by Steele Arbeeny

4 tips for keeping SAP transformation projects on track during the COVID-19 crisis

Sep 28, 2020
Digital TransformationERP SystemsIT Leadership

You can’t put mission-critical modernization projects on hold. Here’s how to work through the disruption.

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Credit: Natali_Mis / Getty

ERP transformation projects are mission critical, as most aspects of the business depend on ERP for execution. Traditionally, SAP transformation projects had to be done on-premise, but as a result of the global lockdowns today, projects must be managed and completed remotely.

This shift to remote migrations and transformations can create costly delays if not managed properly. Here are four tips to help businesses keep essential projects on track during the shift to remote work.

  1. Stay focused

Businesses need to make sure transformation projects continue to get the attention they require, regardless of whether teams are working remotely. Pursuing mission-critical transformations during periods of lower activity can be the most efficient way to execute them, since it minimizes overall business impact.

If you already had a project in motion before the lockdowns, focus on sticking to your plan. Keep up the regular cadence of status meetings and stick to your testing dates and project timeline. With everyone working from home, communication can start to break down. In a worst-case scenario, something goes wrong, and with a lack of communication the project can’t continue as planned.

That’s why it’s important to stay engaged now, perhaps even more so than you would if things were proceeding normally. Achieving a day’s worth of work remotely may take significantly more time than it would if your project were occurring on-site. This requires a higher level of engagement on all sides to keep the project moving.

  1. Stay connected

Collaboration within the team is always key during transformation projects, but it’s even more important when everyone is working remotely. Otherwise, miscommunications can lead to costly delays. Of course, team members are accustomed to using tools such as Zoom and Skype, but more importantly, their end-to-end transformation authoring and delivery platform should be collaborative at its core. This enables team members to share and evaluate each other’s ideas and seamlessly pick up where another left off.

Every step of the project now needs to be carried out remotely, from planning and provisioning to execution to verification. By finding a partner already accustomed to a connected, remote work environment, the remote team is already in place with everything they need to stay connected and be successful remotely: collaboration tools, information, documentation, and lessons learned from other remote projects that they can leverage to accelerate success.

Automation also plays an important role, especially during this period of uncertainty. Automated software can be there, working, even when humans are not, and automation also helps accelerate the project and minimize risks.

  1. Stay secure

Of course, keeping transformation projects moving during this time requires making sure that every person and system involved is properly enabled for remote access. But you need to do this in a way that still meets your security requirements. You’ll need a way for everyone to access systems, but systems should be properly hardened and with appropriate SIEM logging. The last thing you want to add to the timeline are the delays and costs incurred by a serious security event response.

In order to enable this safely, start by making sure remote access is secured against industry best practices, including updated policies and procedures, an incident response plan, a SIEM solution, vulnerability scanning and penetration testing, third-party audits and up-to-date patches.

Beyond that, you also want to ensure that your data does not need to leave your premise, no one is granted extraordinary access, and your standard ERP security is enforced at all times. Ideally, your transformation software should also be logging all activity and data transfer, so that information is available in case there’s an issue or an audit is required.

  1. Stay aggressive

By making strategic decisions about the shape of their project, enterprises can accelerate the project timeline. Perhaps you’re migrating to the cloud today, but you think you’ll also need to modernize some systems in the near future. Think about collapsing multiple transformation projects into one. Modernize the landscape and migrate in one step.

The more projects you do one after the next, the more time it takes and the more risks there are. By combining multiple transformation projects into one, you can minimize the risks and improve efficiency, reducing the total timeline and total costs.

 Looking ahead

With all the uncertainty swirling around lockdowns and potential reopening, one thing remains certain: Businesses cannot allow the circumstances to cause delays in essential transformation projects. By choosing the right transformation partner, ensuring security, making strategic decisions, and staying focused, businesses can keep their transformation projects on track.