A move to SAP S/4HANA can be a daunting but ultimately exciting process for an organization. S/4HANA is a significant upgrade in capabilities from other ERP systems. Whether you’re migrating from SAP ECC or a set of heterogeneous ERP systems, S/4HANA will improve your ERP workflow tremendously. This migration may be just the beginning of your enterprise’s digital transformation strategy or toward the end, but the approach should remain the same: the move to S/4HANA is an opportunity to streamline business processes and create a culture that embraces innovation and change. Here are 4 simple – and powerful – tips to make the move to S/4HANA easier and give you a greater return on your investment.
1) Determine the right migration strategy for your business and IT needs
Whether the “field” is green, brown, or blue, your enterprise’s migration strategy will need to match your business and IT needs for you to realize the full capabilities of S/4HANA.
The standard options for migration are either a system conversion (brownfield) or a new implementation (greenfield). Still, other enterprises will elect a bluefield approach, a somewhat catchall term for non-standard migration like a selective data transition. However, on the whole, SAP notes that the “vast majority of SAP ERP customers decide either on conversion or on new implementation – in almost equal parts.”
Put simply, a system conversion involves translating your existing SAP ERP system to S/4HANA. This conversion involves database migration to SAP HANA 2.0, converting data from the old to the new data models, and upgrading to S/4HANA application code. SAP recommends completing a conversion in a single step in order to contain system downtime. And for that reason, there are often several preparation projects to complete before an enterprise is ready to go live with S/4HANA. There are a number of factors that make conversion the right choice for an enterprise. Many will opt for conversion when they want to migrate all their historic data to the new system or if they have a high number of interfaces between their SAP ERP and other systems. Furthermore, if the migration to S/4HANA is driven more by IT needs, a conversion sets the stage for future innovation as an enterprise’s business needs and processes evolve to fully realize the capabilities of S/4HANA.
A new SAP implementation means starting fresh with S/4HANA and either cutting over from the old system or rolling out the new system in phases. In a new implementation, SAP offers its SAP Model Company template and urges a “clean core” approach with a zero-modification policy.
Typically, enterprises opt for a new implementation if S/4HANA is a part of a strategic redesign of business processes or they do not need to retain past customizations and historic data. A new SAP implementation can also be useful for enterprises where landscape consolidation is a key objective, such as those that focus on mergers and acquisitions.
2) Where possible, embrace standardization in your S/4HANA migration
As SAP facilitates its customers’ move from older systems to S/4HANA, it is emphasizing standardization in the new product. For enterprises that opt for a new implementation, SAP pushes a clean, standard slate with their SAP Model Company and Best Practices package. For those enterprises that choose a system conversion to S/4HANA, they are encouraged to assess customized code and get rid of anything that is unnecessary or can be reimagined with a standardized solution.
This push for standardization makes sense. Reducing customization can reduce system complexity and make future updates and upgrades easier. Standardization also has several benefits for S/4HANA adopters: reduced transition time, lowered migration costs, and simpler resulting business processes for end-users. However, a standard system might not be feasible for all enterprises. For some, their ERP custom enhancements and modifications bring value to their operations and need to be preserved in migration to S/4HANA.
Considerations when standardization isn’t possible
If your enterprise needs to maintain its ERP customizations, be sure to consider the resulting unique business processes for which end users will need specific training. One emerging solution for this issue is digital adoption platforms. This enterprise software provides instruction and assistance as end users engage S/4HANA in their day-to-day tasks. For these unique workflows, digital adoption platforms offer a new model for SAP end-user training that provides end users on-the-job learning experience leading to greater competency, productivity, and confidence.
3) Rethink manual testing and explore an updated approach
In the beginning, software testing was a manual process – in each build and every step of a business process. Over time, both the code itself and end-user workflows progressively moved to automated testing. However, in ERP business processes, there will always remain manual steps. This can include stakeholder approvals, some UAT tasks, and handoffs between departments. Combining these automated and manual processes is called blended automation. Blended automation accepts that there will be manual tasks and seeks to optimize the overall process. This is done by taking a lean approach: reducing wasteful activities and automating as many tasks as possible. As each activity is evaluated for automation opportunities the overall process cycle time will reduce and the efficiency of manual steps will increase.
A blended automation approach to testing SAP S/4HANA is both practical and optimal. While automated testing is faster and more reliable, incorporating manual testing components reflects the real manual elements of business processes. This allows every aspect of each S/4HANA process – automated, manual, and the interaction between the two – to be validated or corrected in the safety of a test-environment.
4) Engage end-users and cultivate super users in your SAP migration
One easily overlooked fact about enterprise software system implementation is that the software is only as good as the users. That is, you can only realize the value of SAP S/4HANA if your end users adopt it and use it skillfully.In the migration from legacy ERP systems to S/4HANA, it is important to engage the end users of the new system to understand their pain points and leverage their insights. In the planning phase, they can help change management leadership sort unnecessary from efficient business processes. In the realization phase, they can validate or critique new processes from their practical application perspective.
Furthermore, a new system implementation creates the need for super users who can share their expertise. A Super user is an employee who is especially skilled in their use of the system and advanced in their understanding of its capabilities. Often, they organically become the go-to help for their coworkers. However, this arrangement is inefficient – and often frustrating for the super user.
Alternatively, smart enterprises identify these super users and enlist them as leaders in the implementation process. In this capacity, super users can help develop standardized training in the context and language of the business processes in which they are experts. As you migrate to S/4HANA, ask your teams: Who is readily adopting it and reaching proficiency? They are a resource worth cultivating and equipping with tools to help efficiently share their expertise.
How to engage, cultivate, and empower with the right training
It is normal when an enterprise rolls out a new system like S/4HANA to invest in multi-day, 10-40 hour training sessions. But a common learning and development model asserts that, in fact, only 10% of learning happens in this type of formal training. Seventy percent of learning, by contrast, comes from on-the-job experience.
Innovative approaches to end-user training take these facts into account and focus more on point-of-need assistance and guidance, which is a form of micro-learning. The digital adoption platform OnScreen is an example of this approach. It offers contextual step-by-step tutorials authored by super users that are at the ready for end users in each business process. This type of solution helps super users streamline their assistance and end users reach proficiency and peak productivity faster.
OnScreen is the agile digital adoption platform for SAP and web-based enterprise applications that boosts process efficiency and employee productivity. With OnScreen you can rapidly develop interactive guides directly on the SAP screen to help end users complete any business process or resolve any tcode frustration without errors. Book a Demo of OnScreen today.