A good number of SAP user companies are about to migrate to S/4HANA and are pondering how the introduction of the new ERP real-time suite can be implemented quickly, securely and in a cost-effective manner. Jörg Kaschytza, VP Global Solutioning at SNP Schneider-Neureither & Partner, knows the answers. In this interview, the transformation expert talks about the key success factors for S/4HANA projects and how to efficiently overcome existing challenges.
Mr. Kaschytza, since the S/4HANA launch in 2015, you and your colleagues at SNP have advised and supported many large companies and corporations during the changeover. Speaking from your project experience, what factors do you consider to be particularly critical to success?
The success of a transformation project such as the conversion to S/4HANA is essentially due to three factors: Companies need good planning, they should take advantage of the opportunities offered by standardization, and they should accelerate the large-scale project by adopting an industrialized migration approach.
After all, with S/4HANA, companies are paving their way into the digital future and laying the foundation for a fully digitized working environment. If they fail to analyze the strategic framework and to define a roadmap derived from it in advance, this can lead to unnecessary complexity - as a result of which essential goals are missed. That's why I believe good pre-planning is essential. And ompanies are not left to their own devices on this matter. Software-based analyses support them in developing a transformation scenario suitable for the company's situation and ensure greater planning quality.
Furthermore, it is equally essential take into account the trend towards standardization, which has been of great importance since R/3 times. Those who rely on a standardized procedure during the transformation can significantly reduce project effort as well as risks. Predefined transformation rules, guided processes and automated tests can minimize time and costs. The third success factor – the "industrialization of S/4HANA implementations" – is also based on these principles.
What does such an industrialized S/4HANA approach look like and why is it so beneficial for companies?
Companies that want to remain competitive can hardly afford to undertake extremely long-term projects these days. They have to achieve their defined goals quite promptly – especially during a global pandemic. This is made possible by the "industrialization" of transformation projects and complex S/4HANA implementations. With the help of automated, scenario-based transformation software and software-supported monitoring of projects throughout all phases, this can be successfully achieved. In addition to the time aspect, the above-mentioned acceleration through "industrialization" typically also results in cost savings.
At SNP, we have developed our own approach for this purpose. It is called BLUEFIELD and applies our transformation software (CrystalBridge) to S/4HANA and other scenarios.
What are the particular strengths of this approach with regard to S/4HANA conversions or new implementations?
Probably the most significant advantage is flexibility. The approach enables a flexible restructuring of master data, organizational models and business processes.
It allows companies to safeguard investments from the past while introducing necessary innovations. Further, it gives them the flexibility to select only the historical data that will be needed in future systems. Remaining data is preserved in the archive, where it remains available.
This results in significant synergy effects: The time required for the actual conversion is typically considerably less compared to classic project approaches. One of the reasons is that certain preliminary projects, such as the pre-launch of Business Partners, can be bundled. It allows for time-savings which in return translates into cost benefits.
In short, with our flexible and selective methodology, companies can switch to SAP S/4HANA faster, more securely, and more cost-effectively, while still accommodating streamlining, harmonization, and innovation in a single project – a fact that is particularly advantageous in light of the current pandemic. In addition, the more complex the changeover programs, the greater the benefits generally are.
There's a good reason that our software has established itself in the SAP consulting market: Numerous renowned consultancies have concluded partner agreements with SNP in order to be able to use our standard software and have more design options in their projects.
Please give us some key advice for the journey: What should large corporations bear in mind when converting their global IT landscapes? Are there any particular challenges that project managers need to be prepared for?
Global SAP system landscapes are usually complex and characterized by a heterogeneity of ERP solutions (SAP, non-SAP). The upstream and downstream systems that are connected via interfaces are also rarely homogeneous.
Depending on the number, it must be clarified whether the existing systems should lead to individual S/4HANA conversions or whether project bundling is feasible. Here it is important to know that bundling generally shows synergy effects when concepts and processes are harmonized. If this were not to happen, the complexity of the individual SAP landscapes would be difficult to manage in terms of content. Companies would again end up with a large number of individual S/4HANA conversions – which in turn would have a negative impact in the long run.
As a result, a S/4HANA implementation in global SAP system landscapes leads to a larger conversion program, which can include at least one system consolidation, and sometimes also the replacement of non-SAP ERP with SAP or process harmonizations. By the way, this is also the reason why only a few comprehensive S/4HANA implementations have been carried out in large companies so far – here, the necessary preliminary work is often still underway or has just reached the first project stages.
Another challenge lies in planning the transformation task in the ideal sequence. Can a big bang, as we call the area-wide rollout, be implemented or is a wave-based approach more target-oriented? Might interim solutions be required? Decision-makers should definitely consider these and other strategic questions before starting the project.
Mr. Kaschytza, thank you very much for the interview.
You would like to introduce SAP S/4HANA in your company and have specific questions about project planning and implementation? Our expert Jörg Kaschytza will be happy to assist you:
Jörg Kaschytza, VP Business Consulting at SNP Schneider-Neureither & Partner, E-Mail: Joerg.Kaschytza@snpgroup.com