Doing Projects the Right Way: Managing Your SAP Projects 2012

by Dave Hannon

November 1, 2012

By Dave Hannon


What makes a successful SAP project?

It's the question most attendees sought to answer in my week here at the Managing Your SAP Projects 2012 conference in Las Vegas and from what I saw, there was more than enough information and advice to provide the answer to that question.

In his session, "Confessions of an SAP Project Manager" Dino Nosella of EA Global Consulting hosted a very interactive and collaborative discussion on project best practices for project managers.

"Who's ever had a project where the team just walks all over you?" Nosella asked attendees prompting a few tentative (but brave) hands to be raised. One attendee talked about an application architect who made more project decisions than the project lead. "My style is sort of a dictatorship in a good way," Nosella said as a possible solution. "You should be data and deliverables-driven, but sometimes you have to be a bully in meetings."

Nosella shared a number of first-person experiences about his projects and described how he resolved some seriously flawed projects that were plagued by a lack of resources or, perhaps worse, inadequate resources.

Nosella's colleague at EA Global Consulting Tanya Lindsay continued on this practical and real-world theme in "Seven Critical Steps for Rescuing a Troubled Project." Lindsay provided some examples of what constitutes a troubled project and what contributes to such projects. Lack of requirements gathering, overcommitment, wrong mix of people, and lack of technical knowledge were only some of the issues she reviewed in d etail.

How do you know when a project needs rescuing? Some of Lindsay's telltale signs include delays, lack of team motivation, changes in scope, and exceeding the predetermined budget. "A project rescue is when you need a radical approach to meet the project's objectives," Lindsay said. "And acceptance that there is a problem can be the most difficult part."

Lindsay continued by listing seven steps to project salvation, with the first one being simply "Stop." To salvage a very troubled project, often the best thing for the team to do is stop all activities, refocus its efforts, and re-gain control of the project. Of course, that move will likely meet with some resistance internally, so "selling" the need to stop to the executive sponsor of the project is a vital first step to recovery.

But Managing Your SAP Projects 2012 also included some benchmarking opportunities in the form of case study presentations. Adobe's Elaine Chu described how leveraging agile, scrum, and sprint strategies helped her project team implement a customer service solution on-time and on-budget. Chu explained that Adobe broke its team into two sub-groups, with one focusing on front-end development and the other back-end. But the teams were spread around the globe, making collaboration a challenge. Both groups used short ramp-up time and short release cycles to keep the project moving.

Chu also emphasized the value of a "Sprint Zero" when you confirm business requirements and scope at the outset of the project.

Overall, the mix of best practices and real-world examples in all of the sessions provided a very practical and strategic package of education for attendees of Managing Your SAP Projects 2012.

To read a review of the keynote from this week's conferences in Las Vegas see: Demopalooza at Reporting & Analytics, Mobility, and Projects 2012 Keynote


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