Pierogies—a family favorite that stretches back to when European immigrants first immigrated to the U.S.—have since become a beloved part of American cuisine. A family owned and operated company, Mrs. T’s Pierogies has been delighting with its potatoes-and-cheese filled pasta pockets since 1952. Mrs. T’s Pierogies is the largest producer of frozen pierogies. It produces and ships 600 million pierogies each year—so it’s unsurprising that the organization demands a lot from an IT ecosystem.

In 2018, the organization began its SAP S/4HANA implementation journey. ASUG recently sat down with Tim Coyle, Director of IT at Mrs. T’s Pierogies, to discuss how the company successfully completed its transition. Mrs. T’s Pierogies migrated from its on-premises legacy ERP system (which was ECC 6.0 SP6) to SAP S/4HANA version 1809, hosted in a private Google Cloud.

Success Is Dependent on a Strong Start

One of Coyle’s main points focused on how crucial the planning stage was to the organization’s SAP S/4HANA implementation. He emphasized the importance of defining the project’s goals early, along with keeping the entire business informed regarding why this shift was happening.

“You have to get everyone involved. If you make it just an IT project, it will be harder to get that alignment you’re looking for,” he said. “What we tried to do was make sure everyone was aligned and informed, that everyone understood what the effort was, along with what our ultimate goals were.”

The first step of any IT upgrade is to clearly articulate what problem the implementation will solve. Coyle laid out three perspectives that Mrs. T’s Pierogies had when it first began its journey to SAP S/4HANA: business needs, compliance, and improvements. The organization also viewed this IT initiative as a way to improve sales planning, support growth initiatives, and streamline key internal processes.

“We looked at this project as a lever to make all that happen,” Coyle said.

He also highlighted how Mrs. T’s Pierogies wanted to maximize its SAP investment. With SAP S/4HANA, the organization could do that by updating its ERP’s user interface and user experience.

Inside the Implementation

Mrs. T’s Pierogies kicked off the implementation in February 2020, using a brownfield approach. Coyle noted how the organization used a lift-and-shift approach to migrating its data and adding new functionality. The organization’s internal team consisted of 12 employees, with five of them being part of the IT team. Additionally, it had some help from external partners, including Vistex and Rackspace.

A few weeks into the project, the team faced a significant “curveball”: COVID-19.

“There’s no playbook here,” Coyle said.

While the pandemic meant shifting the entire team to remote work, Coyle said that the organization was well-suited to this change, with the partners also completing their work remotely. While these complications certainly affected the project in the beginning, Coyle said that the team adapted.

“There were no major headaches during day one of the go lives,” he said.

They divided the project into three phases. First, the team worked to move the Mrs. T’s Pierogies SAP ECC environment into the cloud. Additionally, in this first phase, the organization also had a Unicode conversation and installed the SAP HANA database. In the second phase, the team converted Vistex SP 2 to SP7. Finally, the team completed the project by migrating to SAP S/4HANA version 1809. The company’s new IT landscape went live in October 2020.

Thrive After Go Live

One of the most crucial parts of an implementation project happens after the implementation is complete. A dedicated change-management strategy is vital for every successful SAP S/4HANA implementation.

Coyle discussed how defining goals and strategies early in the implementation process paid off after going live. He noted that many of the SAP pre-migration tools, such as the Pathfinder report, helped during this phase of the project.

With the success of the Mrs. T’s Pierogies SAP S/4HANA implementation under his belt, Coyle encouraged organizations considering the move to SAP S/4HANA—or about to embark on their journey—to “do [their] homework” and work to stay aligned throughout the project.

“Be clear with the organization,” he said. “Make sure you’re all aligned and everyone is involved. Ensure people understand how important [this project] is.”

According to Coyle, a project like this is the IT equivalent of getting “open-heart and brain surgery at the same time. It’s a mission-critical operation. So, open collaboration and communication are both crucial.”

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