From the First Implementation to Upgrade Generic Tips
Tips that are still relevant when you want to upgrade/implement. I’ve been involved with a couple implementations, but the first one was the worse. I’ve also been involved in several upgrades. I think it really doesn’t matter the version – you might find these tips useful.
First let me type – that it was back when if you could spell SAP you were an expert. I had just learned ABAP about 6 months before the upgrade. We of course partnered with a consulting firm. Our consultants said we were ready to go and left. It did not go well – we ended up closing our business for TWO weeks. You better believe the top management were furious. I ended up working 10+ hours a day. I had just had my son 6 weeks prior. (This is valid later) So now that you know the story, here are some of the tips I have. We implemented 3.1H. After this implementation there have not been problems. SAP now is a product many people use. So if you are thinking about it, don’t let this stop you.
- Don’t work too many hours for too many days in a row. You WILL burn out eventually. Pace yourself. (I learned that quicker than others – I had just had a little one)
- Determine if you are ready without the consultants. Talk with your business first. The consulting firm might be getting a bonus if everything is done by X date.
- Don’t just run your programs on a development system. Run them on your production system. (Some of the programs didn’t finish)
- TRAINING – train your business before go-live. I think when we are project planning, we forget about that.
- Know the product before selecting a consulting firm. Know enough that you can ask the right questions at the time of selection.
- Personality matters. We had a developer who was amazing. Thank goodness. He was also very hard to work with. At one time a functional lead and the developer got in a shouting match. I had rode over with the consultant. He left me without a ride. Of course, someone there took me back. The functional person refused to work with the developer again.
- Try not to recreate your old system. The business will push for that.
- SAP Community (SDN at the time) is your best friend. Ask those questions.
So all the top leadership was rightfully nervous. We were upgrading from 3.1H to 4.6C. We took our time. It was a year project. No we didn’t need that long. We froze development / configuration changes for 6 months.
- Try to give a good estimate. One year was too long, but needed in our case. We used all internal resources.
- During the estimation phase consider all aspects. Is it just a “technical” upgrade? Will your business be impacted. Train. Train and train again.
- During estimation phase – consider bringing in consultants. Then bring them in as needed. A good technical internal staff will help. They know the business and can talk business and technical.
We moved from 4.6C to 6.0. The business processes were going to be impacted. We had decided to take a look at our custom code and try to steer back to more vanilla SAP.
- Develop a plan that covers revisiting all the current code.
- Test, Test, and test again.
- There will be obsolete statements – rewrite that code. There will be changes that SAP makes.
- Train technical staff on the new way to develop. Objects became a big deal.
I was a consultant at this time. So I was on the other side of things. So these tips are going to be a little different. I believe – because I left after 2 weeks of go-live – that everything went well. I never heard that they shut down.
- Communicate well with the business. You work for the vendor they choose. Give them all the information you can. When you think you’ve given enough, give them some more.
- Customers don’t tell you everything. Try to shadow some people while they do their jobs. Visit the warehouse.
- Talk with people from different locations.
- When there is a big decision being made, bring in or call the customer. They will be happy to take the call even on the weekend.
- Be prepared to work VERY long hours. When you get to the end of an implementation it will happen. But know your limit.
- Give the consultant all reports that you need. Verify you have all the reports. Give them the reports early.
- If you don’t have a technical staff, then someone should learn the basics. You should know what the consultants are doing to your system.
- Try to free up the right people. If there is a manager and a clerk, both need to give up some time. The clerk first for what they actually do. The manager to look at it and let you know what is important.
- Be available. Your system needs to run smoothly when it is live.
- Knowing your consultants on a personal level helps. It will foster trust on both sides.
- Be firm. If there are processes that shouldn’t be changed. Don’t change them.
- Be accessible.
Some more blogs:
- Tips for upgrading to SAP 6.0
- Success Factors implementation Guide
- Lessons Learned in a Greenfield Implementation
And this very special blog:
Chronicle of an SAP Upgrade Foretold
So for all the upgrade / implementations I was a developer. I also started to learn more of the functional / business side of things. Making me more techno-functional. So these tips are from my side. They are what I observed. Hopefully you can pick something out that is new. Please share if you have any other tips or you think something isn’t quite right with the tips I have given.
Thank you for sharing your experience and great tips.
I see Customer #2 tip is very crucial: "If you don’t have a technical staff, then someone should learn the basics. You should know what the consultants are doing to your system."
Let me add one tip: Adding more resources / developers won't solve your issues or won't you allow to hit the deadline if you don't plan the work and manage the resources.
So very true. Love that tip!
There was also this obscure blog 🙂
Now who ever says to themselves while writing a blog "I don't want to mention a friend's blog on the same subject".
Evidently I do! Whahahaha! Please do visit Jelena's blog. I fixed mine to add a link there.
I'm sorry Jelena - no excuses!
And what kind of friend would miss an opportunity to use a friend's blog to pimp their own? Definitely not me! 🙂