functionality Demonstrations or Conference Room Pilots for Project Success

Just as the real world example I noted above shows, by using prototypes or demonstrations to understand where the real business requirement gaps are you may be able to avoid a major investment in custom development work.  And by avoiding that development you reduce ongoing maintenance headaches.

As for dealing with scheduling and work completion I have been on many projects where some of the consultants or team leads would simply lie about their status and completion.  By having a clearly defined pilot and playback schedule throughout the project for certain key functionality you help to ensure that what is committed is actually delivered.  Too many times the real status does not show up until testing starts, or worse still, items get taken out of scope because of misleading status.  By then it is too late.

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Phase 6 RUN SAP ASAP Methodology

March 26th, 2012 by

Anyone who has been around SAP for any period of time is reasonably familiar with the SAP ASAP Methodology.  In fact I rarely see sales presentation materials from many system integrators which do not at least mention it.  Even some of the bigger integrators with custom methodologies may reference it in passing and show the SAP Implementation Roadmap to demonstrate how their methodology has some similarity to it, or supplements some of the few gaps that may remain.  In a previous post on Why Use the SAP ASAP Methodology? I evaluated the SAP ASAP Methodology compared to SAP partner custom methodologies.

As of today it seems there are few of the SAP partners who are familiar with the latest Roadmap Phase 6–, the “RUN” ASAP Methodology enhancement.  This methodology enhancement is probably one of the most significant methodology changes offered since ASAP was originally introduced.  This is the key phase which relates to IT organizational maturity, to integration of the SAP support organization into the business after you go live.  In other words, this is one of the critical success factors for your SAP program.  That critical success factor is that SAP Program Management Requires a Type of CMMI.

Before we go into the little known Roadmap Phase 6 “RUN” enhancement let’s take a quick look at the first 5 phases of the SAP ASAP methodology most of us are familiar with:

  1. Project Preparation (before the consultants begin)
    • Project goals and objectives
    • Clarify scope
    • Schedule, budget plan, major milestones, and deliverables
    • First pass at a WBS and task based project plan.
    • Project organization, committees, and resources
  1. Business Blueprint
    • Design the future state
    • Revise and refine the project plan
    • Gain approval of all project templates and deliverables
    • Refine scope, resources, and schedule
  1. Realization
    • Build the solution
    • Test / adjust / correct the solution
    • Develop end-user training (courses, logistics, schedules, etc.)
  1. Final Preparation
    • Finalize end-user based testing, user acceptance testing
    • Perform final data conversion rehearsals (mock conversions with live data)
    • Test the final cutover script
    • Resolve any open issues or gaps
    • Perform final setup activities related to printing, interfaces, external systems, third party software, etc.
  1. Go-Live
    • Transition the enterprise to the new SAP system
    • Support the live environment with any needed fixes or enhancements
    • Optimize system performance
    • Transition to site support (help desk, etc.)
    • Close the project

At a very high level this is the SAP ASAP Methodology (without the latest addition).  But what about Phase 6?  What about the RUN ASAP Methodology?

RUN SAP ASAP Methodology

A few years ago SAP introduced a stand-alone version of this approach and methodology for post go-live SAP system support.  It is now incorporated as a key part of the overall ASAP Methodology in version 7.x onward.

While Roadmap Phase 6 is mostly focused on moving customers along to independent support, and toward an SAP Certified Center of Expertise (SAP CCoE) there is much more to this phase.  The most comprehensive tools, resources, templates, and development are around empowering SAP customers to support their own systems.  This is part of the “Internal” focus as I have described it in SAP Enabled Business Transformation for IT Leadership. From an SAP perspective there are 2 key reasons why this portion of the ASAP Methodology enhancement is “built out” 1) the more you support your implementation the less maintenance and support you need from SAP (i.e. you are carrying some of the cost of your own support), and 2) that is the relatively “easy” part of the support paradigm.

See the Series on SAP Competency Center or SAP Center of Excellence for supplemental material to make the transition beyond the “internal” focus to Enterprise and eventually External market focus.

While the Phase 6 RUN ASAP Methodology focuses heavily on areas of support which benefit SAP there are several areas which are critical for the strategic and business integrated IT organization.  The SAP “Certified Center of Expertise” is the first step to ensuring you gain the trust and confidence of your business counterparts.  The Phase 6 RUN ASAP Methodology does not end with that first portion which benefits SAP.  Even though the material and templates are sparse for moving very far beyond this “internal” (CoE) focus there is still significant substance and some meaningful templates for moving your SAP organization to the next level of “enterprise” focus.  This is where your SAP support organization begins gaining wider acceptance as a business peer.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to get familiar with the Phase 6 RUN ASAP Methodology section you might want to do that today! 

This phase should be reviewed during the Project Preparation phase and elements of the future state SAP organization incorporated into your overall SAP project plan, project approach, goals, milestones, deliverables, and especially any Organization Change Management program you begin.  Part of that initial evaluation of the RUN Methodology enhancement would be an internal organizational assessment to get a baseline of where you are, as well as what it will take to go to the next level by the time the project goes live.  THIS should be a critical part of your project planning right from the beginning.

If you are an SAP customer, or if you are considering an SAP solution and would like access to the SAP ASAP Methodology and tools contact me today.

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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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