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      Your Project setup for success: where to begin?


      There is a transformation project waiting for you in the near future, but you are not sure how to get started? You are certainly not the only one in this situation. Many companies are faced with this challenge, especially when you consider the intensity and complexity of an SAP S/4HANA Transformation. The Natuvion expert project management team highlights eight critical steps to kick off your project like a pro and put your project on track for success.

      But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Before you get started follow a simple piece of advice: Do not panic when looking at the mountain of work that lies ahead of you! Instead, divide and conquer. Smaller tasks or work packages are easier to tackle one after the other and get them out of the way. Keep that in mind when you prepare for the project and support your team in internalizing this mindset. So now what?

      1. Nominate the project lead  

      As soon as the project becomes more concrete, it is imminent to appoint a project manager. Typically selected by the management, he or she assumes the responsibility of getting the project up and running. In turn, the project manager expects management buy-in and active support. If this is not the case, issues during the course of the project are inevitable.

      We have identified five key aspects to guide you through a successful transformation project setup. Also, if you decide that your implementation should follow the SAP Activate phases, the extensive set of SAP templates are a tremendous help.

      2. Seek the right experts  

      A transformation project such as the SAP S/4HANA transition is not a project of one single group, it is rather a joint effort between both business and IT organizations. From the get-go, it is of utmost importance to form a core team of experts from all areas. However, not all resources will necessarily stay with the project. Many of them act as accelerators to start the project, and excellent project coaches, supporting the initial assembly of work packages.

      At the same time, this team represents an important first step towards effective change management by turning those affected by the transformation into contributors.

      3. Determine the project organization  

      When addressing the organizational project view, it is mainly about how to set up the project structure. Are there work and process streams, sub-projects and working groups, what tasks and skills are required for corresponding roles and what other roles will have to be filled? A first overview can be developed without providing individual names. We recommend that you quickly establish the project office (PMO) with assigned roles which ensures essential support right from the start. The core team, as described in point 2, is the perfect place to discuss and finalize roles and responsibilities. But beware not to get lost in debates, always drive for prompt decisions!

      4. Document work packages and tasks  

      Whether you plan and organize your relocation, a birthday, or a wedding, you have immediate thoughts about what has to be done. It is no different with your upcoming transformation project. For this reason, it is important to give all involved project members an accessible space to collect topics that might be relevant. Excel is a very practical and convenient way to accomplish that. It is easy to use, flexible in terms of structure, and open to be transferred to any other tool when a project management tool is eventually selected, such as Jira. Furthermore, Excel also allows you to create an initial rough schedule while all core team experts may contribute with their view on important tasks.

      5. Establish a collaboration model  

      A fundamental question needs your attention. How do we all work together on the project? At this point, the PMO has to step in. In this context several subsequent questions arise which require clarifications and decisions. Which project management tool is to be used (Jira)? Where and how is the project to be documented (Confluence)? Where are documents stored and processed (MS Teams)? Which regular meeting structures and governing bodies (steering committee, change management board CCB, management mission team MMT) are in place? How is the project progress tracked (Jira Board) and is a project day to be set up?

      6. Assign roles  

      Ideally, you pursue already assigning roles right after the project manager has been appointed (see also point 1). Since that might not always be straight forward, the project manager may focus on tasks outlined previously in points 2 to 5 which can be tackled without having a project team at hand. Often, beginning with just the roles in the organizational chart and continuing with these to search for further resources is a suitable approach. Experience shows that it requires more time until you understand which resources are the best fit for respective topics and management paves the way by approving the necessary project capacity.

      7.  Schedule the Pre-Kick-Off

      Having completed points 1 to 6, you are all set to prepare the project kick off. This pre-kick-off is about presenting the outcome of point 5 to the key roles identified in the organizational chart, exchanging views while avoiding basic discussions, adjusting the collaboration model as needed, and further updating the backlog. In addition, you prepare your direct project team for the start of the project, including your subproject leads, PMO, workstream owners, process stream owners, and working group leads. These activities ensure that everyone is on the same page and knows how to get to work. Now you can rely on your staff to take the project fundamentals to the various team members, multiplying knowledge and understanding.

      8. Officially start your project 

      At this point you put even more emphasis on your perspective to look at the parts rather than the big mountain in front of you. In this step, you and your team get started with the project methodology. If you have decided to move forward in an agile way, now is the time to start the first sprint promptly. Despite concerns and still existing uncertainties, it is better to get the project going with organizational tasks than not starting at all.

      Experience shows that if you postpone your project start you will not see any progress for weeks. Whatever your approach, switching gears into project mode is crucial and will bring your team forward regardless of how bumpy the first miles will be.

      With all this in mind, all the best kicking off your project. Let’s go!



      Clearly defined project structures lead the way

      Professional project management makes a difference! When transitioning its SAP landscape to SAP S/4HANA, utility company EnBW ODR trusted Natuvion’s dedicated Project Management expertise. While the transformation experienced some challenges, the project was a huge success. How did we make it happen? You can find all the details in our success story!


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