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Why it is so difficult to map planning funcationality in SAP ???

FAQ – Is it so difficult to map planning functionality in SAP?

Planning is a central functionality and it involves lots of coordination with various departments of the organization to plan demand planning, material planning, supply planning etc.

Planning Team requires doing coordination and compiling the sales data, forecast data and do material requirements planning.

Planning has to be on time and with the right input data.

 Most commonly ‘Excel’  used for planning.

While SAP implementation, ‘Excel’ based planning process mapping in SAP become a critical and complex task for SAP planning functional consultant.

To convince the planner how in SAP system planning would happen is not digestible!!! It is a change management!!! It requires lots of education to make aware of SAP terminology to the Business user community.

Most of the time Scope of implemention is only for ECC (R/3),  it does not cover Advanced Planning Optimizer (APO) in first phase. APO implementation project plan is down the line after 1-2 years time. That is also not a firm plan.

Head of the Planning Team ask various questions to the Implementation Team, which she/he suppose to ask to his top management who took the decision of implementation of SAP ECC. 

She/He keep asking questions!

In Excel sheet it is very simple to do the calculation. Why it is not supported in SAP?? This is the typical frequently asked question!!!

If it does not support by SAP then why we require such a costly software???

We require flexibility while planning. Our marketing team provides details as and when and same we require to update and recalculate the new plan.

SAP planning consultant will go mad answering such type of queries as it is recurring type!!!

SAP Planning consultant has to give recurring answer on Benefits of  SAP Vs. Excel as below:

  • Integration of Sales data, Inventory data
  • No limitation for data volume
  • Data accuracy

SAP functional consultant has to derive clear scope of project for planning business processes to be mapped with the current SAP ECC project. This scope she/he has to share with the all concern team members.

 Prepare detail activity plan which will be done in SAP and which will be require to be done out of SAP (May be in Excel!!!).

If She/he tries to do mirror imaging of the current excel based planning in SAP then I am sure she/he will go mad!!!

If we want to have an answer of the question ‘Is it so difficult to map planning functionality in SAP?’ as a ‘No’ then try to make things easier while providing business solution.

 Ask back questions to the business planner for things which  are not able to map in SAP. Is it really require to do planning in this way?

I am sure 90% of the business users answer will be ‘Yes’ but actually this ‘Yes’ is really ‘NO’!!! Most of the planning data collected from sales, production team is for information. It does not play any direct role in planning.

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      I agree with your view. However, during my career I could find that the people who are connected with an implementation project have different objectives and the planning process is victim of these objectives. As we can understand that we can not ignore the actuals and they would somehow need to fall in line. Unless and until planning function is initiated by the top management a proper planning framework doesn't comes into existence as the junior managers prefer to plan in their own spreadsheets. Moreover, most of the consultants fail to emphasize on planning part due to knowledge and timing constrains. Frankly speaking, an effort to bring the planning managers close to the system might be a good approach as there is a tendency amongst them is to do it on excel and only input plan in SAP in situations where the plan is mandatory. However, the increasing number of companies implementing APO is a positive sign that plan is no longer an excel activity. Companies like Nestle have excellent planning integration with APO , BW and R/3.

      Kind Regards // Shaubhik

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Your views are very true.
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      I do agree with your views that implementing a planning solution using the core module is a challenging task as it involves analytics but I feel this could be managed if there is mutual cooperation and openness between client and the consulting team. I tried to list a few points below. This does not restrict to a module but planning definitely requires thorough knowledge on system behaviour else they are bound to lose direction and finally go back to excel files:

      Client

      (a) Deploy right team - sound in concepts, open to new ideas, well versed in their business
      (b) Understand SAP - absorb the terminologies in right spirit and treat it as an opportunity for continuous improvement
      (c) Provide all inputs to the Consulting team (in the right format) so that there is always a chance to cross verify
      (d) Have an exhaustive list of processes - ensure each of them is addressed
      (e) Discuss gaps with consulting team and have open discussions for workaround - even if it is going to be manual
      (f) Understand the business impact for each decision and spread the message across the company in the right language
      (g) Have open discussion in the Steering committee on case to case basis - Do not spend too much time on nitty gritties
      (h) Ensure team availability & participation during each phase of the project

      Consulting Team

      (a) Educate the Client on SAP planning terminologies - Vital though time consuming (Some client send their team for a training in advance too)
      (b) Have a way to assess their understanding (some kind of internal questionnaire / feedback)
      (c) Address each and every process - standard or workaround
      (d) Prepare a clear gap document and discuss it openly - assist the Client to manage the process if not met in Standard
      (e) Escalate any open issue in a positive tone so that a solution is arrived finally
      (f) Have frequent process workshops and correlate
      (g) Provide solution keeping in mind the potential for continuous improvement via APO (in case the Client can afford to)

      It is easy to say but challenging to do. I am sure there would be more value adding points from others based on their experience. End of the day, Client has to manage their business well !!

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Yes, "End of the day, Client has to manage their business well !!"

      You are absolutly right.
      As they have to manage their business well, it's become very complex and critical functionality!!! 

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      I do agree with the sensitivity of this topic and challenges mentioned. It can only be brought to manageable level by Top down approach. First buy in to be taken from top management elaborating long term benefits over short term change management pain. Once top management align then they can drive the chain to the lowest level to adopt the SAP best practices.