When an enterprise decides to take an SAP S/4HANA journey, it is looking to achieve the following goals: adhere to SAP best practices, modernize business processes, strategically restructure the business, introduce innovation to reduce IT debt, and simplify their SAP landscape.
But the guidance enterprises receive for this journey ranges from confusing to outright counterproductive. S/4HANA is supposed to simplify and transform disjointed, unharmonized on-premise systems into a single, collocated system that reduces infrastructure footprint, pools analytics, consolidates complex SAP landscapes, and even passes along some savings.
If S/4HANA is key to simplification for many organizations, the path to getting there is anything but simple. So let’s make it simple. Here are the three questions that every enterprise needs to ask, and three boxes to check off their list, in order to pull off a successful and seamless S/4HANA migration.
1. How many customizations do we use?
How customized are we? How many of those customizations do we really use? How many are mission critical? If you cannot answer these questions and check off this box, then do not go forward – you cannot survive in a world where your customizations are not understood.
Customizations for larger organizations can be mission critical; they help run the organization. For example, if customizations are how a chemical company manages compliance for hazardous materials, then that must be a part of the calculation for an SAP transformation and migration.
Managing your customizations means knowing where those customizations are and how they impact your current business process. An assessment that identifies which ones you really need and which ones you do not is imperative. This also entails aligning with a software partner who can automatically scan your systems to provide this analysis, identifying whether you have customizations that you’re not using and/or can be replaced by native functionality in the ERP.
2. Will my data footprint fit?
Even by eliminating some data via selective data migration, and only bringing over what is required, can I still fit into a size that’s usable or available for a chosen S/4HANA infrastructure? This is important because S/4HANA migration is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor.
Take, for example, Microsoft Azure. Azure’s largest HANA system accommodates up to 12TBs of data. Will your S/4HANA environment fit into that? If not, that will greatly reduce your migration options. Knowing your data footprint and what size environment your SAP S/4HANA system requires is essential before a migration to the cloud. Another crucial detail is analyzing the rate of data growth in the current SAP ERP environment and how sizing requirements will need to change in the future accordingly.
3. What part of the business will change the most from migrating to S/4HANA?
While the above are all starting point decisions, this is the #1 question on the minds of IT leaders. The questions about data size and customization will come further down the line. What everyone really wants to know out of the gate is: what part of the organization will see the most disruption from SAP S/4HANA migration? Is it finance? Manufacturing? Logistics?
Knowing which areas of the organization will see the most changes and the impact of those changes is critical to tailoring the migration approach. At the end of the day, it’s really not about multi-tenant vs. single tenant vs. private cloud. It is much simpler than that: where are the most disruptions being felt? And how are those changes going to impact my work from Monday morning to Friday afternoon?
Answering these questions in order to tailor a migration to the contours of your SAP landscape is key to a seamless S/4HANA journey.
Dr. Steele G. Arbeeny is CTO of SNP Group and the architect of numerous mission-critical systems across numerous industries including technology, financial services, oil and gas, healthcare, pharmaceutical and manufacturing. As one of the industry’s thought-leaders around SAP infrastructures and migrations, he’s a patent holder and a member of the IEEE and ACM. Arbeeny has a PhD in computer engineering from Rutgers University.
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