Practical takeaways from SAP Business ByDesign implementation projects

In this post I want to share some of my experiences with past ByDesign implementation projects. This is not meant to be implementation guide but more of just takeaways and thoughts how the implementation works, what to remember when doing a project to be successful with it etc.

  • First tenant

When you order Your system from SAP or from Your partner it will come as blank as it gets. There is no data, no activated processes, no users. You will get first technical user and then need to create project users and confirm some configuration elements. Then you will be able to go to the next step.

  • Scoping & questions

Every new SAP ByDesign project starts with scoping and questions. This is where you choose which processes to activate and how exactly are you doing to use these processes. There are many of these scoping elements and even more questions. Good thing is that they are quite intuitive and have explanations written to them. For example you have Supply planning -> Material Planning under scoping.

When you select this element you get the process and you can configure it in the question section:

Going through the scoping and questions takes quite long time the first couple of projects since you need to read all the descriptions and understand it. It gets quicker with experience like everything. You can always activate new functionalities after first scoping the project but you cannot always deactivate everything so be careful with that.

  • Fine tuning

Fine tuning is more like master data entry. This is where you create new payment terms, chart of accounts, account determination etc. Its something between system configuration and master data entry. First thing to do is set up the organization structure. This needs to be scalable and done correctly, it will cause huge problems later if not done correctly.

  • Legacy Data Migration

Legacy Data Migration is done using SAP standard Excel formats. There is Excel for all the data You need to migrate. Migration tool works quite well and its possible to upload huge amount of data. We have migrated around 200k materials, BOMs and Production models. It will take time since You need to to it in batches but its doable. Doing data migration You will encounter some strange errors and need to do additional configurations in system what You forgot but its still quite good.

  • Mass data update

There is built in tools to update mass data inside SAP. You can update materials, suppliers, customers etc using the tool. For example You can use this tool to open new organizational views on existing materials or change Supply planning groups. The tool works with batches of around 200 entries. If you need to do larger updates then use excel based tool that is also available. The tools allows you to download existing data from SAP in correct format, edit the data and upload it and all from excel.

Built in tool:

 

Excel based tool for large sets:

  • Printouts

ByDesign comes with standard printouts for all business processes and they are fully customizable. Adding new fields or deleting some fields can be done from inside SAP using the easy editor.

EasyEditor:

However if You need to do complex changes to printouts, translate them, add business logic etc then You need to use Adobe Livecycle Editor. This is complex software and takes time to master. However much can be done there. You can use Javascript to program the printouts which is nice.

Some limitations regarding the printouts.

You cannot modify the standard print program which feeds the data. This means doing some aggregations are more difficult.

If you have multi language printouts then You need to create as many versions of lets say customer invoice as You have languages. It will make harder to maintain the printouts since when You are making a change to a layout You need to to it in 1+n places.

  • Remote implementation

Doing remote project implementation using Skype or something else is quite doable. We have done it many times and it works great. Since doing ByDesign implementation is much less time consuming then doing ECC or some other large ERP project doing it remotely gives the project good agility. We are usually having a Skype call with customer, getting their feedback, doing changes and presenting again. This means that we can make changes and show them even few times a day. In our experience doing projects remotely works quite well in ByDesign context.

  • Project implementation time

Project implementation time largely depends on the business process complexity, number of processes and many other various factors. Good thing with ByDesign is that users can start using it immediately. Since there is no infra setup and system scoping is also fast compared to ECC You can have Your system ready for log in in matter of days after making the purchase order to SAP. This gives the ability for users to start testing and giving feedback etc.

In my experience project takes minimum of 12 weeks to go live. In this 12 weeks You could implement full finance, purchasing, warehouse and project modules with 2 consultant working on this together with customer team. This includes workshops with customer, system setup and configuration, doing some custom developments and printout changes, testing etc. Larger and more complex projects will take more time. I have had project with heavy manufacturing that took one full year to complete.

  • System fit and scalability

ByDesign standard processes are quite comprehensive and cover most of the needs for a small-medium business. It works out of the box for many business processes – here’s a list of them in SAP homepage.

In my experience it does fit quite good for most cases and no modification to standard is required. There are cases where businesses need to rethink how they do things to fit into ByDesign but its not a bad thing. Sometimes additional development is needed. Sometimes this additional development is just and extension field to Sales Order and the system is ready to go.

ByDesign will scale easily as its meant for thousands of users and You can setup complex business organizations within the system. You can have many business residences or companies around the world and manage them with one ByDesign system.

  • Integration and extensions

There is SDK available for ByDesign and most standard business processes and be extended to fit the need. Starting from extra fields to standard business objects to adding complex price calculation logic to sales invoice it can be done. Since the SDK is not using any commonly known technologies but its own programming languages then finding developers for ByDesign is difficult as there are just not that many available.

Its possible to also integrate from and to ByDesign. There are hundreds of SOAP based web services available for almost all business processes. If some business object is not exposed as web service You can create this service yourself in SDK. ByDesign itself can also consume either SOAP or REST based services.

  • Building portals/addons

If some business logic heavy addon needs to be made to ByDesign then its sometimes better to do it outside of ByDesign. For example doing VAT reporting or doing mass manufacturing execution is better to do outside ByDesign. In this case You can use the services provided by ByDesign and build a new product. We have done this to meet customer needs and it works very well. This means querying data from ByDesign, applying business logic to the data and then posting it back to the ByDesign.

 

Hope you have enjoyed the reading and found something useful.

If you need help with ByDesign implementation then don’t hesitate to contact me.

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