SAP Delivery Agility: Applying Essential SAFe to large-scale SAP implementations and operations
For over two decades now, proponents of Agile have had to contend with the myth that “you can’t use Agile for X,” where X represents high-assurance systems, systems subject to rigorous regulatory requirements, cyber-physical systems, systems with known and fixed requirements, systems for national defense and security, big data systems, and so on.
I’ve been around long enough to have a sense of why these perceptions arise, so I always respond by simplifying Agile development down to the underlying iterative process of Plan-Do-Check-Act. I then ask a different question, “in systems of complexity, wouldn’t you always want to manage risk that way?” You’d think the answer would always be yes, and yet …
Perhaps one of the last of these larger myths is that “you can’t do Agile on large-scale ERP implementations.” After all, how can you install half an ERP system, move only half the data, half an employee, half the processes, whatever. I think this has been compounded by the fact that the vendors of these systems have scripted fairly all-in, big-bang implementations with deployment and testing strategies that simply assume “it’s all there or nothing is there.” I’d guess a history of waterfall development drove those strategies, just like it drove the rest of us over the prior 30 years.
Well, now we have help from a source who can put that myth to bed and who has ‘been there and done it’ in hundreds of Agile SAP implementations. In this white paper (which we are also posting as an Advanced Topic article), Accenture’s Malte Kumlehn (Head of SAP Delivery Excellence) describes how applying the ten Essential SAFe elements has given them the tools they need to successfully implement large-scale SAP applications in a Lean and Agile manner. And it works. Benefits experienced in one case study included:
- Implementation defects found in functional testing: 326; introduced into production: 0
- 92 potential security defects found and fixed
- 80% automated product and regression tests, saving 12,000 manual hours
- 50% reduction in following FY testing budget
This is an important read for everyone anticipating a large-scale SAP S/4HANA implementation. SAP has set an end to maintenance support for SAP ERP or SAP ECC software that runs on traditional relational databases like Oracle, DB2, and SQL Server in 2025. At that time, all firms running SAP ERP software will be mandated to migrate to SAP S/4HANA, the newest SAP ERP Suite.
It’s critical that business leaders, specifically CFOs and CIOs, who are involved in future ERP strategies, plan appropriately. Future-proof your organization to adopt managerial frameworks such as SAFe and infrastructure models such as digital decoupling and cloud-based solutions to start building the capabilities to succeed—and manage your businesses in today’s adapt-or-die marketplace.