During any SAP implementation, a client might have a variety of different requests or expectations for a project. Thus, having a general set of guidelines or “best practices” can be very useful as a starting point for SAP project managers. While these SAP project management best practices can be applied in most situations, they should not suggest that there’s only one solution to any given client requirement. Often, there are several possible solutions to a specific problem, each with associated trade-offs. As such, it’s up to each project team to plan the project activities accordingly. One exception to this observation is when statutory or regulatory requirements define a very specific way to comply – such as in validation of electronic records for food and drug makers per the Code of Federal Regulation. But in its typical usage, best practices can be thought of as “tried and true” solutions to common project requirements.
Tools for SAP Project Management Best Practices
Best practices can be followed by different levels of engagement in the project. These levels include the committees and subcommittees, project management, and implementation partners. Each of these stakeholder groups will be a key element of any SAP project. At the level of the various sub-teams of an SAP project – for example, functional, development, change management – an implementation partner will have a “super-set” of tools that comprise its best practices. These tools can include:
- pre-defined business-process flows to share with the client,
- configuration accelerators to speed set-up of standard application modules,
- coding development standards to be used training course materials associated with project in-scope functionality,
- test-plan templates, and
- methods to assist with the change-impacts of a project to the client organization.
These elements are a super-set in that the SAP implementation partner selects the appropriate objects specific to a client’s implementation needs.
Additionally, there are general best practices that can be followed at different points in the implementation process.
- Preparation Phase – Set a time frame, budget, and project goals and objectives.
- Kickoff Phase – Generate group understanding, prevent anticipated problems, define client needs and set success criteria.
- Implementation Phase – Don’t ignore pre–configured solutions and communicate regularly.
- Go Live Phase – Actively promote change, gauge lessons learned, and organize training.
SAP Project Management Body of Knowledge
When looking at the overall project management, there is likewise a toolset to facilitate management of the project itself. The foundation concepts of such toolsets are almost universally derived from the Project Management Institute’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) – not just for IT projects, but in theory for all complex projects. This conceptual framework defines “Knowledge Areas” – examples include Scope, Schedule, Cost, Integration, Quality – and then defines specific process steps for each area over the project life cycle.
In the SAP space, experienced SAP implementation partners build on PMBOK concepts by developing project delivery methodologies. These methodologies define the sequenced phases of a project – planning, design, build, etc. – and provide proven tools, templates, and activities that animate the methodology. Some of these objects and tools are specific within a project phase, such as functional design templates, or test plans; others are activities which cross project phases, including risk/issues management and cost control.
While there are an increasing number of collaborative project-management applications on the market, in the SAP context they might partially complement but can’t supplant the effective combination of well-defined SAP delivery methodologies and an SAP implementation services team with a track record of delivering project value for the client.
Clarkston has the right combination of industry and functional expertise in SAP to help you succeed wherever you are in your SAP journey, and our SAP consulting teams stand ready to support your digital transformation.
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Contributions by Alexandra Hatsios