Case Study 03

Faced with a nine-month deadline, a video distribution company makes a few aggressive decisions




A worldwide entertainment company implemented SAP for their home video with a challenging 9-month time frame. Even with experienced management, it took a few ingenious tricks to launch the system without its falling apart.


Industry: Entertainment
Employees: 12,000
Annual revenue: $13 billion
Region: Canada, United States, England, Germany & Nederlands
Reason for ERP implementation: consolidation & global alignment

ERP Selection

This global film & home video production and Distribution Company planned an integrated ERP implementation to SAP, first in Canada, then the US and throughout Europe.  SAP was selected since financials globally were run on SAP.

The Challenge

The initial ERP launch in Canada had only 9 months to reach completion, and another 6 months to implement in the US.  This very aggressive schedule forced the leadership team into finding ways to reduce the timeline and run parallel efforts (which was not standard practice for a SAP implementation).

The Solution

The only way to pull off an ERP implementation in less than a year is with a program leadership team that knows the issues, how to overcome and has experience with multiple implementation projects.  Experienced program leadership team was not the only ingredient; other key factors are listed below:

  1. Strong business release strategy (pre-ship product, multi week ramp up, etc).
  2. One global decision maker for each business process
  3. Strong project benefits tied to each business unit lead’s MBOs
  4. Multi-level testing process (unit, functional acceptance, technical performance, system integration & user acceptance)
  5. Master Data cleansing program and an on-goinggovernance program addressed
  6. Organizational Change Management

As the project migrated from Canada to the US and US to Europe, a compressed time frame was established.  The ERP team had to coordinate resources in multiple time zones across North America and Europe; as well as, continue to push for global business alignment and streamlined operations.  With one decision maker for each process, every person working on the project knew whom to seek for approval. This tightened the project program and enhanced the implemented methodology; which made the roll outs to each territory much more efficient than the prior implementations and developed into a true global roll out strategy.

To mitigate the risks at go live; the multi-level testing approach is needed.  Due to the aggressive timelines the company had to make some hard decisions and although each multi-level test remained part of the project deliverables; it was decided to test and address any noncritical process steps post go live.  Addressing the critical only processes during the project implementation phase allowed the project to go live and address non-revenue generating steps to be addressed in production (similar to your production application today that has help desk tickets assigned to issues – the same philosophy was leveraged for the project.

For its subsequent launches in Europe, the ERP team implemented some key practices to ensure success:

  1. A third testing cycle to reduce the number of tickets at go live by 60%
  2. Load the converted data into each testing environment to ensure data is being cleansed
  3. Incorporated the audit controls and audit team as part of the extended project team to ensure alignment and understanding
  4. Strong Organizational Change Management Program
  5. “Just in time” training: train the staff once on the completed system two weeks before going live and during the slow business ramp up period.  Most implementations train staff months ahead then retrain the staff at the project go live to help retain the information learned prior.  “Just in time” training reduces the overall project costs and aligns the training system with the actual system they will use.