How to Seamlessly Implement a New SAP System (1 of 2)


It seems like one of the biggest concerns that businesses have in implementing a new SAP system is how it will affect the system and processes that they are currently using. There are many factors that lead to significant and unexpected issues during any major system implementation, especially ERP functionalities such as SCM. Here are the four most important steps to consider:

        1.      Documentation of the Current Process Prior to Implementation

Many people think they “know” how things work but the reality is that nearly every area of the business has a process that is kept on a spreadsheet, on a piece of paper, or in Joe or Jane’s head. That is often the missing link during implementation. For example, one set of processes may exist to provide for the accounting of inventory, but the warehouse manager may have been tracking and shipping the inventory using a system that is totally invisible at the corporate level. It is only by documenting the entire process from everyone’s perspective that a clear picture of what processes are in place, what processes are missing or could be improved, and the gaps that exist between what goes on in the business and what the ERP system can be seen.

This is a significant undertaking, and it is critical that time be factored in to document the current state early in the implementation planning process. This does not mean that the new system must mimic the current state, but understanding how the business currently operates will assist in system setup, user training, process improvement, etc.  Too often, consultants rely on their knowledge of the new ERP system alone. But it is important to understand both the current system and the new one so that you can effectively move from one system to another. Remember, even an apparent “no system” is still a way of doing things.

        2.      System Setup

This also requires a considerable amount of time and planning, and is often compressed due to time constraints, lack of knowledge of the previous system operation, data conversion problems, etc. System variables, tables, and user data must be in place well before the system goes live to ensure proper training and system testing. Often, training sessions are interrupted or incomplete because the data is not set up properly and users are not given training specific to their own scenarios. This leads to bad first impressions of the system’s operation and confusion to users when the system is brought live. Testing done on partially set up systems will often lead to significant issues after the system goes live.

Those are the first two steps. Please also see the two final steps to implementing a new SAP system.

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