SAP Watch

Nov 18 2010   8:43PM GMT

Users share strategies for ensuring an SAP project doesn’t fail

CourtneyBjorlin Courtney Bjorlin Profile: CourtneyBjorlin

There certainly has been a lot in the trade press over the past couple of weeks about SAP project failures. Michael Krigsman, who has come to be known as the authority on these matters, provides an excellent analysis of Lumber Liquidators recent SAP project. The main theme — users didn’t adopt the software, and therefore, it didn’t work.

Most projects begin life with the hopeful enthusiasm of anticipated triumph and success. However, success requires paying planning for details that do not become relevant until much later in project; training is a perfect example.

There are of course thousands of SAP projects that do end with “triumph and success.” And so this week, I asked readers to share some of their strategies for ensuring SAP success, especially around end-user adoption. Lots of people emailed me with advice, and here are a few I’d like to highlight.

Girish Kumar Dharan wrote to say it’s crucial to involve the super users in the early part of the testing phase. Typically, the new system is shown to the super/key users during User Acceptance testing. But there are key functionalities and processes that the super users can try out during the Unit Testing and Integrated System Testing phases also that will bring some big advantages.

  • Any major design gaps will be captured at an earlier stage in the process
  • You create a bunch of super/key users who will become comfortable with the system and will be kind of “brand ambassadors” for the new system
  • By doing testing of critical parts earlier, the effort around fixing more defects in User Acceptance Testing is reduced considerably

In turn, within the system itself, there are tools to ensure that it is more usable, according to H Krishan, who is the head of IT at Indian Rayon and has implemented SAP 3.1H, 4.0 in 1998 and ECC 6.0 in 2006.

Make the data entry screens simple, customized to the users and not the standard SAP screens, H Krishan advised. The screen design options are available in most frequently used codes — ME21n, ME51n, MIGO, CO11n.

Also, hide unwanted columns and reduce the size of columns. Use GUiXT feature to customize data entry screens, which is very easy and very effective, H Krishan said.

He also suggests that when developing reports, group the reports, and provide “buttons” for various options instead of separate reports under a menu. For example for a complex activity series like LSMW upload from text file, validation run on Z table, and then upload from Z table to SAP standard table in SD module.

“We provided one report screen with radio buttons for each operation, with other options visible but grey so that the whole process is understood but followed in one report one button at a time.”

Carole Pinzone, the PMO program manager from Murray Goulburn Co-operative Co. Ltd, the largest milk processor in Australia, said that managing change is the key to success. Thoroughly evaluating stakeholders and the impact of the change on them enables them to be grouped. Then, tailored actions can be taken to support them through the changes.

Ted Margison, who is now the owner of the consulting firm Pebble LLC, has worked on more than 50 implementations covering over 20 different ERP systems, offered this advice.

“The biggest obstacle to success is accountability,” he wrote. “Most companies do not have a good handle on accountability which impedes making changes and implementing effective and efficient processes. Addressing this goes a long way to a successful implementation.”

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