Speaking with different companies across various industries around the globe I have noticed one interesting fact – when companies start planning their transition, they perceive it as a system upgrade that can be done without huge effort on their side. However, when they launch the project, they come to a grave realization that the transition to S/4 HANA it is not at all like a system upgrade, it is more like a new implementation project (burdened with more obstacles) with all related issues and challenges.
The Questions You Need to Ask When Starting The Transition Project
Let’s shed some light on what does it really mean to upgrade from the old solution to S/4 HANA! Here is a checklist which can serve as a good starting point:
- Do you know what kind of hardware you need for S/4 HANA?
- Do you have all basis prerequisites fulfilled to change your existing database to HANA?
- Do you know which SAP functionalities will work and which will not work after the transition?
- Do you know real business impact of changing the existing solution to S/4 HANA?
- Do you know what will happen with all your custom development after the transition?
- Do you know what to do to streamline the transition project?
- Do you know how to reduce time and budget required for the project?
- Do you have a transition roadmap?
To address some issues during the early phase I would like to share some insights on S/4 HANA transition best practices and accelerators. First of all, I would like to emphasize that I’m focusing on the brownfield approach, which is gradual migration of existing SAP systems to SAP S/4HANA. This approach will be mostly chosen by SAP customers.
Let’s assume you already know why you need to have your system converted to S/4 and you already managed all administrative and organizational tasks, like the initial project planning etc., but what’s next?
If you look into SAP documents ‘The Road to SAP S/4HANA’ and ‘Simplification List for SAP S/4HANA’ you will find the answer, but probably the answer will not make you happy. You will get tons of documentation to read, hundreds of notes to implement and many of your questions will anyway remain unanswered. But no worries, let’s go step by step.
Preparation And Exploration – the Critical Phases of Transition to S4/HANA
First of all, let’s divide the transition project into phases:
- Discover phase: In the Discover phase, customers become familiar with the benefits of SAP HANA and SAP S/4HANA, and the benefits it can bring to their business
- Preparation phase: The phase where all transition preparation is set up
- Exploring phase: In the Exploring phase FIT/GAP analysis and other business impacts are assessed
- Realization phase: In the Realization phase includes configuration, modifications, testing, trainings and migration
- Deployment phase: In the Deployment phase the final preparation for Go-Live starts
- Running phase: With the successful Go-Live the system is opened for business users for productive use and “Hyper Care” activities are executed
As I already mentioned above, I will skip the Discovery phase, because I assume you already aligned transition to S/4 HANA with your IT strategy. I will also skip the Realization, Deployment and Running phases, because during those phases all the processes are straightforward and based on findings from previous phases.
So, we have two phases left that are very important and have huge impact on the potential success or failure of the entire project. Preparation and Exploring phases include all the S/4 HANA readiness checking activities and the development of the transition strategy and roadmap.
What you need to do during these phases:
- Initial checks of your system, i.e. SolMan SP level, ERP EHP level etc., to see if upgrade is needed;
- Check for all components, functions, add-ons, enterprise extensions etc. to see if they are compatible with S/4 HANA;
- Assess business impact of transition, i.e. impact on user behavior, business process changes, organizational change management etc.;
- Hardware sizing activities to be able define requirements of necessary hardware for hardware vendors;
- Explore you custom code to see if it’s compatible with the new solution and assess optimization options;
- Data Management planning and execution activities;
- Strategy and roadmap creation.
To do the preparation work in a right way you need to have a team of SAP consultant who are not only aware of tons of SAP documentation to read, hundreds of notes to implement etc., but also have read and understood everything, and in the best case already have used gained knowledge and experience somewhere before.
For this purpose, we have extended our SAP health check tool and equipped it with a comprehensive SAP S/4 HANA Readiness Check.
Why it is better:
- No need for many internal & external resources to get all necessary information and be able to translate it to the business language;
- You can run a tool as many times as you want to see your progress and readiness degree;
- You are getting a proven and working solution;
- You are getting consolidated readiness results in well-defined business language and user friendly output with option to deep-dive into details;
- You are getting precise recommendations for solving the identified issues
- You will have information and guidance for a actions what will lead for a Quick Wins in Data Management;
Therefore, my recommendation is not to tempt fate and rely on the proven and automated readiness check, available now as part of the SAP Fitness Test.