It may appear reckless to go on an SAP S/4HANA journey when the ECC version (ERP Central Component) and Business Suite package just gained stability. Why take risks by stepping into the unknown? What’s more, the SAP offering is evolving, for instance with the advent of hyperscalers (AWS, Azure, Google), and with the new RISE with SAP product, allowing transition to a SaaS model.
Based on our experiences, we have seen that it is difficult to justify a business case to senior management, to anticipate ROI, or to invoke a commercial ground to get on board.
This is why very few SAP installed base companies have taken the leap so far.
To help our customers better understand, justify and execute their transition to SAP S/4HANA with minimum risk, we created a four-step, SAP-certified offering that we named S/4ACTION.
The 2027 Paradigm Is Not Inevitable
Many SAP installed base clients with whom I speak view the ECC to S/4HANA conversion as yet another forced upgrade combined with a costly change of database!
That is why they are just starting to plan their transition to SAP S/4HANA, and why they don’t prioritize this to the top of their list.
The fact that SAP extended its ECC support and maintenance deadline to 2027 consolidates their decision.
But beware! If you think of planning your SAP S/4HANA transition as late as possible, maybe that’s because you had difficulty justifying it to your organization.
Besides, the digital transformation of many industries has been accelerated by the pandemic, the constant change in business models, and the need for flexibility and collaboration with clients and suppliers. Laying the foundation of this transformation by migrating to SAP S/4HANA thus becomes vital!
Step 1: Why, When, How?
The first thing to do to succeed in your SAP S/4HANA transition is to understand why, when and how to migrate.
The “why” is probably the most complex aspect to address, but by asking the right questions and contrasting the conversion with the real targets of the company, the answer becomes self-evident.
The “how” is also addressed at this stage by showing you which routes you can take. Should you maintain the on-premise mode? Should you adopt IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) with a hyperscaler (AWS, Azure, Google)? Should you move away from your current model and opt for SaaS (Software as a Service) by means of the RISE with SAP offering?
This first step in the S/4ACTION process is a careful blend of workshops and well-equipped analyses allowing you to develop a roadmap applicable to your actual usage of the current SAP system, by stepping into the future of the company.
Among the tools used at this stage, the SAP Readiness Check, SAP BSR (Business Scenario Recommendations) or VLM (Value Lifecycle Management, which enables benchmarking), and SAP Fiori Apps Recommendations will help you find out more about SAP S/4HANA from a customized point of view.
This step is an essential starting point and does not require huge efforts since it can be performed over a three- to four-week timeline.
Step 2: Preparing the Conversion
Roadmapping is typically employed to establish a business case and to blaze a trail to the SAP S/4HANA conversion. When the decision is made, it is common not to choose a “Big Bang” approach that consists in a technical migration and in changing the users’ behavior in one go.
The approach that is often recommended corresponds to steps 2, 3 and 4 of our S/4ACTION methodology.
At step 2, we identify and execute actions to prepare for the SAP S/4HANA conversion that will allow you to simplify the technical migration, when it occurs.
Indeed, in order to transition to SAP S/4HANA, you need to operate on the correct version of the application, and have gone through “some cleaning.”
We are talking here, for instance, about transitioning to Unicode prior to the SAP S/4HANA conversion, upgrading versionsof the operating system and databases, and uninstalling certain components (inactive add-ons or archiving components).
If performed before the conversion, these preparatory—or S/4 ready—actions can reduce complexity, duration and risks. A boxed approach is recommended depending on the situation of your SAP ECC, as defined at the roadmap stage.
Step 3: Taking the Leap
Even if roadmapping and S/4 ready activities allowed you to set the conversion into motion while mitigating risks, this project still remains ambitious.
An SAP S/4HANA conversion is a project that requires a true mastery of the new platform, and a reliable and proven conversion methodology.
The SAP S/4HANA experience accumulated by Createch (more than twenty SAP S/4HANA projects to this day, of which five were live) is one of the most extensive in Canada. This allowed us to carry out this project, and to box it in three sizes: small, medium and large.
Moreover, as an AWS and Azure partner, we take part in cloud migrations if the strategy for the next SAP S/4HANA version is IaaS based (with a hyperscaler) or SaaS based (RISE with SAP).
This boxed approach maximizes efficiency, and reduces costs and risks by leveraging lessons learned by our experts in SAP S/4HANA implementations. Successful conversions help us ensure a 25% reduction in execution time compared to a traditional approach.
Consider a four- to eight-month project depending on your SAP ERP solution and its level of customization.
Step 4: Improvements
Right after your successful migration to the new SAP S/4HANA application, many improvement opportunities will be made available to you.
Whether it is through the improvement of UX by replacing the older UI with simple, user-friendly screens (SAP Fiori), the improvement of decision-making by implementing analytics scenarios, or the automation of processes by activating machine learning scenarios, the path to the Intelligent Enterprise as advocated by SAP is a step-by-step journey.
SAP S/4HANA lays the foundation of your digital shift and sets you on the right path toward the Intelligent Enterprise
Once again, our S/4ACTION methodology allows users to identify improvement scenarios early in the roadmap stage. We will rather undertake smaller, iterative, boxed improvement projects in order to reduce change management needs, and to allow users to adopt new ways of doing things.
Conclude and Control
If the SAP S/4HANA conversion is still misunderstood for several businesses, our SAP-certified S/4ACTION offering allows our clients to proceed peacefully while addressing questions from upper management, taking their objectives into consideration, mitigating the numerous risks, and boxing the project to reduce costs.