Published on in Digital Transformation

A couple of weekends ago I finally plucked up the courage to tidy my garage.

I have lived in my current house for 18 years now, and like most people – especially those with young families – my garage has become a dumping ground for a variety of objects.

If I’m being honest, the decision to clear the place up wasn’t the result of my being ultra organised or proactive: I was forced into it. I needed new garage doors and the company supplying them took one look at the space and explained they would need at least some room to work!

You may be wondering what exactly this has got to do with SAP?

Well, over the day and a half it took me to tidy up I got to thinking about the synergies with enterprise software. And while you’re not going to find a half-used can of paint in your SAP estate, you almost certainly are going to come across maybe 20-30 years’ worth of clutter in a range of disguises.

Many of you may have read my last post on building a business case for the move to S/4HANA. However, when speaking with clients, I often find a hardcore band who protest that they have no intention of moving in the immediate future. No amount of discussion will dissuade them.

So, what can you do if you fall into that category? Begin by accepting that you more than likely have an SAP estate that resembles my garage – but that it’ll probably take more than a day and a half of tidying to clear it up. Then, start to build a plan that takes you from today to the final migration to S/4HANA.


Begin with the end in mind

Moving to S/4HANA is not an insignificant move. But it does offer a business a golden opportunity to start a fresh.

Many clients are opting for a greenfield implementation, accepting that the way they did business in the 1990’s (when they originally implemented SAP) is very different to today. Most SAP estates have evolved to new business processes, but a move to S/4 provides an opportunity for a more significant step change.

I lose count of the number of clients who’ve said to me over the years that they would like to adopt a different business process, but that it’s just too difficult to adopt. In these cases, my first port of call is to challenge the client to explain to me how they see their business processes currently working.

Why? Well, you’d be surprised by how many clients I meet simply do not have full visibility of their processes and – therefore no idea where improvements to operational efficiency and client satisfaction can be achieved.


Making sense of what you have

Another classic issue is one of duplicate data.

I remember in the mid-1990s I was running a brand new accounts payable department on SAP for NatWest. We had only been live for about two months before we had created duplicate suppliers that were causing a headache. This isn’t a problem that has gone away.

Many clients have no data strategy to speak of, but as more and more industries become data-driven (or even data-dependent) there’s never been a more apt time to take a hard look at this.

It’s no use having a faster S/4HANA environment if it’s just processing more data than it really needs to. Equally, quicker access to data is only valuable if the data the system provides is actually accurate. So, delete your duplicates! And while you’re at it, take a look at your archiving strategy too – again, I know many clients that have never archived at all.

But it’s not just data. If you are planning your S/4HANA transition, take a look at your wider application estate and the associated interfaces as well.

Are you really sure about what they actually do for the business? And do you plan to take them into the cloud at any point in the future? Think also about the opportunity to understand which additional workloads can be taken into SAP.


Making use of SAP resources

SAP itself recognises many of these challenges and the opportunities they afford clients during their conversions. I would thoroughly recommend running the SAP Readiness Check 2.0 tool.

The SAP Readiness Check is the tool used to identify whether the existing SAP ECC system is ready for conversion to S/4HANA. (SAP notes that 2758146 is the starting point for the SAP S/4HANA Readiness Check 2.0 and it is only available for SAP ERP Systems.)

The tool checks for SAP S/4HANA conversion compatibility, and highlights necessary conversion preparation steps. The results are consolidated in an interactive dashboard for internal examination or for SAP communication.

These checks evaluate a number of specific areas and provide detailed information on the findings. The tool can flag up, for example, technical system information, installed SAP add-ons and 3rd-party add-ons, and compliance with the SAP S/4HANA targeted version, as well as system size and custom code analysis grouped by application area.

When I work with partners to identify SAP custom code, the majority of the scans we run show that around 60% of this code is no longer used – which is mostly a reflection of the fact that SAP has become more functionally rich over the last thirty years, and business processes have become more homogenised with the advent of the internet.


Be ready for challenges, and open to new solutions

But even after a successful transition, there will be teething problems.

I recently met a CIO whose business was going through massive change, at the same time as implementing a Greenfield S/4HANA Financials core.

When the project went live, the finance team complained that SAP did not deliver what it should do, and it was too difficult to use. The CIO recognised that neither was true, however the finance team were under so much pressure they did not spend enough time on the blueprint phase nor have time to attend the training – hardly the fault of the software, or the members of staff working in finance!

Solving such challenges will take a combination of technological and cultural innovation.

In these situations, I recommend looking at how Robotic Process Automation can help. In this particular case of the disgruntled finance team, much of the work sapping their time was repetitive and could be easily automated – freeing up the team to focus on higher value decision making, and giving them time to learn their way around the new S/4HANA system too of course.

So the next time you tidy your garage, pass a thought to your SAP estate too. It’s not the most enjoyable of tasks but life becomes a lot easier as a result.

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Gerren Mayne

Gerren Mayne is the UK Head of SAP Practice. He has worked in SAP for over twenty five years, initially as a SAP FICO consultant on R/3 before moving onto managing SAP implementation projects across EMEIA. Gerren moved into a Consultative Sales role during his tenure at IBM and has gone onto to lead SAP teams at Atos, HPE and Accenture before joining Fujitsu. Gerren believes passionately about the ability of SAP to transform businesses but thinks that organisations and partners need to take a new approach to ensure that customers achieve the right business outcomes through this investment.Gerren is passionate about supporting businesses in maximising their investment across SAP and to enable them to innovate, reduce costs and drive operational excellence to enable them to meet their strategic goals.

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