From guest author Sven Wierzbicki. The fourth in our blog series on “How to Start your SAP S/4HANA Journey.”

You confront your challenges head on. You do not shy away from open heart surgery. You trust your ability to initiate and manage fundamental change. Welcome to the S/4HANA implementation option of “Operations First.

Most companies, even the ones that had a rough SAP R/3 implementation, will finally get to the happy place where they have a stabilized ERP platform that meets the needs of their business operations. Can you call them out for trying to stay in their perceived “ROI zone?” 

These companies may feel much more at home with options to implement BW/4HANA or S/4HANA Central Finance before turning their operations upside down. 

There is, however, a different school of thought that exists. It subscribes to the idea to go after supporting the fundamentals of the business in the most advanced way possible. In the end, it does not matter how they arrive at the conclusion. What matters is that they right-size the effort to implement S/4HANA, by one of two options:

  • Shorten the period of parallel operations: When a company is centralized in its nature, it may make sense to strive for a shorter period of overlap between the R/3 sunset horizon and rise of the new S/4HANA star. If palatable, the idea of a big bang, or a small series of big bangs, should be the centerpiece of the digital transformation road map.
  • Or, extend the period of parallel operations: When the diversity of operations, the geography, or the limited appetite/funds dictate to refrain from doing “big bites,” an S/4HANA seed approach may be better. Acknowledge that you cannot do it all at once, and pick the right representative/business to be the seed for the future business template in S/4. Implement in reasonable chunks–with bigger steps–once experience gains traction.

Regardless of which way you go, never bite off more than you can chew. Doing so only sets you up for disappointment. Embracing the new functionality should be exciting for your business–especially those seen in Finance. Success should be experienced all along the journey!

So, which steps can you take to right-size your “Operations First” effort to implement S/4HANA? Let’s explore some key elements to avoid diving into an abyss:

  • Deployment Strategy – Build a road map that is custom fit to your company’s means and capabilities. Don’t shy away from tackling the S/4HANA journey; do, however, avoid overstretching your IT and business organization. Find a suitable seed business that fits your needs and go to the starting block. Do not wait too long, as there is still the R/3 sunset looming; you do not want to be pressured into a decision that may force your hand!
  • There is No Upgrade – We all like good news. That’s why it’s tempting to listen to relentless ‘experts’ claiming to have the tools “to make the upgrade easy.” The thing is, there is no true upgrade for the Business Suite. Yes, the technical HANA DB can be upgraded, but the functionality must be implemented anew. You may not need to reinvent the wheel–but see this upgrade as an opportunity to shed some of the snakeskin that is too tight, that you have outgrown!
  • Change is Inevitable – While it is undeniable that the knowledge of the S/4HANA product and its application to your business plays a big role, the Change Management aspect is even more important. You need to create a readiness for the project, within the C-suite, business, and IT organization, and choose a partner that you can trust. You will find that a well-prepared organization is, in the end, more important than a technical approach to the journey!

In closing, I want to reiterate that Vortex can be the trusted partner on your S/4HANA journey. Why? Because of the experts who can address the points raised above: 

  • Strategic Advisors who work with your senior management and help to build the S/4HANA roadmap and your Global Template based on real-life experience
  • Operations Experts in warehousing, manufacturing, supply chain finance, and more; who have worked in these key industries before becoming SAP consultants
  • IT Experts who translate business needs into programming of interfaces or add-ons, create BI applications, and much more

This concludes our blog series on choosing an approach to your organization’s SAP S/4HANA upgrade. Click through the links below to read the other blog posts in the series. We hope you find these insights helpful as you consider your best step forward. To learn more about how Vortex can be your main resource in this vital investment, contact us at 1.888.627.3640 or 

#1: How to Start Your SAP S/4HANA Journey: Three Unique Approaches

#2: How to Start Your SAP S/4HANA Journey: Insight First

#3: How to Start Your SAP S/4HANA Journey: Central Finance First