The focus and approach of the organization and the implementation partner will determine the success of the project. As with every major project to obtain the desired outcomes, the SAP S/4HANA implementation should clearly define the objectives and ensure the expected outcomes can be measured. Change is never the goal but rather the path to obtaining the desired business improvements.
- A strong business case should support the project
- Business, not IT, should own the project
- The main focus of the project should be on change management to drive the transformation of the organization towards integrated and improved end-to-end processes.
- Standardized end-to-end processes and industry best practices will also allow to increase automation and empower employees to focus proactively on issue prevention and exception handling.
Business focused implementation
The approach to a new SAP S/4HANA implementation should focus on re-design and change management instead of lift & shift. Lift & shift is understood here as moving an application or process from one environment to another without stopping to re-design and leverage the benefits of the new system.
There are three main implementation types in moving a company to SAP S/4HANA:
New implementation (greenfield) – for customers who are new to SAP ERP or companies who want to re-implement their SAP core solution.
System conversion (brownfield) – for existing SAP customers who want to upgrade and refine their current system to the latest SAP S/4HANA solution.
Automated conversion (bluefield) - similar to brownfield, but heavily supported by automated tools. Usually applicable for the conversion of massive ERP deployments where manual approach would take too long.
Implementation type varies based on current ERP, size of the organization, and its strategical goals. However, to maximize the benefits of S/4HANA, the focus should be always standardizing and simplification of business processes, not on technology.
Choosing the right approach is not enough. The project also needs a compelling business case; for example improvement of stock turnover by more efficient supply chain implementation or improvement of credit management and cash collection processes to reduce the Days Sales Outstanding (DSO).
A strong business case will allow the project to have clear and verifiable objectives that can be monitored and help to drive the changes with the stakeholders.