SAP Global Template Demystified: Process Design

We’ve talked about the fact that an SAP Global Template is so much more than process design. At the same time, you can say that it is nothing without a solid and sound process design at its core! This is where consulting expertise, business knowledge, and SAP software product experience intersect, where these different components must merge to form a beautiful piece of art. (For a refresher on this topic, please refer back to our earlier blog post, “Why Experience Matters on Your Road to S/4HANA.”)

Advice on SAP Global Template Process Design

When it comes to process design in the context of an SAP Global Template, I want to talk about some of the main concepts that come to mind:

  • Organizational Model – It is imperative to not only align the organizational model with the available structures in SAP (company codes, profit centers, etc.) but, also, to shape it in a way that creates templates. These structures need to be at the core of the building blocks to describe what an operating company vs. a holding company looks like, to distinguish the difference between a complex operation vs. a site business. They allow you to categorize the elements of your business fleet to identify the right starting point once the next acquisition or greenfield operation comes along.
  • Business Functionality – SAP has an extremely large portfolio of business functionalities. You need to be able to identify what is important for your company! Once you’ve established the core components of your business design, group them around the building blocks of your organizational model to establish the go-to pieces of your Lego puzzle! That allows you to start from a pre-built structure instead of starting from a single brick. As I’ve frequently said in previous blog posts, you need to avoid reinventing the wheel!
  • Level of Standardization – Part of the concept of the SAP Global Template is moving from having continued design discussions (“Business Blueprint”) to focusing on rolling out a pre-designed solution that needs to be adopted (“Fit-Gap”). It represents the shift from rehashing the basics to simply stating the obvious–if you are a business in the fleet, you need to comply with the direction that the overall enterprise takes. This will be the biggest factor for saving money in your SAP deployments, and, with it, the best guard against the useless over-customization of your SAP system that to this day plagues many companies out there.
  • Solid Documentation – We need to talk about the complexity of business design in relation to the short span of the human memory. If you do not document what you agreed upon, you have already lost the battle! Coming to conclusions in those endless blueprint sessions is a thing that you do not want to jeopardize afterwards! Simply write down what you agree on, put it in swim lane diagrams, freeze if in business design templates, lock it into configuration documents. In other words, put it in writing to save yourself from the hassle of doubting your memory as time passes! I agree, this is not the most enticing topic, but–by far–it is one of the most important, as many executives have had to learn the hard way! 

Allow me to come back to the question of standardization of the business design in your SAP Global Template. You need to talk about and agree on the rigidity of that design when it comes to systems configuration. Which parts would you allow to be changed by a given local business and where would you draw the line to defend the given corporate design? I find it very helpful to partition your functionality and master data into different categories that are aligned with said level of rigidity:

  • Mandatory, not changeable – These settings and functions are not up for debate. All parts of your business fleet have to adopt them as they are laid out, without any changes. You need to defend these elements with tooth and nail, as they are the pillars of the overall SAP design. Examples are foreign currency handling, supply chain handling, or production process elements that must follow a corporate design.
  • Mandatory, but expandable – You may allow the local business to extend certain pieces of your design in a way in which the result still fits within the corporate vision. Think, for example, about an organizational model where the local business wants to establish a more granular cost center structure than the one given by the template. Adding another marketing cost center or a more detailed work center structure in the production does, in its nature, not deviate from the overall design. It still complies with the spirit of the business design. I would caution you to still look out for Trojan design horses. When appropriate, be lenient in granting these requests.
  • Local – You will never be able to standardize everything. There will be local tax requirements, cultural “need to have’s” related to doing business in a certain country, the one-off odd (but hugely profitable) business in the portfolio–all legitimate reasons why design may need to deviate in a region, country, or line of business. Where advisable, don’t fight it, rather support it. Just make sure that the local deviation stays as the exception, not as the mainstream practice!

This brings us to the conclusion of today’s post about Business Process Design. In our next chapter of the Global Template series, we will talk about technical SAP Systems Environments. As always, thanks for your valuable time today! If you have questions about Global Template that you’d like to see addressed in future posts, we invite you to reach out via Twitter.

SAP GT Demystified: SAP Model Company

This may be a strange thing to open with, but stick with me… Laziness–at least a bit of it–can be a good thing. In my view, a healthy dash of laziness coupled with a pinch of procrastination usually leads to the quest of searching for the simplest solution, therefore fostering efficiency. And several great minds have talked about the fact that depicting the solution to difficult problems with simplicity is an expression of deep understanding.

SAP Model Company Business ModelTo avoid falling for the urge to reinvent the wheel during SAP implementations, isn’t there a way to utilize previous learnings, other people’s experiences? That’s where the SAP Model Company comes into the picture. It can be the seed or foundation for your SAP endeavor based on two flavors:

SAP Model Company by Industry 

The focus rests on the industry that the company operates in, be it Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Mining, or in another vertical altogether. All of them have best practices that are unique to the specific industry, which set them apart and require years of experience on the part of the SAP implementer. The respective SAP Model Company has that experience already “baked in” and can be a guiding light in the maze of the vast SAP functionality.

SAP Model Company by Line of Business 

These model companies are based on a department or part of any generic enterprise, like Finance, Shared Services, or Supply Chain Planning. They help you by putting a baseline into the sand that is rooted in the best practices and the experience collected from thousands of successful SAP implementations.

SAP Model Company Building Blocks

Photo credit: SAP


I also want to encourage you to watch this helpful 2-minute video from SAP, which lays out a compact and precise vision of the SAP Model Company.

Now, you might be wondering, how does it relate to a Global Template? Well, even a Global Template can benefit itself from a template. As I pointed out earlier, a little laziness could be the secret sauce in your Global Template recipe!

After having covered the basics, let me share my personal view of the SAP Model Company:

Don’t ignore a valid accelerator. (In some regards, your business needs are not as unique as you think!)

Of course you think your business is different than others. The common rules don’t apply, and certainly no one else could dictate how your business is run. Really? What would be wrong in learning from the findings that thousands of successful world class businesses have made? Why not gain from their experience? Don’t be arrogant when it comes to a helping hand–the SAP Model Company deserves a thorough thought!

Use it in a way that is suited for your business.

You may be a smaller company that can use the template as is. A typical example would be a Venture Capital firm that bought an idea and operationalizes it with the help of the world-class SAP software. While not having the appetite to overinvest in IT capabilities, use of the SAP Model Company gives reasonable assurance that you’re on the right track.

Or, you may represent a large-sized company that only uses it as a seed to tailor their own template. Think long and hard about what the right way is, as it will be nearly impossible to turn around for a complete do-over at a later stage!

Even if you think it does not fit, it will still have value.

Should you decide not to use the SAP Model Company for your Global Template or SAP deployments, you can still learn from it. There is so much experience there that it can serve at least as a guiding light! Analyze and understand the pieces and functionality that are utilized in the SAP Model Company that is most relevant to you, your industry, and your line of business. Use that knowledge as an accelerator, as well as a logical boundary for implementing what’s truly needed.

Have your own Global Template in mind!

While the SAP Model Company is a good starting point, never get lazy in your thinking! Have your strategy and road map in mind and assess how it furthers your goals, makes life easier, and helps bring value to the business. Let me state the obvious–while your business is probably not vastly different from some others in the field, a “one size fits all” solution will not be appreciated. Now is the right time to do cherry-picking, to shed the wasteful or flashy “bling” and create a solution that fits like a well-tailored suit! 

This brings us to the end of today’s post on SAP Model Company. In our next chapter of the Global Template series, we will talk about Business Process design. As always, thanks for your valuable time today! If you have questions about Global Template that you’d like to see addressed in future posts, we invite you to reach out via Twitter. 

SAP Global Template Demystified: Governance

Boring. Dull. Beige. Unnecessary. Overhead. You’ve heard it all when it comes to governance. It’s known to lack excitement in the eyes of many consultants and even IT decision makers. Who wants to deal with budgets and committees when you can focus on the go-live instead? On the surface this is understandable–but it’s also just plain wrong!


Both strategy and execution need governance, and so does the SAP Global Template. A Global Template is about discipline, about creating and preserving a backbone in your ERP endeavor, a solid tree trunk from which you can branch out to create exciting new leaves in your IT portfolio.

Now, you might be wondering, why bring up governance as it relates to Global Template when, in fact, it’s related to all areas of business? And the answer is, quite simply, that GT governance is separate from IT governance. We cannot push down the “handling” of the creation and deployment of a Global Template into a regular SAP ERP project. There is more to it, requiring a separate structure to manage the template. It’s our responsibility to call attention to it as a stand-alone item.

Overview of Governance for SAP Global Template

Consider the following elements, which I consider to be requirements for a solid governance strategy:

Governance of the Template Strategy
Aligning with best practices, SAP Model Companies, industry solutions, and other influencing factors has to be at the core of the Executive Governance of the Global Template. It is pivotal to understand the difference between continued evolution and necessary revolution (the structural upheaval from R/3 to S/4HANA) and the impact on the overall IT organization (road map, human resources, capabilities, budgets, etc.).   

Governance of the Template Evolution from Idea to Result
You need an intake medium to properly shape the pipeline of future functionality. They handle the selection process, proof of concept, budget and ROI calculations, and the risk assessment to see if an idea will lead to a tangible business benefit. In addition to a strategy management software, it is advisable to have a Global Temple “Guardian” Committee that includes both IT and Business. Further, preselects will be established, with functions that can be deployed at designated time frames. Also, you need to be able to step into the future by configuring and testing Proof-of-Concept deployments in non-production systems as this will enable a healthy pipeline.

Governance of the Template Deployments
While it is certainly part of the regular PMO procedure to handle the roll-out of a Global Template to the organization, there are key differences to stand-alone projects. You need to avoid any aspects of reinventing the wheel (E.g., rerunning blueprint sessions) and focus on the management of deviations (E.g., concept of fit-gap). Also, a harmonization of SAP environments (systems and clients) between deployments, maintenance, and parallel proofs-of-concept is necessary. 

Governance Support Software Solutions
SAP has many tools in the portfolio that are embedded in ERP solutions. While there are many, I would like to highlight a select few:

    • Strategy and Portfolio Management – Helps to harvest ideas and bring them to fruition in an orderly fashion
    • Project Systems – Often underestimated, it can manage projects end-to-end and integrate them with Finance
    • Product Lifecycle Management – Managing products (which do not have to be tangible!) in all aspects of their evolution
    • Solution Manager – An often disregarded or simply ignored tool that can help you manage and document your SAP landscape and functionality, a fantastic way of governing within the SAP software  

Other products not owned by SAP are obviously very helpful, too, though I’ll spare you from a lecture about MS Visio and MS Project. 

I do, however, want to steer your attention to two other, relatively new products that deserve to be mentioned:

  • AMIGO by Platinum PMO: The AMIGO tool focuses on the holistic governance of the digital transformation process and integrates seamlessly with SAP. It can describe and manage the whole lifespan of your Global Template as well as deployment projects. It is described as “governance to ensure your community is playing by the rules and working in perfect harmony.” I could not say it better, and I do buy in to the concept!
  • Bella Scena: This resource offers a fresh take on meeting governance. Bring purpose to meetings by actively managing them and get out of the mode of asking yourself, “Why do I need to be here?” Bella Scena is very reasonably priced and can be your way out of boring meeting culture–definitely worth giving a try!

This brings us to the close of today’s post on SAP Global Template governance. In our next chapter we will talk about SAP Model Companies as accelerators for your SAP Global Template and its deployment. As always, thanks for your valuable time today! If you have questions about Global Template that you’d like to see addressed in future posts, we invite you to reach out via Twitter.

SAP Global Template Demystified: Rallying the Troops

Its people are the biggest asset of any company. The same is true when it comes to an SAP Global Template–it is only as good as those who establish and manage the platform. This requires that you keep those key people informed, educated, and involved. Only then can you ensure that they understand the direction, are working toward a common goal, and are ultimately willing to defend the system that has been built.

Quite often the change management impact in an effort as big as rolling out an SAP Global Template is profoundly underestimated. And even if change is generally embraced, that may not be enough to bring people on board. The message has to be clearly spelled out: Change is not the enemy but rather an opportunity, ready to be seized!

SAP Global Template Consultants

Let’s define some meaningful categories of key contributors to get closer to their needs:

People Impacting the Global Template
From executive sponsors who oversee teams implementing the Global Template, to the business people designated to support the implementations, you have to enable them with educated buy-in, access to the right tools, and recognition. And when it comes to recognition, go beyond the handshake! A well-structured incentive program may get your internal resources truly invested in the projects, allowing you to avoid much more expensive external help. In reality, the difference between a lousy and an excellent team meal could be significant motivation to go the extra (hundred) miles!

People Impacted by the Global Template
Try to walk in their shoes instead of telling them how brilliant you are. There is no success without acceptance! Make a distinction between people who accept the new world and the ones who don’t–and treat them all with dignity. Someone may just want to ride the existing state into the sunset, while others are eager to embrace change. You need them all. Don’t alienate them for no good reason! You can accept that someone does not want to go on the SAP trip and may rather choose a different position or retirement. They can still be of great help if you treat them right. Support the willingness to change as much as you can as it will contribute to a smoother, more successful process overall.

People Preserving the Impact of the Global Template
You need to defend what you built, and you cannot leave it to chance. The support team that you install needs to monitor across the board, ensuring the many elements of the Global Template are preserved and truly alive! You need to give them purpose and respect; they are NOT an appendix to the operations, but an essential and critical part of it. It starts with your Center of Excellence, includes the various Business Governance functions, like Master Data Management, and also something that is often forgotten–the harvesting of brilliant ideas to ensure continuous improvement from people in the field who really know what works and what doesn’t within the system.

SAP Global Template Team

When we talk about giving people the tools, it starts with governance of the Global Template project–the do’s and don’ts, and, also, the maybe’s that you need to foster creativity. I have found over the years that it is of utmost importance to define and communicate the boundaries around which people will interact with the Global Template. Consider these categories:

  • Global Must-Have’s – Mandatory and therefore not debatable
  • Global Can-be’s – Extendable, used as add-ons to mandatory settings
  • Local Needs – Elements that are better left to the locals

This ties back to executive messaging reinforcing that these rules are there for a reason. This clarity will help tame the “too-free spirits” in the field and also functions as guardrails, helping people walk by themselves.

In our next chapter we will talk about the Governance tools that should support the effort of creating and deploying your coveted Global Template. As always, thanks for your valuable time today! If you have questions about Global Template that you’d like to see addressed in future posts, we invite you to reach out via Twitter.

SAP Global Template Demystified: Executive Message and Buy-in

When it comes to the implementation of an SAP Global Template, you have to be clear. You have to be bold. You have to shout it from the rooftops! Otherwise, you may end up hosting a lame party that people cannot wait to abandon.

Executive Buy-In: You need it to make the hard decisions stick. If not, the local crown prince may just decide to go on a software spending spree, while the king of a tiny ivy tower far, far away thinly veils a tantrum. Don’t get me wrong–it is not about dictating, but rather rallying support from the leaders of your organization.

Executive Message: Make it visible that the Global Template is at the core of your future business strategy. It’s not an “IT thing” that levels somewhere on the nice-to-have layer of your decision process. Achieve this by including C-suite executives in important milestones of the Global Template rollout, like the start of fit-gap sessions, key user acceptance testing dates, and the go-live. Allow the whole enterprise to see that you and key leadership speak with one voice.

SAP Global Template Meeting with Executives

I have experienced many times that the missing buy-in and participation of executive leadership results in local operations running astray. These unnecessary occurrences of leaving the chosen path to Rome never end in happiness. We all want to be recognized as independent thinkers, believing that only our own way is the way to go. In reality, the most successful companies find an acceptable level of standardization without ever abandoning diversity!

Ultimately, it is on you, the program director or Center of Excellence leader, to communicate the need for buy-in and participation to the executives. They are busy without you, even more busy when you come along with your ideas. Don’t throw random or generic sound bites about the necessity of a Global Template and see if it sticks. Make your touch points with executives meaningful so they can relate to the tasks at hand:

  • Be mindful of their time as their day has only finite hours! Schedule interactions in accordance with their availability. You do not want to compete with board meetings or annual budget sessions. Nurture positive relationships with executive assistants as they are the wonderful magicians that make things happen!
  • Be precise in what you need from them; prepare a specific executive summary of anything you want to convey. If you cannot summarize it, you may not have fully grasped it yourself–how can you expect them to weed through a hundred pages to figure out how to support you?
  • Be aligned with the company strategy on all levels. Don’t ask for funds that have not been budgeted except for rare, immediate needs. Understand the business’ direction to avoid asking for help that will not be supported by leadership. If you want to change directions, build alliances, and don’t be surprised if it takes more time than anticipated.

The point is that you need to acquire buy-in to keep things moving! When charged with building a Global Template, it is part of your job description to be the glue between the deciders and the doers. So be that link, the building block that manages up and downward. 

In our next installment of the Global Template blog series we will discuss the heart of the operations–the people that make it happen, the stakeholders, and those who are most impacted. If you’re looking for support with an SAP Global Template rollout, contact our team and see how Vortex Consulting can be a critical ally in the process.

SAP Global Template Demystified

Welcome to the first in a new series on the Vortex Consulting blog. Join us over the next few months as we explore the ins and outs of SAP Global Template.

It isn’t about configuration. It isn’t the business process. Nor is it about documentation. It is about all of that and much more. An SAP Global Template (“GT”) is a blueprint to success, a holistic view of all elements of your SAP journey!

To achieve the promise of cost savings, rapid deployment, efficient support, and a solid return on investment, the breadth of standardization must cross the enterprise as a whole, including people, process, and systems.

The challenge is that many consultants, and firms, attempt to give guidance about SAP Global Templates, but only a few truly understand it. When embarking on the exercise, many people quickly realize the complexity and either give up or go only part way. To avoid this frustration and expenditure, you need to plan a GT like a major project, then embed it into your business strategy and long-term deployment plan(s). Finally, it has to be supported with expertise and experience, either in-house or through external advisors.

Vortex Consulting SAP Global Template Guide

Today’s post is the first in a new blog series we are launching. In the coming weeks, we will explore the underpinnings of an SAP Global Template and touch on the topics that need to be considered for standardization. And yes, it’s all about streamlining and standardizing to avoid reinventing the wheel in endless blueprinting sessions. With the concepts we will explore, your team can develop the software fabric that will allow for rapid, agile deployments. This strategic activity will generate acceptance in the organization with a right-sized overall SAP environment that supports the business vision and strategy.

Elements of an SAP Global Template that we will explore in upcoming blog posts:

SAP Global Template Elements

All these elements need to be considered in the context of already existing enterprise IT and business structures. None of them can be seen as a stand-alone effort. Each is a critical part of the foundation that can support the weight of future SAP deployments. When done right, an SAP Global Template can turn a possible burden into an IT strength, leading to a deep acceptance throughout the organization as it generates a “common language” for the deployments of the SAP package across the entire fleet.

Before we end this post, let me take a moment to drill deeper into the idea of a “common language.” This is not a question of whether English is your worldwide project language. It is one of the single most important success factors of your SAP journey. You need to create a dictionary of SAP Global Template business terms and take the utmost care to teach it, reiterate it, and defend it! Yes, you need to defend it until it becomes ingrained into the business DNA! Why? It is difficult enough to bridge a potential gap of languages, cultures, and countless other variables when rolling out an SAP road map across the enterprise. You should not add the unnecessary complications of debating if you refer to a division as a “group” or a “business line.” Clarity minimizes confusion and could literally save millions in wasted dollars.

It is the clarity of thinking strategically, speaking with the vocabulary of convergence, and the holistic inclusion of all aspects that makes an SAP Global Template successful. And you can be the designer of this thriving system, with the help of your trusted advisors. 

Check back next week for the second post in this series, and be sure to follow us on Twitter to stay up to date on all the latest news from the Vortex Consulting team.