Despite the extended maintenance period for R3, one thing is certain: there is no way around S/4HANA. But one question remains: how do you migrate the existing system optimally to S/4HANA and take advantage of the numerous possibilities of the new platform?
The S/4HANA Value Check from DATAGROUP offers a solution: as a comprehensive methodology with which customer-specific, practical and process-oriented roadmaps to S/4HANA can be created. In this interview, we talk to Brigitte Wallesch, Head of Department at DATAGROUP. She has been working in SAP consulting since the R2 generation and knows exactly what pitfalls a generation change brings with it.
Why even tackle S4/HANA now? After all, SAP has extended maintenance?
I would say that has two levels: innovation and resources. SAP has extended maintenance, but all new development is happening only in S/4HANA. R3 is a system that still works but is frozen. Any innovation now only takes place in S/4HANA.
It is also a question of resources: S/4HANA resources on the market are limited and migrations will pile up shortly before the end of maintenance. If you tackle it early, you can strategically choose the partner that suits you and don’t have to take whoever is left over.
In addition, S/4HANA is already being used very often. The software is mature, there are best practices and empirical values, so you are not a guinea pig.
What is the S/4HANA Value Check?
The Value Check is a methodology developed by us, the result of which is a customer-specific roadmap to S/4HANA. Many other methods are based purely on technical facts, analyzing programs or source codes automatically and drawing up recommendations from this. In contrast, our Value Check is process and benefit-oriented, i.e. we take a close look at the business processes and determine how they can be mapped in S/4HANA so that the greatest possible benefit can be generated for the customer.
What does such a roadmap to S/4HANA include?
The roadmap is a detailed plan for the introduction of S/4HANA. On the one hand, it contains the implementation strategy, for example, whether greenfield or brownfield or a mixture of both is suitable for the customer. On the other hand, it also contains a detailed time plan, with which the customer knows exactly on which timeline the introduction is possible, as well as an overview of the required internal and external resources and a rough cost framework. If desired, we can also provide a detailed ROI analysis.
What does such an ROI analysis look like?
The focus is always on the potential benefit for the customer when implementing S/4HANA. This can, of course, be a monetary benefit. These are easy to measure. But it can also be a more difficult benefit to measure, such as user-friendliness or the reduction of in-house developments and interfaces. Many customers still have a lot of evaluations based on Excel sheets. We analyze which of these we can map in the SAP standard instead.
What are the advantages of such a value check?
A normal SAP implementation project is a very high investment with sometimes high complexity and it operates at the heart of the company, i.e. at the system that controls the most important processes of the entire company. If you make a mistake here, the consequences are immense. To prevent this, you should be sure in advance what strategy and which path makes sense for the company and what the impact will be – monetarily, but also in terms of resources.
The Value Check answers precisely these questions and provides a proper project plan. And it offers the chance to optimize processes and fully utilize the possibilities of S/4HANA.
Many rely on the brownfield approach because it simply migrates everything as it exists. This can be a sensible way to go, but it can also leave a lot of unused potential because you are only changing the underlying technology. That means the new elements are not used. With the Value Check, companies can analyze beforehand what benefits could be generated and then implement the project based on this data.
What would be an example of a benefits-based migration?
For example, there are few customers on the market who use SAP exclusively in the standard. Almost all of them have developed individual programs over time, so-called Z programs. It’s easy to lose track of them all: What has been developed? Do they still use the programs at all? What was the original goal and is it still being met today? When updates are made, all of these programs have to be updated individually, and usually there are only a few knowledge carriers in the company who know these programs well.
S/4HANA offers a huge opportunity to reduce these Z programs, thus discarding old ballast and transferring it to the new standard world. The Value Check helps to pave this way.
How does the S/4HANA Value Check work?
The Value Check proceeds in the phases Scan, Focus and Act. You can think of it as a funnel. In the preliminary phase (Scan), our experienced consultants work closely with the customer and, on this basis, select the core processes that are crucial for the customer and see whether there are opportunities for optimization. Like our medium-sized customers, we take a very pragmatic approach. After all, it makes no sense to focus on accounting, for example, if the customer is a manufacturing company and other processes, such as production planning, are critical to its success.
We also define project goals and which guard rails are relevant, for example, security before speed or standardization before user-friendliness. We break these rough guard rails down into tangible, measurable goals, for example, reducing the number of Excel sheets from 100 to 20 or being able to start the MRP run daily instead of once a week in the future.
Then, in the Focus phase, we look at how to map these processes in S/4HANA and how to optimize them and make them leaner. In the process, they are always aligned with the agreed targets.
In the Act phase, we focus on processes that can be optimized and develop the roadmap with a project plan and the required resources.
Who is involved in the process?
There are always central coordinators formed by a tandem of a DATAGROUP project manager and the customer’s project manager. Often this is the IT manager or the SAP manager, i.e. someone who knows the interrelationships of the systems and the company well.
In addition, at least one or two experienced contact persons are involved for each process. In other words, one who knows the process from the user’s point of view, for example from the business department, and one who knows it from the technical point of view, i.e. from the SAP or IT team.
From DATAGROUP, there are always experienced employees involved who manage to quickly understand processes and present them visually.
What happens after the Value Check?
After the roadmap has been created, the implementation project is due. Ideally, we accompany the introduction and build directly on the Value Check. We regularly check consistency with the defined goals throughout the entire project. However, the Value Check also provides valuable assistance if a customer decides to use a different implementation partner.
Based on your many years of experience: What does the ideal S/4HANA landscape look like to you?
My ideal S/4HANA landscape has no Z programs at all. This is probably illusory, but very, very few Z programs are feasible. Today, SAP offers so much in the standard with its best practice-based functionality that, if you implement S/4HANA wisely, there is little need to resort to Z programs.
In addition, I would not rely exclusively on Excel-based evaluations but use SAP Analytics and Embedded BW. Overall, I would rely as much as possible on the existing options, i.e. the standard.
Why go for the standard?
It gives me a system that is very easy to maintain. Innovations can be quickly integrated into my process world, updates are comprehensive and don’t have to be addressed individually, and I’m not so dependent on individual top performers. If an employee develops a Z-program and is the only knowledge carrier, I have a problem as a company if he changes his professional orientation. I don’t have that with standard solutions.
Would you like to learn more about the S/4HANA Value Check and how you can optimize your SAP system? Then contact us!
Brigitte Wallesch is Head of Department at DATAGROUP. As an experienced consultant, she has been working in SAP consulting since the R2 generation and knows exactly the pitfalls that a generation change brings with it.
T +49 89 996 872 255
M +49 173 3458285