SAP Digital Supply Chain Partner News & Blogs
Posted on May 03, 2018
by Caroline Macleod

SAP Supply Chain Management: Ensure a Successful SAP EWM Deployment

It's no secret that the success of SAP Extended Warehouse Management (EWM) deployment depends on the time spent tailoring and defining the solution to meet specific business requirements. With increasingly complex distribution challenges to overcome driven by consumer demands, SAP EWM forms a vital part of successful SAP Supply Chain Management.

As the name would denote, it really is far from being simply an add-on to what was previously available (WM), as in almost every business operation EWM plays a vital role. The advance preparation time spent customising the solution will help to facilitate and ensure the fastest and most efficient implementation possible.

Successfully deploying the highly configurable and feature rich SAP Extended Warehouse Management (EWM) into your warehouses / distribution centres is reliant on investing time from the outset in creating a thorough design encompassing your business requirements and operational ways of working. This advanced preparation time invested in this way allows EWM to be configured efficiently and is a key success factor in ensuring a smooth and quick implementation.

When you start to explore extension options in SAP EWM you start to see how you can meet the unique functionality requirements of your warehouse. Don’t try and force a square peg into a round hole, but instead tailor solutions to meet your more specific requirements.

READ MORE: SAP Extended Warehouse Management (EWM) — Securing Organisational Buy-in 

Below are a selection of key lessons learnt with our customers from numerous SAP EWM implementations.

1. Focus on the unique characteristics of your business

When considering the business, IT and operational outcomes you wish to achieve, focus on the things you do that differentiate your business and/or the service you provide. Spend 80% of your time on the 20% that is truly unique and follow best practices for the 80% that is purely necessary.

2. Think about support from partners from the outset

Engage a specialist partner early and take advantage of their extensive experience when developing Business, IT and Operations strategy. If you are designing a greenfield site then considering the site layout, process flows and any automation in the context of SAP EWM design from the out-set with a partner that can provide best practice and design leadership will help you to reduce resultant delays, potential rework and issues often encountered from isolated thinking and designs. A methodology for successful multi-vendor projects is critical.

3. Maximise benefit from standard capability, minimise extensions to areas of true value add

A good partner can greatly assist with business process modelling, helping you improve operational practices, challenging where required to help you make best use of the available EWM software capability. Where modifications are concerned consider what is necessary as opposed to being nice to have. Apply a rigorous evaluation process to all extensions as part of the project preparation and design to ensure a quantifiable cost/benefit. Use the following checklist as an initial guide:

* Ensure the standard EWM processes/capability have been fully explored and the gap clearly quantified. Consider future releases and SAP EWM roadmap as well as current capability.

* Is there an opportunity for process re-engineering and improvement to fit to EWM best practice.

* Fully quantify the benefit of the extension. How often does this occur and what is the value add/ return on investment to the business.

* Is the modification key to the go-live of the system or better considered in a subsequent phase?

*Who has ongoing responsibility for any extension from a change management and support perspective?

*Ensure the extension follows best practices, never update the core system code.  

Consider total cost of ownership, an extension will typically have a 4 to 5 times cost of development as a total cost. Pre-built add-ons can reduce total cost to a third of a bespoke extension.

A good partner can greatly assist with process modelling, making best use of the standard new technology and utilising in-depth experience from previous implementations. 

4. Prepare everything and everyone, create a detailed implementation plan 

Operationally intensive projects like SAP EWM can have a high impact/dependency on Systems, Technology, Organisation and People. Generate an early roadmap covering the initial high-level plan, detailing timelines and the level of support required to determine the resources you will need both internally and externally. Missing this preparation step can result in poorly resourced projects that miss the opportunity for process improvement, creating a sustainable internal knowledge pool, understanding of the solution and ultimately your ability to be self-sufficient.

As a next step build the detailed project plan across all streams.  Invest in the detailed Blueprint phase of the project to take account of the most granular of details, ensuring everything is captured and planned for as appropriate. This is your opportunity for defining your future ways of working underpinned by EWM, the chance to challenge, improve and add-value to your operation. Resist the urge to rush into building (Realisation) of your solution. Time spent during Blueprint always pays back:  i) early and improved understanding of design, ii) simplification of system build effort and reduction in rework costs later in the project, iii) minimised project timeline and budget risk, iv) higher overall achievement of business goals and return on investment

Project preparation and design should include:

*Involvement of key stakeholders.

*Identification and filling of resource requirements.

*Incorporation of rigorous training and testing.

*Thorough and well-documented design across Systems, Technology, Organisation & People (Blueprint).

Applying this philosophy Rocket helped Arla Foods UK to reduce the delivery time frame for a new SAP EWM system. Adopting a template approach enabled Arla’s distribution center’s in Leeds and Bristol to benefit from proven systems that could be reproduced within a short timeframe, and at minimum cost, to deliver significant return on the initial upfront investment.

5. Build your team with knowledge acquisition from the outset

Empowering your team with an early overview of the EWM capability, look, feel and terminology will accelerate their understanding of proposed design concepts, speed up decision making, reduce rework during testing and build greater team confidence and ownership.  A good partner will build in knowledge acquisition for your team throughout the project as part of an open partnership approach. Watch out for the warning sign of knowledge transfer at the end of a project plan – this is too late!

Learning how to get the best from SAP EWM’s flexibility can help extend the pre-configured solution with a variety of pre-built SAP integrations to optimise return on investment.

SAP EWM’s flexibility and ability to adapt to new requirements cannot be underestimated and can support fundamental change to the supply chain, such as the introduction of e-commerce, or if order volumes and/or operational complexity are increasing due to other external factors.

Get in touch with us today to understand how Rocket can help you create a cohesive and robust operating platform built on SAP EWM and other complimentary operational technology such as mobile, automation and track-and-trace.

SAP Extended Warehouse Management ‘Basic’ vs ‘Advanced’ with S/4HANA

SAP’s Extended Warehouse Management (EWM) solution is steadily becoming one of the market’s leading warehouse management systems. If you are faced with the need to migrate to new supply chain platforms from either Warehouse Management and/or Transportation in SAP ECC read more.

Rocket 4D Warehouse Management System Evaluation and Selection

If you wish to support your warehouse management platform selection process, provide input into your business case or uncover process optimisation opportunities across your supply chain logistics operations. Gain access to our Rocket 4D Consulting Report, a high level analysis report working across your Systems, Technology, Operations and People. If you would like to learn more please arrange a time to speak with one of our experts.  Get in touch