Sunday, 29 November 2009

Almost lost for words

I don't like to hear people swear. You hear it too often - so called "celebrities", sports or music stars using language that would make a drill sergeant blush. Often, the argument is that they are just passionate about the specific view they are putting forward, but I feel that in reality, it shows a lack of intellect. They swear because they don't know how to convey a point of view. But despite my views, this last few days, I have done more than my fair share of swearing.

Let's go back to the beginning. Some 2 1/2 years ago, the consultants started putting in the SAP system. All they did was install the basic software and addons - they didn't apply any of the patches or updates. At the end of last year, they made a comment that it was for us to perform these updates. It took me a while to get the information that I needed, but in the early part of this year, I managed to carry out a process, to apply the patches that they had downloaded, but not actually put in place.

Subsequently, I went onto the SAP Service Market Place Download Center and found that there were a great many other patches that they had not downloaded. I started work on downloading these, but after I reached a certain point, a message appeared to say that all patches released after a certain date had to be confirmed through SAP Solution Manage before they could actually be downloaded. As they had not installed a SAP Solution Manager system, this caused some problems - however, I was able to get around this eventually. As SAP now require Solution Manager to be used, I felt that we should get it installed - we have a copy of the software and the existing license allows us to use it, so I saw no problem.

I got a copy of the relevant SAPpress book and downloaded some material on the product and its use - it became clear that Solution Manager offers a lot of other functionality that we would find very useful and from conversations, it seems that SAP are going to increase the requirements for running the product. So we've spent a little time in between other jobs, getting the software up and running.

Having finished this over the weekend before last, I decided on Monday to take a look thru the product. It runs thru the SAPGUI and looks much like the main ERP but with a few different menu items. I glanced at a few of these, not really going too deep into the various areas - but then I saw something that caught my eye. When I opened part of the menu item for Solution Manager, I saw the phrase "ASAP Focus".

Those of you that have been following me for a while will know that I had a brief exchange with Michael Doane (, a consultant with many years experience of working with SAP. He described a methodology to carry out an SAP standard implementation called "ASAP" which he advised should be used by all system integrators (consultants). I had not heard of this and it appeared our consultants didn't use it. Michael was a bit frustrated (and I could see why) as this is supposed to be used by everyone.

And here it was - a full description of the processes, documents to assist, presentations, step by step guides, glossary, checklists, issue registers, and a complete roadmap for the whole implementation project. Basically everything that we could have used and would have found useful - instead we had to develop our own systems. The more that I looked at this, the more frustrated I became, and of course, I then started to really let rip with the bad language.

So now we are starting to look at getting the Soution Manager installed properly. We will have to get someone in that knows about it, and get one of our staff trained up. It's just a pity that it has taken so long to find out about the product. It would be interesting to see what the senior management from the consultants has to say on why they didn't use it, but I dare say that I will not be allowed to ask the question.

Belated happy thanksgiving everyone.


  1. Hi there,

    The ASAP Focus methodology was developed to use with SAP's All-in-One product for midsize enterprises. With this methodology it is possible to implement an All-in-One solution in weeks instead of months.

    Now I am not sure how big your company is, but from what I have read here so far I would guess it is bigger and that you weren't implementing an All-in-One solution. (at least I hope you weren't, because this is something we at Pearl Consulting do in 12-20 weeks)

    Again, not knowing the size of your company, I suggest you take a look at the ASAP (Accelerated SAP) methodology instead. It enables you to optimize the implementation and ongoing management of end-to-end solution operations.

    Please feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions.

    Best regards,
    Anne Kathrine Petteroe

  2. Hello - Anne who just commented on your blog is an SAP Mentor and true confessions I am as well. By the way Anne is a great person to know and you can follow her on Twitter at @yojibee. SAP Mentors are SAP community leaders and one of our roles is to reach out in situations where an SAP user can use some help or provide feedback, hopefully some of it useful.

    I'm also an old friend of Michael Doane's and we actually wrote a book together on SAP consulting. Months ago, a bunch of us started reading your blog and Tweeting out new entry links. Your posts have been refreshing in their honesty and have offered a real life glimpse into SAP implementation struggles. Thanks for this.
    By the way, on the same topic, SAP has developed a post-go live methodology called Run SAP. Run SAP is a set of about sixteen post-go live best practices, all of which are intended to be managed within Solution Manager, so you may want to look into that as you are diving into Solution Manager.

    Also, if you are looking into Solution Manager, I highly recommend you read the work of SAP Mentor Jim Spath. I'm not sure if your blog accepts links but here's a link to the SCN wiki profile of Jim's:

    And here's a link to one of his Solution Manager blogs, you can find the rest off of his wiki: J

    Jim is @jspath55 on Twitter. While I have really enjoyed your blog the last few months, one thing that has struck me is how isolated you seem from the rest of the SAP community. Jim is also a stalwart ASUG volunteer, and I believe ASUG would have a lot to offer you and your company both in terms of hands-on events and networking. You might want to ask him about that. If you're not in North America, which I'm thinking you are for some reason, there are SAP user groups pretty much everywhere.

    Doing SAP in isolation is just not recommended. If your company doesn't go for ASUG, there is still plenty of connections you can make via the SAP Community Network. I really think those connections could benefit both your project and you personally.

    I realize you probably don't have total control over all this stuff, but I wanted to pass the information along. Building these community connections might not solve all your implementation problems by any means, but you'll have more fun and it will certainly help you to avoid going through a project without even knowing about the ASAP methodology.

    It doesn't sound to me like you got a very good treatment from your consulting firm. These days, the SAP customers that I think are most successful have taken a real responsibility for managing their implementations. They might use consultants but only in a selective and informed way. At the least, they are plugged into SCN and the relevant SAP user groups. This helps them to not only negotiate well with consulting firms but negotiate better with SAP as well. Some of them are even involved in input on future product direction.

    Even if your project did all these things, I'm sure you would still have plenty to rant about here. SAP is always an adventure with new learning along the way. Anyhow, I'm sorry I didn't offer up a comment sooner, but I wanted to take time over this holiday weekend and then seeing Anne's comment and your new post it seemed like it was time. If I can be of further help, please contact me at @jonerp on Twitter or contact me through my web site.

    Best of luck and I look forward to your blog entries in the new year.

  3. SAP, like any other software package, succeeds or fails based on the experience of those implementing and managing it. You can hardly fault SAP because you hired incompetent or inexperienced consultants. In these cases, you would have gotten the same results no matter the software.

  4. Guys,

    I'm really greatful for the feedback. When I started the blog it was to let off a bit of steam. However, I then started to feel that I wanted something a bit more positive to come from it and I hope that some of the items I've discussed will help other people avoid some of the major pitfalls of a major ERP implementation project.

    John, I think that you hit the nail on the head - I suppose that I do feel a bit isolated, although that is slowly starting to change. The company won't pay to join a user group and as I already pay for my own membership of a couple of other industry bodies, I'm not sure that I can afford it - but we will see.

    The consulting firm that we use was not our choice - and they have not previously worked in our industry sector. The individual consultants are good enough people, but most have had only a few years experience and none in our sector. Comments have been made about the number of times they seem to call for assistance from other people that they know!

    The big problem is of course that even tho' they are not employed by SAP, they represent SAP - to the average user, they "are" SAP. That of course then refelects badly on the company and if they don't know enough about the software, it can look bad for that as well.

    Many thanks for reading!

  5. Thank you so much for this blog. We are going through a very large implementation, and have suffered in the same way you have with lack of information and poor consultants. We have yet to go live, and your expierences are a bit of a glimpse into the future, and hopefully we can avoid some of the pain you have suffered. Your honesty and frankness is much needed in the SAP community.