Last week, we covered the first week of ASUG Best Practices: SAP S/4HANA Virtual Experience, a four-week-long conference series aimed at helping attendees walk through every part of their SAP S/4HANA implementation. We heard from SAP customers, experts, and thought leaders about how they develop the vision and strategy for their migration project.

The conference series continued on March 9–11, focusing on the planning and preparation that organizations should undertake after they’ve developed the foundation of their SAP S/4HANA implementation. This is a vital step in any SAP S/4HANA journey. Throughout the programming, speakers highlighted how these implementation projects need proper and thorough planning in order to be a success. Here are four key takeaways we gleaned from the second week of ASUG Best Practices: SAP S/4HANA Virtual Experience.

The Importance of Planning Ahead

Andreas Liris, CIO of Maple Leaf Foods, kicked off the second day of the planning and preparation sessions by discussing how companies can take steps to plan their move to SAP S/4HANA, increase the success of their projects, and what steps Maple Leaf took in its own SAP S/4HANA implementation. He emphasized that managing expectations around the outage required for the migration is crucial. Maple Leaf needed 52 hours of downtime, which created significant disruption to its business.

“Bringing a 24/7 business down for over two days took a lot of thought and planning,” Liris said. “It’s never a good time for everyone.”

Part of this process was also working with business stakeholders and making sure they were clear of the implementation goals and understood that the team was “putting every effort into minimizing change impacts.”

Liris also discussed how the company took about 18 months for its preplanning process before it “went to board.” He said that the team wanted to understand what exactly they were getting into and how they could alleviate any complexities. He noted that a lot of business resources were needed to do regression testing, so figuring out which team members were needed at what point in time was important.

“We were doing this months to years in advance,” Liris said.

The Keys for SAP S/4HANA Success

The planning and preparation sessions kicked off with an interview with Stuart Browne, founder and managing director of Resulting IT. Browne and his team conducted extensive research to develop the SAP Success Study that includes 15 key “levers” to drive success in these projects. “I’ve seen a lot of what went wrong on SAP programs,” Browne told Paul Kurchina, ASUG evangelist and the host for the week’s sessions.

According to Browne, about half of all SAP S/4HANA programs fail. He likened these odds to hearing that the airplane you are on has a 50% chance of crashing. “Betting [your SAP S/4HANA project] on the toss of a coin isn’t a great start,” he said.

Kurchina asked Browne about his three biggest pieces of advice for companies about to embark on a large SAP S/4HANA implementation project. Right off the bat, Browne said that a deep focus on adoption was the “biggest” piece of advice he had.

“Think carefully about the needs of businesspeople and think how they can interact with the new solution,” he said. Based on the Resulting IT research, companies with a high focus on adoption were those that also hit their SAP S/4HANA goals. Browne noted that standardizing your processes and landscape, along with having confident sponsorship of the SAP S/4HANA project, were also key aspects of any successful SAP S/4HANA implementation.

Using Low Code to Simplify Your SAP S/4HANA Implementation

In a session on the second day of programming, Mark Manning, customer evangelist at Mendix, interviewed two customers who had used the Mendix platform to develop low-code solutions and strip out the complexity of migrating from SAP ECC 6.0 to a new ERP platform. One hindrance to SAP customers migrating to SAP S/4HANA is that they are worried about the custom code and solutions they have developed for their legacy ERP solution and how it will complicate the migration process. Users often heavily rely on these customizations.

“We’ve spent decades customizing out our SAP ECC systems,” Manning said. “On one hand, we all want to go back to standard and keep the core clean, but how can you do that when there is so much custom code you can’t live without?”

Manning spoke with Wim Hummel, manager ICT at Cosun Beet Company, and Jan-Willem van der Meere, digital IT and BI leader for Lamb Weston/Meijer, about how Cosun Beet Company and Lamb Weston/Meijer have been using low code to help prepare for their migration to a next-generation ERP.

Hummel spoke about how Cosun Beet Company has been using SAP solutions since 1989, and nearly all the company’s business processes are using SAP. Cosun has a large tailor-made piece of agriculture information system. With help from the Mendix platform, the company was able to recreate this custom-made solution in low code in about five days. Similarly, Lamb Weston/Meijer began to “offload” a lot of its complicated custom code—about 17 years’ worth—to prepare for its journey to a new ERP platform. Specifically, the company had customizations focused on how they purchase, store, and transport potatoes.

“We took this step because we wanted to have our new ERP environment as fit-to-standard as possible,” he said.

Tools to Help Plan Your SAP S/4HANA Migration

The planning and preparation sessions of the ASUG Best Practices: SAP S/4HANA Virtual Experience were also filled with SAP customers and experts talking about the solutions and tools available that will help give customers about to make the jump to SAP S/4HANA an idea of what the implementation process will look like.

“It’s more important to understand the capabilities of the solution before you pitch it,” said Ranjeet Panicker, VP of SAP America.

In a session focused on driving faster implementations, Panicker laid out some of the solutions and tools SAP offers customers to help with the migration process. For example, when discussing building the business case, he told attendees about the SAP Transformation Navigator, SAP Readiness Check, and SAP Value Lifecycle Manager and how they can assist customers as they plan out their implementation and build their business case. Additionally, he touched on some solutions that can actively help during the implementation, including SAP Value Assurance and SAP S/4HANA Partner Conversation Factories.

In a later session, Nicole Griffith, director of project management of the Canadian Stewardship Services Alliance (CSSA), discussed how the company used the ASUG SAP S/4HANA Discovery Workshop to help plan the company’s path forward with SAP S/4HANA. Griffith said that CSSA is planning to migrate to SAP S/4HANA in 2024 from SAP ECC. In an effort to understand the road map of this project, Griffith and some of her colleagues attended the workshop, which gave them an idea of where they should spend their time, the impact of SAP S/4HANA on their business processes, and how much the implementation will cost. It also helped the company set its “short-term learning agenda,” so they could get up to speed on certain topics before the migration began.

Throughout the sessions, attendees also heard about how Syntax can help with the migration process, and how Onapsis can improve the security of your SAP S/4HANA project.

Continue learning how to guide your organization through a seamless SAP S/4HANA adoption journey by viewing the ASUG Best Practices: SAP S/4HANA Virtual Experience on demand. Sign up today to access. Please note, on demand content will be exclusive to ASUG members after Thursday, April 24.

Like what you’re reading?

Become a member and get access to all ASUG benefits including news, resources, webcasts, chapter events, and much more!

Learn more

Already an ASUG member? Log in