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Which SAP IBP implementation methodology is best?

When it comes to SAP Integrated Business Planning, it's important to consider which methodology most closely matches the scope of the SAP IBP implementation.

SAP Integrated Business Planning is a HANA-powered, cloud-based, end-to-end supply chain management product consisting...

of five components.

When it comes to an SAP IBP implementation, CIOs will find that choosing the right implementation methodology brings greater business value and minimal disruption to supply chain-related processes.

Here are the three SAP IBP implementation methodologies from which to choose.

SAP IBP implementation using Waterfall methodology

The ASAP (Accelerated SAP) implementation methodology has been the time-tested and de facto choice for SAP applications' implementations for a long time. ASAP adopts the Waterfall methodology, which entails delivering the agreed-upon features in the SAP application at a much later stage of the implementation project. The ASAP methodology consists of five phases: project preparation, business blueprint, realization, final preparation and go-live support. (Note: Some people include a sixth phase -- operate.) Early phases of the project involve extensive documentation to capture business requirements, resulting in a comprehensive business blueprint document. Since these are all documentation activities in the initial phases of the project, the business users get to see and test the SAP system at a much later stage of the project, often leading to a significant gap between the business users' requirements and the SAP system's delivery. To address these gaps, a significant amount of time, effort and resources are then expended, which has the potential of scope creep, as well as implementation timeline slippage.

SAP IBP implementation using Agile methodology

In contrast to the Waterfall approach of ASAP, the Agile methodology adopts the iterative approach to test and validate SAP solutions early on by engaging business users to share their business requirements (known in Agile as user stories). These are then captured (known as product backlogs) and delivered iteratively (known as sprint cycles) in SAP applications, which, in turn, are used to elicit business users' feedback. The product backlogs are prioritized based on importance to the company.

The Agile approach has proven to be fast, flexible and efficient, which improves the likelihood of a successful SAP implementation. The most widely used Agile implementation approach for software applications is Scrum. The Agile methodology consists of four phases: discovery, start, deployment and run.

SAP IBP implementation using a hybrid approach

The Agile add-on for ASAP is a hybrid implementation approach that combines the five phases of ASAP with the four phases of the Agile methodology. Here's how the phase mapping of the two implementation methodologies (ASAP and Agile) work:

  • Project preparation in ASAP > discover in Agile;
  • Business blueprint in ASAP > start in Agile;
  • Realization in ASAP > deployment in Agile; and
  • Final preparation and go-live support in ASAP > run in Agile.

This Lean approach to project management processes ensures faster software delivery to companies for testing. Combining Agile with ASAP for SAP IBP implementation works well in industries that are characterized by a focus on documentation and compliance, such as pharmaceuticals and chemicals.

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