Aušra is a Senior IT Professional with extensive international experience in complex SAP implementations, Program Management and IT Governance.
She has 20 years experience within the IT industry, focusing on SAP Project Delivery Management (Global experience, various types of Projects - from Greenfield to Roll-outs, upgrades, and Transformation, Agile) and SAP Service Delivery Management
(ITIL Background, setup & managed SAP CoE). Currently working on a large-scale pan European SAP S/4HANA ERP Global Template implementation at Healthcare giant McKesson, as head of PMO. In 2018 completed a very large IT Transformation program for Business at a Telecommunications provider TELIA, where SAP S/4HANA had been implemented using Agile methodology. Previous experience includes CIO for LIDL Lithuania, Global SAP Project Delivery roles and IT Advisory at Ernst & Young.

About the Speaker

Ahead of the S/4 HANA Transformation Business Leaders Forum conference, we spoke with Ausra Gustainiene, Head of PMO at McKesson Europe AG. 

Between Agile, Waterfall or Hybrid, which methodology would you choose and why?

Agile and Waterfall are very different, and it is not always possible to choose between them. If Agile is not already embedded in your organisation, you have to be mindful that you will be transforming your company into a fundamentally new working culture, which is a big change on its own. In this case, I always advise looking at the Organisation setup and operating model, Culture, Project conditions, Management and Control expectations, and Delivery approach.

Waterfall best fits companies with more static business practices: when a Project has a fixed and very clear scope, a tailored and out-of-the-box solution (eg. ERP) or when the impact of design's downstream changes are very high (imagine building a house). It also applies when the Project team has not been exposed to Agile, the customer resources are not available during the build phase and the management requires benchmarks to measure progress.
The key thing to remember - a waterfall approach does not handle change very well! So, any changes in scope, any process that didn’t make it into the initial planning, any deviation at all from the original plan is going to end up costing.

Agile is a better fit to more complex and dynamic business; projects where the team is working on innovative solutions that are unclear and undergo changes or solutions with high emphasis on UX (eg. self-service apps, e-shops); Projects where “delivered value” is a key goal and not a “scope”, where work is done internally by self-managed teams or external teams paid to deliver value (rather than spend hours), “being Agile” is driven and strongly supported by top management.

Hybrid is usually called “the best of the two worlds”. When it comes to the hybrid method, the work is scoped, planned and designed upfront, same as in the waterfall methodology. However, the Realise phase (Build) is executed in iterations, using Agile practices. In this approach, businesses can take advantage of a clear project roadmap with concrete, achievable phases where progress is easy to track, yet still flexible enough to accommodate any unforeseen challenges or changes to the business.

What are the main obstacles to become Agile?

Virtually any IT Project can be managed using the Waterfall approach, but Agile requires specific conditions to be in place. These conditions are linked to the mindset, the working environment and the practices that, at the same time, can and cannot be employed by the whole project team (Business and IT).

If we are talking about a significant investment project, like the S/4 Hana implementation, without Top Management alignment and adapted corporate paradigms, the Project implementation in ''Agile'' is going to fail, even if your Development team has mastered all Agile practices (eg. scrum). The problem usually is not the development team and their skill-set, but the Organisation's culture, policies, practices and legacy structures that reinforce old mindsets and patterns. The adoption of the methodology should start at a senior management/board level and must be well underway before the necessary support and understanding can allow the project to proceed effectively.

Do you consider that today's organizations are ready to use Agile methodology? 

Agility is defined as the ''power to move quickly and easily''( Today’s organisations want to be able to adapt quickly to change. This means having new products and services launched while offering quality to their customers fast, without the need to wait for months and/or years. We have enough examples of where Agile development practices reach these expectations.

Nevertheless, we still have too many organisations that are slow, bureaucratic and immature to be ready to adopt ''Agile''. Studies by 
McKinsey and Deloitte show that more than 90% of the top executives have as a high priority becoming Agile. Agile, indeed, is seen as a sort of ''remedy'' and I have noticed that the majority of SAP customers want to be more agile when implementing S/4HANA or migrating to one. While Agile practices (Kanban, Scrum or others) can be a great way to start, as it helps an organisation to learn and become more adaptive and flexible, Agile is not the right fit for all environments and all organisations. In the aforementioned studies, only 10% of the top executives see their organisations as highly Agile. So not everyone can or needs to be Agile, as well as not all Projects need to be run in Agile.

We also need to understand that Agile is not a methodology that tells us how to work. Agile is a Framework and a set of practices and principles. An organisation needs to be mature and have the right mindset to ''become Agile'' as ''being Agile'' is not always beneficial.

SAP has developed a ''SAP Activate'' methodology, which, to my opinion, is an optimum mix of Waterfall and Agile Methodology. It has different use cases (cloud, on-premises) and even has different ''flavours'' – waterfall and agile. In my opinion, this methodology would best fit the majority of S/4Hana implementation or migration projects in organisations that don’t have their own strong project management practices. 

What are the main challenges of the S/4 HANA project?

Aligning S/4HANA project strategy with Business strategy is a very important starting point, as it might require a fundamental change in the Organisation, before embarking on this journey.
SAP has invested heavily in providing customers with transformational and ''game-changing'' capabilities. Fully understanding the breadth of functionality can be challenging. It's easy to be overwhelmed by the complexity of the software and fail to translate the technology into a successful transformation. Understanding and communicating the real value of SAP S/4HANA makes the Project more than just a ''technical landscape upgrade''.

How to Maximize Value from the Project?

Companies should take their time to prepare for the Project. They should think about the future and develop a well-suited strategic roadmap for their S/4Hana journey. S/4Hana capabilities should be evaluated and system-prepared in a way that it can help the Organisation to be flexible and adapt easily to changes. I would advise to avoid (minimise) the system customisation by developing code out of standard functionality, keep the “digital core clean” and leverage the extensibility framework or side-by-side extensions on the cloud platform (micro-services).

In the case of Migration to SAP 
S/4HANA, S/4HANA Movement programme provides guidance for all scenarios and works on services and engagement models that support customers on each step of the journey. A Practical Guide for Senior IT Leadership has been recently released by SAP "Mapping Your Journey to SAP S/4HANA" - a pragmatic, condensed, down-to-earth handbook for executives, project managers, decision-makers, and senior IT leaders that summarizes combined experience from over 5,000 SAP S/4HANA migration projects.

Ensure you have a focus on Data cleansing and migration. Quality data is not only required to keep the business running smoothly. If Organisations want to take advantage of the intelligent enterprise components, as machine learning predictive analytics, business intelligence and other benefits that S/4HANA brings - data is a key component.

And lastly - selecting the right partner should not be underestimated. Companies should invest time in finding the right partner, who can help to navigate in this transformation journey, so expected Business benefits could be achieved and investments into existing ERP won’t be wasted. 

What would you like to achieve by attending the S/4 HANA Transformation Business Leaders Forum?

As a Speaker, what I am looking for is sharing my knowledge and experience and get more views from other participants. I expect an engaging audience that will ask questions, would like to learn and share their expectations and challenges. Mostly, I think that for someone to attend the conference means they have already recognised the necessity for moving to S/4HANA Solutions. What I think they can learn from this Conference, is to find a way to best explain to their organisations why moving to S4/HANA is important and share some of their best ways of approaching it.

Copyright © 2020 Marcus Evans. All rights reserved.

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S/4 HANA Transformation Business Leaders Forum

Benchmarking real-life experiences to learn best practice approaches to core pillars of  the business-critical project

25-27 March 2020
Amsterdam, Netherlands

An interview with Ausra Gustainiene, Head of PMO at McKesson Europe AG

About the Conference

Alexia Mavronicola
Tel.: +357 22 849 404
Fax: +357 22 849 394

This premier marcus evans  S/4 HANA Transformation Leaders 2020 Forum will benchmark experiences with the S/4 HANA journey and discuss key project milestones. The main theme of the event is how to maximise value from the project while being efficient with time and resources.

Some of the topics we will cover in a form of practical case studies, panel discussions, break-out roundtables and workshops over the three days: Transformation and change management, project governance, methodology , people, data migration, SMART finance, what’s next after Go-live, experiences with SAP Cloud and SAP Fiori. Special attention will be given to Central Finance and data management.  

For More Information:

Ausra Gustainiene
Head of PMO
McKesson Europe AG