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SAP Ramp-Up: Does It Really Take the Risk Out of an Early Adoption?

by Tom Olds | SAPinsider

January 1, 2008

Debunk the seven most commonly cited concerns associated with being an early adopter. Uncover how SAP can help you take on cutting-edge applications — without increasing your business risk.

It's common knowledge that the first to leverage a valuable, new innovation gains the upper hand. This is a familiar scenario for SAP Ramp-Up customers — customers who are the early adopters of new SAP solutions. However, the decision to be the first to adopt a particular technology, or become a "first mover," often conjures up questions such as:

  • Will the new solution actually meet our business needs?

  • How can we justify the cost if the solution is not yet proven in the marketplace?

  • What are the project risks and how can they be controlled?

  • Who has the expertise to ensure that the implementation goes smoothly?

  • How will users be trained?

SAP Ramp-Up Program: Quick Facts

SAP Ramp-Up is a program that offers early adopters of new SAP solutions accelerated support channels and dedicated coaches who have direct access to SAP product development and management. Risk, cost, and time are minimized through the following measures:

  • Project scoping — Project scoping compares the solution's scope with customer expectations. If there are any concerns, a feasibility check is conducted to determine to what extent SAP can meet customer requirements.

  • Project coaching — Every Ramp-Up project is assigned to a dedicated expert in the SAP Ramp-Up back office. After the implementation begins, SAP Ramp-Up provides a support channel to resolve issues quickly. For more complex issues, the SAP Ramp-Up back office ensures that product development and product management become directly involved.

  • Knowledge transfer — Every SAP Ramp-Up project ensures comprehensive training and knowledge transfer from SAP to the customer.

For customers who have heard stories of other early adopter programs, there is an understandable degree of skepticism. That skepticism would be misplaced if applied to the SAP Ramp-Up program, however; SAP's new product introduction process is far ahead of the competition in the enterprise software market (see sidebar). No other vendor offers a comparable program or the means to address the following most often cited Ramp-Up concerns:

  1. "Implementing a brand-new solution is too risky." This concern stems wholly from the unknown — not understanding the full impact that the implementation will have on the current business. So every customer participating in SAP Ramp-Up receives a comprehensive review that includes a detailed and in-depth assessment of the project scope, feasibility checks, recommendations, and even proposed services for risk mitigation.

  2. "First-mover customers receive a test version that is far from a mature solution." Unlike other vendors who release their software in the pilot phase, SAP Ramp-Up does not provide its customers with a beta-software solution. Ramp-Up software has already gone through solution validation and is ready to go live. SAP rigorously tests each new SAP solution before it enters the SAP Ramp-Up program. This enables SAP Ramp-Up customers to immediately benefit from the latest core innovations offered by SAP — without the risk that has come to be associated with software pilot programs across the marketplace.

  3. "The new functionalities we need won't be included in the release yet." SAP develops solutions based on market needs. Through your participation in SAP Ramp-Up, you have the unique opportunity to provide direct feedback to SAP's development arm in terms of your future business requirements and the solutions needed to meet them. This enables you to have a direct impact on future SAP developments — making you and your organization thought leaders in your particular industry.

    "SAP Ramp-Up lets you implement cutting-edge technology faster than the competition. This means you can then take advantage of market opportunities before they can."

    — Matt Stultz, Director of SAP Technology, Home Depot

  4. "I'm concerned that there aren't enough consultants on the market yet to implement this new product." SAP Ramp-Up provides project staffing with skilled consultants through an enhanced training program called SAP Ramp-Up Knowledge Transfer (RKT), which includes e-learning tools and knowledge-share communities.

    Not only does this ensure that SAP's internal consulting resources are trained to run the projects, but it also triggers timely knowledge transfer from SAP to its global partner ecosystem. In turn, SAP solutions included in the SAP Ramp-Up program have plenty of skilled consulting and support resources to serve the needs of customer implementation projects.

  5. "Even though we will be a first implementer, we really won't get increased visibility and our feedback won't make it to development." The Ramp-Up back office interacts closely with the development team and customers, providing SAP development with valuable feedback about the Ramp-Up customer experience. The teams route project feedback into development and activate additional development resources if required. They conduct proactive project monitoring and further accelerate error-message resolution if necessary.

    In addition, SAP Ramp-Up customers are truly given top priority. SAP's board members and senior management receive regular reports about SAP Ramp-Up projects and mobilize special resources when needed.

  6. "Once the new solution is up and running, we will be left on our own." SAP Ramp-Up ensures comprehensive knowledge transfer from SAP to your organization. The program provides key users with early training, including but not limited to learning maps and e-learning modules.

    What's more, once the solution is successfully implemented, SAP Ramp-Up observes and monitors the performance of the solution within the company as part of an extended operations phase. You won't be left on your own; SAP will continue to provide you the additional resources needed to address any post-implementation questions.

  7. "Early adopter programs are only accessible to large enterprises with deep pockets." SAP Ramp-Up benefits companies of all sizes, including small businesses and midsize companies, and SAP receives requests from and accepts all kinds of organizations. In fact, by applying for participation in the SAP Ramp-Up program, small businesses and midsize companies obtain SAP solutions and expertise that may not have been available to them otherwise.

    "SAP's Ramp-Up program was very valuable and helpful…SAP, and in particular our Ramp-Up coach, was extremely responsive in their support of our project and helped us resolve issues as they arose."

    — Erwin Heblon, IT Supervisor, Process and Compliance, JABIL Circuit,
    a global electronics solution company

    Through dedicated support resources — including experienced, back-office, Ramp-Up coaches — SAP Ramp-Up reduces the financial resources and workforce required to optimize IT investments. As a result, small businesses and midsize companies can immediately enjoy the benefits of new solutions, stabilize their business, and ensure long-term growth and profitability — without the risks normally associated with investments in new software.

If You Want to Take the Next Step. . .

Don't let misconceptions prevent you from joining the ranks of first movers. SAP Ramp-Up is a proven program with thousands of successful projects deployed worldwide.

For more information or to find out how you can participate in SAP Ramp-Up, please call your SAP representative or visit

Additional Resources

The SAP ERP Upgrade seminar, for lessons learned from SAP ERP 6.0 Ramp-Up customers and early SAP ERP adopters (

"Forest Ramps Up to mySAP ERP 2005" by Evan J. Albright (SAP NetWeaver Magazine, Spring 2007,

The Administration and Infrastructure 2008 conference in Orlando, March 26-28, 2008, for in-depth sessions and case studies from early adopters (

Tom Olds ( is the Director of the SAP Ramp-Up team in North America. He has been with SAP America, Inc. for nearly 10 years, and has held various positions in the SAP Education, Solution Management, and Ramp-Up departments. Prior to taking over management responsibility for the North American Ramp-Up team, Tom was most notably owner of the SAP R/3 Enterprise and SAP ERP Ramp-Up programs.

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