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Deepak is an SAP Program Management Leader and a Senior IT Executive with a solid 16+ years track record of leading some of the largest and most complex SAP transformation programs in the world. Often dubbed as "Mr. SAP" he has rescued FOUR large troubled SAP projects that were on the verge of failure. Over these years he has served his clients in the roles of SAP Program Manager, Trusted Advisor, Head of SAP Transformation for North America and also Head of IT which include Fortune 500 clients. He is the Managing Partner of iii Technologies and dedicates 100% of his time in heading SAP program for one of our signature clients. He has held several executive and leadership positions including 8 years with SAP America. He has two national awards for contributions in science and technology industry. He received a Master of Science degree in engineering from Purdue University.

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Best Strategy to Plan & Sequence RICEF Development on an SAP Project

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SAP Realization Phase

: The "Show Me Now" time
Realization phase as I often say is the "Show Me Now" stage of the SAP implementation where you are designing and building the solution that was blueprinted. This is where you the "SAP customer" get to see how the business operations and other functions are realized within the new SAP system. There are two main activities that are carried out during this phase early on prior to commencement of assembly, integration and user acceptance (UAT) testing. First, all gaps in SAP solution are designed and developed as per RICEFW (or RICEF) inventory identified from fit gap analysis in the blueprint. Other activity is the SAP system configuration that may be done directly in SAP ECC system or through SAP Solution Manager. All configurations in SAP are done per configuration document which is commonly referred to as Configuration Rationale.

Video: RICEF Development Management Advisory Services for SAP Projects

Is your project showing GREEN in early Realization ? Stay Alert
Time and time again I have noticed on SAP implementations that weekly project status during leadership meetings is often reported with a rosier picture than the reality. More so this is true in early realization phase where system integrators choose much simpler RICEF objects of low complexity so that they can report higher number of RICEF objects being designed and built to gain confidence of the project leadership and steering committee. By taking this approach, crucial RICEF objects that are complex, core part of SAP solution and also with higher dependency are deferred to a later time there by causing bottlenecks in the delivery of your project in time. It is very important to identify the RICEF objects with its importance, complexity and dependency so that they can be correctly sequenced. I recommend the program manager and advisor (if you have one) to take a deeper dive into your system integrator's RICEF development plan and also the staffing model at the beginning of the realization phase.

Planning & Sequencing RICEF Objects

A proper planning and sequencing of your RICEF development will ensure that important and business critical gaps are addressed first there by reducing the risk system being not ready in time for go-live. I recommend that design and build of RICEF objects should be done in 4 cycles. The goal of organizing the SAP development objects in this fashion is to ensure that core functionality objects and items with high degree of dependency are built first. By this your business can start testing the core SAP processes and features while the RICEF development team builds the ancillary RICEF objects. This also helps the business identify any unforseen issues with core SAP system processes. So you should start enhancing the core SAP solution and develop key custom components to make your business processes work in SAP. It is then you will be able to use the basic vanilla SAP system and build add-on or ancillary RICEFW objects to make the SAP system fully functional.

plan and sequence SAP RICEF Development

Cycle 1:

SAP Core Functionality Enhancements, Complex Interfaces and High-Relevancy Objects

I am going to keep this very basic so that everyone reading this piece can understand. SAP delivers standardized solution within its modules like Sales & Distribution, Warehouse Management, Tax & Revenue Management, Retail (IS), etc. This standard SAP functionality is mostly designed to meet 80% of the standardized industry requirements. This percentage of SAP package compatibility with your business can vary depending on the nature of your business and how much your business processes deviate from the standard industry. Each company is different and you may have your own tweaks or enhanced business processes that you need to make sure either to adapt with SAP standard functionality or modify standard SAP solution to rather adapt to your business process. These gaps in core SAP functionality will show up in your RICEF list as Enhancements. For the SAP standard solution to be usable by your business, it is very important that your system integrator design and build these core enhancements first before working on any other RICEFW items.
Also in the first cycle I recommend that you start with design of complex interfaces that are either having many integration points or have complex synchronous or asynchronous business processes that are essential part of your business operations. These types of interfaces often take time to design and implement there by giving your team the advantage of early start for it to be completed in time during realization. Often you will notice RICEF objects that cannot be started until its predecessors are completed. It may be wise to work on these RICEFW items that may have high degree of dependency.

Cycle 2:

Key Essential Enhancements and Reports (Background Jobs & Mass Processing), Data Conversions and Mandatory Forms

Now that you have completed development of core enhancements, it is time to start with design and build of enhancements that are required for your business operations but may not be directly related to core business processes. These should also include important background jobs and ABAP reports that are needed for mass processing of business data. In this development cycle it is advisable to start with forms that are mandatory for business or needed to fulfill regulatory requirements. All remaining interfaces should be prioritized based on their usage by the business. For example, interfaces that may directly impact sales or day-to-day business operations should be done first. Interfaces that are used for backoffice operations, data warehousing, etc should be implemented in the later cycles.
Activities to analyze and transform legacy data should start right away in this cycle. Analysis, design and supporting development should be started for converting main business transactional data that will be housed in SAP. Remember, any delays in migrating this key business transaction data will impact your go-live. Hence key data conversion objects should be addressed in cycle 2. If you have workflows, then you can start these in cycle 2 or 3 depending on number of workflow objects and extent to which you need to customize these workflows. Workflows require special SAP technical resources with ABAP and SAP workflow engine expertise. Hence onboarding should be done based on the amount of work that needs to be done with SAP workflows.

Cycle 3:

Medium Priority RICEF objects

Assumption at the start of cycle 3 is that predecessor RICEF objects are completed befor you can begin development of dependent development objects. All medium priority RICEF development that are required to support the business should be designed and developed in this cycle. If needed, you can re-organize (load balance) your development team resources working on reports, enhancements and forms to ensure completion of development objects as these are required by business for go-live. There may be some UI enhancements like SAP data dictionary enhancements, search helps, enhanced screens or minor modifications to standard delivered SAP functionality that can be done at this stage. Make sure that all work on business relevant transaction and master data conversions have started so that they can be completed by early cycle 4.

Cycle 4:

Ancillary, nice-to-have and delayed RICEF objects

First priority in cycle 4 is to complete all RICEF development from prior cycles so that it does not impact your UAT, assembly and integration testing. The project leadership should review pending RICEFW objects with respect to available time and budget. Depending on available bandwidth of project resources, you can develop all ancillary or nice to have RICEF objects. These include enhancements to improve usability, cosmetic modification to standard delivered SAP reports and forms and also any improvements that you may need to enhance your business operations. In simple words, most of the development started in this cycle should have minimal impact on your company's ability to go live with the new SAP system. If this is not true, then these objects should rather belong to prior development cycles.