Schneider Electric is a large multinational having many independent regional SAP systems. They tried, with partial success, to bring them all together in a single unified SAP ECC6 landscape, and as a result most of the European systems remained independent, unpatched, and on old R/3 versions.
Schneider Italy, BeNeDeCh (Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic), and Feller (Switzerland) were all eventually upgraded to ECC6 with varying degrees of difficulty and success.
Having worked on various Schneider projects over the years I was asked if I could help with the UK and Ireland (UK&I) upgrade from R/3 4.6C as overall project manager. Since it was their largest ever SAP project, the first task was to decide a project name – one that would instantly signify the importance of the undertaking. Of the many entries ‘The Joy of Six’ was reluctantly passed over in favour of ‘Project Darwin’ – it represented a gradual approach to ECC6 rather than an intimate, close involvement with its many features.
At the same the Schneider SNB (Scandic, Nordic, Baltic) started with their upgrade from R/3 4.7. The projects were similar both upgrading to ECC6 EHP7 and, despite strong recommendations, without a Unicode conversion. I was appointed to do a similar role for the SNB so effectively split my time between Capgemini project teams in Telford (UK&I project) and Copenhagen (SNB project).
Although SNB initially had an earlier go-live date it was delayed and the UK&I project led the way. With the fantastic Capgemini teams in Telford (functional) and Mumbai (basis and technical) and a great working relationship with the Schneider project teams the project progressed smoothly, the biggest concern of Schneider being that it appeared to be progressing too well.
The final cutover was in October 2014 and we received an OTACE (Customer Satisfaction rating) 5/5 from Schneider. The SNB continued in the same vein, though a much bigger integrated system with complicated interfaces. It also required a different work approach to fit in with Danish working practices.
I had also been spending the odd day assisting Derbyshire County Council (DCC) in the very beautiful town of Matlock on their forward SAP strategy. We had rationalised their many requirements down into several key phases and following the Schneider UK&I go live was able to spend some of my week preparing for the first phase which involved a data centre transition and DB upgrade on new hardware.
Despite some difficulties and issues the Schneider SNB go-live was achieved on the original date planned in April 2015 and following an excellent working relationship with the Schneider SNB project team whose manager was based in Bucharest we once again achieved the maximum OTACE of 5/5.
I was then able to move full time onto the DCC project where our team performed an amazing job in designing the new virtual landscape based on Microsoft’s Hyper-V and we delivered a brand new landscape with over 80 new SAP systems.
After overcoming many technical issues the biggest challenge was adapting to DCC’s strict IT security processes and their absolute requirement for ongoing KT to their Basis team during all stages of the project. Though adapting our normal working practices to this completely new method of working took some considerable time and frustration, the effort was well received by senior DCC management. The outcome was a successful go-live at the beginning of July with DCC staff fully trained in their new environments. In addition we able to remove some major issues that DCC believed to have been in place since their SAP systems were originally installed. Another OTACE 5/5, and overall a great project which has laid the foundation for the next steps which will include amongst others SAP upgrades, SRM exploitation, introduction of resource scheduling and planning tools, an external facing SAP portal, and introduction of SAP mobility.