For companies that already run on SAP, this move has become pivotal in their digital journey, particularly as mainstream maintenance for SAP ERP ends in 2027. That said, the push for migrating to S/4 Hana is not purely deadline-driven. Migrating to S/4 has become a key milestone for organizations worldwide.
According to industry research by PWC in 2019, 25 percent of SAP customers have already completed their S/4 migration, with 52 percent of organizations adopting a greenfield approach of completely replacing the old system. However, what’s noteworthy is that a whopping 98 percent of the respondents said they were satisfied with the new platform and realized more benefits than expected.
So, how can S/4 impact your organization?
Some executives view transitioning to the S/4 platform as essentially a technical upgrade process. Implementing S/4 Hana enables improved user experiences, better processes, faster real-time analytics, and several other business-critical benefits. It is a comprehensive transformation exercise that needs an executive-driven approach to achieving success. Some of the key benefits that customers who have successfully transitioned are experiencing include:
- Improved resilience. Businesses have gained the ability to analyze large amounts of data faster and taken advantage of real-time insights to enhance decision-making, drive organizational agility, and unlock new revenue streams.
- Streamlined processes. As the S/4 platform offers a simplified data table structure and easy access to data, it has enabled companies to streamline their business workflows. They have also developed and implemented right-fit data strategies and maximized returns.
- Ease of use. The platform’s user-friendly, intuitive design and interfaces across any device have made it easy to access data insights vital for effective operation. Moreover, as the platform architecture includes centralized network and hardware resources, it has accelerated the pace of their digital journey.
- Future-proofing. The platform has accelerated the shift to the cloud and integrated artificial intelligence, machine learning, and advanced data analytics to maximize the innovation potential. The platform has also helped build a cutting-edge tech architecture by applying new-age technologies such as conversational UI, predictive accounting, IoT, and more.
Outlining an S/4 migration strategy
Businesses looking to incorporate enterprise-wide innovation and realize benefits quickly must work closely with a trusted and proven implementation partner to maximize value. Once you decide to implement S/4, it is vital to adopt a strategic approach that suits the organization’s specific needs to ensure success while planning for pitfalls.
- Prepare for enterprise-wide change. Your S/4 implementation will change how your organization operates and works with internal and external stakeholders. And it is vital to comprehend and articulate the adoption goals during execution. Rope in your supply chain early on and co-innovate on the deployment process from the get-go, especially if suppliers are a critical part of your value chain.
- Adopt a holistic, cloud-first strategy. Spend time evaluating and deciding on your S/4 deployment options – whether you want to run it in your data center or a public, private, or hybrid cloud configuration. It is essential to adopt a holistic hybrid and/or multi-cloud strategy that prioritizes critical workloads to become cloud-ready. You may need to make a one-time investment in software revision and database migration.
- Stick to SAP standards where you can. The TCO of your SAP landscape can be significantly reduced with S/4 implementation by avoiding the temptation for custom enhancements and reinventing the wheel. For instance, using perceptive settings in the SAP standard of the extended warehouse management allows businesses to generate innovative solutions that best fit their need. Limit the urge to customize and trust the platform to deliver the optimal mix of functionality, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness.
- Identify and reduce business and SAP complexity. Use this opportunity to reduce unnecessary business process complexities by reimagining and potentially reinventing them. Work with your partner on using complexity reduction methodologies to streamline operations based on the data from your SAP system.
- Don’t neglect change management. S/4 users need to learn how to use it, managers need to re-calibrate processes to align with the new solution, and executives need to understand how the organization can leverage value from S/4. Therefore, a robust change management program is vital to drive adoption across the organization.
- Greenfield vs. brownfield. When migrating one or more SAP modules to S/4, a pivotal factor to consider is whether to opt for a greenfield or brownfield approach. On the one hand, greenfield implementation will give greater flexibility to standardize and simplify processes and streamline the implementation; on the other hand, a brownfield implementation can have a shorter timeline and minimize business disruption. After weighing all pros and cons, selecting the right approach is vital to success.
- Partner with a proven SAP service provider. Finding the right partner who understands your business and has a proven track record can often be the critical differentiator in a successful migration. Pairing intelligent technology with robust partner expertise amplifies its outcome and ROI.
Having a structured strategy and deployment roadmap will go a long way in ensuring that you can maximize the impact of S/4 and ensure that it fosters the performance, scalability, and stability requirements of a digital business. Harnessing the promise of more efficient business processes, opportunities for process transformation, and modernizing core operations along with their technology landscape, enterprises can derive unprecedented business value while preparing for the future.