SThree is a global recruitment company employing 2,500 staff, operating in 60 offices across 20 countries. One of SThree's strategic objectives was expansion abroad, particularly in high growth areas for the recruitment industry, and realised that upgrading its SAP ERP system was necessary to facilitate this.
Whilst SAP ERP was installed in the back office covering Finance and HR, it was not properly designed or invested in, and was hugely underexploited. SThree decided an upgrade was essential to exploit the opportunity to access new functionality in the latest version in order to deliver on their plans for improving back office efficiency, and provide them with a scalable, fit-for-purpose system to support strategic growth plans.
It was imperative that the upgrade was completed within a 4 month period to coincide with year-end. Pete Wells, Delivery Manager, SThree, explains: "We had to mobilise as quickly as possible before year-end, to avoid having to do a separate patching exercise and duplicating effort. Bluefin Solutions was proactive and quick in helping us with the whole planning process".
The project had two main work streams:
Stream one: This was the upgrade from SAP ECC5 to SAP ECC6 to enable an up-to-date foundation for development. The upgrade was implemented within 16 weeks using a Proof of Concept approach to de-risk impact to the BAU (business as usual) landscape during the first upgrade/test/fix cycle. A total of four systems were upgraded, with robust test methodology applied across them to ensure stability.
Stream two: This was the implementation of SAP Solution Manager 7.1, which ran in parallel with Stream one. SThree's IT and Business teams used the project as an opportunity to identify and document all their systems and processes in the form of the "Process Hierarchy" within the SAP Solution Manager Solution Documentation component. The Test Management and Issue Management components were also implemented to manage the project test phases.
A collaborative approach
The upgrade was delivered using Bluefin Solutions' collaborative approach which enabled SThree's small team of SAP resource to be involved throughout. This helped to drive a wider understanding of the business and the end-to-end process involved in it. Bluefin Solutions led the technical upgrade and performed Quality Assurance (QA), whilst SThree covered the functional elements of test management, change management, and infrastructure. The development team was combined.
Pete explains: "The project was presented to the business as a collaborative process, a joint effort whereby we set ourselves up to succeed: 'this is what we're trying to achieve, this is what we need to achieve it, and these are the timelines etc'. We got buy-in from the beginning, not only from our team, but also from Finance and HR, which was key to our success. Furthermore, this collaboration was important to us from a team-building perspective as we'd undergone a team restructure last year."
"Bluefin Solutions helped us to articulate to the Business that the project was a strategic enabler, as well as demonstrating the value of implementing SAP Solution Manager". Pete Wells, Delivery Manager, Sthree
"It paved the way for powerful and scalable foundation on which to implement solution functionality hat supports strategis growth. Solution Manager enables us to get all of our back office processes mapped and implement a tool that is now heling us with QA and test management."
SAP Solution Manager provides the tools to manage the landscape, business processes and the technology components.
Platform for exploiting additional SAP Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) functionality: The benefits of the other SAP ALM components can be quickly realised
Ability to easily identify the impact of technical changes, i.e. an upgrade or support pack: SAP Solution Manager provides a technical map of the SAP systems which can be used to identify the impact of change to the landscape
Reduced project testing time and risk: SAP Solution Manager provides all the tools needed to plan, execute and manage the test phases which can be re-used for future projects.
Improved business engagement: The Business teams documented the processes as they went along giving them a better understanding and ensuring it was written in a language they understood.
Exploit enhanced functionality including reverting back to standard: Ability to analyse and redefine current technical processes and opportunities based on standard SAP.
Working with Bluefin Solutions
SThree was initially apprehensive about engaging with a consultancy. "Due to bad experiences in the past, it took a huge leap of faith to engage with a consultancy again. We really had to show the value they could add", explains Pete. "However, we did exactly that with Bluefin Solutions. The collaboration is something we can now use as an excellent example to say to the Business 'This is how you do things properly'. Business as usual was not impacted and everything went extremely smoothly."