SAP Projects Require Expert SAP Project Managers. What Does It Take To Be Considered An Expert SAP Project Manager:
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As experts in the SAP Project Management Methodology, we provide SAP ASAP/PMI PMP Certified Project Management expertise to quickly take you from Zero-to-Hero.
Our approach is based on SAP ASAP (Accelerated SAP) and now the SAP Activate Methodology, coupled with deep experience gained from working across multiple industry verticals and in multiple geographic locations.
Experts with SAP Solution Manager, coupled with SAP Best Practices and our own 'view' of how to do it, we consistently deliver projects On-Time, within Scope, and on or below Budget.
Every Project Needs a Project Manager
We have experience and deep expertise with the following SAP Project Management Activities.
Want to know how we do it? Then you will want to read through SAP Project Management Tips Series.
Talking about projects in general and SAP ERP Implementations specifically, change management is a critcal element of project success. In fact, in virtually every SAP ASAP Project Review, it is found that lack of proper Change Management is directly contributing to projects failing to achieve their business goals.
The SAP ASAP Implementation Methodology, regardless of flavor, including SAP Activate and SAP RDS, have a well documented and fully integrated change management methodology included within the methodology.
When used correctly, which involves a great deal of specialized, highly skilled resources, such as PMPs and communication specialist and organizational management specialist, an organization can expect to experience the change wrought by an ERP implementation with the least amount of disruption possible.
As a Senior SAP Project Manager, I have seen many approaches to managing change on my projects.
That is why I recommend against allowing it to be taken out of the SOW.
Typically, in those projects that I have been brought in to turn-around, you find that the client committed to handling the Change Management aspect of the project, then promptly didn't.
After all, they usually aren't in the business of managing organizational change which is being driven by SAP.
The resultant resistance to change that is to be inevitably expected from the workforce then becomes the limiting factor of the project and unless and until that is addressed with a comprehensive change management program, tightly integrated with the overall project implementation plan, then your project is doomed to failure.
A Senior SAP Project Manager, such as this author, is the key to the success of any project, large or small. They combine executive management skills as well as leadership skills to help guide very large, complex projects that often involve multi-national companies operating a wide variety of business lines, that are also changing while the project is undertaken.
Fortunately, the SAP ASAP Methodology, which maps to the PMI PMP methodology, provides a roadmap - but every project is unique.
Often handed very large budgets, often in the tens of millions of dollars, the project manager must:
As can be seen, the SAP Project Manager has a lot on his shoulders, and every single element of the list above must be properly managed for project success. To be truly successful, he needs to bring both the executive leadership skills to the table as well as deep curiosity of and knowledge about the SAP Solution. The SAP PM also needs to learn how his customer's business works, specifically how the business actually makes a profit and how the SAP system is going to impact that critical process.
The PMP or Project Management Professional certification is now expected of most project managers involved in SAP ERP Implementations. This is usually also accompanied by a SAP Solution Manager Certification or at least the course work on it, and often times the SAP ASAP Project Management Certification.
What does it take to get the PMP and what makes it valuable to SAP Customers who are contemplating undertaking a SAP implementation? The test is based primarily but not wholly on the PMBOK or Project Management Body of Knowledge.
However, this covers, at best, 60% of the content of the test. To truly pass the test, you have to know quite a bit more about certain areas, such as government procurement, leadership and management, and other related general management skills and principles. In addition, there is an experience requirement that means you have to have been working in all the Project Management areas for a considerable period of time and you have to document this activity very extensively.
Once certified, there is on-going effort required to maintain your PMP certification as well as renewal fees for either the PMP certification or the Project Management Institute or PMI or both.
PMP's have to accumulate 60 PDU's during their recertification cycle, which typically includes ongoing professional training, attendance at events, presenting at events and, of course working as a Project Management.
In short, getting and keeping the PMP designation is not a simple undertaking. SAP clients who want to ensure their projects have a higher probability of success need to ensure they have the most highly qualified and experienced SAP Project Manager they find leading their SAP implementation.
Though SAP is a COTS or Commercial Off-The-Shelf Software system, and the general idea is that you are implementing embedded Best Practices, no SAP project that this author has run has ever NOT involved at least some SAP ABAP development.
That part of the project has its own methodology and typically involves some off-shore development.
The more off-shore development involved, the higher the probability of failure.
The reasons for this are very simple and boil down to a lack of communication and lack of accountability. However, the price differential will continue to drive much of the development work off-shore, even though Gartner is predicting nearly 100% failure of SAP Cloud based implementations.
So no, SAP is not a Software Development project but a subset of the implementation may well be.
From a risk management perspective, the primary Critical Success Factors are to have:
Some development versus configuration is to be expected on most SAP implementations. Experience indicates the best approach is to minimize it during the initial implementation.
Of much greater concern are decisions taken by the SAP BASIS team to not fully implement SAP Solution Manager and or not implement SAP Notes and Packages as they become available.
Though there are Project Management software solutions available, few provide the functionality of Microsoft Project Enterprise Addition combined with Sharepoint and the SAP Solution Manager. Which ever way you decide to go, the fundamental Software Project Management functionality required is well established and when used by experts, works.
What is most important is knowing what you can and should not do with the software.
Without substantial investment in systems, for example, MS Project, by itself, isn't a good Time and Attendance solution. However, if you set up the full enterprise project management solution, wherein every project team member is in a central sharepoint server (including his email) and all are using MS Outlook, then the project plan can be used to both communicate with the team and for the team to update project status via Outlook.
This means the PM won't have to spend his time chasing status which is not a productive use of his expensive time and expertise.
There are many other project management software tools available, such as Xira and Basecamp, but for anything other than small implementations, most SAP Project Managers will find them severely limiting and most likely, unsuitable for large scale implementations. If your project involves multiple, complex sub-projects, such as Hardware Installation (almost always a separate, large, complex project), EDI (still surprisingly common and usually a complex project in and of itself), and numerous complex 3rd party procurement operations which all must be completed in a particular sequence, then you will find you need industrial strength tools.
Many SAP Projects are theoretically implemented using Agile or SCRUM. However, SCRUM, unless used wisely, isn't a great fit as far as implementation methodologies go because you're not actually developing new capability. The SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework for Enterprises) framework provides a better fit, as it allows you to manage multiple teams in multiple locations more effectively.
While many are asking what the difference is between SAP ASAP and Activate methodology, you should know that SAP ASAP is already a rapid implementation framework, being based on 3, 6, or 9 month implementation timeframes.
Nevertheless, there is space within the SAP ASAP framework to incorporate SCRUM principles, especially within the development side. However, in order to avoid SOW compliance issues, it must be made explicitly clear from the beginning which method will be employed and what tools will be required.
SAP Projects need to have a strong business case, or they shouldn't be undertaken. That is why I and my team are strong proponents of using the SAP Value Engineering service, before, during and after every SAP implementation.
Since an ERP project typically takes longer to show a positive ROI, usually more than 6 months after Go-Live, it requires a longer term ERP strategy to ensure success.
As it will form the backbone IT system (System of Record) of your business, and comes with a largely untapped capability to expand its footprint, any strategy needs to look for ways to increase the exploitation and benefits derived from your ERP system.
One of the great, unrecognized benefits of having a system such as SAP installed, at least according to investors such as Warren Buffet, is that it provides them confidence in the financial statements. When evaluating investments in different companies, professional investors look for the presence of stabilized SAP systems.
Other investors who are in the 'buy and manage' investment business, often times make implementation of SAP a 'standard' on-boarding process for all new acquisitions. The reason for doing this is to make it easier to both perform Group Financial Consolidation at the holding company level and as well, to facilitate Apples-to-Apples type comparisons between different types of companies within the Holding Company's Portfolio of Companies.
The information presented on this page is actually an excerpt from SAP Project Manager Handbook built from many actual SAP Projects.
Many SAP Customers have ask that as Certified SAP Project Managers make this information available to them and so here you have it.
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