SAP Project Best Practices - Planning & Program Kick-off
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- CIO and Vice Presidents of business and IT should assess internal corporate executive leadership and select the best leaders to serve as executive sponsor, business and IT leaders of your SAP implementation. CFO or Vice President / SVP of operation may be ideal candidate to be the executive sponsor of your SAP program. CIO, CEO, Executive VPs (business), COO and key Vice Presidents should serve in the steering committee. It is advisable to have one (remember only ONE) senior executive from systems integrator and one executive or client partner from SAP America / SAP AG in the steering committee to represent SAP implementation partner and technology vendor respectively.
Vice President of IT ( may also be VP of Enterprise Systems or Business Applications) can serve as the co-program sponsor or serve in leadership oversight role. Depending on the size of your organisation and the project, this individual could also be the overall IT lead responsible for SAP Basis, infrastructure, business intelligence (BI), systems integration (PI), legacy systems and application development (RICEF / Custom Development) work streams of your SAP project.
- Select internal business SMEs and team leads that have good people management, work planning skills and also flexible enough to lead the teams by example. Define incentives for the internal project staff upon successful delivery of each phase of the project.
- Allow project proposals from only qualified vendors that have successful SAP implementations within your industry to their credit. Big SAP consulting company may not always be the best for your industry. Some of the big SAP implementation partners in the US include IBM, Accenture, Deloitte, CSC and Cap Gemini. There are other companies that are known for more offshore presence like Wipro, HCL, Infosys, TCS, Syntel, etc.
- For RICEF development, offshore heavy companies have been cost effective. Invite bids from them all to have a competitive bidding process.
- After proposal evaluation from all qualified vendors, shortlist at least 3 to 4 vendors to allow competitive bidding where you will benefit by playing them against each other but getting the lowest possible bid. This strategy may not work in certain new SAP modules or solutions as number of vendors who are qualified (and not who claim to be qualified) may just limit your options leaving little room for negotiations.
- Review profiles of executive, leads (delivery, project manager, SAP technical and functional) as well as key SAP architects from each of the shortlisted vendor that will be part of the implementation should you decide to select this vendor for your SAP transformation project. I have seen projects fail because SAP customer did not have a real picture of skills and experience of the leaders and architects the vendor is bringing onboard. It is very important that these key roles are filled with people having 2-3 full life cycle SAP project experience in specific SAP modules and technologies. DO NOT ACCEPT ANY KEY RESOURCES FROM SI WITHOUT INTERVIEWING EACH OF THE EXECUTIVES, PMO/BUSINESS/FUNCTIONAL LEADS, ARCHITECTS AND TECHNICAL LEADS ON THE PROJECT.
- Before final selection of the systems integrator for your SAP project, conduct a thorough reference check of the vendor by talking to at least two prior clients. Check for delivery time, cost effectiveness, learning lessons, major risks, etc.
- Select minimal number of senior executives from the systems integrator to reduce bottlenecks in project leadership and avoid conflict of interest as far as SI revenue protection is concerned. Ideally one senior executive should be chosen. If more are executives from SAP systems integrator are needed depending on the size and complexity of the SAP program, only executives having SAP leadership expertise within your specific industry should be selected.