SAP refresh delivery programme at UK water utility


Our client embarked on a major business transformation programme – an upgrade to the fourth version of SAP’s Business Suite to SAP S/4 HANA, in order to improve its business processes, analytics and reporting. This was a significant undertaking for the client, both from a business and technical perspective – and not without its challenges. The issues encountered included:

  • The programme had been divided into multiple workstreams, but these were working in isolation and had become disengaged from the programme and key stakeholders
  • As the scale and complexity of the work became apparent, it was clear that the original allocated budget of £20m had been underestimated
  • Following several delays and a major re-plan, the programme was failing to achieve key milestones and costs had started to spiral, with the forecast budget estimated at around £70m
  • The mainboard sponsor contacted Valcon and asked us to carry out an in-flight programme review and intervention with the objective of recovering the programme and speeding up delivery of the benefits


  • Valcon landed a small team of delivery practitioners and carried out a three-week review, which focused on two areas: deconstructing the business case to identify the key benefit drivers, and an assessment of whether the plan was realistic and if budget forecasts were sufficiently robust
  • The findings and recommendations were presented to the Company Board at which point Valcon was engaged to recover the programme. The programme scope was reviewed, and a ‘Minimum Viable Product’ i.e. a slimmed-down version of the plan, which was deemed realistic and achievable, was agreed
  • The programme was divided into two discrete phases: to de-risk delivery and introduce early system proof points, and to bring specific benefits forward.
  • The governance was streamlined to support accelerated decision-making and several Agile principles were introduced to ensure, amongst other things, that the users were an integral part of the delivery team. The delivery workstreams were co-located, with project managers allocated to each stream, a regular engagement rhythm implemented for both the streams and the key stakeholders. We also increased visibility, reporting and governance across the programme


  • The first phase of the programme (finance) was delivered in just three months – the SAP forecast was eight months.
  • Increased budget controls were introduced, ensuring the programme was delivered within the revised budget and the forecast outcomes were understood by the client
  • Integrating multiple workstreams across the business improved engagement and transparency, which in turn increased stakeholder confidence in the programme

Case Studies