When it comes to SAP implementations or roll-outs there are always things that we wish we could have done better or differently. No matter how good implementation looks, we know it could have been better.
There are certain key points to pay attention and it seems that no matter how detailed and good the project plan is, the outcome is always the same. There are always opportunities to make next implementation better than the last one.
We normally can come up with a large list of points to be improved next time, specially if we do this with all project team together using a tool like brain-storming technique where everyone is mentioning one at a time.
But this time I would like to emphasize and discuss the issues related to Business Processes of these lessons learned.
When we refer to the “system” we normally think about it as SAP ECC or others applications connected to ECC (software) but we need to visualize the system as software plus people (peopleware). Of course hardware is also part of the system but it normally is chosen correctly and has minor or no impact on implementations. At least I have never seen an issue in regard of this on the lessons learned phase.
1) Business Process are not clearly identified:
So let us focus on software. Once decisions are made normally it could be some complains why it being implemented or not implemented etc but this could be addressed into another topic. Software has its own procedures to make sure it behaves the way it was expected. A lot of programs, function modules, BAPIs, BADIs etc will make sure of that. But what about the people? here is where business process show up. Business process is supposed to be identified and mapped during business blueprint or gap analysis. One of the problem is that some of the business processes are not clearly identified or in the worse case scenario is not identified at all. Leaving this major and important task to later stages of the project such as integration testing is a major risk.
2) Impact of Business Process changes sometimes is overlooked.
During integration testing we sometimes overlook these business process since we are so focused on performing a data check, we want to make sure the software does exactly what we want, we write down material documents numbers, process order numbers, purchase order number etc that we missed one important thing which is how the process is going to be performed and how it will affect the other areas. I would say that we normally do not clearly assess the business process impact in other areas. Tracking data created in one module and being handled over different modules is necessary but not enough. It is also required to check how the process is affecting processes of all involved areas and how are they going to manage it.
3) Lack of Procedures for new processes.
Once we identified new business processes or business process changes we need to make sure business captures that into procedures. In many cases changing current procedures will suffice. This is normally not done and we expect business to do it later on but we know they will be dealing with new system and they will hardly have time to do it on time. It is better to dedicate time before going live for the sake of a smooth start.
I would say that Business processes during an SAP implementation should be clearly identified on Business Blue Print and has to be evaluated during Integration testing. Right after the integration testing and before User Acceptance Tests, procedures mapping these processes should be created. Never underestimate changes impact, and make sure all areas involved are performing the integration testing. Business commitment and knowledge are key for this purpose. At the end of the day they are the process owners.
Please make comments or share your own experience on this topic.