Providers of SAP Project Management Expertise
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.
- Green field implementations
- Continuous Value Improvement Post-Go Live
- SAP Business Intelligence
- SAP ASAP Project Reviews
- Global and Local implementations
- Business Case Development
Want to know how we do it?
Your SAP Implementation Success is critical to us. Want to know more about us?
There is a lot to know and a lot of activities you must get right to have a successful SAP Project.
Change Management - A Key Critical Successs Factor
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.
Project Manager Job Description - Just What Does that Guy Do?
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:
- Understand the full scope of the project as originally envisioned in the SOW and know when and how to diplomatically add or take away scope as the project progresses.
This often involves sometimes contentious negotiations with often demanding clients who don't understand why all the pre-project scoping, such as business process analysis, did not yield a perfect scope.
- Set up an ideal Project Implementation environment, without which, the project is assured of failure.
The SAP ASAP implementation methodology provides a wealth of project environment set up checklists, "how to" guides and other project facilitation tools, all of which imply the expenditure of limited project funds.
The project manager must work closely with the client and other service providers to ensure things such as office space, IT equipment and services and other logistics related items are provided.
- Part of setting up the ideal SAP Implementation Environment, regardless of model, is setting up and ensuring the use of the SAP Solution Manager.
The SAP PM must ensure that all documentation standards are established and available within the Solution Manager and that all files are set up in a fully documented and followed folder system. This has to be complete by the end of the Project Preparation Phase.
As the project progresses, it is absolutely critical that the blueprint be created using the SM and as well, all related SAP systems be connected and managed from the SM as designed.
As the realization phase is completed, the blueprint should be updated as changes are made.
All developments should also be fully specified and managed via the SM and eventually, all test cases and test results should be in the SM and all end user training, including third party applications such as RWE, should be integrated within the SM Knowledge Management solution.
- Hire the SAP Consulting team.
Though the SAP Consultants required will have been defined during the pre-SOW negotiation stage, based on 'estimates' and 'rules of thumb', it is ultimately the SAP PM's role to interview, select and ensure his implementaton team is in place as and when needed.
The SAP PM will not know the technical knowledge required of all SAP Consultants, and will thus have to know who, skill wise, to call in to conduct interviews with at least some members of the implementation team.
Projects where the SAP PM is not allowed to select and manage his own teams inevitably fail.
- Helps the client select their implementation team members.
In order to guard against the SAP Project being provided with 'less than the best' client team members from the company, the PM will need to work closely with the client on this most delicate of project management aspects.
- Develops both the Project Management Plan and Project Plan.
Often confused, one is usually a word document that details out everything about how the project will be managed, and includes the project plan, usually in a GANTT Chart format.
- Is responsible for developing, maintaining and continuously communicating the status of the project vis-a-vis the project plan.
- Responsible for initiating change request as well as evaluating them against the project plan and the overall project budget and risk profile.
Though the majority of change requests are typically development request, i.e., SAP ABAP developments, they may also involve the acquisition of additional software or equipment.
This can be due to it having been missed during the initial scoping and selection process or SAP releasing an enhancement that now covers the requirement or in rarer cases, an acquisition of a completely new company provides a new solutioning possibility.
- Identifies risks and takes active measures to manage them, typically either accepting them, mitigating them or migrating them to someone or some other project.
- Develops and continuously implements a project communication plan, which can involve a wide variety of media and messaging channels.
- Provides ongoing management and leadership to both the consulting team and the client's team, as well as 3rd parties that also may be playing a role in the project, such as hardware vendors.
- Sometimes acts as the Solution Architect if qualified and even when not Solution Architect qualified, has to understand enough of the SAP solution to know when to question the approach.
- Uses his extensive network, within the client company, among the SAP Consulting team and the wider SAP eco-system to find solutions to problems.
- Sits in on functional blueprinting sessions to ensure the team is progressing toward a viable solution.
- Ensures cross-functional teams exist and that all business processes that cross functional silos and require input and approval from often disconnected teams work out the full, true scope of all To-Be software configurations.
- Forms and leads an effective change management team.
Ensures that required training is provided to all client team members, including both end user training, executive 'seminar' type training as well as 'deep dive' training that brings the internal client support team up to Consultant Level knowledge levels.
- As appropriate, helps clients establish a Center of Expertise (COE) to help in managing and maintaining the SAP and related IT systems once the initial implementation is completed and the client has achieved Go-Live status.
- Ensures that the project has a valid and strong business case and that benefits realization, as part of the Value Engineering approach to SAP implementations, is a key focus of the project.
- Forms a part of the Executive Steering Committee, acting as a key advisor to them as they are asked to approve of changes to the project as it progresses.
- If a member of the System Integrator (SI) team, works to help ensure they are fully aware of how the project is progressing and when additional resources will be needed or when resources will be released from the project so that they can be redeployed to other projects to help keep their utilization rate on target.
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 is going to impact that critical process.
Project Management Certification
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 include 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.
Is a SAP Project a Software Development Project
Though SAP is a COTS or Commercial Off The Shelf Software system, and the general idea is that you are implementing embedded Best Pracitces, 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:
- Clear functional and technical requirements specification documentation and approval process.
- Presence of a highly experience technical solution architect.
- That all effort be taken to kill development during the project that are not absolutely necessary to Go-Live.
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.
Which Project Management Software Do You Need
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 and 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 Managemer 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.
Agile Project Management
Many SAP Projects are theoretically implemented using Agile or SCRUM. However, SCRUM, unles 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.
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.
3rd Party Auditors
One particularly tricky aspect of many SAP implementations is the presence of a client's auditor, which may be either an internal audit capability or a contracted outside 3rd party auditor. The audit process must be explicitly defined in the SOW or else they can play havoc with the implementation, including undermining the authority of the SAP PM. Though they may be unavoidable on a project, unless they are qualified to implement and evaluate SAP Projects, they can and must be controlled.
Project Business Case
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 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 stablized SAP systems.
Other investors who are in the 'buy and manage' investment business, often times make implementation of SAP a 'standard' onboarding 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.