How to Flatten your S/4 Stress Curve

3. April 2020

By Rainer Wittwen, cbs Corporate Business Solutions

What’s the best way to prepare for S/4 from an IT perspective? Anyone performing a legacy data clean-up has to keep S/4 in mind. A tool-based readiness analysis provides a view of reality, delivers the facts required for an accelerated business alignment, and supports the management of a successful transition with a suitable load distribution.

A host of legacy issues? It’s a problem lots of businesses face. Heterogeneous systems, inconsistent processes, and uncontrolled data growth are very common. At our customer conference ONE.CON 2018 in Heidelberg, I was asked by the CIO of an automaker: “I first have to do a clean-up. How can I combine this with the migration to S/4?” It is important for clean-up activities in particular to be guided by S/4, I replied. Otherwise, you’ll end up needing to complete not one, but several clean-ups.

The first thing every IT manager has to do, however, is to create transparency about the changes that S/4 entails. Structure your projects with the new business suite in mind.

Rainer Wittwen

Member of the Executive Board

If I, as an IT manager, want to know quickly what a transition to S/4 means for me without having to involve the business departments, a technical system analysis is a good start. This provides the basis for an S/4HANA readiness analysis, which takes a comprehensive look at processes, data, systems and technologies, supported by tools and with low business involvement. Expert consultants interpret these results in terms of the impact of a transition to S/4.

After that, you have everything you need to know: What needs to be done to bring the existing process and system world over to S/4. What are the must-dos? What has to be done when? Acquiring an overview in this way gives you a factual basis for everything else. You can proceed in a focused manner and make the necessary adjustments in the right places. Having a clear picture of reality also simplifies business alignment. You can derive the target landscape with greater precision and require less coordination effort with process owners.


Optimize Load Distribution!

The first thing every IT manager has to do, however, is to create transparency about the changes that S/4 entails. Structure your projects with the new business suite in mind. It is important to optimize load distribution. To make the actual transition phase as smooth and straightforward as possible. It is important that the transition phase itself includes very little innovation. Try to split your tasks over time. It helps to think of three phases: 1. Preparation, 2. Technical migration, 3. Post-processing. If this succeeds, you can significantly flatten the stress curve for the transformation.

Back to the must-dos: My advice would be to build a control loop, create a work stack with work packages, and get started. The must-do list is long. A lot changes with S/4. SAP has become more simplified, resulting in significant adjustment requirements, often without a direct benefit. Interfaces, add-ons that are no longer compatible, old company codes, and documents that need to be archived. Instead of putting this task off, it is better to structure, portion, and approach it intelligently. Anything you fail to tackle now has to go through simplification at a later stage.


Innovations? Don’t wait for S/4!

It is often suggested that digital innovations in the systems cannot be realized before the implementation of S/4. That is not true. Nobody has to wait for S/4 to become digital. Digital Now is the motto! Innovations are realized not only in the ERP core, but also outside the cloud, with different technologies. There are industrial enterprises with an ancient ERP system that are already using apps developed on the SAP Cloud Platform with Fiori technologies and others. It’s a good approach.

What does this mean in terms of the S/4 stress curve? Innovations can reasonably be implemented both before and after the transition. Experience shows that, when making the transition to S/4, businesses like to do big things, often wanting to do too much at once. Poorly balanced load distribution takes up a lot of energy. As project pressure grows, the scope is often reduced. The stress curve becomes too high. Important issues fall by the wayside. The result is that many opportunities of digitalization are squandered.