Migration to SAP S / 4HANA: "The markets don't give companies time"

Disrupted supply chains, rushed out rolled out home office concepts, crashes or even spikes in demand – the corona crisis has very different effects. But one thing is becoming clear: the more a company is digitized, the easier it is to cushion negative consequences. For example, restaurants could switch to delivery service more easily if they had enough well-managed customer and supplier data. And: Corona will change the way people work as well as their consumption habits. Therefore, now is the right time to comprehensively reorganize the company using the simplify – transform – digitize approach. The switch to SAP S / 4HANA is also on the agenda.

According to a study by SAPInsider, a clear majority of companies are moving to S / 4HANA in order to modernize their reporting and analytics areas. The diagram shows the advantages that companies expect when using S / 4HANA.
According to a study by SAPInsider, a clear majority of companies are moving to S / 4HANA in order to modernize their reporting and analytics areas. The diagram shows the advantages that companies expect when using S / 4HANA.
Photo: Fujitsu

According to the 2020 investment report, ten percent of SAP user companies currently use the “German-speaking SAP user group” (DSAG) S / 4HANA. Another nine percent want to switch this year – and another 40 percent by 2023. “There is no alternative to digital change,” comments Ralf Peters from DSAG. Michael Straub, Head of SAP Business CEE at Fujitsu, knows different motives for the switch from his practice. “It’s often maintenance reasons,” he says. Other decision-makers see S / 4HANA as an enabler for new business models. Like many of his colleagues, Straub has many years of experience in SAP consulting.

Michael Straub, Head of SAP Business CEE at Fujitsu
Michael Straub, Head of SAP Business CEE at Fujitsu
Photo: Fujitsu

Straub warns not to be fooled by the date 2027. Until this year, SAP will provide mainstream maintenance for core applications of Business Suite 7. The number may suggest that there is still time – but “the markets don’t give companies time,” he emphasizes. Anyone who sees digital transformation as a long-term goal leaves the competition ahead.

The consultants make the migration to S / 4HANA more tangible by breaking down the complex project into its individual parts. Specifically, this means the following:

  • First, experts and customers sit down in one Discovery workshop together to outline what the company wants to achieve. “You should plan two to three days for this,” says Straub. The result should be concrete use cases. That is why – depending on the company’s goals – the purchasing manager or the head of sales, for example, sit at the table. “These workshops are not about technology,” emphasizes Straub, “but about a rough process analysis.” Therefore, an IT manager does not necessarily have to participate.

  • The next step is about preparation: applications, architecture and projects must be coordinated. The company must determine the degree of its “SAP readiness” and consolidate all applications according to the “simplify” motto. Sandbox and rapid prototyping check functionality and business added value. Depending on the initial situation, the whole thing follows a greenfield approach, brownfield approach or a mixed scenario. Then existing processes are converted and new ones created based on best practices. It should be ensured that the entire code is adapted.

  • Only then does it go to the realization, i.e. implementation and adaptation in short, agile cycles that include feedback and validation. This step begins with a business blueprint and ends with a test. Finally, the system is deployed. Fujitsu carries out the operation “on board” and trains the employees. Then the system can run.

The right IT infrastructure for migration is not available in every company. “For example, if you want to modernize, you choose an integrated IT system that simplifies and automates the administration of SAP S / 4HANA – like the Fujitsu PRIMEFLEX for SAP Landscapes appliance,” says Straub. If there are not enough internal skills and capacities to operate an S / 4HANA environment, Fujitsu can take over the complete operation of SAP environments.

FUJITSU Server PRIMERGY RX4770 offers excellent performance, scalability and efficiency. This combination makes it an ideal platform for running data-intensive applications.
FUJITSU Server PRIMERGY RX4770 offers excellent performance, scalability and efficiency. This combination makes it an ideal platform for running data-intensive applications.
Photo: Fujitsu

Questions about the operating model can be answered in a cloud and infrastructure workshop, which the customer can put in front of the entire project. In it, hybrid scenarios are discussed and evaluated, which workloads should remain in your own data center and which, if necessary, will be migrated to the cloud.

From his many years of experience, Straub knows that with the S / 4HANA topic, he does not initially break any open doors. However, the internal evaluation shows that customer satisfaction can increase by a fifth and downtimes decrease by up to a tenth. Companies reduce procurement costs, improve production cycles and tighten the supply chain.

The process of such a migration is rarely stringent, Straub admits openly “If we have the impression that the customer is still at the very beginning, we suggest a co-creation workshop in our Digital Transformation Center,” he says. Fujitsu has developed its co-creating program based on decades of experience in Japan and other countries. It is based on working with customers, exchanging perspectives, ideas and information. Design thinking methods always focus on people. Because it is a matter of learning from Corona that it matters.

At the Fujitsu Co-Creation Workshop, various departments, partners and customers work on a specific customer challenge that can be supported by technology.
At the Fujitsu Co-Creation Workshop, various departments, partners and customers work on a specific customer challenge that can be supported by technology.
Photo: Fujitsu

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