What are the Key Elements of Successful SAP S/4HANA Projects?

March 24, 2022  |  Andrew Dvirnyk

Today, we conclude our three-part conversation about a large-scale SAP S/4HANA implementation project with high stakes and a tight deadline. In the first part of our conversation, we spoke with Inga Prangishvili, Deputy Director of the Information Technology (WBS) branch of the JSC Georgian Railway, who explained how to select an SAP supplier mid-project. And in the second part of our conversation, both Inga and Igor Bordak, Project Director on the IBA side, talked about what happens when you inherit problems and how to solve them under difficult conditions.

To wrap up our conversation, we spent some time with Igor, who shares the two essential elements for a successful SAP S/4HANA implementation project. He also explains how knowledge and communication helped his team and their client achieve goals and exceed expectations.

Executive Sponsorship

Any IT project is impossible without Executive involvement and support. Georgian Railways S/4HANA implementation is no exception. From the early days of IBA’s involvement to the final delivery and transitioning to Operations, the project had the full support of the client’s leadership and their involvement in every stage of the project restart. This is what ultimately made this project a success.

Understanding the Project Landscape and Creating an Action Plan

For an eleventh-hour project like this one, Igor notes it is important to come in prepared with as much information as possible. Once the project begins, Igor acknowledges, it is imperative to understand the history of what went right – and what went wrong, in the past. Developing a firm understanding of what works, what does not, and why, helped him and his SAP specialists come up with an action plan that enabled them to meet all the client’s goals without missing the project deadline.

Igor’s approach is helpful to consider. It can be tempting to skip the step of information collection and jump right into action. When the deadline is as tight as this one, it can also be tempting to apply a triage mentality and start working right away to solve problems as they appear.

But operating without an action plan is the wrong way to go. As Igor and his team saw over the course of the project, it became easier to do their jobs because they started armed with accurate, actionable information about what problems they needed to solve.

As Igor says, the goal was simple: “complete the project and help the customers.” So, armed with that plan, they worked on meeting their goal.

 “Georgian Railways appreciates the collaborative partnership we were able to build with IBA Group,” according to Inga.

Key Elements of a Successful SAP S/4HANA Implementation Project

Igor identifies two things that made the successful project possible, despite the challenges and deadlines. The first, he explains, is successful change management. The second, is a well-prepared customer team. As Igor points out, a knowledgeable team on the customer side enables the overall success of a project.

These elements, Igor says, are necessary in all successful SAP S/4HANA implementation projects. However, they are especially important in a project like this one, in which the client is a large company with complex demands and no time to waste. And when, as in this case, the SAP supplier is stepping in mid-project.

Change Management

According to Igor, the most important part of a project like this is “that the customer accepts the rules of change management.” Igor says, “it was impressive, even in difficult situations and during negotiations” how committed the transportation company was to a successful change management process.

Igor acknowledges that part of this process involved doing some things that were out of the initial project scope. However, he explains that working with a client who showed trust in the provider and the process helped make this easier.

In fact, Igor emphasizes how important it is that “the customer agrees with the process.” Of course, part of the responsibility falls on the supplier to design the process based on an understanding of customer needs, resources, and goals. And to communicate that process in ways that are understandable and actionable for the customer.

All this was critical to the successful SAP S/4HANA implementation for Georgian Railway. Igor recognizes that it was a good fit. He credits the railway for having “respect [for] project rules and change management.” This, he says, made the project progress smoothly and avoid setbacks that could have threatened on-time completion.

Well Prepared Customer Team

Just as Igor notes the importance of a well-prepared SAP S/4HANA supplier team, he also explains why it is so important to have a well-trained, knowledgeable team in-house. In the case of the railway SAP S/4HANA implementation project, Igor explains, “the customer team was very well prepared and trained.” He explains that because the IBA Group’s customer “knew project methodology and how to communicate,” it made it easier for the project to succeed.

This kind of collaborative relationship is part of why Inga, the client’s Project Manager, says working with IBA “feels like a partner relationship.”

For more client stories, insights on SAP S/4HANA integration and migration best practices, and automation news, explore the IBA Group Blog.

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