Agile SAP in action: Project Dragon - the Project Manager's update

21 December 2011

Tom Jayne

Tom Jayne

Consultant

First, an introduction. I am a new consultant at Bluefin Solutions, having joined in October onto their graduate program, along with 7 others in the UK and 4 in Malaysia.  As a very fresh physics graduate with no previous SAP experience to speak of, I have joined the Supply Chain capability. To bring myself and the other graduates up to the level of expertise required to be charged onto client work; we undertook a 6 week training camp and are now working on an internal fully fledged SAP project - Project Dragon!

Project Dragon serves a dual purpose - it gets the graduates up to speed quickly with life on a project, and keeps Bluefin's systems as efficient as possible. This year the team are implementing a Resource planning solution using the most recent version of SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation. There will be a large reporting element to the project, which will take advantage of BusinessObjects Web Intelligence reports.

The project has been rolling for 3 weeks, and as Project Manager I have overseen it from the beginning. At this stage, we are beginning to build in earnest, and the Agile approach we have decided to adopt should start to pay big dividends.

Why Agile?

  • Timescales - the timeframe we have to work with is very short at just 12 weeks. This lends itself to an Agile methodology; it encourages a focus on producing results each and every day.
  • Scoping - many of the requirements were not set in stone as the project began, so working closely and repeatedly with the business is vital to gather in detail what needs to be delivered.
  • Iteration - the solution we are implementing will be used by the resourcing team every day, so constant playback is required in order to deliver a product which fits the nuances of their job.
  • Location - three quarters of the team is located in the same office as is the business owner, which lends itself to a highly collaborative approach.

What's happened so far?

Because the exact scope of the project still needed to be fully defined at project kick off, the team spent the majority of the opening week performing extensive requirements gathering to understand exactly what the resourcing team and management wanted to see from the solution. This was a very valuable process, as what the project would deliver evolved quickly into specific outputs which can then be used to drive business outcomes.

 The project team went ahead will a full proposal which did not make use of SAP BPC - completing and presenting a Solution Architecture that made use of other technologies. Eventually, after discussions with various members of the business, this alternative solution was turned down in favour of the initial approach which takes advantage of the pre built functionality of SAP BPC. Whilst some time was spent working on this different approach, it was a useful exercise for the project as a whole, as we can now safely say that going down the SAP BPC route is the best option.

 A detailed blueprint is currently in the process of being signed off, and in the mean time the project team is  getting down to the task of developing both the new User Interface that the resourcing team will work with, and everything in the back end that will make it work.

 For now the going is fairly slow, as the technologies involved are a big learning curve for all team members. As a result, the approach has been to carefully plan one step at a time and break the project down into smaller pieces. This method, whilst slightly increasing the time it takes to get stuck into the build, should pay for itself later when (hopefully) less problems arise due to the time spent accounting for the many considerations at this early stage.

What's next?

We are now beginning Sprint 1, which ends on the last working day before Christmas. At the end of this, the aim is to have demoed the reports to the business, to make serious inroads in the configuration of the SAP BPC Back End data model, and to have developed test data which resembles this. The large amount of VBA that is required to build a workable planning screen within SAP BPC Input will also need to be started on. This is a lot to be getting on with, so hopefully when Christmas comes around there will be some well deserved moments to relax!

One final point

Last year's internal project was codenamed Project Santa. This time around we wanted to avoid the Christmas theme at all costs - and with Chinese New Year coming around our estimated Go Live date the choice was easy. Finally, it would be rude of me not to introduce the fine team of graduates who are working on the project. So, it is time to present the UK 'Dragons'!

ProjectDragonTeam

Left to right: Christopher Gully, Megan Coughlan, Nick Carter, Tom Jayne, Michael Cowan, Chris Bradshaw, Peter Douglas, Sara Neary

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