How to save money in a SAP implementation

One should not jump into an SAP project as if it were installing a text editor. The outcome of such is generally disastrous and the cost of the implementation as well as the TCO rise  higher than expected, independently of the choice of a cheap or expensive consulting firm.

There are many ways to reduce the cost of implementation. Here are five of them:

1. Prepare the project:

A project must be prepare and this is the most important part of it. The team members must be identified and partly freed from daily task. It is not reasonable to plan the project so that every team member needs to make overtime. This does not mean that no overtime will be needed, but it is important to be realistic when planning the project, so that absences will not jeopardize it.

The project team should receive a SAP training prior to the implementation, so that they know what to expect and are better positioned to discuss with the consultants.

Project rooms, project material and computer as well as accesses should be prepared before the arrival of the project team. The IT-team should be present during the first days to organize all accesses that may be needed. This may prevent the highly paid consultant from waiting for it during the first days of their presence.

2. Be realistic with the project time line

Yes, it is possible to implement SAP in 90 days. But, this only works if all master data is ready to upload, all people are educated, the business processes are well defined and documented, the management is able to make decisions within a few hours, and on the top of it each employee receives the new system without any resistance. In most cases only part or none of these criterion will apply, so that it is more realistic to plan a 9 months project that can be extended by 3 months if necessary.

3.  Start cleansing the master data

The success of an ERP implementation has a lot to do with clean, consistent and correct master data. The master data defines mostly the processes. Errors in the master data  generally lead to wrong processes. This task should start even before the project starts and be undertaken by many different people around the company. This task will allow the company to have a much better understanding of her own data and processes.

By high data volume or limited resources, you can have data cleansing work done by specialized companies.

4. Prepare your test cases in advance

The SAP system can be fairly fast configured. The earlier you have them ready, the earlier you can realize if the appropriate business processes have been properly customized. Any change in the project scope can be more easily identified.

5. Make honest reviews of the project phases

Whatever is not working in SAP will cause you problems when going live. It is better to make it right from the start as the effort to correct a system are much higher than the few weeks of delay the project could have. The honest review allows management and project team to state exactly where they are and what is causing them difficulties. This is the ideal way to receive support and to have a successful project.

How to choose a partner for a SAP implementation

One of the critical success factor for an ERP implementation is the choice of an appropriate partner.

But not knowing anything about SAP, how can one choose a partner? What can be the criterion?

I will guide you through a list of criterion that a partner should fulfill.

  1. The partner has a methodical approach to your project: Already in the bidding phase, you will be able to determine if the partners have a methodology or not. They will deliver to you a standard project plan as well as the list of deliverables for each plan phase. Their proposal will also include the workload they are expecting on your internal team. It should be higher than the consultancy’s workload.
  2. The partner has experienced consultants: Even if not all the consultants that will be working on the project need to be experienced, it is necessary to make sure that, in the background, the partner has in each module, experienced consultants with more than 7 years of SAP implementation and/or support. However, you should prefer a project manager that has been a consultant before moving to a more administrative role. If you go for a smaller consulting firm, make sure that ALL consultants are experienced, as they unlikely have any other in the background.
  3. You are able to choose each consultant proposed by the partner: It is important to receive the CVs of each consultant that will be working on the project and to be able to choose which of the consultants you want. Many companies do not have enough resources and buy consultants on the freelance market. It is important for you to know if the consultant working with you is an employee or if he is a freelancer. This has a major impact on his attitude or his knowledge of the partners’ rules and methodology.
  4. The consultants have work experience in their domain of competency: A consultant that already have experienced the “real world” is more likely to understand your internal people and their requirements.
  5. Check the references: You should take the time to visit the references you are given without the partner. You may learn about how really the partner was working and you can also check if he respected his own methodology on his projects as well as the quality of the deliverables.
  6. Chemistry is an important element: At least between the consultants’ project manager and your project manager. They will spend the next 9 to 12 months very close and it may be difficult at time, so a very good chemistry will help the project.
  7. Choose first the partner then negotiate the price: You should first choose the partner and then negotiate the price. A cheap project that does not work brings much higher costs afterwards.

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