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This is the first in a series of blogs attempting to convince you that you can take on at least some of the effort to implement the all new SAP Business ByDesign© software for your company by yourself, perhaps with the help of a few colleagues (!), but reducing the need for too much outside help from SAP consultants like myself.  I have recently implemented several ByDesign systems for customers in the professional services and wholesale distribution sectors.  The latter (I am led to believe from my counterparts at SAP UK) were the first examples of ByDesign systems in the UK where full warehouse functionality was utilised; including the use of handheld barcode scanners.  We’ll come back to this later, but let’s start at the beginning with setting up your project, and we can get to the technical pointers and pitfalls in later blogs.

SAP Business ByDesign is an excellent product with a rich scope of functionalities, all seamlessly integrated into one cloud-based platform; but this isn’t a sales pitch for the product (you can go elsewhere for that), rather I hope that this series will give you an insight into running your project, picking the right functionality for your business, avoiding time-consuming errors and using the extensive training/information system in an efficient way.


So, I am assuming that you have bought into the idea of moving your company’s IT systems into the single platform cloud solution that is SAP Business ByDesign.  The first thing you need to consider is the range of ByDesign functionalities that you want to use in your first phase implementation.  I stress first phase here as a common mistake is to fall for all the ‘bells and whistles’ that your wonderful new system offers and try to bite off more than you can chew.  The rule of thumb here is to concentrate on the backbone of your company, and to leave anything that is ‘nice-to-have’ for later phases.  Concentrate on the core business processes.  You will also find that the project is less invasive on people’s time if the pain is spread out in this way.  If you set a realistic, achievable goal then you will have a far better chance of putting something in place which works properly and is universally accepted.  This acceptance is crucial to the success of your project, as it is human nature to resist change.

One question often asked is “how do I know what I need if I haven’t seen the system”.  This one is easily resolved as SAP provides videos of many of the business use cases available in the system on the SAP Business Center (  Follow the “SAP Business ByDesign” link and select the Demos tab.  If you are a registered user of the Business Center then you can also use demo systems.  I strongly advise you to spend as much time as possible on these systems familiarising yourself with the look and feel of the product.  They are working systems, so you can raise sales orders and purchase orders, create projects etc.  Needless to say, the more familiar you are with the system, the better choices you will make with regard to the scope of your project phases.

Once you have chosen a sensible scope for the first phase, it is a good idea to create a rough schedule for the other phases, which will lay down a roadmap of all that you want to achieve with the new system, and will help to set expectations and bring people on side.  This will make it easier to ‘sell’ the changes to the business as a whole.  The most important sales pitch you will have to do however comes next, and that is to now sell all this to your project sponsor.  This should be someone within the business who is senior enough to get things done and who really buys into the whole concept.  Getting them on your side is very important and will directly affect how smoothly you can overcome problems encountered during the course of the project.


You must now start to work out how to migrate from your old system(s) to your shiny new one, and your first steps on this road should be to gather good reliable people around you to form your core team of “key users”.  Depending upon the size of your organisation and the range of ByDesign functionalities you intend to implement you will need between 2 and 5.  Think about the business processes which you intend to move into ByDesign and pick the experts which cover all the affected areas.  The key is to pick people who really know your business inside out.  The problem is that these people tend to be critical to running the business.  This is where your project sponsor comes in, and you will need to agree with them (and the individuals involved) how best to free up some of your team’s time so they can get involved.

Be realistic!  If Suzie runs accounts alone and is already doing 12 hour days, then clearly some other solution is required.  From my experience best practise here is to find a temporary replacement to cover at least some of Suzie’s work.  This of course is potentially an additional cost, but this is money well spent if everyone is to be kept on board and sane!


When you have your team formed, get them into a room and present them with a draft plan of how the project will pan out.  You can add as much detail as you feel is necessary later, but at this point you should indicate at least the targeted dates for each of the project stages, the meetings, responsibilities and expected commitment of the team in terms of hours per week.  The SAP Business Center has extensive detail on all of these and more, and I will discuss this in the next blog.  The key point here however is that this is a good time for all to be honest and realistic about the tasks to be undertaken.  Now is the time to ascertain if the plan is achievable and to get all the team to buy into your vision.

Next Time…

I will discuss the extensive training and project collateral which SAP has created to aid you to implement ByDesign … By Yourself??


Ian James is a senior SAP consultant at De Villiers Walton.  He has wide knowledge of the SAP landscape ranging from business intelligence & warehouse architecture, implementation of cloud solutions, business process optimisation and enhancing productivity through software usability.

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