Agile SAP in action: Project Santa - Less than a week to go-live!

7 January 2011

Philippa Holland

Philippa Holland

Founding Director

Project Santa is an ambitious internal project that incorporates the use of various SAP technologies in order to drive business change. The timescales are pretty tight so we decided to deliver this using agile methodology and blog the process. Check out the last blog from prior to Christmas.

So it’s 2011...Happy New Year all...and we are less than a week away from go-live. Testing started prior to Christmas and has continued this week, fixes are being implemented and transports going through as I write. It suddenly all feels very close and there is the normal frenzied activity and late nights that come at the end of a project. So what have I learnt during the last few weeks?

How to challenge your project team

I think it’s safe to say that upgrading to a new version of SAP (BW 7.3) that has only been in ramp up for 19 days and is 6 months away from general availability, is probably not advisable for most projects, especially if you are implementing business critical functionality. It’s also likely to cause the project team a lot of pain they weren’t expecting and hadn’t planned for.

The actual upgrade went very smoothly (3 hours for a production system – is that a record?) but a couple of critical bugs have delayed things since then. I’m told that the core BW functionality seems very stable but the planning side, a key part of the project, is proving somewhat more challenging...and we still have some bugs that could impact UAT / go-live.

Is this taking agile a step too far?

Probably, however we would have done this upgrade within the next month or so anyway for the following reasons:

  • Business benefits especially around performance of queries & loads – and believe me they fly
  • We were on the Beta program and really impressed with the stability and system, therefore keen to continue this in ramp up
  • As a consultancy company, upgrading to BW 7.3 early gives us a competitive advantage because we know the product before anyone else outside of SAP
  • Try stopping a fired up technical team with a new project to play with...

Therefore we would have had to go-live & then totally regression test / makes changes a couple of weeks later so it made sense to do it sooner. The functionality we are putting in is added benefits not business critical, so we weighed up the risk, and at least this approach meant the project team would be in place and we could spot & hopefully resolve problems as quickly as possible.

Don’t forget communication and change management

This project was probably timed as badly as it could have been in terms of communication, December felt too early, everyone’s mind was on mulled wine, buying Christmas presents and whether they would be snowed in. Yet we are now only a few days away and I’m very aware that this project will change the way of working for some of the company and they may not really feel they were given sufficient warning. So what have we done?

  • Tried to include as many key people as possible in UAT
  • Sent out emails before and after Christmas focusing on the benefits of the changes
  • Scheduled a lunchtime session with project managers to run through the changes
  • Looked at someone from the project team going out to one or two customer sites where we have big teams to run through the changes

Will this be enough? I think there are still some gaps that we won’t appreciate until we are live, but these are around the process not the system as is normally the case.
And will we go live on time? At the moment it’s probably touch and go and you’ll have to tune in this time next week to find out!

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About the author

Philippa Holland

Founding Director

Diversity of people inspires new ideas.  One of the reasons why I co-founded Bluefin was to create a supportive environment where people – client and consultant – can come together to find answers to business and technical problems. 
Since 2002, I have been lucky enough to work with the world’s largest manufacturers such as Rolls Royce and Lafarge-Tarmac, helping clients win by giving them the most talented people in the industry.   Client success starts with our people.
We have won six “best place to work for” awards in just 11 years because we recruit and retain consultants that are passionate about learning and sharing their insights and ideas with clients.  This includes attracting university graduates into our sought-after annual recruitment programme.
When I’m not spending time engaging with our clients and consultants, I enjoy nothing more than socialising with family and friends. For relaxation, I try and take holidays in interesting places and watch a variety of sports, either live or from the comfort of my home.

Bluefin and SAP S/4HANA - welcome to the one horse race

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