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Best Practices for Creating Your Roadmap to SAP S/4HANA

Planning your move to S/4HANA may feel overwhelming at first, but with the right approach, it can be as simple as plugging in the address of your destination into your GPS to take the fastest, most efficient route and avoid hitting traffic jams.

Ahead of sharing the five design steps that significantly simplify your S/4HANA roadmap planning, I would like to pull out what I consider to be the most important guidelines for consideration - a highway code for migrating to the platform. If you keep these rules of the road in mind when designing, planning and implementing your S/4HANA migration, you will achieve an effective transition. 

5 design steps that simplify your planning and implementation

First rule: Visualize your destination

If you know where you are heading as a business and what your objectives are it will be easier to plan how S/4HANA will help to fulfill these goals. This is important because each S/4HANA implementation is unique and you will need to consider thoroughly the implications of transitioning your established applications to this platform.

Second rule: The need for speed

One of the major benefits of S/4HANA is how it speeds up the performance of business processes analytics and ultimately, decision making by the organization. How you plan, implement and manage your S/4 platform depends on how fast your business needs to be able to make decisions. I know of one example among our customers where it is important to produce invoices for service contracts, which contain 1000s of individual itemized service activity. This used to be an overnight process but now it happens in real-time. A key decision on your journey is deciding where improvements in performance can have a significant business impact. 

Related Reading: SAP Softens Looming S/4HANA Deadline and Extends ERP Support to 2027

Third rule: Pack the essentials

Most customers have been using SAP’s applications for many years and have built up terabytes of data stored on their applications. By our estimation anywhere between 40 – 60% of existing custom code is redundant and can be decommissioned. In addition to reducing your load by decommissioning old, custom code, your organization can also make the decision to archive data. Deciding what data to pack away in archives and what you need immediate access to will also be critical to the performance of your S/4HANA environment.

Fourth rule: Pick the best route for your journey

Businesses have flexibility in the choice to keep their S/4HANA implementation on-premise or shift it to the public cloud. The former offers control and the reassurance of maintaining data in-house, while the public cloud has the potential to deliver significant savings in terms of capital costs, streamlining service delivery and offering a secure, fully scalable environment - offering access to next generation technology to continue your digital transformation migration now also positions organizations to take advantage of advanced features down the road to include data lakes, artificial intelligence, and robotic process automation. 

Fifth rule: Rev your engine

As you begin the upgrade, SAP provides an environment – N+1 – where you can run development tests and undertake quality assessments before moving into production. This approach allows you to run testing and quality assurance in parallel to production systems. This significantly reduces the time to go-live while increasing confidence in the reliability of systems as they move into production. 

Related Reading: 3 Ways to Build Your Business Case for S/4 HANA

Ready, Set, SAP S/4HANA

So if these are the highlights of the highway code for migrating enterprise application to SAP S/4HANA, I would like to return to the five signposts to plan your journey around. Following this proven approach will lead to a smoother implementation and ease the progress of your journey:

  1. Readiness assessment: SAP provides a number of tools to support the different stages of your migration strategy, but a simple starting point is the Business Scenario Recommendation (BSR) tool. This free resource enables you to build the business case - understanding what processes you are using at what capacity, so you can determine where S/4HANA can have the most impact.

  2. Planning phase: the Database Migration Option (DMO) is part of the Software Update Manager and allows you to plan your migration from ECC6, as well as migrating your data from Oracle or Microsoft SQL to the SAP HANA database. This is a key part of the migration if you want to fully exploit the performance benefits of its in-memory technology.

  3. Design phase: Here, you are mapping out the key technical requirements of your migrations. So consider the following: how much storage do you need today, tomorrow and how much data can you stand to archive. Upgrading and migrating to the public cloud may be the best choice for scalability - and data archiving.

  4. Begin the upgrade: We are nearly ready to see the impact. But before we get there, you have to test and quality control your implementation. Ensure that any pre-production assumptions map out to production environments at scale to mitigate risk.

  5. Steady-state support: Congrats, you’re done! But not really. As soon as the implementation is completed, you can move on to the on-going management of your S/4HANA environment. A key consideration is whether your organization would benefit from an application managed services model to support your platform, and your people.

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