SAP applications are the backbone of every business. Hence, the CIOs and owners put in all the efforts to make SAP implementation a success. But despite all the steps and struggles, numerous SAP implementations fail. It is said that the chances of success with SAP are 50-50. That’s because many businesses don’t get the start right.
For successful SAP implementation, it is essential to consider, plan, and follow all the key stages of SAP implementation. Be it SAP S/4HANA, SAP ERP, or any other SAP system. These stages are standard across all SAP implementations.
Key Stages in your SAP Implementation Journey
Accelerated SAP (ASAP) is one of the standard SAP project preparation and systems implementation methodology. By following this SAP implementation methodology, you can effectively optimize time, cost, quality and accelerate your SAP ERP implementations. There are seven key stages in this SAP implementation process.
1. Project Preparation/Planning
This is the start phase we were talking about earlier that leads to the SAP implementation project failure. It involves planning the entire project after considering all the details and factors, which can be challenging due to the vast landscape. Hence, it is essential to select one of the best SAP implementation partners, or in other words, SAP MSPs. They can help you in different ways to create the most efficient SAP roadmap.
You need to specify your requirements to the SAP implementation partner and define objectives, scope, and priorities. Based on your needs, you and the MSP can come together to pick the right tools and approaches that can cater to your requirements. Once the tools and approaches are selected, choose the operations that should be migrated to SAP or modernized. Project and resource planning, as-is system study are some of the other core activities done at this stage. It is also vital to plan how there is no downtime while SAP implementation to ensure business continuity.
2. Business Blueprint
Before the implementation, it is essential to understand and outline your future business processes in detail. There will always be some differences or gaps between your current and future business processes. Creating a blueprint document will help mitigate these gaps to ensure smooth SAP implementation.
In these sessions, the SAP implementation partner will analyze all the gaps and streamline the as-is and future SAP processes. The satellites and organizational structure, along with other details, are also identified during this phase. The organizational structure changes include the basic information to be customized for the SAP implementation to be successful and the SAP or ERP software to work. On the other hand, the satellites are a list of programs that do not need to be changed as they won’t be required by the SAP software but will be used even after you go live.
Once the gap analysis is over, your SAP implementation partner will configure your baseline system, called the baseline configuration. The implementation team fine-tunes that system to meet all your business and process requirements and will eliminate all the gaps found in the business blueprint to ensure seamless SAP implementation. During this phase, any customizations required are also taken care of by the SAP implementation team.
Converting non-productive systems and making all the adjustments to blend the current infrastructure with the SAP processes happens in this stage.
4. Integration Tests
During the migration and implementation, testing will also begin parallelly (it goes hand-in-hand with the Realization phase). The testing team will start conducting various tests (Unit and Integration tests) to determine how well the implementation is proceeding and ensure that the SAP systems deliver results.
The integration phase is partitioned into many setups. The first setup can be migrating and testing only half of the current process. Another setup can be testing one entire process after implementation on the SAP landscape. Finally, in the end, the whole process and workload are tested.
5. Final Preparation
As the name gives out, the final preparation phase includes activities required to prepare both systems and your employees before going live. Depending on the Realization and testing phase results, an SAP implementation partner will make any changes if required for a complete migration to the SAP systems.
People will be trained to carry out their daily operations using the SAP and ERP software. This stage is like a pre-check before going live to ensure everything is 100% ready.
During this phase, you move from a pre-production environment to a live environment and migrate all the data to the production environment’s SAP systems. Once all the data is migrated to the new SAP systems, the former systems are not used anymore. Along with the data migration and use of new applications, the project managers will also ensure running frequent tests to check if everything works as expected.
SAP systems are monitored continuously and are optimized for performance. Also, the production support system setup is done during this stage.
7. Production/ GO Live Support
This phase involves setting up a dedicated support team and handover from the implementation team to the support team that can constantly monitor and remediate any production issues. The support team will also help the users, and root users get used to the SAP systems and applications whenever required. Support documents are built and maintained to ensure smooth operations.