International SAP implementations can be complex and touch many parts of the business. Below are some useful points, listed under the four main phases of a typical project, to help any SAP customer ensure a successful implementation.

1. Preparation phase

The preparation phase is considered the most important phase, as this will heavily influence the final outcome.

  • Set project objectives and goals. Make it clear to everyone from the start what the SAP project is delivering, what the touch-points will be within the business and how each function will benefit. With a greater understanding at the beginning stages, you will ensure a higher degree of acceptance and user adoption in the later stages.

  • Create an implementation team. This team responsible for the project execution must be made up of personnel from both partner and client companies. The team should be comprised of decision-makers to ensure timely sign-off of the project. Make sure you include business experts, from the client company, so they can advise on potential operational issues and help with risk management. Where implementation is global, if you’re working with United VARS then your main partner will select other IT partners from the United VARs global alliance to also join your project team.

  • Get approval for redesigning the business process. SAP projects can fundamentally business processes as the technology can bring in innovation and best practices. To maximize the benefits SAP systems can bring, involve the Head of Departments for the different subsidiaries in defining a clear strategy for reshaping the business model, and make sure they understand the benefits the project can bring.

  • Regularly review the budget and timeframe. At the beginning of the project, the company should agree timeframes and budget for each phase of the project, and make sure that it regularly reviews both. This will help identify any potential issues and give enough time for adjustments if needed.

2. Kick-off phase

  • Generate a common understanding. Once you’ve established general guidelines, it’s important to ensure that the project sponsors, Heads of Departments, internal and external SAP consultants are all on the same page. Issue supporting templates and reports to communicate the project methodology, planning and execution, and the details of the chosen SAP implementation strategy.

  • Prevent problems instead of fighting them later. The PMO (Project Management Office) should be highly responsive in solving problems that arise during the rollout phase. However, make it your priority to prevent them in the first place. As soon as the projects starts, identify and categorize all possible risks, along with possible solutions.

  • Define what your client needs from you. International roll-outs are invariably too complicated to be implemented by one partner. United VARs members can count on the support of top-quality allies in the respective countries. From the outset, the client and the leading United VARs member needs to be clear on what they expect from each local SAP partner. For example, if they are supposed to just lend their expertise and support to the project, or if they should take ownership and responsibility for the full implementation in that country or region.

  • Set SMART Objectives. Each department should set out its own SMART objectives (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based), making sure they’re relevant to the company’s goals for the overall project, and share these across the subsidiaries and project teams. It’s important to keep reviewing these objectives as the project develops.

3. Implementation phase

  • Communicate effectively. It is important that the people in your project team can communicate clearly and respectfully. This will go a long way to resolving things quickly. Where multiple countries are involved, there will be cultural and legal differences to take into account, as well as the complexities of different languages and time-zones. United VARs members are all experts in their respective countries and can help you navigate the intricacies of SAP localizations and of doing business in each country you operate in.

  • Coordinate with a network of IT providers. In an international project, indirect costs can be high when coordinating with different IT providers. However, the United VARs global alliance proposition makes this more affordable as SAP consultants are charged out at the local rates of the country they are based in. This is very different from working with larger global consultants who tend to charge flat rates, no matter what country the consultants are employed in, and don’t pass any savings onto the client. Your main United VARs member will coordinate the key players responsible for your international SAP roll-out, which saves you, the client, from having to manage multiple companies.

  • Follow SAP Best Practices. SAP Best Practices are embedded in preconfigured content, templates, step-by-step processes and pre-filled documentation. This means that SAP Partners can leverage SAP’s expertise and follow proven guidelines to help streamline the whole process.

4. Go-live phase

  • Change Management. As well as communicating with the key stakeholders, it is critical to involve the that the end-users early on in the project, because they will be the most affected by any new SAP implementation. By communicating regularly with them, you will maximize the chances of good user adoption rates and acceptance after Go-Live.

  • Organize targeted trainings. Train employees as quickly as possible on the new SAP system. Make sure there’s a UAT (user acceptance tester) who can act as a super-user for each team affected by the implementation. They can make sure their colleagues are up to speed as quickly as possible.

  • Decide who will support the users. After Go-Live, you will need SAP experts on hand in the early stages. These can be a mixture of super-users and United VARs members (SAP partners).

  • Analyze the main lessons from the project. Any new experience contains lessons, so make sure that everyone involved in the project shares what they have learned and what you can take into future SAP projects.

Are you planning a global SAP rollout? Watch the United VARs video and read about our approach to global SAP implementation

About United VARs United VARs is a global alliance of SAP solution providers for the midmarket. With over 70 members in 100 countries, the alliance serves all types of SAP rollouts and integrations across the world.


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