9 Key factors to successfully implement international BOBJ project
Nowadays there are more and more international SAP projects, and the reason could be various. For example, a lot of companies are expanding to overseas, and to keep information system integrity, the company will usually need to implement SAP system to their overseas subsidiary or branch. In some other cases, my previous client established a joint-venture with a Chinese partner, I was involved with the BOBJ system implementation process and as follows I would like to share some of the key factors that management team need to pay attention to ensure success on international SAP project implementations.
- Requirements gathering
In an international project, you may expect longer response time for requirements, as the result of less efficient communication, complex company process and time difference. Also, business users with limited exposure to SAP may not even aware of how Business Objects works, so it is highly possible that we cannot get enough requirements from business. What we did was delivering standard BOBJ implementation and reports as phase 1, then when they gradually understand how BOBJ works with SAP system, we helped them realize more customized requirements in future phases.
- Project management
Unlike domestic SAP projects, usually an international project will involve more people than just “consultant & client”, such as the client, the main implementation company, SAP consulting firm, business consulting firm, end users and etc. And all the pressure will be put on the project manager’s shoulder if something went wrong. So it is important to have an international project management team to handle the project budget, schedule, scope and logistics plans.
- Change management
In my project, our China counterpart has experience with SAP, but we will help them implement a brand-new SAP system. And BOBJ is a completely new world for them. So we need to make sure that there is no knowledge gap for our clients.
- Communication gap
In an international project, the communication gap is always a headache, sometimes from language problem, sometimes not. In my project, one CXO from the joint-venture is an aggressive person, but he is not quite familiar with SAP, so a lot of times he cannot fully understand neither the requirements from the end user in his company nor configuration work from SAP. So he keeps pushing both sides and puts both sides in a difficult situation.
Language is definitely a big concern, especially when the country where we do this project speaks a different type of language, either from technical or functional perspective. The basis team needs to install language package to both of ECC and BOBJ system and make sure our Chinese counterpart can read the system interface. Also, language could be a headache in meetings, especially online meetings. Even though most of our SAP consulting team are Mandarin speakers, the language was still a big problem between Chinese and US management teams.
Apparently for international projects, there is time difference between different places. So the US office operation hours was changed to 12PM-9PM to fit in China work hours. But still, we lost connection with our China counterpart about half of the day every day.
It is usually more efficient to work with your client face to face, especially for SAP implementation projects. So when it comes to international, the travel could be a lot of trouble. The project manager needs to verify Visa problem with everyone on the project and deal with any potential Visa problems. Also, people get tired after long time of flying and jet lag happens for every single trip. Usually it is a 3-day trip one way from US to China, and the project schedule needs to adjust according to that.
The physical/virtual location of hardware and network needs to be scheduled properly before the project kick off. In our project, our development environment is set up in US office network, but QA and PRD environments would be in China. And for now our counterpart in China will need to use VPN to logon to their SAP client, although eventually they can logon to PRD environment using their own company network.
For international projects, any documentation work will be doubled, because you shall do translation work for whatever document you did. And training documents occupy a big proportion of documentation works. Plus, while doing the training, the consultants/configurators need to start working on phase 2 requirements at the same time, so usually some bilingual trainer resources are needed before system go-live.
In this blog we summarized the 9 main key factors to think about when implementing SAP BOBJ projects. There could be more bullet points to think about. What is your thought on international SAP projects? Please comment below and share your thoughts and experiences on international SAP implementations.