28 Mar Using Agile Methodology For An SAP Implementation
You might feel it’s not feasible to deliver “working pieces of code” every two weeks in a large-scale SAP implementation like ECC, S/4 or HANA Enterprise. Hence, an Agile project methodology wouldn’t be the right fit for such a project, right? I have found that Agile CAN be the right approach… even if your organization isn’t formally trained on the methodology.
Agile is a software development methodology that allows priorities and requirements to change and evolve as the project progresses. The development teams are smaller and deliver working software every two to three weeks.
I have been on multiple large, multi-year SAP ERP and BI implementations over the past 15 years. Most of them have been waterfall projects, with each phase lasting a month or more. These longer milestones allow for multiple functional teams to develop, unit test and then integration test together before delivering software to the users. On the other hand, you may have seen these things happen:
- procrastination (it’s human nature)
- limited visibility to timeline risks
- limited flexibility to adjust to business scope and priorities changes throughout the project
- team members start to lose motivation and a sense of accomplishment after a few months
- by the time the business gets engaged (training/UAT), most of the development is completed
By running all or some of the sub-teams of the larger project using Agile principals, you can avoid some of the pitfalls of the waterfall project and promote flexibility as business priorities and requirements “evolve”. I have used a modified Agile approach successfully for a large-scale HANA Enterprise implementation with only a couple of individuals familiar with Agile. These are the Agile principals that we applied:
- Two to Three-week Sprint “projects” (re-prioritize with business every Sprint): flexibility
- Break work down to tasks that can be completed in 1 to 2 days: accomplishment
- 15-minute daily scrum meetings to keep everyone updated and on task: accountability
- Utilize Agile software tool to track backlog/sprints. I used VersionOne (they offer a free trial version!) software but there are other good tools out there as well: transparency
- Small cross-functional Scrum teams <10 people
The overall project still needs high-level milestones and oversight. The main exception to Agile is that the two-week Sprint deliverables may not initially include “working code”. They may include delivery of finalized requirements documents or completed gap analysis and design. Or developing a data model and having it migrated and ready for QA/SIT in the next Sprint. We also had to compromise on dedicated team resources and the team all in one location. But this approach will still give your teams a sense of accomplishment throughout your project and keep things transparent to the business.
If you have a team member familiar with Agile methodology for planning out stories & tasks as well as a team that is willing to learn it, this can be done. Even if you don’t know much about Agile, the principals are intuitive and you can get the ‘gist’ of it easily. I have done it and seen it done. Successfully. Please feel free to contact me if you want to know more.
Cori is an experienced SAP consultant who works on a variety of initiatives for our clients in the Twin Cities. Her primary areas of expertise are in BI, HANA and FI/CO. Cori has spent many years managing and delivering BI & Finance related solutions for our clients and has obtained a wealth of knowledge in this area.