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Seven Lessons Learned from SAP S/4HANA Migration in Public Sector

Migrating to S/4HANA in Public Sector environment is a complex project with many variables. How should the project be structured to manage risk? What is the involvement of the super users (central and departmental) in the project? What is the technical migration path for each environment? Having migrated a few public sector agencies to S/4HANA environment, Phoenix is pleased to share the key seven lessons from S/4HANA Migration in Public Sector.

1. PMO Office should be installed first.

Setting up a Project Management Office (PMO) can appear to be daunting. It requires careful planning, deliberate relationship building, flawless execution and continuous improvement. At the top of program/project organization charts is a box titled PMO, representing the Project Management Office. The role of the PMO is a function most critical for all SAP enterprise projects. This is because it brings about a convergence of the necessary leadership, experience, methodology, tools and resources that result in project success and delivering value for the business. Our experience in successfully delivering SAP enterprise program and project management consulting and staffing services enables companies to harness, harmonize and improve their technology, processes, and human performance. Therefore, improving business capability resulting in greater business value.

2. Change Management should not be an afterthought

A smooth, sustainable SAP rollout isn’t merely a question of technology, but also of user acceptance, so a change management officer can play a key role in a project’s success by identifying the changes and actively supporting the management team during the adjustment process. IT projects – especially those associated with an SAP rollout – change more than just the system landscape. Since the responsible project group is focusing on technical issues, however, key aspects of change management are often not even on its radar, and yet high user acceptance is a prerequisite for the success of any IT project.

This being the case, a change management officer should be appointed early on in the project. The task of this officer is to reinforce the management team so that they can commit themselves to support their staff during the change process.

Some staff fear any change and immediately become defensive. If they are able to gauge exactly what it will mean for them personally, this will have a positive impact – especially on their willingness to adapt. Managers dealing with this issue need to show employees they are appreciated – the key to successful change management.

3. SAP Super Users are Very Valuable

The first thing to understand as an SAP Super User is that you are the first line of support for your customers (your colleagues using SAP).When they need help running a transaction, identifying the source of a problem, or understanding integration points, they turn to you for answers. This will take a solid understanding of SAP, knowledge of your business processes, and a great deal of patience. The patience becomes imperative when you are asked the same question for the eleventh time.”

So, a Super User is an answer person for SAP at the local level, where the action is. However, Joe goes on to say that an SAP Super User is also a liaison between the technical staff and the user group. He also adds that a Super User can be called upon to perform testing of new SAP versions; and must be ready to provide user training, sometimes at a moment’s notice.

4. Testing, testing, testing

With SAP S/4HANA, there are a number of architecture and technical changes, along with functional changes, to take on board. These will have a big impact on what and how you test in your SAP landscape going forwards.

With the numerous architecture and functional changes in mind, it is important to thoroughly test both new and existing features when embarking on a S/4HANA Migration. Why? To ensure that business operations, systems, and processes continue as usual during and after the move. Four key tests are recommended:

  • Role-based testing

With the introduction of SAP Fiori, role-based testing has a vital role to play. There are more than 300+ roles available, all of which can be run on compatible devices. It is thus very important to test all the roles, not only on laptops and desktops, but also on all compatible mobile devices.

  • Functional testing

Thorough testing of all the new functions will be one of the most important aspects of SAP S/4HANA migration testing. A regression test suite can be built around the functional changes and I would urge the use of automation for this. Organizations that have already invested in automation tools can leverage these to test the new functionalities. Apart from these verifications, functional tests should also be undertaken to verify the functionality of a HANA project on multiple devices, including popular mobile platforms.

  • Performance testing

As SAP has introduced its own SAP HANA database, it is important to invest some time in making sure that the performance of your SAP HANA project is well above the required performance level. Here we should stay focused on newly introduced processes and not be confused by doing performance testing of the SAP HANA database as SAP HANA delivers leading performance and scale-out ability and enables real-time BI for businesses. Rather your performance testing of the newly introduced processes should be validated by an already existing performance baseline. This will ensure that real-time data transfer is optimal for those processes.

  • Reports testing

With the introduction of SAP HANA systems that notably combine real-time analytics with transactional information, verifying BI reports has become essential. In addition to verifying the accuracy of HANA-based BI reports, functional testing of those reports ensures that SAP HANA applications and reports under test are fully functional.

5. Follow Best Practices for S/4HANA Migration

What’s at stake in the SAP S/4HANA migration process? Risks range from unnecessary spending on the migration due to lengthy work cycles to possible business disruptions from breakdowns in established business processes. Working with many organizations on S/4HANA migration, we have found the following practices to be useful in mitigating migration risks:

  • Assessing your current SAP landscape—You don’t have to migrate it all. You can retire or replace certain parts of your current SAP environment. Doing this right means viewing your SAP solutions from both business and IT perspectives.
  • Drawing a roadmap—Again, working from a business point of view, it pays to map out where you’re headed with SAP. What future needs do you anticipate? How well will the S/4HANA migration satisfy those needs? What other gaps need to be addressed as you plot your course toward migration? (e.g. are there elements that will require custom coding?)
  • Thinking through your architecture—The business that built the existing SAP landscape may not be all that similar to the business you work in today. It’s a good idea to take a careful look at your true architectural needs and plan the migration accordingly. For example, you may have integrations with third-party systems or availability requirements that need a refresh. Connectivity has also changed a great deal in recent years. The migration should reflect this reality. The new architecture may need to support new kinds of remote access and security/compliance parameters.
  • Training your people—It’s not just the SAP solutions that will be migrating. Your users and IT team will be making significant changes in the way they work as well. Migrating to S/4HANA introduces new technologies, user interfaces and processes into your enterprise – all of which require training. There will be new user interfaces, new administrative workloads and so forth.
  • Ensuring connectivity with third parties—S/4HANA will be connecting with third parties. Even if this isn’t your current strategy, it likely will be. Alliances between companies and technology platforms are a staple of digital transformations. There could be more than a few critical applications linking to your SAP landscape. The migration must take these connections into consideration.
6. Don’t underestimate training

S/4HANA migration is an extraordinarily complex process and requires adequate knowledge and training on the subject to attain the maxim benefits. As with any major implementation project, it’s absolutely vital to engage in proper planning upfront. Gain buy-in from all departments involved. Clearly identify the needs, challenges, and benefits of your S/4HANA system. Understand the full process and cost of migrating to ensure appropriate time and resources can be dedicated to the project.

Since S/4HANA is bound to simplify SAP (but not its prodigious functionality), it may change the way you use your ERP, ideally for the better. Expect to re-evaluate your business and supply chain processes to ensure a smooth transition of data and workflows. Be sure to set aside additional time for training users to get the most out of your new SAP S/4HANA system as well.

7. Go Live is not the End

There are many benefits to partnering with an SAP AMS provider.

  • Enable your IT organization to be less tactical and more strategic

AMS providers understand the need for you to enable your IT organization to be strategic and focused on driving more value from your SAP solution. Traditionally, IT organizations primarily focus on “keeping the lights on” and not realizing the true value of SAP. A good AMS partner works as an extension of your IT staff, focused on enabling your team and organization to drive and deliver value-add SAP solutions.

  • Tailored AMS solutions to your needs

As your business and IT needs change, your AMS partner adapts to meet your demands. They recognize the value of a trusted, long-term partnership as opposed to long-term contract. Application Management Services offerings will adjust to the demands of your IT operations. You can work together to define a right-sized and right-shored delivery model for your organization’s specific needs.

  • AMS positively impacts ROI

A good AMS provider will provide world-class expertise at an exceptional value for any size company. Clients get expert SAP assistance on-demand, in any functional or technical area, and often without the need for travel expenses. Services are easy to access, easy to work with, and always available.

For for information on SAP S/4HANA implementation, please contact us here.

By Vikas Pathak

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