Need for Customer Responsiveness and Time to Market Fuelling New and First Time Implementations of SAP Platform
LONDON, 14 September, 2005 —Keane, Inc. (NYSE: KEA), a leading business and information technology (IT) outsourcing firm, today outlined its best practice guidelines for companies implementing SAP, aimed at customers initiating first time projects on the SAP platform. As specialists in SAP implementation, Keane manages the design, integration, and rapid deployment of large-scale SAP implementations for some of the world’s largest SAP customers through its team of consultants with specialised SAP skills.
“Many organisations embarking on an SAP implementations for the first time seek guidance on how to go about it,” said Stuart Wilkie SAP Commercial Director, Keane Ltd. “There are many consultancies willing to offer their services, software vendors will tell you how easy it is, or indeed there are now a number of books on the subject. However, it is rare to find a high level summary of the important elements of a successful implementation of SAP. Whilst, we acknowledge that every client situation is different, we know from our experience with hundreds of SAP projects that there are some common themes that recur time and again.”
Keane’s Best Practice Guidelines:
1. Build A Robust Business Case:
What is often missed is the ‘how-to’ of building the benefits aspects of the business case. Factors which should be taken into account of legacy vs. SAP are at the levels of business process, application software and system technology. Your cost plan for the SAP solution should budget for the full life-cycle of the system, as well as the initial implementation and should include a level of contingency for unforeseen changes in scope, timeline and personnel.
2. Secure A Life-Time Sponsor
The successful implementation and sustainability of an SAP system requires committed sponsorship at the highest level in an organisation. The sponsor needs to be an ambassador for the project, and needs to have sufficient areas of responsibility that will be affected by, and will benefit from the implementation of SAP. The typical business roles of an SAP project sponsor should be at least the CEO, COO, CFO, Logistics Director or the HR Director.
3. Define An Implementation Plan That Suits Your Business
Many consultancies recommend ‘big-bang’, others recommend a ‘phased’ implementation of functionality. For large organisations with a geographical spread by global region or country, a phased rollout is the most logical and risk-free options.
You should probe beyond these options to determine what is best for your business, and how the implementation plan will deliver the solution, whilst optimising the benefits, and managing the risk. Be realistic about the capability of your own organisation to adapt to changes in processes and systems, and ensure that the interdependencies with other change programmes are well understood.
4. Use The Correct Implementation Approach and Tools
The most commonly used implementation approach is known as ‘AcceleratedSAP’, with its successor now delivered with the SAP Solution Manager. Large Systems Integrators will seek to impose their own methodology; if this is the route you follow then be sure that you can absorb the costs of implementing and maintaining an implementation approach and its tools throughout the SAP systems life-cycle.
The challenge is making sure that the implementation approach, and its specific application as used in the implementation project are appropriate for your business. For example in pharmaceutical, defence, aerospace and other regulated businesses, the demands for documentation and process controls far exceeds that required in a non-regulated environment.
5. Get External Assistance For Your First SAP Implementation
The internal IT or procurement department may recommend engaging ‘tame’ contractors or IT permanent staff to fill the positions normally taken in a project by the implementation consultants. This approach will eventually bring results, but on a ‘technical applications’ level after many extra time sheets have been signed. You are likely to get a solution that has replicated the ‘as-is’ business processes, with many enhancements and modifications to standard SAP that the IT department considers an easier way to satisfy the business users than challenging the business process.
6. Select The Implementation Partner That You Can Live With
Many organisations select their implementation partner based on purely these economic or strategic factors. Equally important is the cultural fit between your organisation and the consultants who will do the work. Be aware that just because you are offered a ‘sweet deal’ in pre-sales does not mean that this will measure up over time. One way of checking out your initial choice of implementation partner is to engage in a ‘Vision Prototype’ or ‘Proof of Concept’ utilising the SAP software and your processes and data. This can help gain mutual understanding of each other’s way of working and to decide whether you break off the ‘engagement’, or consummate the ‘marriage’.
7. Build The Right Project Team And Structure
The formation of a new project team is itself an exercise in change management for the team members themselves. They have to adopt new working practices, new organisations, work with external consultants, adapt to the SAP terminology and to consulting-style project practices. Often the team has the uncertainty of which job they will return to on completion of the project assignment. These uncertainties have to be recognised and a series of management initiatives undertaken to maintain team morale and motivation. A clearly defined project structure is needed, with workstreams for Project Management, Business Process Functionality, Organisational Change, End User Training, Data Migration & Interfaces, and Technical Infrastructure.
8. Design and Communicate Business Processes That Work
You will find that many consultancies and software companies will readily state that their processes and software deliver ‘best practice’, very few can actually demonstrate this. SAP software provides an excellent framework of integrated business processes that actually work, and with the SAP industry solutions and business knowledge from the right consultancy organisation even the most complex businesses can benefit from realigning their business processes to work within the SAP software environment. With the SAPNetWeaver architecture there is now the capability to adopt ‘non-SAP’ processes into the SAP environment, which will deliver further benefits through integration in a common applications and systems technology platform.
9. Help the Business Get Ready by Anticipating Organisational Change
Business readiness is one of the critical success factors for a successful implementation of SAP into an organisation. The areas for the team to focus on include communication, organisational mapping of processes & roles, training needs analysis, business partner communications, cutover planning. Be careful not to get diverted into the strategy and ‘buzzwords’ of Organisational Change Management (OCM) but focus on the practicality of ensuring the business users and support teams are ready for the system and it’s ongoing use in the business.
10. Manage The Data
The migration of data from legacy system to SAP often proves traumatic for many project teams – however this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ensuring consistent and stable business processes, management reporting and low risk implementation. The project needs to plan for the expected data volumes and communicate to the business the new business processes for initiating, sourcing, creating, maintaining and auditing the master data in the new SAP system.
11. Select and Deploy the right Technical Infrastructure
The integration of a major new element of server infrastructure and the management of this environment represents a major opportunity for the optimisation of service delivery. The optimisation review could result in outsourcing through managed service of the hosting, operation and maintenance of the SAP environment. If you are retaining the service delivery ‘in-house’, make sure that the operational aspects of the environment are reviewed and that opportunities to improve service levels and reduce resource costs are taken.
12. Test Every Aspect of The Solution
Certainly SAP software is one of the most rigorously tested application software packages available for business use. The testing carried out in the project must verify that all aspects of the solution will work to the design and service levels of the business processes, application software and technology infrastructure.
13. Ensure Your Users Have The Right Skills
The most perfectly tested system, with the cleanest data and most stable technical
environment is worthless without properly trained users. The training delivery
strategy must be compatible with the demographics and geography of the
organisation. The most fundamental principle is that the training must be ‘contextualised’ to ensure that the new business processes as well as the system transactions are trained to the end-users.
14. Design and Deploy The Right Support Organisation
Once the project is successfully live your team will disband and move on to new roles in your organisation. The support organisation needs to be carefully defined and resourced for the SAP solution to realise the benefits promised as part of the business case. The SAP solution has a life-cycle that will outlive the implementation project. Certainly your organisation should plan for a normal life-cycle of between 10 and 15 years of productive business use of the SAP application.
A more in-depth white paper of Keane’s Best Practice Guidelines for SAP Implementation is available upon request.
Keane, Inc. (NYSE: KEA), helps clients to improve their business operations and IT effectiveness by delivering a broad range of business consulting and outsourcing services designed to achieve near-term and sustainable business benefit. Specifically, Keane focuses on highly synergistic service offerings, including: Application Development & Integration, Application Outsourcing, and Business Process Outsourcing. Keane believes that business and IT improvements are best realized by streamlining and optimizing business and IT processes, implementing rigorous management disciplines, and fostering a culture of accountability through meaningful performance metrics. Keane delivers its services through an integrated network of branch offices in North America and the United Kingdom, and via SEI CMM Level 5 evaluated Advanced Development Centers (ADCs) in Canada and India. Information on Keane is available on the Internet at www.keane.com
Tel: 0870 191 6243
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