SAP is a complex cross functional ERP system with several integrated modules; Sales & Distribution, Materials Management, Production Planning, Warehouse Management and the list goes on. In order to ensure implementation success, performing End to End Process Design, for each business process, is critical.

Performing this step allows Business Process Owners and SAP consulting partners to identify several things that go into to completing the end to end design. Such as:

  • Requirements
    • Master Data – Data Maintained by the Business Users
      • What data can I populate in the system in order to make a system process function properly and support the stated business process or business benefit?
    • Configuration – Data Maintained by the Functional Consultants or Analysts
      • What functionality changes do I need to make, that do not require development, in order to make a systems process function properly and support the stated business process or business benefit?
    • Development – Code Changes Maintained by the Developers
      • What functionality changes need to be made to the core systems process, that cannot be completed by either master data or configuration, in order to make a systems process function properly and support the stated business process or business benefit?
    • Transactions used to complete the process and who will be performing those transactions.
      • Standard – Transaction delivered out of the box.
      • Custom – Transactions created from development requirements.
    • The future systems landscape and integration points to external systems and/or processes.
      • Where data originates from and where it is going to.
      • What business logic is applied to transform or enhance the data as it passes between systems.
    • Departments or business functions involved in each process.
    • Organizational changes that need to be accommodated due to implementing a new ERP solution.
      • When implementing a new enterprise software, it is critical that the business users are trained to use the new system.

However, first things first, what does End to End Process mean?  It means two things, Cross Functional Business Processes and Systems Processes.  In order to get a clearer picture we must distinguish between the two.

Business Process

A business process can be defined as a collection of related, structured activities or tasks that produce a specific service or product (serve a particular goal) for a particular customer or customers. A business process will also have some, if not all of the following characteristics:

  • Definability: It must have clearly defined boundaries, input and output.
  • Order: It must consist of activities that are ordered according to their position in time and space (a sequence).
  • Customer: There must be a recipient of the process’ outcome, a customer.
  • Value-adding: The transformation taking place within the process must add value to the recipient, either upstream or downstream.
  • Embeddedness: A process cannot exist in itself, it must be embedded in an organizational structure.
  • Cross-functionality: A process regularly can, but not necessarily must, span several functions.

A sample business process flow could look like the following:

Cross Functional Flowchart End to End Process Design

Now that the business process has been defined, a systems process can be defined in order to support the business process.

Systems Process

A systems process is very similar to the business process and bound by the same key principles but, instead of functions or job titles being used for the swim lanes, the actual systems where the activity or task is performed are used instead.

In this example, Function 1 is now the Planning System, Function 2 is now SAP IS Retail ECC and Function 3 is now SAP WM.  The systems process will also include any required WRICEFs (Workflow, Reports, Interfaces, Conversions, Enhancements, Forms).

  • Interfaces are denoted as lines from one process box to another that cross between swim lanes.
  • Enhancements are denoted as a process box within a swim lane but functionality has been enhanced beyond what SAP delivers as standard.
  • Reports are denoted as an output from the process but not integrated with another system, it will be used as information in a business decision process.

Cross Functional Flowchart End to End Process Design 2

Bringing It All Together

Now that the business process and systems process have been determined, the last major outcome of performing this activity can be achieved.  That is in summary, validation.  Validation that the End to End Process Design activity has ultimately delivered a well-defined and repeatable business and system process that supports the needs of the organization.

It sounds simple but yet is often over looked.  In my experience at past organizations, those who cannot accurately describe what they need to be able to do in order to support the “secret sauce” so to speak, what makes your company the success that it is, lots of mistakes will be made and rework will need to be performed.