Introduction to AcceleratedSAP (ASAP) SAP BASIS

ASAP has been the traditional framework for SAP's implementation of R/3 projects and it was extended to cover not only R/3, but other SAP solutions, such as CRM (Customer Relationship Management), APO, e-procurement (SRM), and even a specific ASAP Roadmap for Upgrade projects. ASAP was incorporated within the larger framework of ValueSAP, and it's now embedded within the SAP Solution Manager.

Within the context of the SAP solution life cycle management, ASAP was the basic and more important methodology for the implementation of complex projects. However, ASAP goes beyond just a methodology and provides a large number of its own tools and utilities for simplifying the implementation process. ASAP can traditionally be complemented with SAP and SAP partners' implementation services, such as training, support, consulting, and so on.
Although there are different ASAPs for the mySAP solutions, the general phases are quite common to all of them, the main difference being the activities and tasks for building the business process maps and the configuration options.

So in the following sections, the generic ASAP is largely introduced, with traditional SAP R/3 implementations as the core for the work packages and activities explained. The path proposed by SAP to reach the goal of getting a fast return on investment— that is, accomplishing a fast and cost-effective implementation—is based on the idea of facilitating a quick implementation of SAP applications and guaranteeing the quality. To achieve a both fast and quality implementation, ASAP is based on the following issues:

  • Clearly define the mission, objectives, and the scope of the project. A clearly defined project scope is key to adjust time planning and to approach project cost plans to real costs.
  • Increase the feasibility of realizing a detailed planning at the beginning of the project.
  • Standardize and establish a single project or implementation methodology, as defined by ASAP itself.
  • Create a homogeneous project environment.

To realize those objectives, ASAP provides the project team with a methodology, tools, training, and services, as well as a process-oriented project plan known as the ASAP Roadmap.

The main tools provided by ASAP are as follows:

  • Implementation Assistant
  • Question and Answer Database
  • Knowledge Corner
  • Reverse Business Engineering

The ASAP solution set is delivered in a CD-ROM that is installed independently of SAP systems, although it can be connected and integrated with them. ASAP was basically release dependent and it provided periodic updates in the SAP Service Portal. In the latest releases, it was included within ValueSAP, and now it's fully integrated in the SAP Solution Manager. In line with SAP strategy, the ASAP method of implementation is positioned according to the following objectives and strategies:

  • ASAP is the SAP implementation solution directly developed and supported by SAP and its partners.
  • ASAP offers a preliminary planning of the resource needs—time, costs, people— based on the initial customer information and requirements.
  • ASAP provides an optimal environment for many different SAP Solution projects, even upgrade projects.
  • ASAP is aimed at and especially suited for those implementation projects where the number of changes to standard SAP applications is reduced to a minimum.

The ASAP Roadmap is the project plan of the methodology. It's a well-defined and clear process-oriented project plan, providing a step-by-step guide during the life of the implementation project. The Roadmap is made up of five major phases, each one describing the main work packages, activities, and tasks to achieve the expected results. Together with the activities and tasks, ASAP provides all the process descriptions, tools, training, services, and documentation that will be useful for carrying out these activities.

The next sections briefly introduce the common Roadmap phases.

Phase 1: Project Preparation

At this first phase, project preparation, the project mission and scope are defined. Some key issues of this phase are as follows:

  • Define clear project objectives.
  • Reach total agreement on project issues among involved parties.
  • Establish an efficient process for making decisions and resolving conflicts.
  • Prepare the company for accepting cultural and process changes.

In this phase, ASAP provides tools, such as the Project Estimator, which helps and guides the project team using predefined questionnaires aimed at company upper management. Using the results of those questions, consultants can evaluate the answers and provide a high-level evaluation of the project scope, as well as an initial estimation of required resources and planning. This is the project starting point.

The outcome of this phase includes two essential documents in the implementation, the project charter and the detailed project plan. The management team or steering committee is responsible for evaluating such a plan and approving it if no objections are found. This will trigger the start for the next phase. ASAP pays particular attention to ensure the quality in the whole project process and decisions taken throughout the execution of this phase. Any error or wrong decisions can negatively affect the subsequent flow of the project and might produce delays, which means longer project time and higher costs.

Phase 2: Business Blueprint

In the second phase of the Roadmap, the project team undertakes a complete and comprehensive analysis of requirements and business process, while documenting and defining the SAP applications implementation in the company. To achieve these results, ASAP provides a group of predefined questionnaires, customer input templates, group sessions, individual interviews, and so on. Information gathered is critical and extremely useful for the project team, which can analyze and help to document the business processes and the future business requirements for the company.

Classical SAP R/3 projects used the SAP Business Engineer, including the SAP Reference Model and the Question and Answer Database, which are used for generating the Business Blueprint documents and the Business Process Master List. ASAP includes a business application repository with the tools that allow users to interact with and test the business processes of some of the mySAP Business Suite applications.

In this phase of the project, ASAP provides a specific methodology for analyzing and documenting the business processes. The result is a complete blueprint of the business processes. Within an overall implementation project, this is probably the most challenging phase. In a typical nine-month implementation project, this phase could last five or six weeks.

This phase combines the analysis and documentation of the business processes with the first level of training of project teams in the different SAP solutions, applications, and technology. Within this phase is typically the work package for starting the design of the systems environment, which includes the design of the system landscape, the technical infrastructure, and defining and testing the system administration procedures. At this point, the development and test clients are set up, and the IMG is initialized for the starting of the customizing activities. Finally, an extremely important addition to this major phase is the inclusion of the Change Management program, in charge of dealing with all human and organizational factors that influence the implementation project.

Within the framework of the SAP Solution Manager platform, which is the actual framework for implementation of SAP solutions, the system includes great utilities to perform this phase using processes that can be automatically selected from a Business Process Repository. In a following section, this new utility and its features is explained.

Phase 3: Realization

With the Business Blueprint documentation generated as a result of the previous phase, the project team should be in good shape for starting the Realization phase, the main phase for translating business processes requirements into technical configuration settings, in other words, SAP customizing. In this phase, ASAP includes a collection of work packages, activities, and tasks where actual implementation of business processes takes place.

From the Business Blueprint documentation generated as deliverable from the previous phase, consultants and project team members have enough information to make a valid proposal covering most business processes, reports, and daily business transactions, trying to match those of the SAP standard. If other processes are found that do not seem to cover perfectly the company's business procedures, reports, or transactions, requirements will be a matter of a fine configuration and tuning.

Most important work package activities within the Realization phase include the following:

  • Review project management activities such as planning, activities, schedule, and scope.
  • Provide advance training to project team.
  • Establish the system management strategy and configure the technical infrastructure and system landscape.
  • Sustain the change management program.
  • Configure and test an initial prototype (baseline) for main functions and processes.
  • Develop conversion, interface, and data transfer programs.
  • Develop enhancements for scenarios not fully covered by standard SAP applications.
  • Configure and verify final systems. This can be based on an iterative approach based on the prototypes.
  • Create forms and reports.
  • Establish the authorization concept and strategy.
  • Plan and design the archiving strategy.
  • Perform a final integration test.
  • Prepare the end user documentation and training material.

As in every major phase, the last step will be a quality assurance realization process, where every element on the project phase is checked and verified. This phase will be the longest one in terms of time, efforts, and resources needed.

SAP Solution Manager includes specific utilities to facilitate the Realization phase, even in project involving several SAP Solutions and with the possibility of automatically linking configuration guides, IMG activities or test packages to the previously defined business processes.

Phase 4: Final Preparation

This phase, where all implementation elements and configurations are tested to finish the preparation for going live, requires a close collaboration between the full project team and the end users. Main objectives from this phase can be summarized as follows:

  • Verification of implementation. The team and the users should test that all requirements defined in previous phases, as well as the correct behavior of the implemented business processes, are met. This phase is the appropriate time for doing stress tests, which are very important not only for verifying the sizing, but also for optimizing the system's performance. It is also very convenient to undertake simulations of real operation as the most important point of integration tests. This phase might be the convenient time to request for SAP help by means of the available services, such as a Going Live Check, which analyzes configuration and makes recommendations that can be evaluated and implemented.
  • End-user acceptance. This is the main requirement for any project that is going to be deployed by a number of end users. Without a wide final user acceptance, the project's success is far from being guaranteed.
  • End-user training. This is another key factor because the end users must receive the appropriate training according to their job profile and the needed application use. Training helps users to find themselves familiar and conformable with the new environment as soon as possible, which can provide an optimal user operation in less time.
  • Initial data loads and cutover. At the moment that application and systems are ready for going live, all necessary data that is still resident in legacy or other systems must be transferred to SAP systems. All those load and interface programs should be prepared, tested, evaluated, and optimized, as should the quality of data that are going to be transferred and the time it takes for loading.
  • Help desk strategy. When starting a productive operation, from the very first moment, every system user should know where to call and how to get help when there are problems or simply doubts. A support group, usually known as a help desk, should be created to answer end user questions efficiently and to solve or escalate both technical and application problems. Problems and doubts that might arise can be classified according to their nature. If using the SAP Solution Manager platform, you can set up your own help desk using the facilities provided by the CRM engine included in the system.

Phase 5: Go Live and Support

This phase starts the productive operation. The initial period after going live is the real evaluation period for everything done and designed in previous project phases. In most cases, it is recommended to have a progressive productive start, so that there is time to react to typical problems during this initial period, like the following:

  • Not enough physical resources such as network, printers, and others
  • Problems when printing reports, spool saturation, repetitive sending of the same output by the same users, and so on
  • Wrongly configured end users' desktops, wrong server, deleted files, help files not reached, and so on
  • Reports and transactions not completely meeting the full user needs
  • Bugs in the standard systems requiring patches or repairs
  • Database or run-time problems when running reports or transactions with real data
  • Adding new users to the system
  • Problems with authorizations
  • Lack of proper knowledge, experience or end user training
  • Help desk strategy not well defined or not defined at all

The degree of success or failure (unfavorable user reaction) in this initial period of productive operation will be a factor of the completeness and accuracy of the previous phases and how the possible problems were issued.In this phase, a good procedure for communicating with SAP or partners to request their services might be important, for example, the realization of EarlyWatch (preventive maintenance) services. It is also the phase for testing the quality of operation and system administration procedures. Soon after, there will be a culture where the most frequent types of problems (around 80 to 90%) will already be classified and can be quickly solved. From the technical and administration point of view, after the initial adaptation to the productive operation, there is a time for managing different activities of the productive SAP system, such as the following:

  • Watching system access rights (authorizations) and security
  • Managing the transports and change requests
  • Applying and installing patches (collections of corrected programs and transactions)
  • Planning EarlyWatch sessions
  • Making changes and configurations as recommended by EarlyWatch reports
  • Watching the systems performance and tuning most critical reports and transactions

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