With every successful software or system deployment, whether it’s an upgrade or a brand new rollout, you must critically evaluate the process from start to finish. Any current customized code must be vetted to ensure it will work seamlessly with the new software and processes. You must also decide which type of rollout is best suited for your needs.
The same is true with SAP S/4HANA. To avoid downtime, common pitfalls, and mistakes, you must proceed with a carefully thought-out plan.
Between September and October of 2019, SAPinsider surveyed 217 members of their audience to help understand the progress SAP customers have made with the different types of SAP S/4HANA deployments. The results of that survey found that a majority of respondents (90 percent) have at least begun evaluating the case for migration or are running pilot projects. At the same time, 34 percent have already begun the rollout of SAP S/4HANA.
Of those already making the migration:
- 50 percent chose to go the new implementation route.
- 32 percent chose a system conversion.
- 18 percent chose a selective data transition.
The results of the survey discovered that there were three types of respondents:
- Early adopters
- Average adopters
- Late adopters
The survey concludes that early adopters shared a few common characteristics. For example, 58 percent of all early adopters viewed the SAP S/4HANA deployment as an opportunity to re-engineer their business processes to better fit operational needs and/or correct poorly developed/deployed processes and configurations.
But what are the actions that best assure a successful rollout of SAP S/4HANA? That depends on what type of adopter you are. Let’s look at the steps taken by both early and late adopters.
Three different approaches can be chosen for the deployment of SAP S/4HANA:
- New implementation
- Selective data transition
- System conversion
Of the three approaches, early adopters favor new implementations at nearly 60 percent. Early adopters find this approach the most direct path to modernizing and optimizing as many processes as possible. After that approach, early adopters favor selective data transition at around 30 percent. Finally, early adopters look at system conversion as the least likely approach for deploying SAP S/4HANA, at just over 10 percent.
Early Adopter Steps
The respondents to the survey indicated there were four key steps every early adopter should take to ensure a successful SAP S/4HANA deployment. Those steps are:
- No matter which deployment method the organization chooses, aim for continuous improvement, even if that means building new foundations for business processes. Early adopters have already seen positive results from SAP S/4HANA deployments. As SAP and its partners continue to execute on their roadmaps, they will deliver more and better tools and technologies that can generate value. For early adopters, it is important to take advantage of such developments and apply them to their business processes, to accelerate growth that complies with the organization’s strategy.
- Regularly re-evaluate custom code and identify opportunities to better integrate lines of business (LoBs) with the rest of the organization. To be continuously improving, you may occasionally have to re-evaluate the code customizations you have executed, as that code can provide differentiating value for your business.
- Centralize processes on a global scale while empowering employees to innovate. The problem with centralizing your processes is that it can lead to a bureaucratic nightmare, which, in turn, can get in the way of individual innovation. Avoid this at all costs by centralizing and automating on a global scale at the highest rate.
- Take advantage of the advanced analytics and technologies offered by SAP S/4HANA. Any rollout presents difficulties and takes considerable time to do correctly. SAP S/4HANA offers many new capabilities, so early adopters must continue to evaluate the new features to determine the effort required to get the most value from them.
As a whole, average adopters tend to focus on a different set of steps for a successful deployment of SAP S/4HANA. According to the survey, the following guidelines will help the average adopter with the SAP S/4HANA rollout:
- Build your business case with an open mind. Average adopters must start with the mindset that SAP S/4HANA will help make every business process as efficient and effective as possible, even if that means losing custom code.
- Consider a new implementation or selective data transition with a detailed data conversion, excluding unnecessary data to reduce transfer time and cost.
- Establish data management policies that minimize the need for data cleansing. Clean data is crucial for a successful deployment. It is important to implement data management best practices that keep your data both clean and up to date, so to lower the cost and decrease the size of your SAP S/4HANA footprint.
- Make the most of SAP tools that analyze your organization’s operations and custom code. SAP offers many free tools that can help you test custom code usage, identify potential issues and areas of improvement, and determine SAP S/4HANA readiness (with tools such as Usage Procedure Logging, Custom Code Lifecycle Management, ABAP Call Monitor, ABAP Test Cockpit, Readiness Check, SAP Transformation Navigator, and SAP Business Scenario Recommendations).
Late adopters can ensure a successful SAP S/4HANA deployment by following these guidelines:
- Build business cases for advanced analytics on SAP S/4HANA, even if the organization has already started deployment. Only 42 percent of late adopters plan to use advanced, predictive, or embedded analytics. You should consider a plan that makes the most of these features.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of custom code and processes. As you examine your code, re-engineer any process where it makes sense, while preserving any code that delivers value or differentiates your business.
- Identify opportunities to erase past mistakes without disrupting operations. During the deployment of SAP S/4HANA, chances are good you will find issues with your previous rollout. It is crucial to devise the means to correct those mistakes while preserving the necessary functionality and not cause downtime.
- Start with the least efficient process. During your deployment, the least efficient processes of your previous deployment should offer the most room for improvement. You should consider that improvement a prime value-add for SAP S/4HANA. Identify any process that can use the most improvement and assess the impact of deployment approaches, industry standards, best practices, and SAP S/4HANA capabilities.
How your SAP S/4HANA deployment succeeds depends on several factors. But don’t let one of those factors be that your company lacks the necessary insight in how to approach the rollout. Whether you’re an early, average, or late adopter, your company can successfully implement the latest technology, without disrupting your business processes or losing business.
Read the Report
To find out more of what the SAPinsider report uncovered about SAP S/4HANA deployments, Click Here to read the entire report. You’ll find plenty of information to help guide you and your business to the future of ERP.
You can follow me on Twitter @MichaelDTabron.