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How to avoid problems during the implementation resulting from not identifying the local needs?

How
to find and properly identify the differences between the SAP template system for the corporation and
local legal and business needs? The Fit & Gap analysis may be helpful a standard element of BCC Go
Forward methodology for projects of rollout type.
Many Polish companies face the challenge of implementing the standard SAP system operating in a corporation.
Increasingly, they are not only the recipient of the system used in the international headquarters of the corporation,
but they are the owner of the template system (regardless of the fact, whether they are original Polish companies or
the Polish departments of the international corporations).
The implementation of such a project is an organizational and communication challenge both for the parent company
and for the local company, particularly if both companies are located in different countries. The parent company is
interested in the biggest possible adaptation of the local company to the corporation processes, above all due to the
requirement of process unification in accordance with the best practices operating in the company.
The second essential aspect is also the optimization of the implementation, and hence its costs. But regardless of
how much the parent company would like to see the template as a consistent entirety, two types of differences will
occur:
Legal Gaps specific legal regulations, particularly in the financial, sales and human resources area (e.g.
correction invoice in Poland and credit/debit memo in Germany);
the differences in the local business process (local gaps) particular companies may have own business
processes that do not appear in the template (e.g. the unique production process in the corporation) or other
specific requirements not resulting directly from the legal regulations, but critical for the business activity
(e.g. special discount system for the key customer who has a large share in the companys turnover).
Many people participating in the project believe that each difference will cause the increase of the implementation
budget. However, it does not have to be the case. The awareness of the difference does not automatically mean that
it has to be implemented in the system.However, it means the possibility of selecting the method of its processing:
implementation in SAP system,
leaving in the external system,
manual processing outside the IT system or organizational change that eliminates the given requirement,
and presentation of the selected method to the persons from the local company.The experience shows that such an
attitude builds the confidence in the new system (my needs are not ignored) that essentially influences the
engagement of the persons from the local companies into subsequent project activities.
Prior the Fit & Gap analysis, the parent company should determine which areas of the system will be subject to the
analysis.It depends above all on the business profile of the local company
How to find gaps?
We know already that the differences definitely exist but how to define them? How to avoid problems during the
implementation resulting from not identifying the local needs? The Fit & Gap analysis may be helpful a standard
element of BCC Go Forward methodology for the rollout project.
Prior the Fit & Gap analysis, the parent company should determine which areas of the system will be subject to the
analysis (will be implemented in the local company as a target).It depends above all on the business activity profile
of the local company if it is for example a dealership, then the logistics processes will be included in the scope of
the analysis, and the production processes will be excluded.
The Fit & Gap analysis may be performed by the parent company organization or by the implementation partner.If
the partner is responsible for the execution, the trainings for the consultants in the area of the existing template may
be necessary prior the analysis (particularly if the documentation of the template is not available).
Fit & Gap analysis is divided into three stages:
Stage 1. Preparation of a solution template for the trainings. This stage includes gathering of the template
documentation (business blueprint, manuals, technical documentation) and preparation of the training system (e.g.
on the test system). The sample data (e.g. materials, customers, vendors) should be obtained from the new
company and loaded to the training system. It shall enable the employees of the local company to better identify the
discussed processes.
Stage 2. Training of the project team members (key users) in the scope of implemented processes in the template
system.The owners of the template business processes present the functionality available in the system to the users
from the local company.The implementation consultants, a particularly the consultants familiarized with the local
legal regulations, should participate in such a training.
In particular cases, if there is a problem in the local company to communicate in the project language, this stage
may be divided into two sub-stages: Training of the implementation consultants in the scope of template processes
executed by the owners of the processes in the project language, and then training of the members of the project
team from the local company by the implementation consultants in the local language.
Stage 3. Sessions of project teams devoted for the determination of the differences between the presented
processes and local needs.On the basis of the knowledge gained during the trainings, the employees of the local
company indicate the differences between the process modelled in ERP system and the process currently operated in
the company.It is necessary to indicate all perceived differences.
The decision, whether the difference will be implemented in SAP system or an organizational change by the company
will be required or whether the process will remain in the existing form, should not influence the fact of registering
the discrepancy. The reported differences should be registered, using the project tools applied in the organization
(e.g. a list of differences in SharePoint portal or at least common Excel sheet available in the network directory).
Each difference should be described by means of the following attributes:
ID of the difference (GAP_ID) numeric identifier,
module specification of the area, where the gap was identified (e.g.MM, FI),
process that it refers to specification of the process that this difference refers to (e.g. purchase of the raw
material),
reporting person full name of the person reporting the difference,
business need business justification for the existence of the given difference,
type (legal, local) information whether the given difference results from the legal regulations,
priority (high, medium, low) information on the degree of the significance of the difference,
estimated workload of the implementation of the changes in the system (e.g. number of days of the
consultant work) it allows to compare the significance of the change with the workload for its
implementation.
Additionally, the tool used for the registration of the differences should enable the changing of the difference status
(e.g. accepted, rejected, under analysis) and tracking of the change history.
The decision, whether the difference will be implemented in SAP system or an organizational change by the company
will be required or whether the process will remain unaltered, should not influence the fact of registering the
difference
I do not understand the standard
During the Fit & Gap analysis, it is necessary to consider several factors that may adversely influence its course.
In the international projects, one of the challenges is to determine the project communication language (usually it is
the English language) and the selection to the project team of the persons effectively using this language. If one of
the key persons does not communicate in the project language, it is necessary to devote time and budget for the
translation of the project documentation to the local language and again to the project language. Additionally, the
presence of the local consultant, knowing the language, may be necessary to perform the analysis in the given area
(in this case, an earlier knowledge transfer about the template to the local consultant is to be taken into
consideration).
An essential factor negatively affecting the success of the rollout projects is the fear of the changes that the new
system brings to the company. The trainings in the scope of the template system, which are the elements of the Fit
& Gap analysis, are a good practice to overcome these concerns.Additionally, making the system available to the
members of the project teams and encouraging them to self execution of the processes facilitate the further
communication.
Another factor is the difficulty in understanding the local circumstances by the international consultants. We are
already integrated with this bank, so it will surely also work in Poland - such a sentence is often heard from the
corporate consultants. They do not take into consideration that the same bank in different countries uses different
file formats for integration. Unfortunately, we often meet with similar simplifications and erroneous assumptions that
are identified only during testing or after going live. The engagement of the local consultant allows to minimize the
occurrence of this risk.
Why do we need a local consultant?
As illustrated by the examples cited earlier, the involvement of the local consultant is one of the key elements of the
success of Fit & Gap analysis (as well as of the entire project). What can and should be expected? Below, we present
three major tasks:
Delivery of the gap list that occur most often during the implementations in the given country and/or in the
given industry (ready material for the discussion with the local company, checklist in order to ensure that we
have not missed something that might be important);
Verification on a current basis of the requirements placed by the members of the project team (with regards
to the legal requirements) and suggestion of solutions generally applied in other local companies instead of
reinventing the wheel by the consultants from the corporation;
Better level of communication with the employees of the local company (elimination of the problems resulting
from the language barriers).
We have differences and whats next?
Each of the difference registered during the analysis should be then verified with regards to the reasons of its
operation:
Does the current mode of operation result from the legal regulations?If yes, it is likely to take this difference
into consideration in the system. In the specific cases, it may be decided to implement the given functionality
outside the system.
Does the current mode of operation result from the local organization? If yes what happens, if the process
will be changed to comply with the corporate one? If the current process is better than the corporate process,
two scenarios are possible: Decision on the implementation of the change in the system, but only for the local
company or decision on the change of the template process (it cannot be excluded that during the rollout the
corporation will also learn something from its branches).
The entire Fit & Gap analysis should last from two to three weeks (depending on the complexity of the
implementation).Its result should be a list of all registered differences along with the information on the method of
their execution after the implementation.Since the implementation of these differences may influence the processes
that are already operating in other countries, it is necessary to remember to plan tests of these processes prior going
live (so called regression tests) for other countries using this system. But this is a step belonging to the next stages
of the project that will be performed much easier thanks to the reliably performed Fit & Gap analysis.