fbpx Skip to main content

SAP Project Rescue!

SAP projects are mission-critical initiatives, but they frequently get derailed. A survey by Resulting IT revealed roughly half of SAP implementations go over budget or past deadline. With enterprises investing millions in transformational programs, project failures damage productivity, revenue, and ROI goals dependent on the project’s success.

Struggling SAP deployments can be rescued with experienced leadership and mitigation strategies. The key is quickly identifying issues dragging down deliverables so targeted fixes can compensate for these. Turning around distressed SAP projects requires rallying stakeholders, resetting objectives, mastering resources, and enabling adoption.

This brief guide from IgniteSAP will provide strategies for recognizing distress signals and techniques for turning it around when things are fragmenting. We will diagnose common mistakes undercutting scope, schedule, and budget so readers can detect these hazards early, recommend some concrete plans to resolve political, managerial, and technical dilemmas that stalled SAP initiatives often face.

By getting back to basics on goal setting, communication flows, and accountability, wandering SAP projects can cross the finish line. Following these methods to both shorten the detour and prevent future derailments across the project lifecycle, SAP rollouts needing help can ultimately enable companies’ operational and competitive ambitions, perhaps more effectively than the original project intended.

Common SAP Project Challenges

SAP initiatives are derailed for understandable reasons: these are complex modernization efforts combining business needs, software capabilities, and organizational readiness for change. By recognizing frequent pain points, project managers can rapidly diagnose risks and prescribe solutions when projects go astray.

Unclear Goals, Scope Creep, and Weak Planning

Projects without clear goals or success metrics lack the essential direction required to prioritize activities, allocate resources, and drive progress. As objectives blur, milestones become moving targets. Team members become confused on the importance of their individual contributions without firm guiding principles. Project leaders must therefore reset the original guidelines to be aligned more closely to business value.

Scope creep stretches schedules. New feature requests, adjusted requirements, and shifting priorities introduce substantial extra work. This is to some extent inevitable, but must be carefully monitored to maintain momentum. Where this is becoming unsupportable, project managers must re-establish foundational elements and mitigate preventable delays, and use change management processes to outline the organizational impact and tradeoffs required for additional items.

Many initiatives are not sufficiently planned in an attempt to meet over-ambitious timelines set during sales processes, but limited budgets, overloaded staff, and scheduling misalignments delay project delivery. In order to compensate for this, project managers need to assess the original resource plans and the extent of current demands, then secure extra funds and staff to fill gaps, or trim the project goals to match more reasonable expectations for project deliverables.

Existing Data Issues

SAP systems rely upon clean master and transactional data accessible in real-time to drive business processes. Yet legacy environments often harbor duplicate, outdated, incomplete, or irregular data that derails migrations. This is the source of many problems so ensure the data landscape is sound before attempting to improve processes.

Data issues crash system integrations, distort reports, impair workflows, and erode adoption. SAP projects must assess current data practices, map gaps to best practices, quantify dirty data’s impacts, and embed data cleansing initiatives spanning extraction, transformation, and loading into the SAP blueprint. Allocating resources to ensure coherent, accurate data flows lowers result distortions and sustained cleanup overhead later.

IT headaches like interface bugs, data errors, custom code defects, infrastructure weaknesses, and configuration gaps slow development despite extensive testing. Technical leaders must uncover root causes of defects, determine solutions, and accelerate remediation to minimize disruption.

Communication Problems And Low User Adoption

SAP projects falter when communication channels are not clear and information gets fragmented. Stakeholders may disengage without transparency into the current status and the next steps required. Teams can work disjointedly with inconsistent messaging. Establish centralized reporting, seamless information flows, and proactive outreach initiatives to connect people across business units and reveal issues quickly.

SAP’s promised ROI relies upon employee usage and process adherence. But individuals resist change, lack sufficient training, or focus on old tools. Analyze for gaps in organizational readiness, customize learning programs, incentivize usage, and incorporate user feedback to smooth transitions for business users.

Getting the Project Assessment

Before redirecting off-track SAP projects, executives must fully diagnose underlying issues damaging productivity and timetables. Comprehensive assessments pinpoint specific pain points to address: and also uncover opportunities amidst the challenges. If this is done correctly, a rescued system may be better than the originally intended deployment.

Establish objectivity and clarity by examining existing project artifacts like charters, plans, designs, code, release notes, and status dashboards already produced. Then identify inconsistencies in desired goals, activity misalignments, resource deficits, and risk patterns across documentation calling for realignment.

Get qualitative, experiential feedback through interviews with integral team members, sponsors, partners, and end users regarding what constitutes success. Spot communication, skill, tool, or stakeholder gaps suppressing progress through this direct personnel input.

Audit delivered capabilities against original specifications. Then quantify the degree of unnecessary resources and processes that were added over time. This scope divergence pulls resources towards non-vital items causing delays in meeting more important requirements.

Many obstacles hide within technical domains: like integration flaws, structural weaknesses, data bottlenecks, or disconnected architectural layers. Experts must diagnose platforms and infrastructure KPIs to pinpoint stress points: memory utilization, workload volumes, interface throughput, data conversions, and more.

Finally, benchmark financial costs and current timelines against the original plans. Tabulate specific budget spend rates, staffing expenditures, technical resourcing, and timeline shifts across major milestones. This demonstrates tangible impacts of challenges that executive leadership must then resource adequately moving forward through to project completion.

Carrying Out The Rescue Plan

Once project leaders diagnose opportunities, it takes deliberate moves and compromises to stabilize efforts. Complex initiatives demand recalibrating business objectives, resources, schedules, communications, and governance to reclaim project alignment with initial objectives.


Prioritize essential features that enable fundamental business needs. Freeze key functionality requirements through executive directives to avoid endless scope extension. Guide stakeholders to balance wants versus needs based on what is minimally viable to further the strategic goals of the project.

Reprioritize assignments and shift roles to resolve resource bottlenecks lying behind schedule extensions. Clarify responsibilities that are unclear or duplicated across teams, and bring on additional technical resources by working with specialized SAP recruitment consultancies like IgniteSAP if qualified internal staff are working at capacity.

Accelerating stalled items on the critical path to completion will create a cascade of progress forward far faster than completion of peripheral activities. Focus team resources on clearing hurdles for pivotal workflows that unlock subsequent tasks.

Be Transparent

Be transparent on expected timeline shifts driven by delays revealed within the findings of the project assessment. Outline work backlogs, task durations, and capacity levels to establish realistic completion timeframes that all stakeholders can understand and work towards.

Obtain More Funding

Cost overruns from elongated timelines, expanded requirements, tool purchases, or consultants may require added support for the project’s budget. Construct projections on remaining costs tied directly to resources needed to close those prioritized gaps highlighted in your assessments.

Establish Clear Communication Channels

Consistent, transparent communication restores order when project priorities shift and uncertainty is high. Institute regular status reports, stakeholder briefings, all-hands meetings, messaging tool updates, and two-way listening channels to connect people and plans. Also, try using informal message boards and forums to reveal issues highlighted by team members and business users as they surface.

Implement Iterative Planning

More generally, and particularly for agile SAP projects, break down the deployment into smaller, manageable iterations or sprints. This allows for more frequent reassessment of priorities and progress, making it easier to adapt and make necessary changes.

Driving User Adoption

SAP’s ROI depends on employees fully utilizing the new systems and workflows rather than relying on familiar legacy tools. Stakeholders must champion adoption by resolving learning barriers through targeted interventions. Appoint executives and members of each business unit to act as evangelists for the proposed solution to drive adoption from above and also from among fellow employees.

Pinpoint precisely the business user behaviors or lack of skills which are slowing usage by gathering feedback through surveys, meetings, system monitoring, and training assessments, then take steps to mitigate this.

Training And Motivation

General training fails to impart the context-specific knowledge users need to transfer legacy duties and behaviors into the new SAP environment. Tailored education with role-based instruction demonstrates to users how their job-specific capabilities can be translated to the new system more meaningfully to build their confidence.

Motivate adoption through manager communications, gamification (linking usage to rewards), and highlighting peer usage levels. Enable recognition by sharing adoption leaderboards and celebrating power users to institute a culture of adoption.

Persuasively communicating how SAP advantages specifically empower an accountant’s efficiency, researcher’s innovation, or advisor’s customer service allows users to see how they can personally benefit. Tie capabilities to improved individual performance and goals.

Continue beyond launch training with on-demand assistance, online knowledge bases, chat/email/in-person experts, and user forums to resolve daily questions that fuel reluctance. Active support and dialogue conveys organizational commitment to adoption.

Key Takeaways

By taking proactive measures early when challenges appear, SAP project leaders can get interventions aligned to rescue investments rather than passively watch failure occur. Every struggling initiative carries unique circumstances, but great project turnarounds share common themes.

As soon as overruns or issues emerge, diagnose root causes through structured assessments before overreactions or misguided solutions take hold. Timely, targeted interventions driven by validated findings can stabilize efforts.

Technical disruptions or user adoption barriers build risk together. Unified business and IT leadership commitment to surfacing and resolving cross-cutting issues is indispensable. Blameless, partnership-based alignment on the same reality and priorities speeds progress.

With resources maximized, not every feature or specification can remain on overloaded schedules. Stakeholders must align on must-have capabilities and compromise wants until after stabilized delivery.

Document the rescue process, and capitalize on lessons learned by applying strengthened governance, planning, communication, budgeting, and execution practices to future rollouts. Continuously improving institutional SAP delivery maturity is the only sustainable path to stable initiatives at scale.

All Is Not Lost!

When SAP projects underdeliver on expectations and derail organizations, all hope is not lost with proper management and execution recovery. By following assessments with committed turnaround governance, struggling efforts can still realign to business goals through compromise and clarity. Teams who rescue together build institutional knowledge to streamline future rollouts.

With deliberate management rooted in analytics, projects can still meet revised goals. Creating objective visibility into spend, timelines, resources and capabilities needed to fulfill priorities right-sizes plans. This factual footing re-secures stakeholder alignment even when expectations pivot.

Saving severely stalled projects reduces exponentially wasted budget, user knowledge and opportunity costs compared to starting again from a blank slate. Structured issue targeting and mitigation reconnects the cumulative momentum rather than losing previous progress on the project.

Every challenging situation handled well sets future initiatives up for success through lessons learned. New knowledge around planning, adoption barriers, data flows, and alignment strategies unique to an organization’s culture is only retained when overcoming challenges develops organizational maturity.

Make sure all stakeholders understand that the process of rescue is not a cause for embarrassment, but is leading to a more resilient system and community of business users. A new status quo which is far more beneficial to all for going through an intense project rescue process.

Are you an SAP professional looking for a new role in the SAP services sector? Our team of dedicated recruitment consultants are able to match you with your ideal employer and negotiate a compensation package which reflects your extremely valuable skills, so join our exclusive community at IgniteSAP.