SAP Activate and Fit-to-Standard – How Did We Get Here?
In my 25 years of implementing software at SAP, I have been involved in countless ERP projects featuring various implementation methodologies. Ultimately, each resulted in a successful outcome, but one differentiator was the speed and effort required to create a solution that met the needs of the businesses. In this blog, I will highlight my project involvement history and the innovations that have defined the Fit-to-standard process as a current foundation of SAP Activate.
Early in my consulting career, projects began with business blueprinting sessions to capture requirements; those requirements were mapped to functionality; gaps were resolved; and a solution blueprint document was created. Implementation consultants were central to this process and were relied upon for the outputs, which, depending on the complexity of the project, could take weeks or even months to complete. Once signed off, the system was configured, and unit tested. The configuration completion required multiple walkthroughs and adjustments. At this point, the customer’s project team and business users started real system learning through hands-on transaction execution. Learning curves were steep and created a bottleneck in getting solution acceptance, or if the process was rushed, led to subsequent changes during testing. In general, the overall process produced effective results but required high effort and longer timelines.
In the 2000s, capabilities had advanced, and SAP made available demo and training systems that were used for learning the ERP software. This allowed customers and key users to start early learning on a standard set of scenarios, however, it was used more as a training tool rather than an implementation tool. This standard set of configuration and master data evolved into what is now known as SAP Best Practices.
SAP Best Practices could be applied to the initial customer landscape system and transported to other systems in the landscape. Its value was reduced system configuration time, but the methodology still relied on a solution blueprint.
We soon entered the cloud software era. Early cloud software had standard processes built into it which allowed for frequent cloud updates. It also triggered a change in methodology. The business blueprint sessions did not contribute notable value since the software was standard and already documented. The required processes were simply scoped in or out and the very early on in the project, the customer team began testing and learning on a live system. As the cloud software grew more flexible, sessions were added to determine the tailoring required to better fit the customer’s processes.
In 2015, SAP Activate methodology, including the Fit-to-standard process, was introduced to capitalize on learnings from the past insight and continues to be refined today. The Fit-to-standard process is a series of workshops to identify changes to the standard SAP Best Practices content. Ready to run demonstration systems such as the SAP S/4HANA Cloud Starter System are offered to the customer early in the project and even included test scripts, although not all solutions are delivered with ready to run scenarios. In many of these cases, the SAP Best Practices can be applied. If the current SAP Best Practices are not comprehensive to all scenarios, demonstration systems and videos of the processes can be utilized. In the Fit-to-standard workshops, the standard business processes are reviewed and solution fit is discussed between the consultants and customer. The delta requirements identified and configuration setting changes are added to the backlog. During the Fit-to-standard period, SAP customers have access to the initial system and can execute the processes available to get better insight outside of the workshops. The Fit-to-standard process iterations continue until the customer and consultants are satisfied that the new processes will meet the business needs. This methodology results in reduced effort and a shorter timeline as compared to the blueprinting approach. Furthermore, access to a working system early in the project helps the customer better understand how business processes are executed in a real environment and builds confidence early in the implementation process.
The figure above shows the acceleration related to the Fit-to-standard process on a ready to run starter system verses the blueprinting approach. The overall time to completion of the configuration and intermediate milestone is reduced. More importantly is that the customer begins hands-on learning at the beginning of the project and throughout the configuration horizon which leads to deeper knowledge and smoother transition to the new system.
In summary, SAP Activate and the Fit-to-standard process have evolved based on years of implementation experience and provide the fastest time to value of both customer learning and solution implementation. We will continue to strengthen the tools available to support this process and make them available in the SAP Activate roadmap viewer and SAP Cloud ALM.
For additional information on Fit-to-standard, see the blog Fit-to-Standard: How Does It Support the Big Picture? by Lauren Bettuzzi. Other great blogs on this topic can be found by searching ‘Fit-to-standard’ in the SAP Activate Community. (And please follow us!)
Additionally, check out the additional resources and content below to expand your knowledge on SAP Activate and SAP S/4HANA:
Inside SAP S/4HANA Podcast
As always, I would like to encourage you to subscribe to our new podcast Inside SAP S/4HANA. This podcast leverages the unique knowledge and expertise of SAP S/4HANA product experts, partners and customers to address your needs by sharing product insights and project best practice. There is no customer success without product success and project success; we help you get to the next level and make your SAP S/4HANA projects a success. Subscribe now and benefit from the shared knowledge.
openSAP Microlearnings for SAP S/4HANA
Just a couple of months ago, we launched openSAP, so make sure you check them out.microlearnings for SAP S/4HANA as an exciting new learning opportunity. What began with a small batch of 20 videos, has now become a channel with more than 50 microlearnings that have generated over 20,000 views since then. Today we cover multiple lines of business, like Finance and Manufacturing & Supply Chain, and key technology topics like Master Data Management, Extensibility, User Experience, and Upgrade Management. We are continuously adding new microlearnings to the SAP S/4HANA channel, so make sure you check them out.
Your voice matters!
If you want to learn more and actively engage with SAP subject matter experts on SAP S/4HANA Cloud, join our SAP S/4HANA Cloud Customer Community. This platform which is available to SAP S/4HANA Cloud customers and partners has a clear mission: deliver an interactive community to engage with one another about best practices and product solutions.
For more information on SAP S/4HANA Cloud, check out the following links:
- SAP S/4HANA Cloud release info: http://www.sap.com/s4-cloudrelease
- SAP S/4HANA Cloud Release Blogs here
- SAP S/4HANA PSCC Digital Enablement Wheel here
- Inside SAP S/4HANA Podcast here
- Product videos on our SAP S/4HANA Cloud and SAP S/4HANA YouTube playlist
- Best practices for SAP S/4HANA Cloud here
- Follow the SAP S/4HANA Cloud Customer Community: register here
- SAP Activate Community here
- Feature Scope Description here
- What’s New here
- Help Portal Product Page here
Follow us via SAP Activate Community and #SAPS4HANAValueSeries