All IT departments have gained a lot of experience and developed knowledge in project management. There are often proven standards of processes and checklists from the past that ensure successful implementation. It is only when projects threaten to get out of hand that some mistakes become apparent. There is one key point to consider even before project management is implemented: all dependent developments.
In the past, the general conditions hardly or only slowly changed. But in the past two years alone, we have been taught otherwise. Not only the number, but also the speed of the framework conditions has increased massively, which has a direct impact on project management. Currently, the main issues are the interrupted supply chains, lack of human resources, and the economic impact caused by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
Problems in project management
However, there are also wrong approaches in project management that cause significant problems. Here is an example from personal experience in S/4 projects: In most cases, the S/4 project is initiated by the IT or SAP department and set up in program management as an IT project. It is not until the project management stage that the business departments are formally involved and asked to collaborate. While it is common practice, this approach dooms any S/4 project, because the value the new system adds primarily affects business, not IT. Therefore, after the project has been approved by the decision-makers and before the S/4 project management has been defined, an appropriate time window must be planned for convincing the business departments. The advantages must be clearly communicated. Change requests must be taken into account accordingly. Without the motivated cooperation of the business departments, most S/4 project goals will be missed while fruitless efforts increase.
In project management, the SAP Activate method has proven itself well, even though there is room for improvement. Here, I would recommend putting all major phases out to tender individually to ensure that the consulting companies actually provide the necessary knowledge. A particularly large amount of time should be allocated to the Explore phase, in order to engage and motivate business departments. The more time spent in the Explore phase, the shorter the Realize phase.
It all comes down to people
The right project management methods are also crucial for a successful project. In S/4 transformation, both the waterfall method and the agile method (or more recently the two methods as a hybrid approach) can be leveraged. It is important to use all methods unerringly and to train employees accordingly.
As one can see, the topic of project management is very broad, but the outcome still depends on people. The experience and knowledge of the project manager and staff are still decisive. Without social competence, assertiveness, motivation and knowledge about business departments, the S/4 project cannot be successfully implemented.
The S/4 transformation has already been greatly impacted by the pandemic, but the current framework has resulted in further challenges. Only qualified personnel, adequate framework conditions, and the right project management lead to success.