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Can a project scope definition prevent SAP scope creep?

By developing a project scope definition, you can ensure that an SAP implementation stays on track.

Companies planning to implement SAP ERP may find that engaging an SAP system integrator (SI) to develop a project scope definition will help prevent project scope creep. To create a project scope definition, an SI conducts workshops with business users not only to understand their main business processes, but also to list gaps and shortcomings in the current ERP system. This activity also helps gauge expectations that business users have for the new ERP system. Even if a company floats a request for proposals (RFP) that lists tools, features and functionality it requires from the new ERP system, creating a project scope definition brings far greater visibility to these business requirements.

Companies can take the following steps to ensure that a project scope definition developed by an SI yields the desired outcome. 

  1. First, identify the initial scope of the project. This includes, for example, whether you want to implement SAP advanced planner and optimizer (APO) and SAP customer relationship management (CRM) or if core SAP ERP components such as financial accounting, managerial accounting, materials management, quality management or human capital management will suffice. This knowledge enables the SI to devote relevant consultants to the project scoping activity.
  2. For work on the project scope definition, nominate business users who possess an in-depth understanding of their work and who can list major pain points that are relevant to it. This may include, for example, a planner still using manual or Microsoft Excel-based product forecasting that doesn't reflect actual demand or a financial planner with little or unclear cash-flow visibility.
  3. As part of project scoping, ensure that the SI conducts business-specific workshops in such topics as inventory management, payroll processes, sales processes and quality processes with relevant business users. Relevant findings and observations should be noted.
  4. Focus on third-party applications the company will continue to use and would like to interface with SAP for data transfer. For example, will bar code scanners or weigh bridges interface with the ERP system for data transfer? If so, how many such interfaces are in the project scope and what are their current data exposure capabilities?
  5. Your company may have several business units, but not all of them will be implementing the SAP ERP system or some of its components.  In such a case, a project scope definition helps to provide clarity.
  6. List the critical management reports your company expects to be available in the SAP ERP system. Often, a large number of in-house or custom-developed reports are used infrequently. A project scope definition helps to clarify a company's reporting needs. 

Companies often engage an external or third-party audit firm or advisor to help guide them through ERP application selection to its final implementation. But unless the audit firm has expert SAP consultants on board, little value is added due to the in-depth comprehension required to understand and map a company's business processes with the ERP system. The winning combination is the direct and exhaustive project scoping between an SI and a company's business process owners and decision makers. 

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