Why Are You Recreating Your Legacy Solution?

Keith Johnson

Are you seeing excessive custom development on your project? If there seems to be a large number of enhancements, integration points, or even custom reports, for that matter, coming out of blueprint/solution design, there may be an issue with solution gaps. Excessive gaps can result in a longer build cycle, more rigorous testing, and increased effort to support the solution post go-live. This situation has an adverse impact on the project budget, timeline, and, longer term, total cost of ownership.

In my previous blog “There Are Only Two Gaps to Address In Solution Design!” I outlined the need for proper knowledge, skill, and experience to minimize solution gaps. Now I want to address establishing proper goals, expectations, and governance to ensure there aren’t excessive solution gaps coming out of blueprint/design.

Why do we find ourselves re-creating the legacy system? While this situation can have quite a few root causes, the common causes I’ve seen are:

  • The business subject matter experts engaged on the project have an existing frame of reference: their legacy system and/or some parts of their business are “unique”
  • Expectations are not set with the team to leverage the standard “out of the box” solution
  • The decision-making process (part of governance) doesn’t challenge the need for custom enhancements or note standard configuration

Referring to the Implementation Project Success Factors wheel below (introduced in my blog “Better Manage the ‘I’ in the ROI Equation”), this topic addresses solution design, but manifests itself in resource to win and governance.

implementation project success factors


Implementation project success factors

Keeping the common causes in mind, set the project up for success with these five good practices.

  • Engage the best and the brightest and those willing to adopt change from the business. Engaging informal leaders from the business units is also a good practice for managing the required change back in their respective business units.
  • Kick off the project with the sponsor outlining the expected business benefits including creating a solution that is as close to standard as possible so as to reduce budget impacts and total cost of ownership. Typically there is an acknowledgement that a strategic part of the business is a differentiator and there won’t be a compromise on those requirements.
  • Use the “show and tell” approach during design. In this approach, the team uses a preconfigured system to demonstrate the process.
  • Require a business benefits case for every gap to be addressed with a non-standard solution (custom enhancement or non-best practice configuration).
  • Establish a design/change control board with business process owners, the project sponsor, and project management. This board challenges the team on gaps and gap resolution. Don’t make it “easy” for non-standard solutions to pass muster.

Stay tuned as future blog posts will address additional implementation good practices.

Learn more about how Live Businesses Deliver a Personal Customer Experience Without Losing Trust.

The Implementation Project Success Wheel is provided by SAP’s Chief Customer Office (CCO) Project Success team. The CCO’s mission is to help SAP’s customers achieve success. The team averages 18 years of SAP experience. When SAP started the CCO, the team was 99% reactive. Now the CCO is 73% proactive and typically gets involved before the implementation starts. All programs the CCO provides to SAP customers are at NO CHARGE. The one criteria for engagement is that we have a cadence with the customer executive (CIO or LOB leader).

Keith Johnson

About Keith Johnson

Keith Johnson is on the project success team in the Chief Customer Office at SAP. He is responsible for advising executives on best practices for project success. Keith has 20 years of experience in implementing SAP solutions and over 30 years in program and project management. He is an expert in implementation good practices developed while in roles such as the Vice President of the Project Management Office for North American at SAP, as well as Chief Delivery Officer for an SAP implementation partner.