Chances are if you’ve been in and around SAP for the past few years…you likely heard about their new flagship ERP product SAP S/4HANA. With approximately 80% of SAP customers still evaluating their journey to SAP S/4HANA, I’m often asked by customers and prospective customers, “what can I do now?” My answers frequently evolve around data preparedness, business and technology readiness, user engagement, and digital and intelligent enterprise awareness. So, here is my take on 5 Ways to Jumpstart your SAP S/4HANA journey, Now!
1) Data Preparedness:
We’ve all heard varying forms of the age-old adage “you get out what you put in”…this cannot be overemphasized in our new digital reality. This is by far one of the most important and crucial activities you can engage in today. If your organization doesn’t have a formal data governance process, set one up. If your organization isn’t cleansing and enhancing your data to take advantage of advanced data analytics and visualization, do it now!
In my opinion, I recommend starting with master data (e.g. Customer, Vendor, Material, Employee, and Bank, etc) then branching out to subordinate or referential data (e.g. Customer/Vendor InfoRecords, Bills of Materials, etc). Pay particular attention to data elements that will enhance data analytics and visualization.
2) Engage Users to Identify Pain Points and Opportunities:
In my 20+ years of industry and consulting experience, one of the most overlooked and undervalued critical success factors is your user’s experience. They are the ones who know where the skeletons and sins of your past are buried in your organization and processes. Engaging your users will provide visibility into inefficiencies, opportunities for improvement, and most importantly user perspective and feedback on their user experience. Technology has taken massive leaps in user experience and user interface over the past several years, we should provide a simplified, streamlined, and engaging user experience in everything we deploy.
3) Explore SAP S/4HANA:
The ERP experience has dramatically evolved over the past several years. We are now living in a time where information must be readily available in real-time or near real-time for the business not only to survive but to thrive. To this end, S/4HANA has simplified data structures and business processes; enabled by artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics process automation, augmented reality, data analytics, and visualization to mention a few.
It is imperative that you invest time in coming up to speed on what functionality is available, and how it can/will impact your organization (positive or negative). Please know this digital shift in technology can/will enable you, your organization, your industry, and your business partners to conduct business more collaboratively and will begin to blur the lines of supply chains and value chains and help identify new ways of conducting business. Invest time in exploring the possibilities, you will reap benefits for doing so!
4) Identify Jump-Start Initiatives:
Over the years, I’ve observed organizations seeking ways to “ease” into their next major technology projects via “jump-start” initiatives as opposed to “jump in head first” into the full-blown initiative. I’ve personally found this refreshing because it allows organizations to take a pragmatic, methodical approach in preparing for and ramping up larger transformation initiatives.
This approach has several benefits, namely,
- A quick win is the easiest proof of concept
- Boosts the confidence and morale of the business and users
- Increases overall acceptance of the solution
- In some instances, it gives users and the broader organization exposure to S/4HANA functionality (e.g. SAP Fiori, SAP Analytics Cloud, etc)
Some examples of jump-start initiatives might include:
- Fiori User Experience – enable Fiori in your legacy SAP ECC environment and deploy a handful of the standard apps across key process areas
- Network Strategy – If contemplating cloud or hyperscaler deployment – consider evaluating your current network strategy, topography, and deployment and optimize for cloud connectivity
- Data Analytics & Visualization Evaluation – engage your data analysts, data engineers, and if applicable, data scientists to evaluate your preparedness and readiness to leverage data coming out of your new digital transformation initiatives
- Ancillary System Evaluation – Take a critical look at ancillary systems that are deployed and see if they are still serving your organization’s best interest. Example systems might include: manufacturing execution systems, quality management solutions, service management, and laboratory management information systems to name a few
5) Assess Your Functional and Technical Readiness:
A realistic assessment of the status quo is vital to devise a realistic project plan. The first step to this should be due diligence on the existing capabilities, expected challenges, and high-risk gaps that could potentially jeopardize the implementation project.
An accurate assessment will provide you with the right plan to make headcount allocations, ensure the availability of the appropriate competencies across the project and reduce the overall risk of your SAP S/4HANA project.
Ensuring a smooth transition to SAP S/4HANA is essential for the entire business. Whether it is data processing, analytics, profitability, or operational efficiency, SAP S/4HANA is the future of ERP systems and what you need in this transformational journey is an experienced partner who can make this process as seamless for you as possible.
SAP S/4HANA? Ping me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you’d like to discuss this further.
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