Project Profile: Technical Upgrade (Pharma)

This was my second project with Accenture.  I followed a team of Managers and Sr. Managers from the Joint Ventures project over to a medium sized pharmaceuticals company in the Princeton, NJ area.  As a member of the Sales & Distribution team, I had several responsibilities:

  • Change Management
    One of my roles was to deliver overview training which highlighted three main things:  (a) the advantages to upgrading to ECC 6.0, (b) the rationale behind the upgrade, and (c) the system/process/interface changes that the users could expect to see.
  • Facilitate Functional Testing
    It was my responsibility to work with users to perform testing in an upgraded ECC 6.0 system [the client was upgrading from 4.6]. Our main focus was on processes utilizing custom logic or custom programs.
  • Interface Liason
    I served on an interface team as a liason representing the SAP upgrade team.  Our primary focus was to ensure that interfaced systems exchanged data properly with SAP.  Additionally, we designed and executed cutover plans for the interfaced system which synchronized with SAP’s.

While we were kept very busy during the project’s duration, from a functional consultant’s perspective, technical upgrade projects are quite uneventful.  Many of the issues which arose were due to the Unicode conversion of the database and the effect on custom programs and routines.  In summary:  Testing and ABAP changes and Testing and ABAP changes, etc.

One of the most interesting facets of this project was working in an FDA validated system.  Because this client’s SAP system touched certain key processes relating to pharmaceuticals — manufacturing and transportation, for instance — it has to be validated by the FDA.  Any changes in such a system have to be thoroughly documented and approved by an internal audit team.  This proved to be challenging as we were at the mercy of the auditors who had varying levels of expectation of what needs to be included in the test.  I recall lots of rework to ensure certain auditors were satisfied.