Converting to SAP S/4HANA? Don’t Neglect These 8 Crucial Questions
When facing what must be one of the biggest transformational endeavours your organization will undertake, you need to make sure you dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s.
When facing what must be one of the biggest transformational endeavours your organization will undertake, you need to make sure you dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s. There’s a lot on the line and not only that, you’re going to need to make sure you’ll be able to take advantage of the benefits that come with S/4Hana.
That requires a plan and the time to start preparations is now. SAP will end its support of the previous ERP called ECC6 in 2025. Now, that may sound like a long time, but it isn’t if you consider the fact that it takes years for an enterprise to transform its business processes and integrated landscape by either completely successfully switching to S/4HANA (known as reimplementation) or do a new greenfield implementation.
If are considering moving to S/4HANA, there are vital things you need to consider first:
1. What’s your starting point?
Depending on the version of ECC you’re on at this stage (if you’re not on ECC6 you will need to upgrade first), from a testing perspective what’s important is for you to understand the existing functionality and business processes you have in place and then prove that they still work, eliminating a regression impact.
2. Have you enabled Unicode conversion?
S/4HANA uses Unicode, so when you installed SAP initially, you may not have enabled Unicode conversion. It’s essential to check your integration points from SAP to external systems and validate that those interfaces and systems can continue to talk to one another. You do not want any miscommunication here.
3. Is your technical architecture suitable?
You need to perform testing to make sure your organization’s technical architecture can support the move to S/4HANA, as well as optimize its capability. SAP solutions are ABAP or Java based systems and are sometimes deployed on the same stack. When moving from ECC to S/4HANA you must separate them in order to move the ABAP solutions.
You need to do work around impact assessment: understand the technical complexities, the interfaces involved, make sure systems can talk to one another, that data is secure, and that the applications’ functionally work through testing.
4. Have you considered data cleanup?
It’s recommended to you do a data cleanup before you move to S/4HANA in order to avoid transferring redundant data or unnecessary data. The benefit for you is that optimized data and making good use of the architecture will enable running faster queries or create the database much quicker.
In order to achieve this you need to validate data integrity through testing – without losing critical data – and if you’re carving data out of the system you need to first understand the relationship between the data points, so you can avoid losing important data connections.
5. Do you need code optimization?
If your company has been using SAP for a while, it’s likely that customizations were used over time. Because of that, you would need to either remove that customization or optimize it, so the program is suitable for S/4HANA. Without doing this you risk building redundancy, which will cause programs to operate inefficiently and therefore you lose the benefits of S/4HANA.
When doing functional testing and performance testing of the code, we recommend you start to introduce automation in order to be able to do more iterative testing throughout the re-implementation and subsequent transformation activities.
In addition to automation from a functional perspective, regression performance also enables you to do quick iterative performance tests to prove that the changes have had a positive impact.
6. Process innovation – to do or not to do?
Should you do process innovation? Like for like or enhance core business processes to make use of the full capabilities of S/4HANA? It’s important you understand the scope and overall business impact. The potential scale of change is not only from a process and operational perspective, but also a cultural one. It is paramount that you not only technical and functionally test the solution, but also to assure/verify your organization can successfully operate once deployed, to avoid significant business disruption and maximise your benefits of the S/4HANA capability.
7. Have you planned ongoing regression testing?
SAP will drop quarterly updates, which means it is important you establish a robust release and deployment plan, which includes a capability to quickly and effectively regression test not only the changes associated with the S/4HANA updates, but more importantly that your core integrated business processes are not impacted across the enterprise landscape.
It’s important you don’t lose sight of what SAP is connected to and how those connection can and will affect other parts of the business.
8. Did you plan change management training?
UAT will not be very efficient or effective if the testers involved are coming across what the new solution looks like for the first time during UAT. It’s important you do the change management communication and training well before that.
Even when UAT is complete, Operational Acceptance Testing and Business Verification Testing is vital to ensure the business can operate effectively and efficiently once the solution goes live.
It’s important to have an independent testing organization involved from the onset so that it can carry out an expert impact assessment for you. Obtaining independent validation of your critical business processes will give you the confidence that you can leverage the benefits of S/4HANA without impacting your business.
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.