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Your changeover to S/4HANA:

More than an upgrade
of your ERP system

Changeover to S/4HANA – how and why?

How can a successful changeover to SAP S/4HANA be implemented? What are the opportunities and tools available to start an analysis of the current systems at an early stage? By the end of 2025, the support for the current SAP ERP systems will expire, but is this the only or most important reason for the transition?

S/4HANA is more than just an upgrade of an existing ERP system. It is rather a new beginning to agilely deal with new requirements, not only driven by the business departments. And it opens up new perspectives previously only known from cinema.

What does a customer think about a company, what does he like and what not? How can millions of posts on social media platforms be evaluated and converted into appropriate marketing measures? How quickly can a company react to logistic bottlenecks? What are a company’s current figures? In the digital age, why is it still necessary to wait for the completion of the night job to be able to analyse yesterdays figures? Why do you still need an additional analysis system to aggregate and evaluate data?

All these questions can be transferred into the following requirements to IT systems and form the core of the S/4HANA system:

Illustration: Requirements to IT systems

Real-time

The processing of mass data as well as the creation of queries based on various criteria is very time- and performance-consuming in today’s IT landscapes. The reason for this lies in the fact that these systems are transactional systems. To ensure consistency and accuracy, saving a customer order document requires e.g. several table entries. Under these circumstances, what are the possibilities to analyse mass data in these systems in order to be able to make appropriate decisions?

  • In addition to the standard tables, where the customer order data are stored, aggregation tables are filled in parallel. This enables performant analyses, but only at the expense of redundant data storage.
  • The setup of a data warehouse system has been another typical measure until today. Various data are loaded from a transactional system into a data warehouse system (partly overnight in order not to overstress the source system) to enable performant analyses.

Although both solution approaches work well, both procedures do not meet the requirements of real-time reporting or a clean data model.

Flexibility

Hardly any other word is used as frequently as “agile” in meeting or discussions when it comes to implement requirements quickly and without a lot of testing. But how can companies work in an agile and innovative way, if their systems have been adjusted by numerous customer-specific enhancements and modifications – requiring a complete integration test for the import of a support package? Due to additional complex data models within the systems as well as numerous individual interfaces, innovations and requirements can be very difficult to implement and time-consuming. You will need simple data models, standard interfaces as well as new platforms (e.g. cloud) enabling your company to work in a simple and flexible way and allowing for additional new perspectives such as Internet of Things, block chain or machine learning.

Usability

Simple, self-explanatory surfaces without extensive training or induction efforts tailored to the user, respectively his/her role, various input options such as e.g. voice recognition as well as full decoupling of surface and logic. All these important features can hardly be found in today’s systems. Transactions are overloaded with functions and information and demand too much of the user, who actually needs only a small fraction of all this. Users should be involved in the process of the surface development right from the start in order to recognise connections, develop ideas and create an appropriate prototype (design thinking). However, not only the complexity makes it harder for the users to perform their daily work. Without further development, the execution of such transactions on various end devices is hardly possible.

The following chart reflects the core elements to be considered in the future development of surfaces:

Illustration: Usability

Big Data

Data are like crude oil. Never before have companies processed and analysed more mass data from social platforms, business applications or the Internet of Things. In this context, the challenge consists not only of analysing data available in an unstructured form or in complex mathematic and statistical analyses. What about performance when it comes to analysing mass data? Can companies wait for several hours to obtain the analytical findings? How can such data be processed? What functions are available for this? New methods such as “text mining” must be provided and a technology created to analyse mass data without extensive runtimes.

The following chart demonstrates, how the mentioned requirements to modern IT systems can be transferred to S/4HANA, thus building the components of an S/4HANA system.

Illustration: Components of S/4 HANA

The advantages arising from an S/4HANA system are undisputed. But what next? Can the existing system be simply replaced or converted? Which step to begin with? What should companies bear in mind when choosing this way? What is the time/period required for a changeover? What are the expected efforts? Which processes must be changed? The more intensively companies deal with the topic S/4HANA, the more open issues and questions are coming up.

consenso supports companies as a partner to jointly plan and realise the changeover to an S/4HANA system right from the start. A successful changeover can only be accomplished, if the initial situation is analysed in detail and the resulting next steps are specified. To determine the best time and the right track for every company, consenso has developed an approach covering the following areas and providing appropriate deliverables afterwards.

Illustration: consenso’s S/4 HANA evaluation approach

This approach helps to analyse all system areas in detail and identify necessary adjustments that have to be implemented prior to the transition to S/4HANA. Another part of consenso’s overall service is to provide the systems necessary for the evaluation.

Unicode

Unicode is an international standard defining the digital code for every text element. The use of Unicode prevents problems arising out of different languages in the context of international businesses. SAP NetWeaver 7.50 and higher are only supported with/by Unicode. Thus, it is not possible to upgrade from a non-Unicode system to a higher release or to change over to an S/4HANA system without prior Unicode conversion.

consenso Readiness Check

What are the effects of an S/4HANA introduction on the existing system? Which coding may need to be adjusted? Which SAP Fiori surfaces can be used? consenso Readiness Check provides companies with first information on the current status of their system, and thus the initial situation. In doing so, first work packages that are to be expected during a changeover to S/4HANA can be identified at an early stage.

Illustration: consenso Readiness Check

consenso Readiness Check presents the information in a graphical form and includes detailed statements on the effects of an S/4HANA introduction with regard to the following areas:

Illustration: S/4 HANA adoption impacts

Would you like to review your existing SAP ERP system landscape regarding its S/4HANA readiness? We will be pleased to conduct the review for you. You will obtain your first answers quickly and efficiently in phase 1 already – free of charge!

Learn more...

 

Simplification Item Check

What are the most important innovations? Which transactions will change? Which functions have been added, and which ones are no longer available? All changes to be expected under S/4HANA are described in the simplification list and must be observed prior to the S/4HANA implementation. With its Simplification Item Check, SAP has provided an analysis tool that checks every single issue from the simplification list with regard to the current system and provides appropriate SAP notes.

Illustration: Simplification Item Check

The result comprises a list of all affected objects. You cannot change over to S4/HANA from SUM (Software Update Manager) without cleaning up the affected objects first

Illustration: Simplification Item Check

Data Management

Many companies do not question data archiving, as data are of very special importance for analyses etc. But does this really affect all data available in a system? Are all data relevant for a company? SAP S/4HANA holds data in the main memory, thus, unused data may become a significant cost factor and, furthermore, result in a weak performance. It is not sufficient to just identify data sources, instead, strategies for data administration and control must be defined. The identification and reduction of non-relevant data is a very important aspect for the changeover to S/4HANA. The data volume management in the SAP Solution Manager helps identify data reduction measures, thus accelerating the conversion process to S/4HANA and reducing storage costs.

Custom Code Management

There is hardly any company, that has not enhanced and adjusted its current SAP solutions by customer-specific developments. In the context of a changeover to S/4HANA, customer-specific coding needs to be analysed and modified where necessary, as certain functions and objects will no longer be available or the developments do not comply with the guidelines of a HANA database, and are thus not executable or performant. Furthermore, it may be advisable to identify and remove unused coding when it comes to an S/4HANA conversion. The following approaches and tools will be considered during the evaluation:

 

Illustration: Custom Code Management

The efforts for a conversion project to SAP S/4HANA should surely not be underestimated. But the conversion is necessary. And delaying the start of the activities will lead nowhere. The evaluation of the current systems with regard to their S/4HANA capability as well as the identification and planning of the resulting work packages are a first step towards the changeover, and consenso will be glad to support you as your partner.

 

From our thematic block Digital Transformation
Categories: Digitisation| S/4HANA | Transformation | consenso Readiness Check