5 Common Mistakes Made by SAP Managers

published: 03.04.2024

Ineffective collaboration between business and IT, planning errors, and lack of a hypercare strategy are just some of the most common mistakes made by SAP managers. I recently interviewed 28 SAP team leaders from Polish and international companies to learn about the best practices they have developed over time. Here are some of their key insights, grouped together as a warning to other managers:


1. Planning

It may seem obvious, but anyone who has ever worked on a project knows that it is difficult to achieve a goal without a plan. This is especially true for projects worth several million zlotys that involve dozens of people. Planning should start with an analysis of needs, followed by a schedule and the creation of a team.

One of the most common mistakes made by managers is underestimating the budget. Many also struggle with finding team members too late. Experienced leaders advise to reserve time for testing after each phase of the project. According to them, the most common planning mistake is the lack of a thorough risk analysis and a well-prepared roadmap.


2. Is the system for people or people for the system?

Many companies make a fundamental mistake at the planning stage by approaching the project from an IT perspective rather than a business perspective. SAP offers hundreds of solutions for 26 industries. Many companies start with the capabilities of the system instead of the actual needs of the company. Too many solutions are proposed, which can be a challenge to implement. This can lead to the implementation of too many functionalities at once or the abandonment of solutions that were important for the business.
The IT strategy is not aligned with the business strategy.


3. Ineffective communication between IT and business during the project

Business should be involved in the project from the very beginning, which many companies forget. Change Management is often involved too late. IT uses technical language, which makes the dialogue ineffective. No boundaries are set between what can be done and what cannot. The schedule is not built around priorities. There is also a lack of regular meetings between business and IT and joint analysis of the effectiveness of the implemented solutions at each stage of the project.

“We introduced the concept of IT as a factory, where technical and business teams review the effectiveness of the implemented solutions every quarter. We analyze the priorities for the next period so that not everything happens at the same time. This builds mutual trust. We compare the project to a runway, just as one plane takes off after another, so we implement the next solutions.”

“3 different companies provided us with consultants as part of outsourcing, and none of them implemented SAP according to Activate. And now the system works great technologically, but the business doesn’t use it effectively.”


4. Team

Companies often assume that they can implement SAP on their own. However, they often underestimate the time it takes to build a proper team. This leads them to outsource too many positions. While there are many advantages to using modern outsourcing, it is important to fill key positions with experts from the internal team. These include module leaders, GPOs, Change Managers, and Release Managers. Business Process Owners are often missing from projects. Implementation management is sometimes entrusted to consultants instead of Project Managers.

“It can now take 6-9 months to find a single good functional consultant. No one has time for that when the decision to migrate has already been made. Decisions about filling key positions should be made earlier.”


5. Go-Live and beyond

Many companies limit their project planning to the preparations for Go-Live. However, it is equally important to plan for the maintenance and development of the system. What happens when the outsourced project team leaves? System users are left with limited support, and the maintenance team takes over responsibility for work that they were not involved in. This leads to tensions, delays, and makes it difficult to solve current problems.

“We didn’t plan hypercare as part of the whole project. As a result, the team we hired for maintenance and development was not involved in the implementation in any way and had to solve problems that weren’t theirs: dealing with business dissatisfaction and needs.”


According to the latest data, 87% of companies using SAP plan to make major investments in system development in the near future, including migration to S4/HANA (52%), expansion of the functionality of current modules to new departments (18%), or implementation of new modules (10%). Many of these projects (e.g. migrations) will be carried out by managers for the first time in their professional careers.


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author: Marta Prudel-Hankus, Head of Perm at Awareson

published: 03.04.2024

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