SAP Legacy Preparation

As featured on Data Migration Pro “Ask an Expert

“I’m going on my 1st migration project: we are migrating data from a legacy system to SAP. What are some of the fundamentals that I need in preparing the data in the legacy system?”

From the nature of your question I am going to assume that you are one of the legacy experts co-opted onto the project and take it from there.

Firstly, it is important to realise what SAP is and how it works. At its heart SAP is not only a computer system but a set of business processes: A theory about how stock in warehouses should best be managed, how invoices should be written, how stock should best be purchased, how late accounts should be chased and so on. This redefines people’s jobs in the post go live organisation around the “new ways of working” and with this they will also receive a computer system and screens which embodies this – SAP.

So one thing you should be prepared for is the project environment itself. A major feature from the outset will be the Process Team. These are business analysts who will select the processes and design the screens. One of their major aims will be to interconnect the way the business works in a manner that may not have been possible before. So that for instance agreeing a sale with a customer will create a raw materials request and a production plan requirement immediately and those people will be able to see the sale go through and check its details themselves even though they are not in the sales department. This creates a lot of new joined up thinking across the company, increases its reaction times and hence decreases stock that needs to be held on a “just in case” basis. Returning to the data (in case you thought I had forgotten it!) joining up the business logic in new ways will require the data to be joined up in new ways.

So that in summary key things you need to remember are:

– People will not work the same way as they did before
– The supporting data will not exactly look the same as it did in legacy
– Data that was on different systems before may have to join perfectly for the SAP load

This last point can create great strain on the data preparation as while Referential Integrity is often good within systems it is not always good between systems.

The first two points mean that you cannot assume that data is required the same way in SAP as it is in legacy or even needs to work in the same processes as it did in legacy. In fact it would be easy to over prepare by making too many assumptions about how SAP works before this is revealed within the project lifecycle.

I would suggest that you:

1) Identify all the entities in the organisation, draw a big map of which are on which systems and which are the master systems in each case. Note particularly if you have two islands of information for the same object. E.g. Customer information behind the web site and also customer information on a telephone orders system. These may well have to be consolidated and de-duplicated for SAP into a single list.

2) When you are completely sure you have an enterprise wide view of what data is where start profiling the main entities using a data profiling tool. By creating profiles and storing them you are creating a resource you can return to when questions are asked later by the process team or the SAP upload team.

3) Locate all the manuals that say how the data works in legacy and what they support. Look especially for documentation of tweaks if the legacy system itself was a standardised package that has been altered or customised.

4) Return to your data map and try to put names of people in the organisation to each entity. Where do these things come from? Who really owns them or knows the meaning of the data well?

5) Create some simple “whole of entity” extracts. Prepare them in Access or Excel ready for the process team or the SAP upload team to view.

By the end of this process you should be able to demonstrate where things like Customer, Supplier, Chart of Accounts and Material Master lie on legacy, how large they are in terms of rows and what lies within them.

Only when you have these information sources to hand would I consider actually cleansing anything. And if you do clean anything go for things that you are really very sure will be a feature of the SAP system. It is a mistake to try and clean the whole of legacy because some of it will be relevant to old ways of working and not to the new – meaning it will get left behind!

In closing – I have said overall:

– Expect SAP to be different
– Prepare mostly by gathering information about data, not by adjusting data
– Don’t make too many advance assumptions about the target

If you achieve even part of the above you will find the incoming SAP experts incredibly pleased and surprised with what the base they have to work from.

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