How to Create Simple Solutions for Large-Scale SAP S/4HANA Project

March 10, 2022  |  Andrew Dvirnyk

We continue our conversation with Inga Prangishvili, Deputy Director of the Information Technology (WBS) branch of the JSC Georgian Railway , and Igor Bordak, Global Delivery Director for SAP Services at IBA Group. In our previous conversation, Inga gave insight on how to choose an SAP S/4HANA supplier mid-project.

Today, we are talking about what happens next. We sat down with Inga and Igor to discuss some of the unexpected surprises that arose over the course of the five-month project. And we look at how IBA Group made simplification a goal of SAP S/4HANA implementation for the large-scale organization that had never used an ERP system that unified and standardized business processes.

Surprises and Challenges

Inga admits that there were surprises throughout the project. She notes, “once we got engaged and started working, it became obvious to both parties that there were some tasks that were out of scope of the initial project.”

Given the tight deadline and the high stakes of the implementation, Igor’s team suggested they take on those additional tasks, something Inga calls, “a pleasant surprise.” It was also possible due to the increased participation of the Georgian Railway implementation team. So, the team streamlined solutions and increased efficiency by proposing to use standard functionality to resolve issues. What was, strictly speaking, “out of scope,” IBA accepted as existing within the obligations they had to the client. And the best way to ensure project success.

Understanding that Georgian Railway came to them after the original S/4HANA project had already made it all the way through to the Deploy Phase, made it even more important to deliver a successful implementation. And to complete the project on time. With a start date in August of 2017 and a go-live date of January 1, 2018, that required flexibility, creativity, and commitment.

The team worked on system analysis, achieved maximum quality standards, and brought an understanding of the railway’s business requirements to the implementation project.

Solving Inherited Problems

Inga says that part of what helped resolve project issues was “the IBA team itself,” and its “professionalism and expertise.”

Igor and his team started with an analysis of the current system. Then, based on that analysis, he and his team “suggested to use the standard SAP functionality to greatest extent possible to reach customer objectives.” Igor explains this is the team’s approach on all SAP projects.

He says it is important to “use as much functionality that is available out of the box to solve all customer requests.” This is especially true for a project like Georgian Railway, where there is a hard go-live date, and the team is coming in at the last minute.

 “The expertise that IBA Group brought, as well as their ability to work quickly and flexibly, were invaluable to Georgian Railway and, ultimately, to our customers,” says Inga.

Simplifying Implementation

Igor explains how complexities arose, and how to prevent them from carrying over after implementation. “They had a lot of custom code solutions made,” Igor says. The team often encounters this problem, which can create major issues over time. So, they replaced custom code solutions with standard functionality as much as possible to make the system more reliable and more sustainable.

Automating Business Processes

Then, the team automated major business processes. Since the client had not used an ERP system previously, but used disparate systems to automate some of its processes, it was a heavy lift to unify and standardize business processes to ensure project success. For maximum efficiency and project sustainability, Igor proposed to use standard functionality to resolve issues.

This, as Inga notes, is part of going beyond the scope. From the IBA Group perspective, though, it was necessary, and “just made sense.”

Maximizing Standard Functionality

Implementing solutions with the standard functionality of SAP software where feasible, too, was a “pleasant surprise” for Georgian Railways.

Further, the team worked with the client to help select the right SAP functionality to “fit their needs perfectly.” Doing this meant consulting the company directly, not making assumptions about client needs and wants and building solutions that could end up failing client expectations.

SAP Supplier Perspective: What It Was Like to Come in Mid-Project with a Looming Deadline

Igor explains that a significant contributor to project success was the fact that “they put their trust in us.” But doing so was not without its risks.

That tight, eight-week deadline encompassed the New Year holiday, a major national holiday for the members of the IBA Group Team, and a time when they usually take vacation to celebrate with friends and family. With the go-live deadline on the 1st of the year, plans had to change.

Despite the holiday, Igor says, his team “stayed up all New Year’s night and worked with the railway team.” This, Igor says, “showed them we are reliable partner they can work with into the future.”

Client Perspective: What It Was Like Working with IBA Group

Inga says the answer to this question is simple. “Working with IBA,” explains Inga, feels like a partner relationship.” She continues, “it feels more like a good family” than just another SAP supplier.

In our last installment of this three-part conversation, we take a closer look at what the IBA Team has to say about the project. Igor discusses how his team made it happen on time and above expectations, and how Inga’s team was critical to the success of the project.

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