This post is intended for business leaders and users that are preparing for an SAP implementation or Go-live and describes many of the common SAP problems that businesses encounter, how to prevent them and how to resolve them once live.
SAP Problem 1: Cost = 0 while shipping or transferring inventory items.
The user tries to do an inventory transaction (shipping, receiving, shrink, add to inventory, etc.prior to) on a material (part) that has not yet had the standard cost loaded yet. SAP produces a hard error and blocks the movement until the item has cost. The issue occurs more often if the company is changing cost methods as part of the implementation. Example: Average Cost to Standard Cost
Prevention of Cost=0 problem in SAP:
It’s good practice for accounting team to review data from Costing1 and Costing2 in the material master before go-live and identify any items that lack a standard cost estimate.
Management of Cost=0 problem in SAP:
This issue will occur so it’s important to ensure that the business understands who will create standard costs and they are trained on the process and have a back-up. Personnel that will be transacting inventory movements should be made aware of what the error means and who to contact to resolve the issue quickly.
SAP Problem 2: Users without access to the necessary transactions
Factors leading to users without the required access include:
- The user was required to complete training before receiving access.
- Segregation of duties issues prevented the user from gaining access to a transaction.
- Role mapping did not identify the requirement.
Prevention of Users without the required transactions in SAP:
It’s important that leadership, the SAP implementation team and any change management entities are communicating regularly the importance of role mapping exercises.
If employees are required to do training before they gain access to transactions or roles, it’s wise to have visual measures on the progress of the training across the organisation. The business needs to understand progress and identify individuals that are not making progress.
If you are implementing a new process to provide additional access to users, test it extensively as you would any set of transactions.
Role Redundancy: Where possible facilities should have multiple people who can perform the same transactions. In small locations, this is a challenge, so we suggest redundancy within the same region.
Managing Users without required transactions in SAP once live:
Once you’re live, there is little you can do but request the necessary roles and transactions as you find gaps.
In large organisations, the role/transaction request process can take time so if you’ve got others that can perform the transactions to keep the process moving it’s wise to do so. In one instance I found myself invoicing for an entire region for over a week because the individual responsible had not done the required training and the company was unable to invoice.
SAP Problem 3: Regionalization issues in SAP
In big bang scenarios where you are going live in multiple countries on one day, regionalization issues are common.
Examples might include:
- Taxation calculations incorrect
- Missing information on legal documents such as invoices – i.e., Australia Invoices need to be called Tax Invoices and have the company ABN number shown.
- The business is unable to meet regulatory requirements such as the particular invoice number scheme in Indonesia.
Prevention of Regionalization issues in SAP:
SAP implementations require an individual or team specifically tasked with regionalization. The business needs to ensure that they provide the local experts from the business. The business should be asking to review the requirements list before go-live to ensure compliance. The organisation can then flag unresolved localisation requirements to the local business with a short term work around.
Management of SAP Regionalization problems:
If you’ve gotten to the point where you need to manage uncaptured localisation issues in SAP, it comes down to “boots on the ground”. If you have output issues, print them out and get a rubber stamp made. Other situations might require a manual processes implementation for a period.
The key with these issues is to ensure there is transparency with workarounds. There are cases where users decide to fix the problem themselves not realising the domino effect they are creating only to find a month or two later that all of the work needs to be reversed and redone. We suggest in any of these issues that the regional financial controller be a key influencer or decision maker in the process.
SAP Problem 4: Users don’t have the necessary SAP training
SAP is a big challenging system during a go-live. Many trained users will struggle. During SAP training they learned the transactions required to perform their role but often won’t understand how those transactions affect users downstream and how they are affected by users upstream in the process from them. These issues will occur, you should expect them.
Preventing SAP training issues:
The best prevention (probably better referred to as planned management) is a Super User or Subject Matter Expert team. There are always individuals in each business who just take to SAP quickly. With this in mind, it is vital that the SuperUser team not be created with individuals that the organisation can “do without” during their extended training. In most cases, the local business leaders know who the right people are.
Managing SAP training issues once live:
If you have SuperUser teams, use them! Stay in contact and provide support to the SuperUsers so they can help the greater user group. The Super User team is also a great resource to tell you what problems are happening on the ground.
Make sure to read our article “3 Clues of that users need SAP help” which details how to spot users that lack SAP training
SAP Problem 5: Missing master data in SAP:
Missing master data in SAP is influenced by how much data the business had in their legacy system. Missing data needs to be manually entered, defaulted or left out. The moment a vendor is missing, a credit limit is missing, or any other required master data the process will stop, and it will be up to the business to resolve the missing master data.
Examples of master data are:
- Material Masters (which have many screens of data)
- Bills of materials
- Customer masters
- Quality masters
- Etc etc. etc
Prevention of missing master data in SAP:
In any ERP system, master data is going to be a constant area of maintenance. Avoiding gaps in master data should be an effort to reduce the issues at Go-Live. The best way to do this is by having the functional business users review the key tables for their area before go-live with a consultant who understands the critical fields.
Training on the creation of master data is also essential. Larger businesses may choose to centralise the creation of some master data such as customers or vendors. It’s important that users know how to interact with these departments when they need changes or new master data created.
Example: A purchaser will interact with the following master data to produce a purchase order:
- Material (Including MRP, Procurement, Quality, Warehousing and Costing data)
- Optional: Routeing for procurement of services
- Optional bill of materials to provide data to the vendor
- Purchasing information records
- Quality information records (optional)
- Potentially others
Managing missing master data in SAP:
Once you are live, the business must create any missing master data. As our friends in Louisiana would say, you need to “Gitter Done”. Super Users and any other groups monitoring progress need to ensure that staff have the training to create master data correctly and intervene where required.
An SAP go-live is one of the most challenging changes that a business will have to go through. Managing some of the key areas for problems can reduce the challenges the business faces and ensure the business reaches a level of stability quickly.
We’d like to invite anyone who has been through this process to share in the comments any problems they faced. Are you just about to go live, what are your biggest concerns? Do you agree with the list we produced or do you think we missed the mark? We’d love to hear from you!
You can also see our SAP Implementation Support based out of Perth, Australia here.
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