Insights Blog 6 Things You Need to Know Before Launching SAP S/4HANA


6 Things You Need to Know Before Launching SAP S/4HANA

The switch to SAP S/4HANA is so monumental one can almost describe it as the most significant thing that has happened “since the invention of the internet”, in terms of impact on businesses.

While this is a slight exaggeration, it’s hard to overestimate the effect on the business digital domain, as the scale of impact is massive.

  • 76% of worldwide transaction revenue touches an SAP system
  • 378,000 SAP customers worldwide
  • 2025 is when SAP will end support of ECC6. Customers have six years to transition on to S/4HANA
  • 54% of SAP customers plan to deploy S/4HANA within 3 years
  • 23% of SAP customers plan to do a completely new implementation
  • >25% is the amount of time/effort spent on testing. In some cases, this is as high as 50%

1. S/4HANA is a great business opportunity

The transition to S/4HANA is an opportunity for your organization to redesign how it runs the business. The potential for a significant improvement of business processes is great.

Make sure that from a leadership perspective you have a common understanding and alignment between the business stakeholders and the technology stakeholders.

The transition to S/4HANA, more than being a technology-driven project, is more of a business transformation project. Some people might see this as just an upgrade, but that approach would only be able to generate a significantly lower value to the business than people that approach it with a business transformation mindset and opportunity.

2. Think about the big picture

The S/4HANA transformation will have a profound impact on things like:

  • Process Automation: Full automation of business processes, from HR to payments processing, to workflow approvals for purchase orders and sales execution.
  • Next generation practices: Redefine business processes by making it data-driven, leveraging predictive, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Using smart analytics to support end users at a new level of foresight.
  • Next-gen UX: User experience based on voice, vision and messaging will replace how people interact in real life and increase business productivity.

Technical challenges

Make sure you plan your roadmap to S/4HANA alongside keeping the “lights on” on your current SAP with annual patching, ERP upgrades and BAU change.

3. Preparation and analysis are essential

In order to maximize the benefits of the transition to S/4HANA you would need to understand the process the organization is going to follow. Depending on whether you adopt a new implementation of S/4HANA or a conversion to it will determine what your focus should be, but in any case the important thing is to be able to understand what the organization has today, what the end goal is and how significant is the gap.

Your organization needs to go through an initial S/4HANA transformation assessment, which aims to accomplish the following:

  • Technical Analysis of your existing SAP solutions (if it is a conversion and not a new implementation) to determine the technical roadmap to S/4HANA transformation.
  • Business Process and Functional assessment to identify the opportunities for business transformation as well as the hotspots compared with current business processes and SAP functionality.
  • Strategic roadmap definition to define the key stages required in order to achieve the organization’s digital transformation.

From a systems perspective, if you’re converting to S/4HANA, it’s important to understand what level of customization you have deployed since initially going live with SAP and analyze how your code needs to be rewritten or optimized before you can make the transition. Failing to do this will significantly impact the performance benefits that can be realized with the transformation to the S/4HANA solution.

4. You need a post-implementation plan

It is essential to understand from a business process perspective, once the change has been implemented, how your organization will manage and maintain the solution. For example, to be able to deploy updates quicker and easier.

Think about your release and change management processes and how you need to update or manage those moving forward, once you have a more frequent release approach from SAP. This will ensure you can still maintain the benefits of new features, processes and functionalities coming through.

The main objective of doing the transition is to make use of the S/4HANA benefits. This means your organization needs to switch its thinking to the Digital Enterprise concept: having an agile approach that is more responsive and allows rapid deployment and cutting-edge technology. Make sure that your organization is set up correctly, so once the upgrade is completed the Digital Enterprise journey can continue.

There’s a danger that organizations that are moving to S/4HANA might forget about the requirement to do performance testing. There will still be a need for that in order to tune the system and achieve full S/4HANA benefits. Don’t assume that because you are switching to the latest SAP technology it means you don’t have to actively seek to maximize, or rather optimize, the way you use it.

Also, the transformation project involves more than budgeting the hardware or the IT resources, you need to think about training, enablement and organizational design, without forgetting the end point, which is the customer experience.

5. Consider your overall enterprise landscape and strategy

SAP tends to be the core, but you probably have other legacy systems or 3rd party systems that integrate with SAP and their impact on those needs to be considered.

It can be an opportunity to reconsider the organization’s strategy and approach and decide whether to adopt more functionality with SAP (and retire those applications), or to assess whether the integration would work effectively with the applications currently in use and in that case assess the impact it would have on the business.

The level of integration testing is critical to make sure that the core end-to-end business process still operates when the change goes live in order to minimize business disruption.

6. Automation is the final piece of the puzzle

It’s imperative to think about the stage in which automation would be deployed within the implementation process and build a legacy for ongoing regression requirements to support those frequent release cycles.

If you are doing a conversion to S/4HANA, you would need to do code optimization, which includes a lot of iterative, regression testing in order to validate that when you actually change the code, it won’t affect any of the processes or downstream activities as a result.

If that level of regular iterative testing is done manually it would require quite a lot of effort, so it would be best to start thinking about building in automation early in the process for it to be utilized further down the line.

Qualitest is a leading provider of SAP quality assurance and testing solutions. We are the only SAP-certified pure-play testing service provider, and we work closely in partnership with SAP to help companies around the world reduce their SAP implementation timelines and improve quality and performance of their applications.

Get in touch to hear more about how we can help your organization.