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Which type of SAP project is Agile Compatible?

Extending the thought process that underlined my recent blog,

Can SAP projects go Agile?

In this blog I am going into more details on the type of SAP projects that are compatible to Agile project management.

In general SAP projects can be clubbed into following types
1. Greenfield Implementation – Very rare now-a-days
2. Upgrade projects From SAP R/3 to SAP ECC
3. Global Template build & Roll-outs – Common type of any new SAP project now-a-days
4. SAP instance consolidation – Due to Mergers and Acquisitions, a common occurrence now-a-days
5. Company code Merger / De-Merger
6. Maintenance and Application support projects
7. Major enhancement development done as Stand-alone projects

All these project types have well established project management methodologies that were built around the tried and tested ASAP framework. While ASAP framework has worked well, but it does have well known problems which every SAP project manager would have experienced, struggled to overcome. Some of the important inadequacies and how Agile seems to fit there I have covered in my earlier blog.

So the question is for which type of SAP project Agile is Compatible?

The answer does not seem to be straight forward except for Maintenance and Application support projects which is a class by itself. So I can safely exclude it from being prospective candidate for Agile process. Coming to other type of projects we have to see the context of the project type on a case to case basis. The answer seems to be that we should go for a Hybrid approach. Parts of the projects (say deliverables) that are of high priority and visible requirements that can make or break the project are the fit candidates for Agile approach. It is in these deliverables customer involvement is required right through the project implementation. It is the requirements tend to be flexible hence an iterative approach is the need of the hour making them compatible with Agile process. Let me elaborate it by taking an example of one project type – SAP instance consolidation project.

SAP instance consolidation projects will be in general due to mergers of two or more companies in the same line of business, when the merged corporate organization feel the need for a single ERP system. So we will have two or more independent SAP systems that needs to be consolidated into a single SAP instance.

How the new corporate leadership looks at the merged business is an important parameter that decides how the SAP consolidation project will be taken up.

Scenario 1:
Leadership look at new merged entity as a corporate conglomerate type of entity while the leaving the previously independent organizations to continue their business process independently, then we are looking at SAP instance consolidation project focused on financial consolidation while allowing different business processes with no standardization.

In this type of SAP instance consolidation project, the most complex task would be Data Migration. Here we have to two or more sources of data, despite being SAP data they are definitely diverse and catering to its own business processes. But in the new system while the diversity of the business process is going to be there but we can have only one set of master data. So getting two or more diverse set of master data merged into one set while satisfying the diverseness of the business process would be challenging task and hence would require extreme collaborative effort between SAP implementation team and customer team making Agile Process a necessary element.

Scenario 2:
Leadership looks at new merged entity as single organization having streamlined and standardized global business processes. Here we are looking at a either a business process re-engineering project if the global processes have be redesigned and standardized or a SAP instance consolidation involving usage of SAP standard business processes off the shelf.

In case of the former we are looking at extensive use of Agile process across multiple business process deliverables. But in case of latter Agile need not come into the picture at all.

There can be more such scenarios, but from these two itself it is quite clear a pure play Agile methodology based SAP project would be rare and a Hybrid approach is where Agile methodology comes into play in SAP projects.

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    • Thx for you comment.

      Even though the conventional project management looks like very documentation oriented and even bureaucratic, it has its own advantages, on the other hand Agile doesn’t seem to be answer for all projects. So case to case basis evaluation should be the approach and that is the crux of my blog. You got it right.