My name is Ina Glaes and I am the package owner for retail specific rapid-deployment solution. I’m happy to share some very interesting experiences Karsten Meyer, the founder and CEO of elephantconsulting made with SAP Planning for Retail rapid-deployment solution in Brazil.
Ina: What was your way to know and learn about this retail specific package?
Karsten: Well, we are working in the area of enterprise performance management, especially planning since around 10 years. Since 5 years mainly in Retail/Trade. In 2013, during a SAP Training on the SAP Planning for Retail solution, we were presented the SAP Planning for Retail rapid-deployment solution. Then during a SAP Partner enablement workshop we went into detail in terms of architecture, scope, philosophie and ideal project management approach. This was very helpful and necessary in order to bring fast benefit to customer engagements in this area.
Ina: You told me about two projects in Brazil where you were involved. One was about a non-seasonal retailer, right?
Karsten: Yes, you’re right. In parallel to a SAP Retail implementation, this customer decided to go with SAP Planning for Retail. The project started with an installation of the rapid-deployment solution, so that the customer could get a look and feel of a running planning solution based on his own merchandise hierarchies.
Ina: Could they use the solution as it is?
Karsten: Not 100% in production, but we could use the system as a starting point to identify and prioritize gaps in GAP Fit Analysis workshops.
At elephant, we combine the RAPID-DEPLOYMENT SOLUTION with an agile Project Management framework approach.
Based on a selected gap list the gaps are getting realized within 2 to maxium 4 week sprints and the results of every sprint are shown to the customer directly in the system. After every sprint the customer may prioritize his gaps again, so that a productive solution is being developed incrementally.
Ina: What do you see here as the biggest advantage of the package approach compared to a traditional project approach?
Karsten: My experience of requirements gathering phases is, that it is a huge challenge for key users to express what they need until they finally see a running system in front of them. Even though the SAP RAPID-DEPLOYMENT SOLUTION may not be completely fullfilling all customers requirements, it is far easier for a key user to express himself with a running system, to define gaps/user stories which are then later being developed.
Because we had the chance to present pre-configured scenarios so early in the project, the communication and discussion about functionalities, gaps and so on took place more or less completely in front of the system. This is a much more outputoriented and efficient approach than starting from scratch with excel mock-ups or power point.
Ina: Could you achieve similar savings also in your second project in Brazil?
Karsten: Yes, the customer situation was different here. A high fashion retailer, currently implementing SAP Appearal and Footwear Solution, had a huge interest on a semi-automated planning process covering merchandise and assortment planning, store planning, sell-in, sell-out including the integration to the corporate financial planning.
Ina: What was your approach in this project?
Karsten: We installed SAP Planning for Retail RAPID-DEPLOYMENT SOLUTION with the prepared test data and the customer learned, that an RAPID-DEPLOYMENT SOLUTION helps them to validate their own expectations. Based on the strategic channel mix plan, they start now to specify their functional requirements.
Ina: So, I understand that in both projects, the rapid-deployment solution helps to shorten the blue-print phase by having a system up and running with predefined business processes?
Karsten: Absolutely. This is really a huge advantage, because otherwise you start very often completely from scratch, you ask the customer how the process should look like – and this could be a very long lasting process if you don’t have something to start with. It’s much easier if you can start enhancements based on an existing process scenario, if you can see it and touch it, play with it.
With rapid-deployment solutions, customers have the possibility of checking step-by-step if they can make good use of the preconfigured process, if they may need simply one additional distribution function to process data or if they are fine with processes A and B, however want to have a totally custom designed process for C.
Especially companies who have just started up with business intelligence solutions and integrated planning can increase their process maturity by using rapid-deployment solutions as a starting point.
Ina: What is crucial to have a successful implementation starting with an RAPID-DEPLOYMENT SOLUTION?
Karsten: You need to have a mixed team of hybrid consultants understanding the language of the customers as well as knowing about the workload of gaps to be implemented when presenting the package and making a process walkthrough with the customer.
During the enhancement development, it is important to work time-boxed and have regular interaction points with key users in front of the system. Thus, every 2-4 weeks new productive releases can be launched which increases trust between customers and service provider and minimizes project risks.
Ina: What happens in Brazil next?
Karsten: The country is pretty much busy with the soccer world championship, and also with the election in October.
However, the brazilian market strategically has a very strong momentum and retailers in brasil as everywhere in the world need to prepare their market for multi-channeling. Therefore, there is a lot of work ahead to optimize processes, provide analytics and planning and forcasting solutions. The SAP packages for Retail scenarios will help retailers in all areas - POS solutions, customer analytics, forcasting and replenishment, planning of inventory, sales and margin by channel, channel mix, store and customer centricity.
We are offering this implementation service now almost globally with project teams on site as well in developer laps supporting the field team.
Ina: It seems that the concept of this rapid-deployment solution to shorten the blueprint significant by providing preconfigured processes and UI’s turned out pretty well. Karsten, thanks for sharing these insights!
Karsten: My pleasure, Ina.
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