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What are the main components of the SAP Activate methodology?

If you want to implement cloud and on-premises editions of SAP S/4HANA and SAP Cloud applications, then you need to know SAP Activate methodology. Here's an in-depth look at it.

SAP Activate can be one key to a successful S/4HANA implementation.

The SAP Activate methodology provides guidance for implementing S/4HANA -- both cloud and on-premises editions -- and SAP cloud applications, including SAP SuccessFactors, SAP Ariba and SAP Cloud for Customer. Activate methodology is iterative, collaborative and focused on continuous improvement.

SAP recommends that project teams follow the methodology when they implement S/4HANA or SAP cloud applications, whether these projects are new implementations, upgrades or migrations. The methodology is designed to handle cloud, on-premises or hybrid projects.

Each SAP application is associated with its own version of Activate. Although the core design is the same, the activities and deliverables within workstreams vary.

Here's a look at SAP Activate methodology's main components, phases, workstreams and iterations.


The SAP Activate methodology consists of three core components:

  • SAP Best Practices is a set of standard-delivered best practice processes and configurations that provide a baseline for getting started with the implementation. The Best Practices content lists and describes the project's scope. The project team can use it to explore and understand the out-of-the-box scope. The Best Practices also provides a downloadable set of accelerators, such as a list of scope items, an overview of the sample master data and overviews of delivered configurations. The SAP Best Practices content for all available SAP applications are included in the SAP Best Practices Explorer.
  • Guided Configuration consists of tools and accelerators. It also refers to the process of applying updates and changes to the SAP Best Practices configuration during the implementation. The team can use the Guided Configuration to make changes to the project landscape.
  • Methodology contains the principles, practices, workstreams, content, deliverables and responsibilities that work together as a complete process for delivering a project. SAP Best Practices and Guided Configuration are both managed under the methodology.


The SAP Activate methodology is split into a pre-project phase, followed by four core phases and a post-project phase. Each phase contains a specific set of related activities and deliverables that drive the project forward.

The discover phase is the pre-project phase. In this phase, the project team prepares for implementation by building a business case. Specific team members work to understand the scope of the SAP Best Practices content library, review the standard-delivered content and identify any potential items that aren't included in the scope of Best Practices. The project team also begins to look at implementation partners to help with the implementation journey.

The prepare phase is the first core phase. In this phase, the organization begins preparing for the project. Once the project plan and change management strategy is created, the organization defines the project goals and high-level scope. The organization then defines, prepares and enables the project team. Once the team is assembled and the project's goals and scope are defined, the project officially begins.

The explore phase is the second core phase. During this phase, the project team validates the baseline processes and configuration provided as part of the SAP Best Practices content library. The team identifies any gaps and changes and defines configuration values for items such as drop-down lists and selection criteria. The team also prepares for data loading and any software extensions.

The realize phase is the third core phase. The team configures any gaps and changes that were identified in the explore phase, executes the software walkthrough for each iteration, launches data migration activities and tests and trains. Preparation of the production instance, cutover plan and post-go-live support plan also happens in this phase.

The deploy phase is the fourth and final core phase. The project team conducts any and all final change management activities. The team completes preparation for the cutover and executes the post-go-live support plan. The project then goes live.

The run phase is the post-project phase, and is focused on the ongoing operation, optimization, upgrades and release management and maintenance of the implemented software as a productive environment. This is not really a bona fide phase of the project itself, but rather exists to ensure that these activities are included as part of the implementation.

The SAP Roadmap Viewer describes each phase of the methodology and provides a list of the main phase activities. A content repository provides information, activities and accelerators -- including documents such as project plans, templates, configuration workbooks and guides -- for the activities and deliverables within each phase. The team can filter activities and deliverables by workstream.


Each phase contains a number of workstreams that represent a set of related tasks, activities and deliverables for a specific part of the project. The SAP Activate methodology typically includes project management, customer team enablement, technical architecture and infrastructure, application design and configuration, extensibility, integration, testing, data management and operations. For some applications, the Activate methodology also includes an analytics workstream. The Activate methodology for Intelligent Spend Management doesn't include a technical architecture and infrastructure workstream.

Some workstreams, such as data migration and integration, may run across multiple phases because the activities and deliverables fit logically into different phases of the project lifecycle.


An important part of the SAP Activate methodology is the use of iterations. The methodology prescribes three iterations that provide a walkthrough and allow the project team to identify gaps and changes to the design.

The first iteration occurs in the explore phase, while the second and third iterations occur in the realization phase.

Project teams can find details about the SAP Activate methodology -- as well as application-specific versions of it -- on the SAP Roadmap Viewer application.

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