A comment to this recent interview with Pascal Brosset got me thinking about implementation complexity. The commenter states: “Hopefully the simplification will reduce implementation projects to a more human scale, making success more likely and less expensive.” When Pascal refers to “prescriptive solutions”, I believe he is referring to exactly this: smaller, simpler software units that are faster and easier to implement (read: SOA).
The language of simplification with respect to implementation has been used inside SAP for more than ten years. For example, in the late-1990’s there was a team called the Simplification Group, based in Palo Alto and part of SAP Labs. Their mandate was defining methods and documentation to reduce custom configuration in the field, thereby reducing implementation time. In effect, AcceleratedSAP mirrored these exact same objectives. (By the way, the ASAP tools were developed by my company under a team working for me, so I have some experience here.) Aside from these efforts, SAP has also tried to address implementation complexity through what it calls SAP Best Practices. Each of these projects represented a major initiative involving teams of people, and this is only a partial list of SAP’s efforts over the last ten years to improve implementations.
So, is anything really new here? The fundamental implementation business problem remains unchanged: deploying enterprise software is slow, expensive, and risky (SAP and its competitors all share this). The depth and extent of the implementation challenge is evidenced by the fact that SAP and many other companies in the industry continue to invest in new tools, techniques, and methods for making deployment easier. Bottom line: despite years of effort, the basic problem remains. In fairness, however, the various tools and techniques developed over the years have helped the situation, although not nearly enough.
SAP believes that SOA is the best solution yet for simplifying enterprise software implementations (and thereby making this project failures blog obsolete, I must point out). In theory, it all sounds great — however, technology developers are always optimistic about their products. Nonetheless, it’s clear that SAP is investing substantial resources with the goal of reducing complexity.
On the other hand, if you are an SAP customer suffering through a problematic implementation, you may well be more interested in solutions that solve your problems TODAY.-----