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How to avoid the 10 most common pitfalls in your SAP implementation


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CEO of Britehouse - a Dimension Data company

Paolo Masselli, CEO of Britehouse – a Dimension Data company

The right technology systems – for your ERP or applications infrastructure, data analytics and management – have the power to transform your organisation, unlocking your potential and competitiveness in the digital era.
From your initial project preparations to ‘go live’ and full operation, at each stage of your SAP implementation, you’ll find challenges to overcome and opportunities to harness.




Here are the 10 most common pitfalls we’ve noticed, along with solutions, in implementing SAP systems, to help you deliver rapid, reliable results.

  1. Thinking only of ROI.  Deciding to implement a system based solely on ROI will only lead to disappointment and frustration. The decision to implement this technology must be pinned on your overall business strategy. The solution should be developed to support that strategy, and deliver rich and sustainable functionality.
  2. Forgetting stakeholder buy-in. Often SAP is seen as a tech solution and developed in isolation from the rest of the business. Your investment in SAP is highly transformative for the whole business – you need all stakeholders’ involvement in making the implementation a success. And this buy-in must start at the top with your CEO.
  3. Focusing on the lowest price. While price plays a role, the cost of implementation is often dwarfed by the potential revenue losses that can result from weak implementation. You need to choose an implementation partner based on trust – someone willing to walk the road with you and be prepared to invest with you along the way.
  4. Trying to make up for time lost. Too often companies take a long time to evaluate both the technology and their partner – only to rush headlong into the implementation stage. This is a classic ‘hurry up and wait’ pitfall. Often executive roadshows and workshops are better ways to mobilise your best business resources.
  5. Going for the ‘Big Bang’ approach. Lengthy projects that look to deploy enormous functionality can do more harm than good. While SAP has a huge amount of functionality, implementing too much of this functionality all at once can cause problems down the line. Start with your basic software first – then grow your functionality over time.
  6. Replicating an existing legacy system. Some companies try to replicate what they have in their current systems in SAP. The integrated nature of SAP and the way SAP is designed along business process lines is vastly different to the way in which legacy systems work. Rather focus on the best practice processes SAP provides in its standard product.
  7. Building a system on bad data. If big data has taught us anything, it’s the value of accuracy. SAP is data hungry. It can’t be operated on bad data, which causes transaction problems and can bring your SAP environment to a standstill. Data cleansing, mapping, and migration are critical aspects of your implementation – it’s a good idea to start this process early on.
  8. Overlooking education processes. Depending on how big a jump you want to make from legacy systems to SAP, you need to decide the degree of education you need in the business. Many users don’t understand the business terms – or impact – of new SAP transaction steps. They need to be empowered to fulfil their project roles.
  9. Rushing end-user training. The truth is the number of project team members and ‘super users’ is nothing compared to the total number of users you need to train. Often training is rushed and transaction-based, resulting in users who have low confidence in their capabilities. Develop a comprehensive training strategy long before you go live.
  10. Skipping support after going live. Some companies tend to forget their SAP investment after going live. This can cause the system to degenerate and you won’t get all the expected benefits. Besides basic user support, you also need to continue with application lifecycle management and optimisation.

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SAP-sizing to reduce your risk

Even if you’ve taken all of the above into account, the biggest reason for failure is expecting too much of a step-change in your business operating model. If the operational capability maturity of an organisation is too low to meet the needs of progressive SAP-enabled work procedures, then that organisation will struggle to stabilise its business processes.
This can cause significant setbacks. Further enhancements will have to be delayed, the expected value from using SAP will be much lower than anticipated, and you’ll have to bring in additional resources to stabilise operations.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that a new SAP project is complex. You have to have a stringent process to ensure that accurate ‘SAP-sizing’ before you even make your first step – it will help avoid project complications and frustrations, and also save costs down the line.

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