SAP with Scrum

SAP systems

Before we look at whether SCRUM and SAP are compatible, let's take a look at the special features of SAP: SAP's systems were undoubtedly a milestone in the field of ERP software!

SAP innovations enable customers around the world to collaborate efficiently and use business insights to achieve their goals.

What makes SAP projects special

The individual SAP modules are closely interlinked and map the entire business processes in one system.

This means that all departments, employees and decision-makers are usually affected by an SAP implementation project. This already indicates the size and scope of the projects for the implementation of SAP in organisations.

Reading tip: Klaus Wybranietz
SAP, The Agile Way

Agility in SAP projects - is that possible?

For a long time, such projects were carried out classically in the waterfall model. Many SAP project managers are of the opinion that the agile approach for Scrum is not suitable for the implementation of such a system.

The focus in the agile approach to project organisation is strongly on the product and the close cooperation of the people involved in its creation. Which is in complete contrast to fully planned phases of the classical approach, where only certain activities may be carried out.

SCRUM in SAP projects?

A clear YES: We can confirm from experience in past projects: Agility works excellently to carry out SAP projects successfully. Scrum is a good framework for carrying out SAP projects in an agile and successful way.

Why? "SCRUM is a lightweight framework that helps people, teams and organisations generate value through adaptive solutions to complex problems" - Scrum Guide

Scrum Team in SAP Project

Why SCRUM makes sense for SAP implementation

SAP projects are complex

The introduction of an SAP system is a very complex project. That is exactly what Scrum is designed for:

The Scrum Guide describes this as follows: "We are tracking the increasing use of Scrum in an ever more complex world. Scrum uses an iterative, incremental approach to optimise predictability and control risk".

Scrum relies on groups of people who collectively have all the skills and expertise to get the job done and to share or acquire such skills when needed".

Development in SAP projects

Many SAP project managers reject Scrum because "no development takes place". Instead, they like to rely on the SAP standard software - which means that individual functions are rarely developed from scratch.

In September 2017, Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber clarified in the Scrum Guide that by "development" they don't just mean programming, but any kind of complex work. Organisations create detailed schedules with milestones, topics and interfaces.

SCRUM is scalable

SAP projects are powerful, involving many teams with different focuses and an extremely high need for integration.

Here, the Scrum Guide states: "Scrum relies on groups of people who collectively have all the skills and expertise to get the job done and to share or acquire such skills as needed".

Scaled Scrum frameworks such as Scrum@Scale, Nexus or SAFe help to integrate many teams.

SCRUM can be planned

The Scrum Guide explicitly describes the Sprint Planning:

"Sprint Planning initiates the Sprint by outlining the work to be done for the Sprint. This resulting plan is created through the collaborative work of the entire Scrum team."

For example, individual teams are already planning to work in an agile way.

If several teams work together, additional planning levels are added. The difference to waterfall projects: Planning is not done only once at the beginning of a project, but again and again at regular intervals.

Scrum is possible with globally distributed teams

Remote working in SAP projects with Scrum is absolutely possible with distributed teams. We have experienced this positively ourselves in our projects.

It is important to define the framework and the tools for the project participants. This sets the conditions for distributed collaboration based on the following values: openness, courage, respect, commitment and focus (Scrum Guide).

"Long-term planning works best in the short term." - Euripides