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Oh my! We are recreating our legacy solution!!!

Are you seeing excessive custom development on your project?


If there seems to be a large number of enhancements, integration points or even custom reports, for that matter, coming out of blueprint / solution design there may be an issue with solution gaps. Excessive gaps can result in a longer build cycle, more rigorous testing and increased effort to support the solution post go-live. This situation has an adverse impact on the project budget, timeline and, longer term, total cost of ownership.

In my previous blog There are Only Two Gaps to Address in Solution Design!” I outlined the need for proper knowledge, skill and experience to minimize solution gaps. In this blog I address establishing proper goals, expectations and governance to ensure there aren’t excessive solution gaps coming out of Blueprint/design.

Why do we find ourselves recreating the legacy system? While this situation can have quite a few root causes the common causes I’ve seen are:

  1. The business subject matter experts engaged on the project have an existing frame of reference:
    • their legacy system
    • some parts of their business are “unique”
  2. Expectations are not set with the team to leverage the standard “out of the box” solution.
  3. The decision making process (part of governance) doesn’t challenge the need for custom enhancements or none standard configuration. 

Referring to the Implementation Project Success Factors wheel introduced in my blog “Better Manage the “I” in the ROI equation,” this topic addresses Solution Design but manifests itself in Resource to Win and Governance.

Implementation Project Success Factors


Keeping the common causes in mind, set the project up for success with these five good practices.

  1. Engage the best and the brightest and those willing to adopt change from the business. Engaging informal leaders from the business units is also a good practice for managing the required change back in their respective business units.
  2. Kick-off the project with the sponsor outlining the expected business benefits including creating a solution that is as close to standard as possible so as to reduce budget impacts and total cost of ownership. Typically there is an acknowledgement that a strategic part of the business is a differentiator and there won’t be a compromise on those requirements.
  3. Use the “show and tell” approach during design. In this approach the team uses a pre-configured system to demonstrate the process. See the SAP Activate SCN site for more information.
  4. Require a business benefits case for every gap to be addressed with a non-standard solution (custom enhancement or non-best practice configuration).
  5. Establish a design/change control board with Business Process Owners, project sponsor and project management. This board challenges the team on gaps and gap resolution. Don’t make it “easy” for non-standard solutions to pass muster.

Stay tuned as future blog posts will address additional implementation good practices.

The opinions and good practices are those of Keith Johnson, an SAP implementation project professional with over 25 years of implementation management and delivery experience.

The Implementation Project Success Wheel is provided by SAP’s Chief Customer Office (CCO) Project Success team.

About the SAP’s Chief Customer Office:

The Chief Customer Office’s (CCO) mission is to help SAP’s customers achieve success. The team averages 18 years of SAP experience.  When SAP started the CCO, the team was 99% reactive. Now the CCO is 73% proactive and typically gets involved before the implementation starts. All programs the CCO provides to SAP customers are at NO CHARGE. The one criteria for engagement is that we have a cadence with the customer executive (CIO or LOB leader).

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