Analyze this: My experiences with two Global SAP implementations (Part 2)

Analyze this: My experiences with two Global SAP implementations (Part 2)

With budgets of USD 2-3m per week, project staff size 250-400, timeline of 2-5 years both projects presented significant risk on time, resources and finances of the company. IT divisions of both customers had a vision to present the best-in-class IT solution that will complement the business and make running business much easier than it is today. “Spend more time analyzing/ interpreting data and less time generating it”.

In both implementations, the customers decided to re-design the IT processes based on business processes, rather than build from existing IT processes. This was imperative considering that very few IT processes were common across countries, though business processes were uniform globally.

Type of SDLC

One of the Implementation was a global roll-out implementation and the other was a global big-bang implementation.

In the global roll-out implementation, the blueprint design was built and deployed in one country initially, which served as a template business unit. This template was then rolled out to other countries in a phased manner over a period of time. Any changes or exceptions to the global design were approved by the solutions team. Every year, 3-4 countries were identified for roll-out; all these countries had the same release date.

In the global big-bang implementation, all countries had one release date. All common strands of processes globally were gleaned together to design a global blueprint. This was a painstaking way to develop a global design; but ensured minimal changes as the project progressed. All countries worked along a common project plan and towards a common release date.

Scoping & Blueprint

It is essential to define clearly the scope of the project. Scope creep of additional functionalities / modules/ products at a later stage of the project could threaten the time and budget of the implementation. It is important to involve users from all countries/ business impacted at this phase; defining ownership of design will help mitigate some of the issues that emerge later in the project.

Take into consideration all functionalities that need to be replaced in the existing SAP system. In one incident, one of the countries realized late in the project that planning functionality was not scoped in the project; they were the only country using Planning functionality in their existing SAP system. Decommissioning the existing SAP system without a replacement planning functionality in the new system would threaten business continuity in that country.

In another instance, one of the countries missed out on a non-SAP system data feed into SAP. This was scoped late in the project and diverted the attention of the team members from the mainstream project tasks to speed up the newly scoped item into the project timeline.

Blueprint design should be split into “global” design and “local” design.

  • Global design is a common design that is mandatory for all countries.
  • Local design is the exception to the Global design to cater to local legal/ reporting requirements, local language considerations, and special correspondence requirements with external parties.

Local design changes should be justified through a proper process of approvals.

  • It is tempting for local units to create a smokescreen of “local requirements” to introduce local processes into the design.
  • In the global roll-out implementation, all changes to global design and request for local design were approved by a team of Solution Architects before it was developed. In the global big-bang implementation, global and local design was built and approved at the blueprint phase.


Rajesh Shanbhag has worked on several roles on both projects. He has been a team member, Functional Architect in the Solution team, System Integrator lead, Coordinator for Finance team. Rajesh has 12 years experience implementing SAP Finance solutions for several customers globally; he also has prior 7 years experience working in the business in Finance and Accounting functions. His business knowledge combined with his IT expertise enables him to provide his customers with best-of-breed advise on business process implementations.

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