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Key Risks and Challenges Impacting SAP EWM Implementations

(and What to Consider)

1. Not Taking the Time to clean up Master Data

When implementing SAP Extended Warehouse Management (EWM) it is essential to consider:

  • An independent work stream in your project that concentrates on master data readiness.
  • The time required to prepare data and make the right people available to execute the task.
  • The post-project upkeep of the data; ensuring roles and responsibilities are adjusted so that this becomes a part of doing business on an ongoing basis.
  • Upstream and downstream connected systems such as an internal ERP, partners, suppliers and customers affect the master data you rely on. Establish a plan to monitor exceptions and have a process to rectify them at the source.
  • Enshrine the use of SAP EWM dashboards and alerts to roles and responsibilities who are empowered to keep the data healthy and deal with exceptions promptly.

2. Accepting ‘Best Practice’ without Considering your Business Context

SAP EWM is a very powerful and comprehensive Warehouse Management Solution (WMS), servicing many industries, geographies and product types.


Navigating how to interpret functionality statements against your operational needs can be problematic. Bring together your operational and system experts to a shared understanding of how operations run and how the system can best support it.


When mapping your operations to system functionality, put your operations first.

3. Not Aligning Roles and Responsibilities to New Ways of Working

Take the time to understand the rhythms and ways of working goals for your operations and align the workforce roles and responsibilities to achieve this. This may include updating existing role descriptions to incorporate new functionality, new data visualisations, enhanced decision-making responsibilities, and enhanced accountabilities to resolve proactive alerts and signals.


Consider the effect of using your newly introduced SAP EWM enhanced capabilities, and empower your staff to interpret the information and make decisions accordingly.

4. Haven’t Considered your Whole Operation (end-to-end) in Enough Detail

Your whole operation runs within an environment that interacts with many systems, internal and external stakeholders, teams and partners. The process handover between these parties can play a critical role in the smooth running of your process. By not putting enough emphasis on this end-to-end view, you risk:

  • Introducing unproductive wait times
  • Labour intensive manual handovers between systems and processes
  • Unplanned downtime due to mismatched resources to work requirements
  • Missed lead times
  • Excessive checks and verifications to smooth these interactions with people

5. You Embark on Excessive Complex Customisations to the System

SAP delivered over 5000 New System notes in 2020, close to 4000 in 2021, and almost 1700 in 2022 as of August.


These SAP EWM system notes are made available as packaged updates (releases) and upgrades. These notes contain important updates and enhancements which respond to constantly evolving security topics, additional functionalities, system-related performance improvements, process simplifications and additional options to cover new scenarios. Customers also consume individual patches to fix or rectify an issue discovered elsewhere. Complex customisations can significantly hamper your ability to consume these when required.


Highly complex developments can lead you into long cycles related to upgrades and update implementation projects, adding to long-term costs and, in extremes, preventing you from taking up critical updates without taking on the significant risk of disrupted operations.


At FourPL, we see many cases where overly complex developments or add-ons are present due to a lack of deep awareness of the standard SAP EWM functionality options.


Ambiguous operational requirements that do not clearly define the expected goals and objectives are also significant contributors.

6. Crawl, Walk, Run!

Conduct a maturity assessment for your operation as part of your implementation, understand where you are at, and uplift as a whole – People, Processes, Systems.


Create the plans to shift in maturity as a whole; some areas may require more focus than others but a cohesive well-run operation needs all its parts working towards a common goal.

About FourPL

We have a proven history of working collaboratively with organisations and their teams to deliver the best possible outcome during each engagement. At FourPL, we value the experience operation teams bring to an SAP EWM Implementation project. We can enhance this with a tailored mix of SAP EWM experts, specialised operational personnel, technology strategist and WMS implementation know-how to create an inclusive implementation project environment that will translate the combined knowledge to your advantage.

Contact our team today for more information:


Email: Johan Bruwer, Solution Architect – Logistics

Email: Rafael Acosta, ANZ Service Line Leader

Interested in our Warehouse Management Services?