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Can You Implement an ERP Using Agile Practices?

SAP and IBM have their Activate and Ascend Agile methodologies for ERP implementation but do they work? I went hunting for success stories and did not find any…at first. I came across a SAP/IBM success story that indicates the potential for a happy medium between Waterfall and Agile methods.

As a firm believer in the power of agile practices to expose problems sooner and bring focus to business value, I was curious how well established ERP vendors like SAP and IBM were changing their practices. ERP implementations have traditionally been waterfall projects. The ERP system and the way they are constructed seem to fit the mold for waterfall. ERP projects have a fixed target date and the system implementers typically believe they know everything about what will be done and what the milestones are way in advance. Sadly, our research shows that most ERP implementations are over budget and over schedule and most fail to achieve the ultimate business objective. And while we say “ERP,” the same is true for any enterprise application.

Using techniques such as short iterative cycles with stakeholder feedback ensures that the implementation will deliver the value the stakeholders desire as opposed to waiting until post-implementation for stakeholder feedback. The SAP/IBM success story demonstrates how Agile can help accelerate implementations and ensure that stakeholder value is delivered so that project benefits are realized quickly.

Source: SoftwareReviews, SAP S4/HANA, Accessed July 19, 2019

Our Take

Info-Tech believes that there is a happy medium between Waterfall and Agile and that organizations embarking on an enterprise application initiative should look at both methods. Waterfall methods bring predictability and structure while Agile methodologies bring business value to the forefront of conversation. Info-Tech values the addition of Agile to the enterprise toolkit. We have started introducing it into our blueprints and will continue to add Agile to all our research where it adds value. Our current research is to update the governance and management of enterprise application implementation to reflect that value Agile brings to that process.

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