Where to Start with SAP S/4HANA

Have you ever wondered, “Where do I start with SAP S/4HANA?” There are four strategies you can begin immediately that will pay off with a smoother deployment. These strategies are written with new SAP deployments in mind. For organisations already running SAP ERP and converting it to SAP S/4HANA, the strategies would be a bit different.


Prepare Your Business Users

Getting business users involved is as important as any technical aspect of the project. This is because SAP S/4HANA is not merely ERP running in-memory. SAP S/4HANA uses a simpler data model to transform business processes. For example, there is no more data reconciliation between finance and controlling in the financial period-end close, ending the most tedious and error-prone part of the entire process. This is a major productivity win for finance, of course, but it is still a change and one they need to know up front.
Financial close improvements are just one example. Business Value Adviser can help you understand the many other process improvements. Also, most successful SAP S/4HANA projects begin with a prototype, often running inexpensively in the cloud on a trial system.


Prepare Your Data

SAP is ready with a complete set of data migration tools including templates, data mapping, and data cleansing capability. You can start investigating the data mapping right away. Since SAP S/4HANA is built on a simpler data model and has fewer tables, getting data into SAP S/4HANA is easier than with other ERP systems.

You should also decide how much historical data you want to include. You can reduce cost by using data ageing so that only the most useful data is stored in memory while the rest is available on disk-based systems.


Organise the Deployment Team

Organisations new to SAP have nothing to decide when it comes to the deployment path. You set up a new SAP S/4HANA deployment and migrate data from the legacy system. Organisations already running SAP ERP have more to do at this point, especially if converting their system to SAP S/4HANA. Instead, focus on the deployment team, perhaps bringing SAP experts on board through hiring or teaming-up with an SAP partner. The most successful deployments do initial workshops for functional planning, setup prototype and test systems, and start getting end user feedback early on.

The deployment team should also familiarise themselves with SAP Activate, for the latest best practices and guided configuration.


Determine the Deployment Destination

The move to SAP S/4HANA is an ideal time to bring ERP into your cloud strategy. Since it is likely that an organisation new to SAP does not have SAP HANA expertise, this makes SAP S/4HANA a prime candidate to run in the cloud.

Perhaps a more accurate term, though, would be clouds. You have a complete choice of deployment with SAP S/4HANA, including public cloud, IaaS (Amazon, Azure),  and private cloud with SAP or partners. On premise is an option as well, of course.

Other ERP products are completely different from one deployment option to the next, and many don’t even have an on premise or private cloud option. Whether the destination is on premise or clouds, SAP S/4HANA uses the same code line, data model, and user experience, so you get the consistency essential to hybrid or growing environments. This means that instead of supporting disparate products, IT spends more time on business processes improvement.

Neil How
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Neil How

Neil ran his first SAP transformation programme in his early twenties. He spent the next 21 years working both client side and for various consultancies running numerous SAP programmes. After successfully completing over 15 full lifecycles he took a senior leadership/board position and his work moved onto creating the same success for others.

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