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Now that the second version of the Accelerated Implementation Program for SAP Business One has been released and is available on the SAP Channel Partner Portal (see image 1), it might be a good time to take a closer look at this program.

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Image 1: AIP 2.0 on Channel Partner Portal

The Accelerated Implementation Program, short AIP, was first released in January of 2007 as part of SAP’s commitment to facilitate the implementation of SAP Business One at customer sites. Feedback from the SAP Business One field and support group indicated that many customer escalations resulted from issues that occurred during the implementation of SAP Business One and not from product functionality.

During numerous conversations with partners, we found that almost every partner had an implementation methodology, but that the degree of standardization varied greatly. Some partners had developed highly sophisticated tools for the whole process or parts thereof, while others had a theoretical concept, which they enhanced and specified during each individual customer implementation.

As a result, we gathered input from various partners in order to create a standard, best-practice methodology. In addition, we used the ASAP framework, which had been developed for SAP ERP and All-In-One.

ASAP (acronym for Accelerated SAP) breaks the implementation of SAP into several phases and provides input on tasks and project structure together with tools and templates for each phase. The original ASAP for SAP ERP consists of over hundred tools and templates and targets an implementation lasting several months or years. However, it provided a great starting point for a SAP Business One methodology.

AIP starts at the point when the customer has signed the deal and the project is handed over from the sales organization to the consulting/implementation organization. AIP then breaks the implementation into five phases.

• Phase 1: Project Preparation
During this phase, the team prepares and conducts a project kick-off meeting and goes through initial planning and preparation for the SAP Business One implementation.

• Phase 2: Business Blueprint
During this phase, a requirements workshop is conducted with various key stakeholders to define project objectives, scope, and schedule. In addition, the relevant business process scenarios are defined. In order to document the results gathered during the workshops, the Business Blueprint is created.

• Phase 3: Project Realization
The purpose of this phase is to implement all business process requirements based on the Business Blueprint. Other key focal areas of this phase are conducting integration tests and drawing up end user documentation.

• Phase 4: Final Preparation
The purpose of this phase is to complete final preparation (including user and administrator training, system management and cutover activities) to finalize go-live readiness. Upon successful completion of this phase, the SAP Business One system is ready to be used as a productive environment.

• Phase 5: Go-Live and Support
The purpose of this phase is to move from a project-oriented, pre-production environment to live production operation. The most important elements include setting up production support, monitoring system transactions, and optimizing overall system performance.

At each phase, AIP provides five crucial pieces of information.

• Milestones:
These are the results that have to be achieved before the project can move to the next phase.

• Team members:
This section describes who from the consulting and from the client side needs to participate in the phase and their respective time commitment.

• Project tasks:
In this section, we give a detailed breakdown on the tasks of the respective phase, list duration, and assign project team member responsibilities.

• Documentation:
This is probably the most important section as it contains documentation requirements and tools and templates, called “Accelerators”, for each phase.

• Best-practice recommendations:
In this last part of each section, we discuss known challenges and things to look out for during the implementation phase.

The first version of AIP contained an implementation guide which discussed each phase in detail, tied together the implementation tasks, and provided access to the various tools and templates. The first version of AIP contained 20 tools and templates. Notable tools were
• “Handover from Sales Checklist”, which is used to document information gathered during the sales process and is to be handed over to the implementation team during the internal kick-off
• “Risk Assessment”, which allows for analysis of potential risk factors in order to determine the overall risk of the project
• “Business Blueprint”, which is used to gather and document detailed information about customer requirements
• “Project Plan”, which provides a detailed project plan for the entire implementation according to the AIP
• “Cutover Checklist”, which lists steps necessary for a successful cutover
• “Go-Live Checklist”, which lists all steps that should be completed before going live with the new system
• “Post Go-Live Questionnaire”, which is used during the “Optimization Review” four to six weeks after go-live to determine potential for improvements in certain areas of the system and customizations necessary

The new version has been released in early September of 2007. It includes updates to existing tools, such as the Business Blueprint, the Training Plan, and the Handover from Sales document. It incorporates the existing “Integrated Implementation and Operation Concept” and includes new documents, such as the Service Level Agreement, Test Plans, and Change Logs. A highlight of the new version is the new HTML interface of the implementation guide (see image 2).

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Image 2: New HTML interface of AIP implementation guide

Please note that the implementation time according to AIP is estimated to be about 200 consulting hours plus 75 project management hours. This estimate is based on the assumption that the implementation involves no more than 15 users and does not involve customization of fields, reports, searches, or screens, or the implementation of add-ons. While this assumption might be consider not realistic in certain regions, it is in others, such as South/Central America, where the use of add-ons during the initial phase of the SAP Business One implementation accounts for only 20 to 25% of projects.

At the same time, the AIP’s main objective is to be a framework that can be used and enhanced by partners based on their individual needs. It is of great benefit for new partners with few SAP Business One implementations under their belt. More experienced partners may use the AIP as a starting point for the development of their own implementation methodology or as a compliment to their existing one.

All in all, we are confident that AIP is a great tool. Its first version has gained great acceptance among the SAP Business One community. The new version significantly improves the existing methodology and will provide further benefit to facilitate the successful implementation of SAP Business One at customer sites.

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