A Complete Overview Of The Detailed Sap Erp Implementation Process
About SAP ERP
SAP- Systems Applications and Products- is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software that is part of a business suite (SAP Business Suite) provided by SAP-AG, a German multinational company. SAP ERP is considered the industry leader in an industry with the likes of Oracle, Dynamics GP, Dynamics AX, StyeLine, VISUAL, CDC and Epicor. The purpose of an ERP is to integrate the internal and external information concerning an organization. This way, the various functions of an organization are linked into distinct processes with the capacity to handle information from both internal and external sources.
SAP ERP Implementation
SAP ERP implementation is not an arbitrary process involving linking of all the processes of an enterprise. Instead, it is a coordinated process that is bent on achieving particular objectives that reflect the wishes and aspirations of specific organizations. During SAP ERP implementation, efforts are channeled to measuring and aligning certain critical success factors to the best practices of the industry in which the specific organization lies. These best practices not only provide standards for benchmarking exercises but also ensure that there is compliance to regulatory requirements like the International Financial Reporting Standards, IFRS and the United States Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002. Some contractors, especially those with vast experience in SAP ERP, base SAP ERP on case studies that they have conducted.
The Phases of SAP ERP Implementation
The SAP ERP implementation can be divided into five distinct phases. Guided by the spirit of ‘what gets measured gets done’, this five-phase roadmap emphasizes establishing goals and performance measures. This ensures that all the objectives established at each phase can be achieved and reviewed as appropriate. It should be noted that the SAP ERP implementation is a fundamental and massive change being introduced to an organization. This change often takes several months and sometimes years to fully take root in an organization. In addition to being time consuming, it is also very costly especially for large organizations which spend amounts close to $100 million to fully implement it. It is therefore prudent for organizations to carefully follow the recommended roadmap of SAP ERP implementation so as to avoid making costly mistakes.
Project Planning Phase of SAP ERP Implementation
This phase of SAP ERP implementation is considered by most SAP contractors as the most important phase of the implementation process. The first step is to clearly define the overall vision of the future state of the SAP solution. Just like a corporate vision, it should be followed by strategies and subsequent goals and objectives to ensure that the vision will be achieved. This should not be a generic process but instead one that captures the specific dynamics of the organization in question.
A thorough analysis of all the core processes of the organization should be done. This should be done in a view of anticipating problems that may arise and putting in place solutions for the respective problems. In addition to this, a value-adding analysis should also be done so as to ensure that only value adding functions are conducted under the SAP system. The functions that are non-value adding should all be eliminated in their entirety. The design of the integration should also ensure complete simplification of processes and elimination of redundancy.
The core processes common to most organizations include finance, human resource management, operations and corporate services. Under finance, an objective could be to ensure compliance with regulatory measures. A performance measure for this could be the checking of how well the organization complied with the set regulations. To ensure that all business cycles are complete could be an objective in the operations process. A performance measure for this could be random checks on certain processes to obtain assurance that they were seen to their completion.
Blueprinting Phase of SAP ERP Implementation
The main objective of this phase is to ensure that at the end of the phase, the SAP consultant(s) should have developed a detailed document or blueprint on cost, data recovery, software and hardware providers or partners, technical support staff, data center and flow of transactions. As always, the devil is in the details. That is why this phase is often the most time consuming and expensive phase as it entails a lot of logistics. It is therefore crucial that organizations seek the services of qualified SAP contractors who are not only SAP savvy but also have acute business acumen.
Data recovery measures should be put in place for emergency and contingency purposes. Sourcing for vendors of computer hardware and software then follows. After this, plans should be put in place to obtain human capital for the technical support team. This team should then be thoroughly trained on SAP ERP relating to the organization. Setting up the data center-either from the current database of the organization or from scratch-should then ensue.
The Realization Phase of SAP ERP Implementation
The realization phase is characterized by a series of phase designed to ensure that the SAP system is properly tested. This is should be by way of solid test plans. The testing is divided into three kinds-functional, integration and regression. Functional testing as the name suggests is based on each business function that falls under the SAP ERP. Integration testing seeks to check on how well the functions tested are integrated. The purpose of regression testing is to uncover software bugs which may negatively impact on the performance of the SAP ERP system.
Final Preparation Phase of SAP ERP Implementation
The final preparation phase entails patching up and reviewing all SAP ERP matters for the last time. Specific individuals will then be assigned certain responsibilities. Back-up software and data recovery tools will then be optimized in preparation for going live.
Go Live Phase of SAP ERP Implementation
This is the final phase of the SAP ERP implementation process. It signifies that all the data conversion from the previous system has been done. The end users will then be in a position to access all the information they need to execute their day to day functions.