SAP S/4HANA is a competitive Tier 1 fourth generation ERP solution available in multi-lingual configurations. It goes beyond the traditional ERP system, giving you the ability to connect all your processes and providing you with live information and insights. In 2015 SAP promoted S/4HANA has its “biggest launch in 23 years, if not the entire history of the company.”
S/4HANA represents a transformational shift in how data is stored and accessed. Therefore when it was launched there were initial questions about the functionality, availability, pricing and migration. SAP has worked hard to educate users about this powerful new platform. As a result SAP now has 6,000 customers, including companies like Google and Centrica, who have implemented S/4HANA.
What makes S/4HANA unique is how the SAP products work together. The HANA data store runs in-memory or data is stored in columns rather than rows. This means faster access and virtually real-time analytics. S/4Hana is a suite of ERP software that runs on top of the HANA database. The goal is to move away from a system that records data to one that actively supports users decisions in real time based on internal and external sources.
This is an ERP system with the potential to completely transform your company for the future. SAP S/4HANA may allow you to address your current challenges, while very likely handling your “future state” needs as well. Since this software can be complex below you’ll find some valuable SAP S/4HANA implementation tips to keep in mind.
1. Define, Plan and Staff Your Implementation Strategy Carefully
Implementation will be determined by your starting point. What type of ERP system do you currently have? A non-SAP legacy ERP or even from a SAP ERP requires an initial data load. If you are currently running SAP Business Suite system then you might be able to migrate your data. A third scenario is combining several regional ERPs into a single global S/4HANA platform.
Another aspect to consider is where S/4HANA will be deployed. It can be on-site, cloud based or a hybrid model. A cloud based deployment is recommended for maximum benefit. If you choose cloud based, you must decide if it will be a public or private cloud.
Your starting point determines how long implementation will take. Some transitions can take as little as 6 months. Others make take several years. This highlights the value of having an ERP consultant to help guide you from the very beginning.
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2. Plan Your Migration
SAP S/4HANA data migration can be straightforward or a lengthy and complex process. Therefore it is essential to come up with a detailed plan for handling the migration. This will also help predict how long the implementation will take.
When it comes to planning data migration, you can never start too early. First determine if the data can be sourced from your current system. Then if possible, plan your migration for a time of the year when your company is not quite as busy.
Next examine what data is essential. Eliminate any repetitive or extraneous data. Remember you are implementing S/4HANA to become more efficient. Having any more than the essentials is counter-productive. This would also be the time to correct any erroneous data as well as key-in any missing information. All of this can be done well before migration starts.
3. Evaluate SAP-Delivered Best Practices
SAP S/4HANA includes a series of Best Practices that you can activate and use as a reference for a variety of scopes. Once you have identified your scopes, the Best Practices will provide you with a recommended process flow and standard test script, while also allowing you to adopt/adapt them to your specific needs. This offers plenty of advantages and can make this process go so much smoother.
4. Be Ready to do Extensive Testing Before Going Live
Test, test and then test again. While it may seem a bit over the top to test your ERP system for every detail before going live, this is something that should not be skipped. It ensures you know how each part of the system works and prevents costly errors.