Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) by SAP Consultants
Every SAP Consultant may not be fortunate enough to get opportunity in different types of projects like Implementation (Green Field & Brown Field), Support, Maintenance, Upgrade and Business Consultancy etc. SAP Consultant who has started their career as fresher and eagerly looking for an experience in an implementation project would really wonder how will be an implementation project. For that matter, everybody in our life has wondered to be part of an end to end implementation project. There are so many questions in the mind of SAP Consultants to know about different things within the projects, understand the business processes and deliverables etc. In my entire life, I have come across number of prospective SAP Consultants who are always eager to learn things out of the projects. Everybody used to ask different questions what will be there in an implementation, what kind of calls you receive in a support projects, how the support calls are being handled etc.
Following are the questions posted to me by @Chirag_Shah (so many Chirags 😉 Confused) which provoked me to write this blog. Therefore, half of the credit must go to him. There were times when people are desperate to know the things, but nobody around there to suggest and guide. It was really difficult life as not sure where to start, how to read and what to practice etc. However, the things are changed at a faster and the knowledge has been assimilated rapidly across the globe with the invention of the internet. Now with the invention of social networks, the information has become a revolution. People are sharing on a daily basis through Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter etc. Now, fortunately, SDN also joined in the same league with its new look and other extended. In this current world, sharing knowledge is a privilege for number of people.
Probably, some of the following questions would help the Consultants and their understanding.
What is end to end implementation?
In a nutshell, mapping and transforming the business process into SAP and reaping the future benefits. There are number of stages required in an end to end implementation. In the past implementation used to take longer times, however, with number of methodologies the times are being drastically reduced. Most of the consulting partners may also use the same objects / programs with other clients, rather than reinventing the wheel. SAP has its own Accelerated SAP (ASAP) Methodology, the other consulting partners or consulting companies may have their own methodologies. Broadly, this end to end implementation consists of the following phases:
- Project Preparation
- Business Blueprint
- Final Preparation
- Go Live and Support
- Run (newly added by SAP)
Please refer http://service.sap.com/asap for further details.
How to start and what is the correct and inclusive path?
Like none of the two people are same in this world (except Bollywood movies 😉 ), similarly, no two projects are same. Therefore, you cannot correlate the same things with other projects. Every project is a fresh start and the requirements may be different at the other client. Therefore, there is no standard / correct / inclusive path you must go in order to complete the project. “Project” does means that it is mix of number of uncertain activities, turning all these uncertainties into deliverables is the real challenge in the project. “Project” always runs in three boundaries, “Time”, “Cost” and “Scope” by maintaining the acceptable levels of “quality”. As soon as you are at a new implementation site, try to meet as many numbers of users as possible and discuss with them. You will realize number of issues; it is always the duty of the consultant to quickly understand their business processes. None of the business processes could be same.
What are the points that need to be taken care?
- Proper planning of projects
- Be meticulous at the time of collecting the business requirements (this is key phase)
- Proficient in understanding RICEF requirements (Reports, Interfaces, Conversions, Enhancements and Forms)
- Ensure that the all the items promised in the business blueprint are configured / developed
- Proper Testing has been done (Unit / Integration / UAT / Regression if in scope)
- Train the key users and educate the business users
- Maintain Proper documentations
- Ensure you have proper cut-over strategy is in place
- Master and Transaction Datas are loaded in DEV (Test Client), QA and Pre-production before loading into Production System, this would give you a chance to refine or rectify data loading errors.
- Ensure you have completed manual configuration if any (like FTXP tax codes, number ranges, reset asset reconciliation accounts etc.)
- Daily have meetings after go live and ensure you have documented all the user issues meticulously. Ensure proper accountability to resolve these calls. Discuss the progress on a daily basis.
- Proper Segregation of Duties Matrix is in place (SOD) follow Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) Compliance if your client is US related
- Ensure that the roles / authorizations are being developed according to SOD.
What all important documentations are required?
There could be number of documents that are being prepared during the implementation or a life of the project. Some of the important documents are as follows:
- Project Charter – High Level document describes statement of scope, outline project objectives, identify main stake holders and define authority of project manager.
- Project Plan – as per PMBOK, “a formal, approved document used to guide to execute both project execution and project control”.
- Business Process Documents (BPDs) – This document sets out the guidelines for documenting business process, which is collection activities that produce outcome.
- AS-IS Templates – Usually prepared by the business team, documenting the present business scenarios (pre-SAP)
- Business Blueprint – A kind of legal document that binds both business as well as consulting company to deliver the commitments, usually includes GAP analysis.
- Business Process Master List (BPML) – List of high level business processes of the client, usually used to monitor the progress.
- Gaps Issue Register – This entails the GAPs that can be fulfilled and its impact on the project.
- Configuration Document – Configuration documents relating to various business processes, shows how it is being mapped in SAP.
- Functional Specifications – Mostly written in a business language how a new requirement has to be achieved.
- Technical Specifications – This contains the minute technical details of the functional specification, prepared by developers with the help of fuctional consultants.
- Unit Test Documents – This document is proof of the testing of the transaction done in Testing Client of the Development Server
- Integration Test Documents – This document is the proof of the Integration Tests done in the system (could include screen shots)
- Test Plan – Test Plan is a high level documents emphasizing how the test activities are to be completed detailing scope, approach, resources and schedule etc.
- Test Scripts – Detailed step by step document which are used for the purpose of testing, these are very helpful to the testers in order to test the transactions.
- User Acceptance Test Documents – These documents are proof of the tests that are being conducted by the users.
- Testing Issues Log (accountability required) / Defect Log – This is a log contains the brief description of the defect, accountable person, close date etc.
- Transaction User Guides (TUGs) / End User Documents – These are end user documents which are being used by the business users for future reference.
- User Training Presentations – These are power point presentations that are prepared for the purpose of train the businessusers.
- Risk Register – Risk register is important document, this include anticipated risk, probability, impact, counter-measures and risk owner etc.
- Go-live metrics – This document summarises the end user experience, end user satisfaction levels etc.
- Post Go-live Issues Log (accountability required) – This is a log of every day issues, accountable person and its status, until the project is handed over to Support Team.
The above mentioned list is not exhaustive, but the minimum required for a project.
What are the roles of various SAP consultants, Program Manager & Project manager?
There are number of people involved from Consulting firm’s side:
Program Manager – Having authority to go or no go etc. kind of decisions, could be budget holder for consultant budgets, any high level escalations may goes to him / her
Project Manager – Responsible for day to day and overall management of the project, very key person in administrative decisions / arranging the resources / tracking the project.
Functional Leads – Mostly responsible for drafting business blueprints / leading workshops / arranging sign offs / training the key users / monitoring and mentoring various consultants / coordinating with technical team like ABAPers etc.
Junior Functional Consultants – Configuration / Preparing configuration documents / user guides / training normal business users / helping the users in testing etc.
Technical Leads – Monitoring overall development / Mentoring junior technical consultants / coordinating with Functional Team Leads
Junior Technical Consultants – Coding / Testing / Reporting to Technical Leads
Basis Consultants – System Build / All system related activities / Resolving any system issues / Ensure that the availability of system access
Project Management Office (PMO) – Looking after all administrative needs of the project
How do SAP best practice can be useful in it?
SAP Best Practices are much useful when the Clients intend to go with Vanilla type of standard configuration. In such cases, these best practices would much useful. The consultants are much happy as most of the things are standard and only requires minimal changes to the standard functionality of SAP. Using SAP Best Practices would drastically reduce the cost of project and ensure adequate quality. The other advantage is that it will give the benefit of the SAP Best Practices, which are being used by number of clients across the industry. This gives the confidence to the Client that numbers of other organizations are successfully implemented by using this.
What are building blocks and how to make best use of it?
Whether you call it Best Practices / Building Blocks they are more or less the same. This gives a good opportunity particularly for functional consultants in order to practice in the demo / sandbox system. There more number of times that you are going to practice the more confidence you will be getting. You also must concentrate not only on the configuration but also on practising the business process steps. This would help you to understand what is being expected from the users.
The following links could be useful
Found following thread with summarization of various Finance materials / documentations
Not sure if all the links in the above thread are working or not.
What is testing process and what is the correct time to switch on to production server?
There could be different types of testing activities are expected. In general, you will find the following types of testing:
Unit Testing – This is done by the Consultants mostly in DEV (Testing) Client to check whether the transaction Codes are working properly or not
Integration Testing – This test is conducted with most realistic data with number sequence of number of modules
Interface Testing – Testing of various interfaces at different points of your projects. You should be clear when you need to test what interface.
User Acceptance Testing – One or more users would test the and sign off whether the transaction codes are working proper or not. This would also include a scenario type testing.
SAP Stress / Load / Performance Testing – This mainly to test whether the system response time is acceptable / performance is as expected.
SAP Security / Authorizations Testing – This is to ensure that the end users are only able to execute the transactions that are intended as per SOD.
SAP Cut Over /Dry Run Testing – This is just to simulate number of single time events such as extraction of data from your legacy systems, validating the data, data conversions etc.
Regression Testing – This is to test whether changes to configurations has made changes to functionality intended for.
There could be other different types of testing activities, but mostly, you would observe the above.
Production server is the final hurdle. There is nothing like switch on to production. As soon as the objects are being tested and signed off they will be moved into Production. Therefore, Production will come along with you through out the project.
What is the Process for proper Sign off?
There is no standard procedure for sign off. It is mostly the understanding between the business and the consulting firm. However, mostly important documents such as business process documents / business blueprints / configuration documents / functional specifications / technical specifications etc. are to be signed parties from both the end (business as well as consulting). They will be binding on both the parties and you can treat them as a kind of legal documents. Tomorrow if there is any deviation, then they can refer to these sign off documents. Consulting Company should be able to deliver what they have committed on these documents and the business should stick to what they have expected. Therefore, these are very important documents for ascertaining the accountability. Usually the sign off documents includes, project manager (business side) business heads, key users from business side; delivery managers, lead functional and technical consultant from consulting side.
What is the difference between Implementation project & Support project?
Implementation Project is mostly transforming the whole business process and mapping into SAP. As explained earlier, it could have number of phases. In most of the cases, the support activity could goes to the same implementation partner or could be other implementation partner depending on the business constraints. Support Projects are mostly for longer duration may be 3 to 5 to 7 years usually. These are being driven by various Service Level Agreements (SLAs) between Client and the Supporting Organization. There may be different types of tolls used like Remedy, Console etc. Remedy is a tool which is used in order to keep track of issues / logs etc. whereas Console could be a password mechanism tool, where you are supporting more than a single client, in such cases, remembering the password is not possible. Furthermore, there could be number of people supporting the same client at different shifts / time intervals, in such cases, this Console would help them.