We have all had this experience: Someone asked us do something we dreaded, maybe dreaded for weeks or even longer, only to discover once we actually start doing the thing that it wasn’t really so bad after all. We could have avoided so much suffering if we’d just gotten on with the task sooner.

I think that is the position a lot of SAP consultants are in right now. They grew up professionally learning and practicing waterfall methodologies where everything about a new implementation was documented and signed off by the customer before the actual implementation began. With agile, consultants are expected to start producing working deliverables out of the gate. That’s a big cultural shift that many consultants might be dreading. But if they just look inside SAP Activate — SAP’s recently introduced agile methodology — two things may surprise them. First, the methodology makes it much easier to start producing working deliverables right away. And, second, it’s much more fun to make stuff actually happen than it is to spend most of your life planning for something to happen eventually.

That’s why I think the sooner consultants get to know SAP Activate, the less time they’ll spend dreading it. So let’s start with an overview:

SAP Activate’s Four Key Elements

Agile is all about keeping things simple. And in that spirit SAP Activate only has four key elements: SAP Best Practices, Guided Configuration, SAP Activate Methodology, and SAP Activate assets.

SAP Best Practices are packages of ready-to-run digitized businesses and technologies. They include fundamental enterprise processes like finance and logistics that have been perfected over time and serve as a good starting point so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel when moving from a legacy SAP system or building a new one.

Guided Configuration is a content lifecycle management tool that helps you do two things: 1) Configure, test, and receive support in data migrations that are needed to support your selected best practices; and 2) Create your own processes or make changes to SAP Best Practices (an included configuration guide shows you how). The tool will also keep a history of any delta configurations you make, will alert you to conflicts, and will let you restore configurations to previous states.

SAP Activate Methodology fundamentally breaks down agile into four steps:

Prepare. The project (not the SAP system!) is planned and the project environment is set up, including best practices with ready-to-run processes.

Explore. This is where fit/gap analysis happens, with Capgemini and customer teams exploring SAP solution functionalities and identifying needed delta builds and configurations.

Realize. The deltas are built and configured in short iterative cycles (agile sprints) based on prioritized requirements identified in the explore phase, with regular customer validation and feedback.

Deploy. Preparations for cutover to production are undertaken, including setting up and launching support, before the final handoff.

SAP Activate Assets include a whole host of tools designed to speed up projects. Available through the SAP Methodologies group on SAP Jam, they include accelerators, templates such as a work breakdown structures (WBS), project schedules, predefined management plans, design documents, and more.

You’re Already On Your Way

Congratulations! Now that you know what’s in SAP Activate and how it works, you have already taken the first steps to becoming an agile SAP consultant. The next step I would suggest is to log on to SAP Jam and take a look around. Become an active member of the SAP Methodologies Group. Then get certified by taking SAP training classes ACT100 and ACT200. That will put you ahead of the more than 90% of SAP consultants who haven’t made this cultural shift yet — and will continue to dread it.