How are organisations approaching SAP S/4Hana migration?

If you’re an engineer, the thought of making a major migration might give you pause. Because your primary job is to manage the design and workload for system maintenance and system updates, you tend to hold off on the adoption of new technology. Why? Support. Because you are an integral part of supporting the IT infrastructure, you keep constant watch on how such a migration might progress.

In February and March 2019, SAPinsider ran a survey to understand where SAP customers were with SAP S/4Hana. The results of that survey found a majority of respondents (70%) are, in some way, moving toward this new solution.

If you are an engineer, early adoption of new technology isn’t always a best-case scenario. Because you are charged with keeping systems up and running, you tend to hold off on adopting technology without thorough vetting and testing.

According to the SAPinsider survey, those who were early adopters were driven by digital transformation and competition. The early adopters reported that they:

  • Prioritise analytics and data-driven strategies;
  • Want to improve decision-making and support digital transformation; and
  • Had a history of delivering value to a wide range of business lines.

Those who held off on adoption were driven by deadlines. The holdouts:

  • Were technical and IT driven;
  • Used technical measures to dictate success;
  • Had plenty of experience with technical upgrades; and
  • Had a primary focus of immediate priorities.

What drives ERP strategies?

The primary engineer-focused business driver for ERP strategies would be end of maintenance and support for core SAP, ERP and SAP ECC releases. For that driver, respondents tell an important tale: early adopters make up less than 20%, while those who hold off comprise over 50%.

Getting even more granular with this question allows us to look at metrics used to measure the success of ERP strategies. With engineers, the primary concerns are system availability, time to deployment and production schedule performance. Of those three concerns, the only category to top 50% was time to deployment (with those who are more likely to hold off on adoption coming in at 52%).

How are customers approaching the move?

Moving to a new ERP solution is complex. Because of this, respondents clearly indicated that access to upgrade preparation and migration tools was the single most important factor (at 84%). Even with access to the right preparation and migration tools, one issue can cause problems for engineers. That problem is source release. SAP recommends starting from at least the SAP ECC 6.0 release. According to respondents, the majority are running SAP ECC 6.0, enhancement packages 7 or 8. That gives a clear indication that a majority of businesses are at least up to date enough to make the migration to SAP S/4HANA — a fact that should give engineers a bit of room to breathe easily.

According to the survey, the majority of early adopters are taking a “greenfield” approach to the migration in order to:

  • Correct their past mistakes;
  • Limit customisation going forward;
  • Reinvent and re-engineer processes and technology; and
  • Consolidate the landscape.

Although the “greenfield” approach appeals to the majority of early adopters, engineers will likely follow this path as well.

What outcomes are customers reporting?

Organisations who have completed the migration to SAP S/4HANA have found that it meets a majority of their expectations and took months (not years) to complete. Those organisations that adopted a more standardised functionality were able to reduce conversion workloads and get smaller implementations up and running faster than major consolidations. Other notable points were:

  • Data transformation is a task not to be taken lightly;
  • A number of educational requirements were tied to the migration. Primary to the educational needs is the new SAP S/4HANA table structure; and
  • Of all respondents, 31% cited custom code as the top challenge.

How can you be successful?

The SAPinsider survey indicated the keys to success for engineers include:

  • Expanding your in-house skill sets;
  • Purging custom code where possible;
  • Staying up to date on patches and updates;
  • Ensuring your company has a strong master data management service in place; and
  • Building a solid hybrid middleware strategy.

For a more detailed breakdown on where customers are in the move to SAP S/4HANA, read the full report here.

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