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SAP Activate – An optimum mix of Waterfall and Agile Methodology

When I first came to know about the SAP Activate methodology, I thought – Oh! No, one more project management methodology to understand and implement. Like many of you, I was reluctant to go through the details of the approach. SAP had provided unparalleled documentation on SAP Activate but for me, sometimes, too much documentation does not raise my interest level.

I am managing SAP projects & programs for almost two decades (and this is my first blog, unbelievable) and like many of you, I am well versed in the ASAP methodology. I have managed many organizational changes but surprisingly, it was difficult to manage my own change from ASAP to ACTIVATE methodology. My only motivation factor was career growth and forward-looking lucrative market. Believe me, I do not want to learn another "new" thing.

One fine day, I dared to look into the approach documentation provided by SAP and I was surprised, pleasantly.  First thing, I noticed is that they have not changed the names drastically. The SAP is still calling project plan by "Project Plan". It was unlike SAP but I continued reading.

In this blog, I am going to highlight the "Waterfall" & "Agile" part of the Activate methodology. In subsequent blogs, I will summarize the roles & responsibilities of the PM, functional resources, client – IT & Business & deliverables during each phase of the ACTIVATE Methodology. Before we deep dive into ACTIVATE, here are the pros & cons of Waterfall and Agile methodologies.

Pros & Cons of Waterfall Methodology

Pros Cons
Structured Process with predefined & predicted milestones & deliverables Changes are costlier
Knowledge Transition is easier Less Flexible
Boxed Approach – "Requirement" is boxed, "Design" is boxed – supposedly minimizes the last minute change Not suitable for projects with continuously changing requirements, stakeholders, sponsor.
Expectations are set in terms of deliverables Poor User Experience


Here is typical Waterfall approach


Pros & Cons of Agile Methodology

Pros Cons
Strong involvement of Stakeholders No framework for Risk Management and may lead to delayed deliverables/schedule
Flexible and Easy to change No learning curve for the team
Cost effective and change can happen in any phase "Push the can down the road" approach may lead to too many activities at the end of project
Project can start with limited requirement as well Need highly skilled and knowledgeable resources


Here is a generic diagram of Scrum

The ACTIVATE methodology took the best of both worlds. The approach overcomes the challenges of poor user experience by involving them right from the beginning. It provides complete flexibility for changes within the defined approach of industry best practices. Additionally, it provides the great detail of Risk Management and enough documentation to reduce the learning curve. Let us look at the pros/cons of ACTIVATE Methodology

Pros Cons
Flexible approach to make configuration changes Requires highly skilled resources
Involvement of Business & IT stakeholders from the beginning of the project Not suitable for a project that requires a continuous change in requirement & key stakeholders.
Boxed approach to confine the activities within the boundary. It also helps define the milestone.  
It takes less time to implement and hence cost effective  


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