Activate Methodology-Agile Planning in SAP projects

Srinivas Kollabathula

September 19, 2022


Want to be Agile in your SAP projects? Activate is the answer.

SAP projects can take big leap in Quality and Efficiency by switching to Activate methodology. However, switching to Activate can be challenging, the biggest hurdle in adopting activate is the transition. Activate is an Agile based methodology and adopting the core processes of Agile such as Scrum, Sprints and Increment delivery can mean a big change. 

Activate methodology is a great opportunity to be Agile in your sap implementation. This article focuses on Agile planning using activate methodology and focused build tool.


Disclaimer: Opinions and recommendations provided in this article are derived from my own experience and knowledge.

Figure 1: Below image shows the key components of Activate.

key components of SAP Activate

Accelerate with Activate…


 In this section I would like to highlight the key advantages of activate methodology.

Predictable outcome:

In Activate methodology, implementation activities are provided in the content and the activities content is divided per phase and work stream. The project team needs to identify and take a subset of the implementation activities, you have to pick what is applicable to your project.

Predefined activities give a good starting point and sets the implementation in a predictable path. It reduces wastage from unnecessary activities and the management understands when and what to expect.


Continuous improvement:

Agile processes facilitates continuous improvement. Incremental developments take customer feedback into account and can deliver better product every time. In Activate, customer is engaged throughout the development and testing process like “one team”, so there is adequate opportunity to test and capture feedback from the customer. 


Agile is highly suitable for innovation projects. Activate processes facilitate customer participation throughout the project, each iteration becomes an innovation cycle and produces a better quality increment. By engaging customer throughout the development process innovation is much quicker and easier. 

Adoption of Activate is often seen as difficult task, it is perhaps the mindset that SAP projects are viewed as a sequential process involving developing, testing and going live at the end of the projects. The concept of incremental development can seem impractical in SAP projects because SAP projects normally require a Wave of functionality to go-live to make business sense.

Although development in Activate happens in sprints, every software increment is not released into production in sap projects unless it is mean’t for fixing a defect or an enhancement. However you could release the increment into Quality environment which is to facilitate end-user testing, this step is important for capturing feedback from the customer early on. 

Activate Planning guidelines

Project planning in Activate methodology consists of Backlog planning, planning Releases, Waves and Sprints. These four are major elements for planning, milestones also require planning they can be set within a wave or sprint. 

Product backlog:

Defining product backlog is a critical activity usually performed in the explore phase. Backlog can be captured in many ways but the most recommended way to capture them is during process discussions. Using best practices as a starting point during workshops you can capture the gaps and fits as backlog. 

After the Backlog is captured it should be analyzed for dependencies, business has to set the priority and IT should estimate the effort. Using the teams velocity you will now be able to estimate how many days it takes to complete the backlog. Capturing and processing the backlog is a team effort which involves both business and IT.

Figure 2 : Here is an example of how backlog responsibilities can be shared. 

Focused Build Backlog responsibilities

Focused build:

The tool provides the capability to quickly capture the backlog as Requirements. Business and IT can work on the requirements providing priority and other attributes including approval. Another advantage of focused build is that you can create the requirements from process documentation / best practices content and a requirement can be attached to business process as fit/gap. This feature is useful if you are using best practices content in your workshops it will save time from double entry.

Figure 3: Below picture explains about backlog in focused build and agile terminology.

Focused Build Backlog in Agile terminology

Release Planning:

Release controls What functionality and When it is going live. Release planning in SAP activate consists of managing and controlling the development, testing and go-live of projects. 

Product owner decides what is being released into production, sometimes this is decided from the priority attributes recorded at the granular user story level which is also the requirement in focused build. When to go-live is also defined in the release, it is the decision of product owner and business. The team needs to consider the triple constraints, Time, Scope , Budget and the velocity of the team to define a Release.


Release Planning in Focused Build:

A high level release plan is usually prepared during the Prepare phase of the project using the triple constraints Scope, Budget. Focused build gives the option of assigning a release plan to the Master project and a different release to the build project. This is very useful because during the explore phase of the project a detailed release plan will be prepared using the backlog effort estimate.

Focused build also offers the master and build project concepts, master project is usually a program whereas build projects are the actual implementation projects. 

Wave planning:

Wave planning consists of dividing a project into multiple parts where each Wave can deliver a productive solution. In Wave planning you divide the project into multiple parts and also plan go-live dates for the waves. 

From a duration perspective a wave is normally 8-12 weeks. In simple words consider the wave as a time box to deliver a solution which is productive, you can go-live after ever wave. Shorter waves are recommended, because you can quickly bring developed software into production thereby realizing value and also enter the cycle of feedback and improvement.

Most importantly a wave should deliver software which can be used productively by business. Wave planning ( duration and the backlog ) should purely make business sense and meet business requirements.

Below pictures shows wave planning using focused build tool. Please note that Activate methodology is independent of tools but transition to activate is much simpler when using focused build tool.

Figure 4: Example of wave planning using focused build tool.

SAP Activate-Wave Planning

Sprint planning:

You can divide the realization phase into Waves and then breakdown waves into Sprints. 

A sprint in Activate will produce an increment which may not become productive immediately. However for testing and validation purpose it can be moved into an independent environment like a Quality where end-users can test and provide feedback.

 Sprint planning guidelines:
    • Sprint is usually between 2 – 4 weeks duration.
    • Cross-functional sprint teams can be more productive.
    • Project team can be divided into independent groups, 1 user story/sprint/group is one planning example.
    • Every work item is considered an increment which should be production ready by end of sprint.
    • Work items which are not completed can be moved to another sprint.
SAP Activate-Sprint Planning



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