Project Topaz: the rebirth of Bluefin Solutions' SAP CRM system - III

18 December 2012

Michael Bowell

Michael Bowell


With everything seeming on track, the go-live date looked promising and from my perspective, a dead cert. When we first started the project, we were told to always account for things not going to plan. However, what we didn't account for was three significant  time consuming scenarios  happening all at once.

  1. Knowledge gaps
  2. Expansion in project scope
  3. System upgrades

Knowledge gaps - Dealing with the knowledge gaps was all part of the course and has been an interesting experience. The mobile team had their first experience developing an enterprise mobile app. The reporting team developed skills in specific data presentation tools and  the SSM team gained valuable experience in lead management.  These learning experiences were aided by calling upon  available capability stream expertise  as well as use of the  KX - the hub of Bluefin Solutions' knowledge sharing culture.

Expansion in project scope - Coupled with the knowledge gaps came further requirements from the Business Owner, Michael Eldridge. This enhanced  the learning experience and gave us the opportunity to deal  with client change requests.  This not only showed how quickly a client can change their mind, but also gave great insight into how important task prioritization is. However time that had been allocated started to run out.

The straw that broke the camel's back turned out to be something that occurs often on external projects and something out of our control; system upgrades.

System upgrades - During the past week there have been a multitude of periods where the systems we have been using have had to be taken off-line resulting in a halt to any progress.

It was agreed with the Business Owner that instead of rushing towards the agreed  go-live date,  we would  be allocated more time so that the end solution meets the business requirements.

Within the SSM stream this meant we could start progressing towards stretch scope deliverables as none of the systems we were required to use had to be taken down for maintenance. With a number of large deliverables well on the way towards completion, this extra time meant that we could start implementing additional requirements we had received in workshops. For the mobile stream it allowed a bit of breathing space. With a considerable about of time lost to system maintenance, mobile were behind where they wanted to be. Now however, they are well on track with communication between the front end and the back end. The reporting stream had similar issues regarding systems going down for maintenance and this additional time means that they have confidence that they can produce reports that will be useful and informative to the business users.

SSM update

The SAP CRM system that Jamie and I have been enhancing now looks revamped.  By utilising the available space on the Web User Interface, the sales cycle has a cleaner layout than  previously.  Sometimes, all that was required was the removal of  unused fields. At other times it  involved development, something neither Jamie nor I had experience of. However the end result was a much cleaner and slightly intelligent UI! Now that we have moved onto stretch scope deliverables, are expecting more challenges along the way.

Mobile update

Despite being held up by system issues, the mobile stream has progressed really well this week.  There have encountered on multiple occasions, the entire NetWeaver Gateway server going offline for system upgrades and maintenance. During this period, all that Lindsay and James could do is plan their work offline. Prior to this week James and Lindsay were often disappointed at the fact that they were unable to maintain momentum due to the system, however this week I look over my desk and often see a pleased team as they have made real tangible progress that James is pleased to show off to anyone that walks past his desk.

Lindsay has reworked her progress in NetWeaver Gateway to make it as  reconfigurable as possible. This has taken its time and been a steep learning curve, however the knowledge she has gained through this process means that Lindsay will be able to write sustainable, reusable code.

Reporting update

Again being held back by system issues and a copy-back effectively erasing their work, the reporting team is  now back to where it was  in terms of retrieving information from the SAP CRM system. At this stage the guys are in a position to produce skeleton reports. After holding workshops with the Business Owner to identify the functionality of these reports, Elliott and Thanos will soon be able to connect these reports to functioning data.

In summary

Whilst this project has been particularly challenging, it has also been very rewarding. We have been presented  real business issues and scenarios  that we will undoubtedly face in external projects.

With an integrated go-live date set to be the 16th of January, the next stages of Project Topaz are to finalise each individual stream alongside the requirements set by the client. After the requirements have been individually realised, the team can work towards a stage of unit testing to see if our enhancements work as well together as we do as a team.

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