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SuccessFactors implementation methodology: Overview of choices

There are three different SuccessFactors implementation methodologies. Here's the information you need in order to select the one that will work best for your company.

No matter which modules a company starts with, the right SuccessFactors implementation methodology is critical to ensuring project success.

Here's a look at the options.

SAP Activate methodology

Many SuccessFactors implementation partners use Activate, an agile methodology that's standard for SAP cloud implementations, including SuccessFactors and S/4HANA.

The SAP Activate methodology begins with a baseline process and configuration. The IT team will then review and modify that to reach the target processes and configuration the business needs. Activate can also help teams visualize what the end state processes and system will look like before the final development is completed.

The SAP Activate methodology is split into four phases:

  • Prepare. This phase includes project preparation, creating the project plan and change management strategy, enabling the project team, and provisioning and setting up the system.
  • Explore. This phase includes validating the baseline, and identifying gaps, changes and configuration values.
  • Realize. This phase includes configuring the gaps and changes, conducting walkthroughs, migrating data, and executing testing and training.
  • Deploy. This phase includes conducting the final change management, executing the post-go-live support plan, preparing the cutover, and going live.

The SAP Activate methodology features three iterations that allow project managers to identify gaps and changes to the design. Each iteration includes a walkthrough of the process and configuration's design within the system.

Project teams need to thoroughly investigate and evaluate each methodology in order to select the one that's right for the organization.

The first iteration occurs in the explore phase. The second and third iterations occur in the realization phase. Because implementation projects are not always clear-cut in terms of activities and phases, some activities can span multiple phases. For example, data migration may begin in the explore phase and conclude in the deploy phase.

Partner methodologies

The methodologies of SAP SuccessFactors implementation partners can vary greatly and are often touted as based on the partner's experience. It's important for implementation teams to understand when the methodology was created and how it differs from other methodologies, like SAP Activate. Otherwise, it may not be clear if the methodology really brings new benefits to the table.

Typically, these methodologies are modeled on one of the previous SAP SuccessFactors implementation methodologies or the current SAP Activate methodology. Some of these methodologies may be more suitable for the implementation. Project teams need to thoroughly investigate and evaluate each methodology in order to select the one that's right for the organization.

For example, a methodology might not start with a baseline configuration and may include four iterations instead of three. Another methodology may be more focused on a traditional waterfall approach or have more or fewer phases of the project.

Implementation teams need to fully evaluate partner-created methodologies versus the standard SAP Activate methodology or even a well-known scrum-based agile methodology.

Scrum-based agile methodologies

Scrum-based agile methodologies are focused on product development.

Scrum-based agile methodology treats implementation like the development of a product. Scrum-based agile methodologies are team-focused and feature specific roles, which include product owner, scrum master, scrum team members and development team members. These methodologies also feature scrum artifacts, which include both the product and sprint backlog. Teams perform work in sprints.

Scrum-based agile methodology includes multiple sprints in an iterative approach to deliver a configured result that meets the requirements and needs defined in the product backlog and sprint backlog. The product owner is ultimately responsible for the design, the configured result and the current state of development. The product owner also maintains the backlogs and communicates the requirements to the development team. The scrum master acts as a type of project manager but manages the product delivery instead of the actual project.

Scrum-based agile methodology relies on a defined number of sprints. Each sprint typically lasts around one month and will have a set of deliverables defined by the backlogs. Each scrum team member must ensure that their deliverables are completed in order for the sprint to be successful. Project leaders hold daily scrum meetings to review activities project participants must complete to achieve a successful sprint. Once project participants complete all sprints, the product development is complete.

A scrum-based agile methodology is focused on rapidly providing deliverables and value during the project. Project leaders break down the development into multiple sprints, allowing the appropriate person to approve parts of it before it goes live. This ensures that the project meets the organization's needs.

Scrum-based agile methodologies can be demanding and fast-paced, which doesn't suit all organizations or teams. A lot of discipline is required to ensure that the entire team can deliver in the short timeframe defined for each sprint.

All methodologies require a project manager who can keep a tight control on the timeline, activities, scope and budget. Different implementation partners will bring ready-to-use project practices, templates and tools for both the project management work stream and the project delivery. These tools can work well with managing the project and the execution of the methodology. It's worth investigating what the implementation partners can bring to the table alongside the methodology that they use.

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