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How a Well-Planned SAP S/4HANA Migration Can Be a Catalyst for Digital Transformation

This is the second in a three-part Pythian blog series on the benefits, challenges and considerations surrounding a migration to SAP S/4HANA. Read the first post here.

So, you’re planning to migrate your enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to SAP  S/4HANA.

First: Congratulations! A move to SAP S/4HANA, a next-generation ERP suite engineered to seamlessly connect complex business processes across the enterprise, is a major driver of organizational digital transformation. Digital transformation helps deliver data-driven insights for better business decisions, improves efficiency and productivity, and boosts customer experiences, among other benefits.

I’ve observed SAP’s evolution since its early days and been part of many organizations’ digital transformations, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the right planning, processes and toolsets are required for these initiatives to succeed. Indeed, McKinsey and Harvard Business Review both say that nearly three-quarters of digital transformation efforts fail.

Your S/4HANA digital transformation roadmap

If you ask me, the first step of any digital transformation is getting satisfactory sign off from every business unit you expect to be impacted. That means frank discussions on how business units will change and evolve, along with educating them on how digital transformation will improve their jobs—not replace them!

But that’s just the beginning of what is ultimately a six-step digital transformation process:

  1. Prepare. Already mentioned above, the right preparation helps business leaders and their staff get ready for change and take on a digital transformation mindset.
  2. Analyze. Business requirements across the enterprise must be analyzed and use cases mapped to technology solutions.
  3. Discuss. Initiate an open dialogue with every business unit and department to discuss challenges and opportunities based on your transformation plan.
  4. Initiate. Begin executing your digital transformation plan through IT and related departments.
  5. Run. Run the planned transformation process until you’ve hit your target or chosen endpoint.
  6. Test. Test each phase of your digital transformation to improve new iterations and future runs.

Always keep in mind that digital transformation efforts aren’t automatically destined to succeed. But thoughtful planning, organizational discipline and a commitment to the plan will provide the best possible chance of success.

How an SAP S/4HANA migration facilitates digital transformation

From a customer perspective, there are five main benefits to digital transformation—and a migration to SAP S/4HANA on the cloud can be the catalyst that helps you achieve them. Here’s how: 

1. Process simplification and reduction of complexity. SAP S/4HANA is built on the advanced SAP HANA in-memory platform and incorporates modern design principles, including improved user experience (UX) through a series of process simplifications. This includes:

  • Less complex ERP landscapes and tasks thanks to simplified data models
  • Simplified master data management with reduced modeling alternatives for materials requirements planning (MRP) functions at the storage location level
  • Faster processing and database response times from removing many aggregate tables
  • No code stress testing and almost no code handling

2. IT landscape modernization. The S/4HANA platform helps organizations modernize their IT landscape through advanced real-time analytics, API-enabled automation, cloud robustness and scalability, re-engineered business processes, greater access to and integration of all your data, improved user experiences, and access to the latest cloud-driven technologies such as AI and blockchain.

3. Improved UX. Organizations on S/4HANA can engage end users more effectively thanks in part to SAP Fiori, a low-code design system that enables any business user—even those with zero coding experience—to efficiently create and deploy consumer-grade business apps that solve real business problems and that end users actually enjoy. 

Organizations can also implement SAP S/4HANA Sales to simplify and enhance the sales process from end to end, allowing users to easily manage, collaborate on and monitor sales orders in real time.

4. Lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and faster return on investment (ROI). Organizations can combine the efficiencies and cost optimizations of S/4HANA—including self-serve management that doesn’t require IT resources—with the lower expenditures of cloud to lower TCO and accelerate innovation across the enterprise. Enhanced performance and reduced complexity through a flexible, modular system and low-code tools means business users aren’t dependent on IT and can get things done faster. Power users can more easily perform self-management and self-fulfillment without requiring intervention from the IT team.

Better performance and improved data agility also means business users can meet their objectives without waiting for the IT team to make data available or set up customized solutions.

And because it’s all in the cloud, adding new and innovative features is as simple as the click of a button—no more expensive CapEx or procurement initiatives to improve your capabilities.

5. It’s an efficient path to future modernization. S/4HANA in the cloud helps you cost-efficiently solve enterprise challenges both now and in the future, thanks to a flexible and simplified cloud architecture that allows faster and easier future upgrades and migrations with less complexity. 

Start your digital transformation with Pythian SAP services

SAP S/4HANA can be the ultimate catalyst for your organization’s digital transformation, and it brings with it several tangible benefits including IT landscape modernization, process simplification and improved user experience. But to realize the full impact of these potential  benefits, it’s vital to lay the proper groundwork well in advance of implementing your digital transformation initiatives. 

Pythian’s global SAP migration experts have years of experience helping organizations just like yours plan, implement and realize the many benefits of HANA and S/4HANA (on-premises or in the cloud) faster, more efficiently and with less stress. Let us analyze your current SAP environment and design a workload transition plan that lowers TCO through cloud optimization and automation with our seven-day SAP migration assessment.

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