S/4HANA 1909 Launched
The fourth full release of S/4HANA on-premise has now arrived with a number of exciting new innovations for core business processes in addition to some notable new technical benefits behind the scenes. The product launch video provides a glossy overview of what's new but our team have also been taking a closer look at how some of the key functionality improvements provide opportunity to drive business benefit.
Predictive MRP (pMRP) - Driving Down Inventory Costs
Traditional SAP APO Production Planning capabilities (old school 'PP/DS') were integrated into the core within S/4HANA 1610 and have continued to evolve with each release. Fiori apps now support capacity monitoring and production scheduling, delivering benefits in terms of improved native functionality and ease of use for planners. In 1909, we now get our hands on 'Predictive Material & Resource Planning' (pMRP) which leverages the power of S/4HANA to simulate and predict potential capacity issues in order to solve them early in the planning process.
Using pMRP, the production team can define Demand Plan or Capacity Plan simulations based on sets of simplified data from operational MRP activity which the system can generate. These simulations can be scheduled, executed and compared to identify issues and assess the impact of adjusting key input parameters. In practical terms pMRP supports buffer sizing for demand driven replenishment and produces Planned Independent Requirements which can be activated for usage within standard MRP.
Our planning gurus are excited about the potential positive impact that we can unlock for our clients with pMRP through inventory cost reduction.
Tighter Integration between Manufacturing & Warehousing
In this release we see a conscious move from SAP to tighten the link between manufacturing activities and the warehouse operations that support them. With the introduction of improved integration between repetitive manufacturing processes and the associated transactions required to update stock within warehouse managed locations there comes a reduction in effort for teams to ensure up to date inventory visibility. The system now provides synchronous backflush and good receipt postings taking care of a number of the transactional activities otherwise manually executed by end users, simplifying the overall process and removing bottlenecks that have often been challenging for customers.
We're pleased to see a recognition of the redundancy that was previously 'built in' to the wider manufacturing and material handling process in this area which has often led businesses to create bespoke solutions to 'stick things together'. We expect to see this efficiency delivering direct benefit to our customers by removing 'high volume', 'low value' manual system interventions.
Sales Document Workflow - Improved Management Control
As part of this release SAP has provided some important workflow functionality for the key documents in the Q2C flow: Quotations, Sales Orders and Credit Memo Requests. It's been a common request from our customers over the years to find an elegant way for management approvals to be part of the flow in this business process to which a common solution has been to 'build something to handle it'. The SAP standard model has typically been driven by documents moving into a blocked status which then require a transactional intervention to lift the block to allow processing to continue. Within the previous release we saw workflow introduced for Credit Memo Request, this has now been superseded and expanded by the new approach with a new accompanying 'Manage Sales Document Workflows' Fiori App allowing managers to provide approval directly on their mobile devices (who doesn't have that request from their senior stakeholders?!) The workflow can be set up as internal to SAP itself or optionally may be managed externally using OData APIs to effectively 'punch out' and allow a 3rd party application to manage the approval.
Our team see this one as a victory for common sense processing, allowing our customers to keep a lid on 'custom' workflow creation whilst allowing rapid, auditable management control for key scenarios in the Q2C process.
Gordon has been involved in delivering major SAP Transformation Programmes for over 20 years. His journey began in 'Big 5 Consultancy' working with some of SAP's largest global clients. He then spent a number of years working in industry on the customer side of ERP delivery before returning to top tier consulting with a focus on delivering the next generation of SAP solutions for clients.