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How to Avoid SAP Project Management Pitfalls 

SAP project management (PM) pitfalls are a subset of more general PM pitfalls that can occur on any IT implementation. These issues typically revolve around the people, processes, and technology involved. Generally, practitioners have compiled common mistakes that can negatively impact the outcome of the project along with best practices to mitigate them. 

Potential SAP Project Management Pitfalls 

Lack of Sponsor Engagement.

A first potential pitfall is unclear or less-than fully committed project sponsorship. What has been noted as the number one reason for project failure is a lack of sponsor engagement 

A sponsor is someone that is visible, approachable, and actively involved in all stages of an SAP implementation. Projects require that client senior management message the significance and priority of the project to the team consistently, and that they get involved as necessary to help resolve unforeseen challenges. This leader is thus responsible for aligning the actions of the team with the overall vision, strategy, and objectives. It’s important that sponsoring management stays regularly involved to assist with necessary support in these areas. 

In order for a sponsor to best assist on a project, they must understand their role, including its expectations and responsibilities. The project team will be working closely with the sponsor, so they must have confidence in their guidance. Documenting the expectations and responsibilities of the sponsor can help them stay accountable and establish a meaningful relationship with all levels in the organization. 

Incomplete Stakeholder Identification.

A second area that can be problematic is incomplete stakeholder identification and selection, as well as not identifying team member responsibilities. While some project stakeholders are obvious, some may be less so – people in remote offices, for example.  

Selecting the stakeholder groups for an SAP project should be a joint effort involving the client and the project team, with guiding actions from the sponsor and project manager. Then, the team must conduct a stakeholder analysis where the group defines what stakeholders expect from the project and account for any potential risks, aiming to minimize them while maximizing benefits. By including the right project team in the right roles, the PM can level-set expectations early and also discover information that will need to be factored in for project success. 

Failure to Engage Stakeholders.

Handling and managing engagement with each stakeholder group can be tricky. Planning out communication, involvement, and committee inclusion can help streamline the process. The involvement includes everyone from business leads to committee members to direct and indirect users.  

Business leads require involvement in key decisions, regular updates and meetings, and assisting in the planning. Steering committee members must know major risks to the project and must also attend key meetings. Direct users should get updates on projects and have training sessions on different SAP processes. Lastly, it is important for indirect users to get information and training on impacted processes from the implementation. Each of these stakeholder groups also provides key information to the project group, from business process mapping insights. 

Incorrect Assessments.

The acronym WRICEF stands for Workflows, Reports, Interfaces, Conversions, Enhancements, and Forms. Identifying these developed, client-specific objects is the less-challenging aspect of WRICEF; more uncertain is making an assessment of the man-hours and cost of developing them. If an initial estimate is provided to the client, it can lower risk to the project cost and schedule if the client agrees to a good-faith re-estimate on completion of the design specifications. 

Avoiding SAP Project Management Pitfalls  

The positive aspect of SAP in terms of avoiding pitfalls is that SAP is a well-established set of applications that have been extensively implemented. If clients work with established SAP partners, pitfall risk can be further lowered by the partner’s implementation guides, lessons-learned, and consultant experience.  

Clarkston has the right combination of industry and functional expertise in SAP to help you succeed with your implementation, wherever you are in your SAP journey.  

Contributions by Alexandra Hatsios 

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Tags: Project & Program Management, SAP