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

Edson Frainlar. I - 9 Minute read


  • Value of an effective project management is realized only when unpredictable risks occur during project execution.
  • Project cost is a function of performance, time, and scope
  • The best practice to effectively manage and control SAP S/4HANA conversion projects is to adopt and abide by the SAP Activate methodology for the transition to SAP S/4HANA
  • KTern helps project managers of SAP S/4HANA conversion projects manage, automate, control and collaborate with the delivery and customer Team.


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, Blockchain, Digital Twins, Reality Applications, Decentralized Software Components, 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.


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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.


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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.

  • Scope Baseline
  • Schedule Baseline
  • Cost Baseline
  • Quality Baseline
  • Scope Management
  • Requirements Management
  • Schedule Management
  • Cost Management
  • Quality Management
  • Process Improvement
  • Human Resources Management
  • Communications Management
  • Project Reporting Standards
  • Risk Management
  • Procurement Management
  • Stakeholder Management
  • Change Management
  • Issue Management
  • Project Constraints
  • Project Standards
  • 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.

How can KTern - the All-In-One Conversion Suite help Project Managers?

  • KTern is the first of its kind All-in-one Digital Workplace for SAP Projects suite built by the SAP S/4HANA veterans.
  • KTern is driven by design-thinking experts and developed by SAP veterans who have worked on 2000+ SAP projects for enterprises across the globe.
  • KTern is empowered with SAP Activate to automate activities in SAP S/4HANA system conversion. KTern comes along with an AI & Data Analytics integrated knowledge base to handle issues in SAP S/4HANA system conversion.
  • KTern provides insightful digital experience with recommendations on business process optimization.
  • KTern is built based on SAP’s Activate Methodology to synchronize and work on multiple work streams and project phases whilst performing multiple cutover activities with quality gates.
  • From project creation to completion, users can leverage on the feature-set of KTern to control the complete S/4HANA project throughout the project lifecycle.
  • You can define and view project objectives, structure, deliverables, milestones, and sign-off authorities.
  • The project manager can take control of releases with release planning and management.
  • The project manager can visualize and manage demand streams with visibility into assigned projects and scheduled releases.
  • The most distinctive feature is that the project manager and technical leads of SAP S/4HANA conversion project can orchestrate each cutover activity with distributed confirmation seeking.
  • The project manager can access runtimes of each cut-over activity upon completion.
  • Manage the project and team in a single place.
  • Create project charter in KTern using the insights received from assessment.
  • Streamline the control from Discover to Run phases in a single suite.
  • Manage the activities in sandbox, development, quality, pre-production and production runs anywhere anytime.

Curious to learn more about KTern and SAP S/4HANA Conversion? Go through our articles and on-demand webinars for anytime, anywhere access of KTern and S/4HANA content. If you’d rather prefer a direct 30 mins express session on KTern along with a demo of the product, please schedule a guided demo for a date and time of your convenience at

If you would like to know more about the SAP S/4HANA Readiness Assessment program, kindly get in touch with us

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As an existing SAP ECC customer, if you want to know more about the project or about KTern and the SAP S/4HANA Readiness Assessment program, please get in touch with us through our contact form or connect with our product manager on or through .

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