Solution Validation Workshops

During the design phase of any project, one activity that gets the most attention is the delivery of solution workshops. It’s a deliverable that has high visibility and sets a first impression for any SAP Program. Needless to say, it is imperative that they go well!

Preparation

Get all the requirements from the business. Document your design. Nail down scope. At the end of the day, this is what we drive towards during the Explore phase

[1] in an SAP implementation. The effectiveness of your workshop can be assessed before it has been completed. We can get a good indicator of success before it’s even started. It’s all in the preworkshop activities:

  • What are the current business processes?
  • Which steps provide a competitive advantage, if any?
  • What isn’t supported by standard SAP Functionality?
  • What are the business process variations?
  • Do you, the workshop leader, have a point of view?

Planning

This is one of those times where we need to have “the meeting before the meeting” and this could mean several of them. It all starts with identifying the key players and knowing your audience.  Who are the subject matter experts? Do we need the Business, IT or both to get this information? This is a seemingly simple task that is often overlooked and underestimated. Depending on the size of your organization, it can be difficult to find who you need for when you need them at the beginning of a project.

Point of View

Armed with the above information and previous implementation experience, we utilize a hypothesis driven workshop based on what the future business process should/could look like. It established our baseline. A point of view on how the solution should look like in the future. It enables us to avoid large requirements gathering session during the workshop. Never work from a blank slate!

Keep in mind that the goal is not to have every detail and requirement nailed down. We want to walk into the workshop with a design in hand and discuss where the gaps are, not spend the entire time talking about how things are done today. By doing this we can ensure that participants are focused on what their future could look like instead of fixating on the past.

People & Participation

Identifying the right people is even more important when we talk about workshop attendees. Do we have the right subject matter experts? Do we have people who can make decisions? If not, are they empowered to do so? All our preparation will go to waste if we did not have people involved that can help us validate our solution or make decisions on “must haves” and “nice to have”. Limiting the number attendees where possible helps with the quality of conversation as well. There are always exceptions, but it is often more difficult to have people engaged in large crowds. If possible, trim down the list to active attendees and inform the others.

Expectation Management

During the workshop, ensure that roles are predefined and assigned. It may seem trivial but it will ensure that the team is in sync and operates like a well-oiled machine. Facilitator, Scribe and time keeper. It’s best if these roles are played by different people. Who will capture parking lot items? We will never be able to solve every issue, every unknown that comes up in a workshop. For a workshop to be successful, we must put a stop to the perpetual spin and put these items into a parking lot. This ensures that one topic doesn’t dominate the entire workshop and will keep us on track.

Going into a workshop, we expect a fair amount of uncertainty. Doing the pre-work forces you to come in not only with a plan, but a point of view on

[1] This Phase formerly known as Blueprint in SAP’s ASAP Methodology.

By | 2018-04-23T10:30:36+00:00 September 20th, 2017|Categories: Blog, Retail, Retail Technology|Tags: , , |0 Comments

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