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Applying Agile to the world of SAP projects, well that is an impossible mission. Right? Lots of die hard SAP consultants still believe so. Even so described by the ASAP project approach. I personally feel that this is going to change very soon, just as SAP projects are changing rapidly with all the possibilities that SAP NetWeaver as business process platform is offering. 

In my blog on the SAP Scrum: An agile approach to deliver what is really required I described why we wanted another approach for the second phase of our project at the largest Dutch public transport provider. The first experiences I collected in Doing the SAP Scrum.
In short we went agile by adopting Scrum as a project approach. Scrum was extended with Smart to offer us more techniques such as describing the requirements with Smart Use Cases. Our Agile coach was Sander Hoogendoorn.

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Currently we are in the second week of our eight sprint. Sprints, or iterations, are the heartbeat of your project, in our case lasting two weeks each. Within each sprint we take a piece of the product backlog scope and execute activities as designing, realization and testing. Every sprint is concluded with a demo and a evaluation.
Now it’s time to do some wrapping up of the first (well at least in NL) Agile SAP project, as we approach the end and are in the middle of transition to the run organization.

Some project statistics

  • We started with a backlog, worth 284 smart use case points.
  • Scope grew along the way to 341 points (proof of being agile 😉
  • On average we realized (design, realize, test) 30 points per sprint (2 weeks).
  • Our team started with 7 consultants and grew to 12.
  • Team was built with following specialties: SAP CRM, SAP XI, SAP ccBPM, Information analyst, Test, ABAP, Java and .NET.
  • Velocity is made visible with a burndown chart:

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Our experiences so far

  • It is a high speed project. A delivery every two weeks distributes the effort more equally than the traditional waterfall where the required effort ‘explodes’ in the last weeks before final delivery.
  • Both the team as well as the involved business people have a day to day focus on the sprint scope .
  • Collaborating in a scrum is connecting departments, teams and roles.
  • Change management is required both in and outside the team. Agile is not common in the SAP world and therefore you need to keep convincing and motivating.
  • Currently we have a good press in the organization, a skeptical attitude is turned into faith.
  • Apply a “Just do it” approach. Do not think for weeks on how you want to apply agile or scrum. Make the decision, form the team, name the product owner and scrum master and start.
  • For the first time in my SAP life (14 years) the project documentation is up to date!
  • We are very agile to changing requirements, best illustrated when we had a scope discussion on a new requirement. We estimated that this change was worth 20 points and as the product owner valued this as a high prio we implemented this in the following sprint.
  • By collecting statistics each day  you gain a planning insight that outperforms every planning tool. We were able to predict that we would finish the core functionality after only 2 weeks of realization.
  • With the approach we now have discussions on priorities in stead of deadlines. These kind of discussions can be held without any emotion which makes them far more pleasant.

Any lessons learned? Sure:

  • Make sure you select a realistic scope for your sprint backlog. Too much will discourage team as things just can’t get ‘Done’.
  • Focus on team delivery. Prevent that everyone is busy with everything.
  • Involve the right people from your project environment. This enables you to let them participate during design and prevents reviews to be held afterwards.
  • Be firm in following (a new) approach, prevent to catch up old habits.
  • Transition to run organization is made easier when you involve them during the sprints. Invite them for your demo’s for example.
  • Positioning your project team on one location prevents communication gaps and will facilitate collaboration.
  • Use a project wall with a project dashboard to facilitate discussions.

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So if you ask me now whether Agile can be applied to the SAP world, it will be no surprise that I will answer: “Yes, and better it is not only working within the SAP world, it will also change doing SAP projects”.

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19 Comments

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    1. Anonymous
      I love the idea! Count me in 🙂

      And thank you for the posts as you go along, it is the first agile SAP project I know of which is “open” for everyone to follow.

      – Anne

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    2. Sascha Wenninger
      Are you thinking of doing this for TechEd in Phoenix? If so, count me in!

      I have always been a fan of the concept and would love to see this (more widely) used in the SAP community!

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    3. Twan van den Broek Post author
      Wow lot of reactions – great!
      I will be attending SAP TechEd Vienna. Still studying my personal agenda to find a spot to have our meetup. Will let you know with a reaction on this blog and via twitter (@tbroek).

      To the Phoenix attendees: make sure you meet Dagfinn Parnas (@dparnas) as he is scrum enthusiast as well. Too bad I can’t meet you in person 🙁

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  1. Marco ten Vaanholt
    I used to do scrum projects at Yahoo before my SAP time and almost got certified as a scrum master… and in Dutch.. blijf gewoon doordraaien; er zullen veel nee zeggers zijn maar uiteindelijk creer je veel betere resultaten.
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    1. Twan van den Broek Post author
      Thanks Marco, we will continue. Third phase is being prepared right now and guess what – Scrum again 😉
      “We zullen vooral door blijven gaan”
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  2. Marilyn Pratt
    Topic: BPX Process Design Slam for Teched.  This week we were having a conversation around which collaboration methods made the best sense for this year’s Process Design Slam.  I enjoyed your tips around Scrum and know from following the ESME project that they used this methodology as well to be efficient and agile.  I’d like to see further investigations around applying these tactics virtually and finding innovative ways to share ideas graphically and technically.  Are you or others interested in participating/and/or steering the next BPX community project incorporating this approach?  Our goal is to present conclusions during an evening event.  Why wait for TechEd community evening.  Let’s start now. I want to explore how to “Use a project wall with a project dashboard to facilitate discussions” for a geographically dispersed group.  Anne? Twan? others?  are you in?
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  3. Daniel Graversen
    Hi,
    thanks for giving some information on scrum/agile can be used for sap implementations

    /daniel

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  4. Dirk Wittenberg
    Thanks a lot for this blog.
    I ‘ve been pondering for a while why agil development shouldn’t work in the SAP area.
    It’s goog to hear that it works.
    Hope I’ll get the opportunity to try it my self.

    Dirk

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  5. JayaKumar Pedapudi
    Thanks for the blog..Good information.

    I’ve been working in my mind for past couple of months on how to bring this Agile methodology into SAP. I finally dared to do it instead of waiting for opportunity and perfect understanding.
    We have just started realization and wanted to somehow get there by using SCRUM process.
    I think, I am going by “Just Do It” approach.
    I hope this will bring optimized results, since all of us were little skeptical on how this will work for SAP projects.
    We have good talented project team, product owner and ofcourse knowledgable Scrum master. 😉 . 

    Thanks,
    JK (JayaKumar Pedapudi)

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    1. Twan van den Broek Post author
      Well JK, I wish you and your team a lot of luck and fun!!
      Hope that you will share your experiences with us, here on SDN. Together we can make SAP more agile!

      Kind regards
      Twan

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