The Role of a Project Manager in SAP S/4HANA Conversion

Digital Projects Feb 6, 2021

Table of contents

Introduction

The project manager of an SAP S/4HANA conversion can be compared to the captain of a ship. Although the crew members in the ship have their own designated jobs, one person must take control of all the things in order to manage and have a bird’s eye view of how things are proceeding in order to reach the destination safely. Similarly, the consultants of an SAP S/4HANA conversion project have their own well-defined tasks prescribed by SAP Activate, but the project manager must ensure that the project duration and cost estimates are met at each time interval (sprints/releases).

The above quoted example is suitable for implementation projects. However, in the case of conversion projects, the ship is not a normal ship. It is a ship that has to be shipwrecked. The older version of ERP was not designed for digital disruption that has evolved after the advent of new-gen technologies such as Machine Learning, Internet of Things,block chain etc.. and hence the ship (ECC System) cannot fulfill all the requirements of a Digital Native Enterprise. In order to migrate the crew members (existing business processes of the ECC) and travelers (existing custom code and data) safely from the older version (ECC) to the new version (S/4HANA), we need a rescue craft (Project Management tool).

Hence, the value of effective project management can be realized only when unpredictable risks occur during project execution. In an implementation project, the team works in a newly configured SAP S/4HANA system. But, in conversion projects, the team will face twists and turns from the beginning till the very end as they must work in both ECC and S/4HANA systems. The existing and scoped business processes must be migrated from ECC to S/4HANA system by having a proper fit gap analysis which is very new for any SAP S/4HANA consultant.

In this article, let us discuss in detail on the roles and responsibilities of an SAP S/4HANA conversion project manager.

Project Management in general

As per the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK), project management can be defined as ‘the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to achieve project requirements. Project Management is accomplished through the application and integration of the Project management processes of initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, controlling and closing.

Constraints in Project Management

The four main constraints that are the primary causes of project failure are:

  1. Cost
  2. Performance
  3. Time
  4. Scope

These four constraints can be quantified using a simple relationship - cost is the function of performance, time and scope. As per this relationship, the cost is an effect while performance, time and scope are defined to be the causes.

Role of a Project Manager in SAP S/4HANA Conversion

The best practice to effectively manage and control SAP S/4HANA conversion projects is to completely adopt and abide by the SAP Activate methodology for the transition to SAP S/4HANA.

The SAP Activate methodology decomposes the heavy S/4HANA conversion project into six phases - Discover, Prepare, Explore, Realize, Deploy and Run.

The roles of the project manager are listed below:

AS-IS study

  • The project manager must enable the project team to analyze the existing SAP ECC landscape. The project team should be able to convince the customers regarding the various benefits of SAP S/4HANA.

  • A proper strategical decision on SAP S/4HANA transition scenario and a comprehensive implementation strategy should be created by the project manager with the help of S/4HANA solution architects and the LoB consultants.

  • This phase is completely reliant on the project team and business end users interaction. The project manager must ensure that proper communication strategy and regular feedback from both the customer and project team members is received and the relevant follow-ups are done regularly.

Project Team Enablement

  • The project manager should provide access to the SAP support portal and thereby the Best practices documentation to his team.
  • The SAP Activate methodology is based on agile implementation approach, principles and techniques. It is the project manager’s responsibility to ensure that the project team is enabled on agile project delivery approach.

Quality factors Enablement

The Project Manager should also ensure the following moral and quality-based roles :

  • Set project expectations and delta design deliverables
  • Provide guidance for delta design workshops
  • Improve quality assurance and its acceptance criteria
  • Foster teamwork within the project team

Project Scoping

He should work along with the project’s solution architect and consultants to arrive at the clear scope definition and objectives document.

Cutover Approach

  • Using the knowledge gained, the project manager should work along with the solution architect and customer’s project manager to arrive at an optimal cutover approach recommended by the SAP regional implementation group.

  • The project manager should also ensure that the custom code adaptation has been clarified with the customer’s project team.

Project Initiation

  • The project delivery platform as per the SAP Activate methodology is the Solution Manager. The project manager must ensure that all the SAP Solution Manager licenses are procured before initiating the project.

  • The project manager should efficiently hand over the project from the sales team to delivery team through Sales Handover Meeting.

  • The project manager should prepare and review the order form with the customer (signed SAP contract, order form, confirm scope, RACI matrix, resources and budget, customer staffing etc.,)

  • He is also responsible for identifying the stakeholders of the project, requirements, expectations and acceptance criteria.

  • The main role is to prepare the project charter containing the business needs and to get confirmation for the same from the Stakeholders.

Project Planning

The most important role of a project manager is to plan. While planning for the SAP S/4HANA conversion project, the project manager should keep the following line items in mind.

  1. Scope Baseline
  2. Schedule Baseline
  3. Cost Baseline
  4. Quality Baseline
  5. Scope Management
  6. Requirements Management
  7. Schedule Management
  8. Cost Management
  9. Quality Management
  10. Process Improvement
  11. Human Resources Management
  12. Communications Management
  13. Project Reporting Standards
  14. Risk Management
  15. Procurement Management
  16. Stakeholder Management
  17. Change Management
  18. Issue Management
  19. Project Constraints
  20. Project Standards
  21. Project Management Sign-off

Project kick-off and on-boarding

  • The project manager has to kick-off the project and ensure that all the required information is shared with the project team, key stakeholders, and anybody involved in the project.

  • The goal of the kick-off meeting is to ensure that everyone involved in the project understands the goals and objectives, as well as the schedule that the project team should follow, which is one of the key ingredients for a successful project execution.

Execution, Monitoring and Controlling the results

  • The project manager should assure that the project is executed according to what was agreed in the project charter, scope statement and project management plan.

  • The project manager should capture and manage project issues, risks and changes related to the project scope, timelines, costs etc.

Phase Closure and Sign-off

  • The project manager has to ensure that all the required deliverables from each phase of the project are complete and accurate, and close any outstanding issues.

  • He also needs to identify the lessons learned during each phase to prepare for a formal phase closure.

  • The project manager should capture customer feedback and potential customer references.

The above list contains the most common roles and responsibilities of a project manager handling SAP S/4HANA conversion projects. Apart from the above mentioned, he may also get ad-hoc roles depending on the complexity of the project.

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The purpose of KTern.AI is to take care of the people, projects and processes at a business and drives business productivity of the customers, partners, system integrators via its seamless DXaaS (Digital Transformation as a Service).
  • Built as an extension of the capabilities of the SAP S/4HANA and SAP ECC, KTern will accelerate the activities before, during and after transition in accordance with the SAP Activate methodology.

  • The digital adoption platform of KTern.AI is focused for ERP transformation with its ready-to-use automation features for project execution and business operations. Its auto-learning knowledge base engine HANAPedia enables stakeholders with its intelligent insights across all phases of SAP Activate – Discover, Prepare, Explore, Realize, Deploy, Run.

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Edson Frainlar

Mission-driven Full-stack Developer with a passion for developing KTern, Dev Collaboration, and teaching. Curious to explore Quantum Information and Computing.

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