The Unforeseen Challenges of SAP S/4HANA Implementation

SAP’s latest upgrade is allowing customers to enjoy improved user experience, streamlined transactions, real-time data, flexible APIs, and host of new functionality. That’s why SAP customers are now moving to implement SAP S/4 HANA solutions.

This cutting-edge update is poised to take Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) to the next level. And that makes migration to S/4 HANA an attractive option. Since its launch, it has continued to evolve over the years and that has prompted businesses to take a wait-and-see approach.

Post the announcement about SAP’s end-of-support deadline on legacy software like ECC, more enterprises are moving forward with their decision to migrate to SAP S/4 HANA. However, the complexities involved in its implementation has led to consumers feeing doubtful and hesitant about making that final leap.

What Are Challenges in Implementing SAP S/4 HANA?  How Can You Overcome Them?

Any transition in technology affects the normal operations of any company. It can present risks and challenges to the IT department and the company as a whole. Even a minor technical error or IT downtime can significantly impact productivity and profits. Already the cost of IT downtime touches the sky. For Fortune 1000, downtime could cost $1 million per hour as per an IDC survey. However, the challenges of the migration to SAP S/4HANA solutions are not limited to this.

1. Data Issues

Corruption and other validation issues related to data are common in most legacy systems. In most cases, a problem occurs when there is a difference in data formats of the old and new systems. However, there are several ways to mitigate data integrity issues. For instance, validating the dataset with a sampling, subset or complete record-by-record comparison can be a way to face this hurdle. A more drastic methodology involves starting over with your data, with limited data migration. This last solution is usually not viable for many large businesses with vast repositories of records. But it can be a convenient approach for relatively new or small businesses. Thus, the difficulty of migration to SAP S/4 HANA also depends on the scale of an enterprise.

2. Stakeholder Buy-in

Stakeholders often hesitate to move forward with the migration and implementation of SAP S4 HANA services because of the risks associated with it. The situation becomes more complex with enterprises who have been dependent on legacy systems for more than a decade. Sometimes, arguments arise that if it’s not broken, why fix it or change it.

In the era of technological revolution, postponing the decision of moving to it can be costly for an enterprise in the long run. Migration costs, downtime expenses, company loss and high involvement of other risk factors are only interim constraints. Therefore, it’s better to focus more on the benefits of adopting new services than getting bogged down by its temporary challenges.

3. Customization

A customized system is like a comfort zone. A zone which everybody finds difficult to leave. This is the case with legacy systems that are already customized to meet your company’s specific needs. The process of customization may be hectic and seems impossible to implement in the new framework. Here it’s important to remember, a bit of extra patience and focus can make it happen. With the help of SAP consulting services providers, customizing new S4HANA solutions can assist in framing an entirely new overall strategic direction and outlook for your organization.

4. Knowledge

Migration and implementation of S/4HANA can only be possible with proper planning and roll-out. Around 51% of IT managers admit that they are not competent enough to handle proper migration and implementation of SAP S4/HANA. However, this loophole can be fixed by outsourcing support from companies providing consulting services related to SAP. You can get help from SAP BPC Services in finding the right IT partner to assist in migration and implementation of SAP S4/HANA solutions.

What to Look for in an IT Partner for Migration?

The migration is a time taking, risky and costly procedure. But all these efforts and money involved should be considered as investments rather than an expense.  So, here are a few things to remember while choosing an IT partner for Migration.

  • Experience

Nowadays, companies claim themselves as experienced and leading players in the industry while providing limited standard services. Therefore, it’s important to look for SAP service providers that have experience specifically in SAP S/4 HANA services. Choose company who could effectively conduct an assessment to determine which migration is the best option:

  • Greenfield: New install, either in a new office or network.
  • Brownfield: Upgrade solution or an add-on to a network.

Thus, it’s important to check the expertise and not just experience while choosing an IT partner for the company.

  • Appreciation

Finding an IT partner should believe in the values of the company and appreciate its uniqueness, both from an IT and business environment perspective, can make things more approachable and easier. Part of that appreciation is the ability to accept policy-mandated restrictions and timeline requirements. While choosing the right partner, it’s important to check whether they share the same values when it comes to commitment, professionalism, dedication and transparency.

  • Appropriate Tools

An experienced migration partner will also make use of appropriate tools and strategies to make sure that the project stays on budget and on schedule. Ask about their toolset, but also find out about policies and procedures that directly relate to your migration and implementation.

  • References & Testimonials

The best consulting partner will be able to share references and testimonials of its satisfied clients over a period of years. Don’t just ask for references. Follow up and ask questions. Find out more about the experiences and outcomes of those references or testimonials. Also, don’t be afraid to dig deeper to find out any negative reports. It can be helpful to know what has gone wrong for a company in the past, so you can also determine how they handle a crisis. It’s important to know that the shortlisted player from various SAP S/4 HANA companies of choice knows how to mitigate and successfully address adverse situations.

  • Services & Support

The one-stop service provider with expertise for a specific requirement or one-trick pony? Are they a one-trick pony, or do they offer services and support that will meet every need that you might have for a consulting partner? Can they help with the initial assessment of your business, handle the entire Cloud ERP implementation, and then offer solutions post-migration to ensure that future challenges are resolved by a migration expert? What is the extent of the professional services that you can rely on?

Data migration to SAP S/4 HANA is a challenge, but it can also be a worthwhile and productive endeavour. It must be undertaken with careful planning to avoid disruption to your company. When you select the right IT partner to work with, though, the whole process should come off without a hitch. The data migration may just turn out to be much easier and more cost-effective than you ever imagined (or dared hope for).

Is SAP S/4 HANA Migration Worth The Risk?

Given the challenges involved in migrating to SAP S/4HANA solutions, it is a decision that you’ve likely considered at length, and it may be the topic of future discussions as well. The best way to overcome the challenges you’re facing is through careful planning and implementation. You’ve likely already found that the benefits do outweigh any drawbacks.

So, the real question is:

What roadmap will you follow to successfully implement SAP S/4HANA?

Then, the next question is:

When will you move forward with the plan?