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Author's profile photo John Appleby

SAP S/4HANA: What we must learn from SAP R/3: Part 2, Present & Future

I came to write this blog, and the introduction: SAP S/4HANA: What we must learn from SAP R/3: Part 1, History turned into an essay of its own, so I decided to turn it into its own blog.

In short – the business economy of 1992 is very different to the times we face now in 2015, and if we approach SAP S/4HANA like we approached SAP R/3, then I believe the SAP economy is in serious trouble. As partners, customers and employees within the SAP ecosystem, we must rally together.

Here are the elements that I have – in no particular order – been thinking about over the last days and weeks. I hope they provide food for thought.

Control the partner ecosystem

The scariest thing about the S/4HANA launch was the Partner Quote Sheet. SAP R/3 was characterized by large-scale business change initiatives, providing huge ROI for a huge cost, often running into 8 or 9 digits. On that whole that was fine at the time, but it did lead to some high-profile project failures. Consulting costs were often 8x the initial software cost. Times were good, and the fat cats got fatter.

However times are different in 2015 and the businesses are much more likely to take nibbles out the apple, rather than swallow it whole. At Bluefin, our typical project has an external budget of 1/3 software, 1/3 hardware and 1/3 consulting. A typical project timeline is 8-16 weeks, and has an ROI in 6-12 months.

The Partner Quote Sheet looks to me like lions getting ready for feeding time (did you notice that IBM is notably missing?).

There are glimmers of light here – the guided configurations do away – to some extent – with the expensive functional resources required in SAP projects. Customization using SAP’s ABAP programming language is discouraged, and in the S/4HANA Public Cloud is not permitted at all. However the migration tooling to S/4HANA shown so far is a manual process costing hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.

Customer call to action: Educate yourself and resist the temptation to undergo huge transformations for the sake of it. Save substantial transformation projects for areas which have not yet been consolidated onto an ERP.

Partner call to action: Up-skill your resources and find ways to add value. Please don’t repeat the history of huge expensive project teams flow in from around the world

SAP call to action: Control your partners, give exposure to those partners who are helping the ecosystem and do not do deals with the devil. Work much harder to create software which automates the transition to S/4HANA.

Do not customize

I was involved in a customer who wrote over a million lines of custom code in their ERP implementation. It was a nightmare to support and a bigger nightmare to upgrade. When they did their next big project, which happened to be Supply Chain Management, the CIO imposed a simple rule: any custom code had to be approved by him, and fairly justified. The story goes that this project had just 7 customizations, each of which for a specific business reason. Strangely enough, this system was more reliable, less expensive to run, and much less expensive to keep up to date.

Two important trends happened since 1992: first, much of ERP is best-practice and customers have realized that they can standardize processes based on the SAP standard (at least where they don’t have a differentiator). Second, SAP has become almost infinitely customizable without custom code. Most customization I see is due to resources who lack the training and understanding to implement without customization.

The good news is that S/4HANA appears to actively discourage customization, and provides HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) extensions to add new modules in a honeycomb style. This should in time make S/4HANA platforms easier to update.

Customer call to action: Put a change process in for customization, which includes a QA process by an internal or customer-side resource and sign-off by a very senior resource. Hold both internal resources and partner resources to account and only customize when it is truly required.

Partner call to action: Invest in training of functional resources, and decrease the number of developers in the team mix.

SAP call to action: Focus on helping customers and partners avoid customization by enabling S/4HANA to be obviously configurable in a clear way. Focus on creating training material for how to configure S/4HANA without substantial customization.

Keep up to date

One of the things that makes me shudder when I talk to customers is using a “N-1 policy”. This is borne out of a belief that being on an old version will reduce risk, which is patently ridiculous. Instead, I talk to customers about being on the “right version” at the right phase of a project lifecycle. For example, at the beginning of a project we should always be on the latest version, whilst we never update the system during User Acceptance Testing unless there is an issue identified which is resolved in a newer version.

The “N-1 policy” is one of the single biggest reasons for lack of innovation. In theory, S/4HANA fixes this, and cloud versions will be automatically updated on a quarterly basis. However, customers will require Regression Testing and I wonder how long before a customer refuses to regression test in time? Will SAP upgrade the system anyhow, or will they bow to the customer and allow them to run on an older version?

In addition, I’m already talking to customers who don’t want to implement Simple Finance in 2015, and aren’t considering SAP S/4HANA any time soon. This is crazy, when these projects in many cases won’t go live until 2016, leaving plenty of time to iron out any issues found along the way.

Customer call to action: Focus on creating automatic test management together to quickly complete parallel regression testing in 1-2 weeks. This will be critical to the innovation without disruption that S/4HANA promises. Focus on starting projects on the latest innovations.

Partner call to action: Help customers with the chance process and advise on how to manage testing and how to start projects on the latest version whilst keeping the risk profile acceptable.

SAP call to action: Do not make exceptions here, focus on helping customers with the quarterly strategy. Build automated regression testing into S/4HANA with reports that the business can sign off on.

Clear and Actionable Roadmaps

The last 23 years were shadowed by sharp changes in direction in the SAP Ecosystem. SAP changed its mobile strategy 4 times between 2008 and 2012, and missed critical industry shifts like the Internet and the Cloud. This causes uncertainty in the customer base and an aversion to change, and that won’t be acceptable for S/4HANA.

The S/4HANA launch was light on details, and some felt that this was a problem. I happen to think that a launch that is a statement of strategy is a good thing, provided that it is followed up with a roadmap containing clear customer journeys. These roadmaps are a joint responsibility between customer, partner and vendor, and will be critical to the success of S/4HANA.

In addition, SAP has a propensity to be risk-averse in laying down roadmaps. This has to change with S/4HANA, because customers need to see a long-term roadmap, even one which is subject to change. Customers would much rather see a roadmap with elements which slips a quarter here and there, than having information about a quarterly release available 2 weeks after the release.

Other vendors have a different strategy. Take, for example, the Release Schedule. They take a “past, present and future” approach, which gives some insight into what’s coming next.

Customer call to action: Push both SAP and your partners to create a roadmap that is aligned to your business objectives.

Partner call to action: Work closely with SAP to understand the workings of S/4HANA, and align these with the needs of the customer.

SAP call to action: Be incredibly structured about the messages sent to the market. Use SAPPHIRE 2015 as a launchpad for clear customer roadmaps that reach out as far into the future as possible.

The Future of Business

The market vacillates between best-of-breed solutions and suite-based solutions, and the current trend is towards best-of-breed cloud solutions with open integration standards. In addition, industry-specific cloud solutions like Veeva Systems, Epicor and many others are gaining ground. It’s fair to say that the Future of Business is happening right now, in the best-of-breed cloud.

SAP made a brand of creating the future of business with SAP R/3, both from a Line of Business perspective, and from an Industry Vertical perspective. SAP transformed global businesses by introducing multi-currency finance and integrated supply chains in the 1990s.

Much of SAP’s R&D budget has gone into creating the HANA platform in the last 4 years, which has created a world-class platform for software application innovation. HANA in itself, however, is just a platform for application development, and it is not the future of business applications in itself.

There are signals that SAP S/4HANA could be the future of business. The first application, Simple Finance, is largely focussed around speed and simplicity of operations. It does, however provide some differentiating functionality around financial supply chain management, which could be considered the Future of Finance.

In a discussion with HCM Analyst Naomi Bloom, we discussed what really mattered to HCM buyers. Her perspective was clear – SAP S/4HANA must provide “modernization that goes beyond using HANA to simplify tables/new UX/improved analytics”. SAP must be double careful, because in its drive to integrate the Suite, it risks not spending enough time driving its newly-acquired HCM platform to be the Future of HCM.

Equally, HANA has geospatial capabilities that can be used for workforce planning, and graph capabilities that can be used for network optimization problems. If SAP are to win with S/4HANA, they must drive the Future of Business using the capabilities of the HANA platform.

Customer call to action: Clearly identify the drivers for innovation within your business, and communicate them to SAP.

Partner call to action: Help customers identify the drivers for innovation. Help build HCP Extensions for industry and LoB that help customers innovate.

SAP call to action: Be ruthless in this area and do not settle for development areas just moving to S/4HANA as enough. Drive business innovation at the same time as platform innovation.

SaaS Economics

One thing that SAP R/3 did really well was to ride the wave of UNIX and commoditized IT servers. Gone were expensive and bespoke mainframes, and in were the (then) less costly UNIX systems.

SaaS economics have been coming fro some years, and they are driving down the cost of ownership of IT assets using a sharing economy. Equipment is bought direct from source, and put in one location, and is shared amongst multiple tenants. Data like reference and master data is shared once and stored, and code lines are shared between tenants.

SAP’s HANA Enterprise Cloud was effectively a managed server service, with the benefits of centralized procurement and hosting and support, but without the benefits of multi-tenancy. Part of the argument for that was that Enterprise customers didn’t want multi-tenancy, and HANA was very much a single-tenant database at that time.

With the SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud, we see further SaaS economics in play: HANA database multi-tenancy is used to isolate customers, though data is still private. Shared data will need to wait for further innovations around multi-tenancy in the HANA platform.

Remember that SAP HANA is billed as the Great Simplifier, and data footprint reductions of 10:1 are claimed. It’s fair to say that this provides value, and cost reduction of 10:1 wouldn’t be fair to ask for, but if HANA simplifies then it must reduce the cost of platform ownership.

Customer call to action: Measure TCO of the current environment and drive vendors to reduce TCO. We already do this with on-premise HANA customers and when purchased and deployed correctly, HANA reduces TCO.

Partner call to action: Create propositions for customers focussed around the business case. Take these to customers including financial models for TCO and ROI. Help the CIO speak to the language of the CFO.

SAP call to action: Make sure that the S/4HANA economics stack up, and lead with the numbers. How does S/4HANA reduce TCO and how does it stack up compared to the competition?

Business Case First

With SAP R/3, the business case was quite straightforward. Either the business case was focussed around risk reduction (millennium bug), or around cost reduction/growth (globalization). These led to large business transformation projects, followed by a long period of optimization. Most SAP competencies are focused around the TCO of the back-office, which drives an annual cost reduction.

In order for SAP S/4HANA to be a success, SAP must lead in customer conversations with the business case. Any other conversation is the wrong conversation. The language needs to be around supporting an increase in sales, reduction of debtor days, faster financial closed, supply chain optimization or and increase in adoption and usage.

This will be a tough transformation for a partner ecosystem and salesforce who are focussed around leading with technology, speeds and feeds. It is very tough to build a business case around speeds and feeds, because faster reporting isn’t necessarily correlated with better decision making.

Customer call to action: Push back on any vendor/partner conversation that doesn’t focus on value first.

Partner call to action: Focus on the value of the project lifecycle, including all costs. Look for ways to focus customers on value, not cost.

SAP call to action: Lead with value first and tie this in with S/4HANA, transformation, simplification, data reduction and cost reduction. Tell a rounded story of all elements of the value lifecycle.

Final Words

I hope that whether you are a customer, partner or SAP employee, this blog has made you think. To recall Hasso’s words:

“If this doesn’t work, we’re dead. Flat-out dead.”

The timing is critical: SAP has a one-off shot to execute on this really well at the SAPPHIRE NOW + ASUG Annual Conference on May 5th, 2015. That’s just 11 short weeks from writing.

The main thing that makes me feel good as I write this is that the SAP leadership – under the stewardship of Bill McDermott, have the ability to do something about this. If they execute on all cylinders, and they have the capability to do so, then we have the foundation for the renewal of the SAP R/3 platform.

These are very exciting times, but we must all be mindful that nothing lasts for ever. Great companies like Nokia, Motorola, Commodore and Wang Computers were left behind in the last innovation cycles. Let’s make sure we learn from the lessons of the last 23 years. This is a call of action to all of us.

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      Author's profile photo Jarret Pazahanick
      Jarret Pazahanick

      Excellent blog John with some great words of wisdom for customers, partners, and SAP.

      Author's profile photo Christopher Solomon
      Christopher Solomon

      Very nicely put together. I can see a lot of thought put into this....which is good because it is likely to be a source of reference for many for a while to come!

      Author's profile photo John Appleby
      John Appleby
      Blog Post Author

      Thank you Christopher, I really appreciate it.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Again an excellent blog. Thanks for sharing

      Also Joshua Greenbaum has written a "part 2" 😉 of his blog which can be read here: S/4HANA: It’s not R/3, and it’s not 1992 either (part II) | EAConsult

      Author's profile photo John Appleby
      John Appleby
      Blog Post Author

      Yes, I have to admit Josh got there first 🙂

      His blog is definitely worth reading. He was there in 1992, and I was not!

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      looks like you are here in 2015 with all the ducks in the row, but he is not (any more) and thanks for pointing to this blog from the 'omnichannel'.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      excellent blog thanks

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi John what a strong and brave article ! Congratulations... This is my 20th year in SAP and this is the only article that I have read so for which tells the truth so obviously !

      I have tried to tell that we need to change, however you did it perfect.

      New era in SAP Consultancy

      Engineered SAP

      Author's profile photo John Appleby
      John Appleby
      Blog Post Author

      Thank you sir. Times are a changin'

      Author's profile photo Florian Henninger
      Florian Henninger

      Hi John,

      I'm deeply impressed and see a lot of thoughts I also have in my mind. This is really something to think about:

      "I was involved in a customer who wrote over a million lines of custom code in their ERP implementation. It was a nightmare to support and a bigger nightmare to upgrade."

      The message: Keep it simple and think twice before starting developing.

      This remains always the same. Right time to start with 😉

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.


      Author's profile photo John Appleby
      John Appleby
      Blog Post Author

      Thank you, I appreciate the kind words.

      It's also very true that a development system should be made available at exactly the right time. Not too early, so people can start hacking 🙂

      Author's profile photo Bala Prabahar
      Bala Prabahar

      Hi John,

      Excellent blog. Here's one more thought:

      In short - the business economy of 1992 is very different to the times we face now in 2015, and if we approach SAP S/4HANA like we approached SAP R/3, then I believe the SAP economy is in serious trouble. As partners, customers and employees within the SAP ecosystem, we must rally together.

      This applied in 2011 as well when HANA was introduced. SAP HANA really needed people with drive, motivation, skills, experience, determination, hard working, focused on technology than money, discipline, ambition etc. These people would have helped SAP focus on very important aspects of HANA by identifying bugs/gaps very early. They also would have helped SAP HANA mature quicker by identifying key issues -- (not SELECT * - see below) -- such as stability, scalability, concurrency, tool features, modeling, use cases, SQL features, backup/recovery etc. They in turn would have written quality papers on HANA which would have piqued curiosity of other like minded people. This would have helped expand the HANA skilled population. They probably are introverts with poor marketing skills. They are independent consultants and as you correctly pointed out, they are not a part of SAP ecosystem, but they know how to deliver. They focus on delivery, not on selling.


      They knew this 25+ years ago when every i/o used to be very, very expensive. Not sure why we spend time discussing DB-101's in 2015. Is this time worth spent while developing next generation apps using state of the art platform HANA, 3+ years after going live? (by the way, this is just one example!).

      I sincerely hope SAP would listen to your thoughts and include people who matter to the success of SAP. Good luck.


      Author's profile photo John Appleby
      John Appleby
      Blog Post Author

      Hey Bala you know the "SELECT * is for losers" statement is a bit of fun. It's a statement which is cheap in a row-oriented database and expensive in a column-oriented database. And it's serious business - there is a "SELECT *" report which goes all the way up to the management team. There are consequences of using it!

      As to whether they are listening to my thoughts - yes, I believe they are, based on the emails I have received. Whether that will permeate the culture of the organization and wider ecosystem remains to be seen.

      Keep doing your part, we will get our thanks 🙂

      Author's profile photo Andre Urban Blumberg
      Andre Urban Blumberg

      Two well written posts, as usual, John. The main challenge I see for SAP is to enable customers to move to the new target state at their own pace. We need more details of how the transition will work from R/3 to S/4, especially around licensing. What we have heard so far is that it's a "new offering". If that means existing customers have to re-license then the question is: why still pay annual maintenance to SAP for R/3 given all the innovation is going into products I'm not using? Why go to S/4 by default? Why not reset and go to market in 2022/3/4 ahead of the 2025 de-support of the current generation? Of course many companies will move faster than that. But remember how long it took to get everyone moved off R/2 and the customer population then was much smaller.

      Last year we did a major multi-year server / storage tender. The incumbent storage supplier at the time said to me "the problem with tenders is that all bets are off, everything is reset to zero, all the credibility / relationships / goodwill we have established with you will be worth very little". They lost the tender. What will SAP do to not have all goodwill reset to zero in 202x?

      Author's profile photo John Appleby
      John Appleby
      Blog Post Author

      André, thank you, and you come from the customer perspective, and the perspective you put out there is one that is no doubt shared with many customers.

      I understand your point on the storage vendor but I am not sure it's the same with complex enterprise software installations. Migration to a new storage vendor is a quite straightforward technical project - the friction is quite low. The migration to S/4HANA had better be much easier than a migration to another platform.

      As a point of interest, were you already unhappy with the relationship/price/support from the storage vendor, is this what drove you to tender in the first place? Was it truly their behavior during the vendor which caused them to lose the tender, or were they just not competitive?

      If SAP make the mistake that Oracle made with their move to Fusion, they would be in real danger of what you describe, but the early view I have of the S/4HANA migration process suggests that isn't the case.

      Nonetheless, you are right - SAP have to offer differentiated functionality at a fair price point. By fair, the mid-term TCO of S/4HANA has to be lower than the existing software+hardware+services+support bundle of today.

      What's more, they have to make it clear to customers how to move, they have to make it fair to customers and they have to make it easy to move. No small ask.

      I honestly believe that they did the right thing with the S/4HANA launch. How it turns out is all in the execution.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      John, finally read this blog in detail today and must say its very well written.

      The most striking point there is - What's the "business case" ? In plain simple business terms - how does it increase my revenue or reduce my cost - in whatever way.

      Some of the examples in there that you mentioned are good.

      One of the best example for me is can you do "what ifs" of your business dynamically, resulting with reliability of your future business...and can we get this in the hands of business users to explore - whether they are Finance, Marketers, Sales Ops or HR ? 

      Author's profile photo Kenneth Moore
      Kenneth Moore

      "Do Not Customize" ???  "Minimize Customizations" makes more sense.  SAP by design is made for customizing.  It is and has been a major selling point and, might I add, a source of revenue for them as well as consultants.

      Author's profile photo John Appleby
      John Appleby
      Blog Post Author

      Yes I'm being deliberately inflammatory. 🙂

      Author's profile photo Tobias Trapp
      Tobias Trapp

      I agree with you: Customizing makes SAP implementations too complex and is in many cases not necessary. But we must differentiate otherwise we can’t implement “insight to action” for example and differentiate in core processes.

      The good news is that SAP already has a technology that you can use instead of customizing and development and this is very simple:

      • Using Decision Service Management you can control processes using business rules. So the processes can be standardized (in in most companies they are very similar) but you can change the business rules very quickly.
      • With DSM processes can be changed very quickly – yet today you can create, maintain and test the rules in a central system and do hot deployment (and of course undeployment) into production. Deployment into cloud systems can be done, too.
      • Rule system can be created in a way that business experts can understand (and test them) in contrast to customizing.
      • Even today rules can be pushed down into HANA and can work on mass data.

      I consider DSM as important corner in a next generation Business Suite. More and more SAP solutions already support DSM and make customizing as well as many custom developed solutions obsolete.

      So IMHO DSM and S/4HANA fit perfectly together.



      Author's profile photo Abdul Hakim
      Abdul Hakim

      Hi John,

      Thanks for this great blog. I have a questions esp on customization. As you have mentioned that customization using ABAP should be avoided and customer can explore the option of HCP for customization. As HCP does not support ABAP at present whether this means ABAP will be used only internally by SAP in the future. What about existing customer investments on ABAP? Also this also brings technical skillset issue as customers wont be able to leverage their existing ABAP team's skill if they need to do all the customization in HCP when they move to S/4 HANA. This looks like a major roadblock and set  back for ABAP folks. Kindly clarify.



      Author's profile photo John Appleby
      John Appleby
      Blog Post Author

      It's a fair question and one that developers should certainly be thinking about.

      For Public Cloud deployments, it will all be about HCP. Therefore if you are an ABAP programmer today, cross-training to HCP seems like a smart choice right now. Note that these things are all subject to change!

      In Managed Cloud and on-Premise deployments, ABAP will still be there as a development choice. Note that with S/4HANA there is less focus on development anyhow, so there will be less ABAP development than in the past.

      Author's profile photo Abdul Hakim
      Abdul Hakim

      Thanks for the clarification. As you have mentioned these things are all subject to change. Who knows HCP will be extended to support ABAP in the future.

      What about the existing customer investments if they want to upgrade to S/4 HANA. As S/4 HANA is database specific i believe this will not be just a simple migration as SAP claims it to be. Customer enhancements/modifications need to be reimplemented and it will certainly incur addtional cost and overhead for the customers. This also will make customers to think a lot about moving into S/4 HANA route.Your thoughts on this please.

      Author's profile photo John Appleby
      John Appleby
      Blog Post Author

      S/4HANA is based on Suite on HANA. To move to it currently you move to SoH, then activate S/4 extensions.

      In future I assume that there will be a direct database migration which will migrate and activate the extensions. There will be prerequisites for this like New GL.

      I do not expect there to be reimplementation of anything - this would be a disastrous fail for SAP if that were the case and would make S/4HANA like Oracle Fusion. The reason why S/4HANA is ABAP-based is to retain the same data structures.

      Hope this clarifies!

      Author's profile photo Abdul Hakim
      Abdul Hakim

      Thanks for the clarification. It is too early to decide the S/4 HANA impact, let us wait and see how S/4 HANA progress.

      Author's profile photo Joao Sousa
      Joao Sousa

      In Managed Cloud and on-Premise deployments, ABAP will still be there as a development choice. Note that with S/4HANA there is less focus on development anyhow, so there will be less ABAP development than in the past.

      Do you use for example Logistics Execution -> Warehouse Management? That module is useless without development, you can't even post a decent inventory in a HU Managed Warehouse without development. The standard RF application is unusable.

      Unless SAP starts turning off these modules, there will always be need for development. Trust me, I would rather avoid it, but when you can't even post a decent inventory, it's kinda of hard.

      I can't help to think that "less ABAP Development" has been the song for the last 10 years. From the beginning of my career to today it hasn't changed. Minimize developments has been around for a decade, and not all customers pay for developments just because they are inflexible, most times (at least from my experience) SAP just doesn't cut it.

      And development isn't bad if it brings value. Apple can't be expected to make all the apps their customers love, it's also up to partner to do that. Same for SAP, you can't actually believe you will make a software that fits everyone's requirements.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      John – thank you for the thoughtful blog. We are absolutely committed to making SAP S/4 HANA a success for our 14k strong global partner community. For SMEs, we are launching the S/4 HANA Business All In One edition. And, as you mention, we are investing to ensure that our partners deliver customer value through training, including a free Customer Care Program. We have already pre-certified many partners around the world who provide vertical industry expertise and local intimacy for SAP S/4 HANA for customers of all sizes. Needless to say, we are very excited about this journey and always welcome your thoughts.

      Author's profile photo Oliver Russinger
      Oliver Russinger

      any ideas when more information is available on s4/hana. especially what does this mean :Fiori is the UI? as we still have also the well-known erp running in s/4 hana, these transactions will still be not fiori-like (we hope, it would NOT make a lot of sense for order-entry working in fiori-like apps).

      what about strategic UI: is this Fiori-only or also webdynpro - i read different things in differnent blogs.

      maybe someone has more information on these things.

      regards oliver

      Author's profile photo Felix Klingel
      Felix Klingel

      Thank you, great article! Regarding the N-1 approach: If I consider the fundamental change which SAP did to the ERP data model e.g. by removing the aggregation tables in Simple Finance, I will definitely recommend my employer not to be an early adopter of this. But on the long run, I think HANA has a great potential to enable capabilities which we currently can't think of due to platform and performance limitations.

      Author's profile photo John Appleby
      John Appleby
      Blog Post Author

      So there are two points here, that are often mixed together.

      First, should you implement a new functional area? Well that's up to you and your business partners and if they see business value in being an early adopter. There are pros and cons to that.

      Second, if you do choose to implement a new functional area, taking a N-1 strategy on that is a recipe for disaster. You don't get the latest fixes, and sooner or later have to update or apply a bunch of corrections.

      Hope that clarifies.

      Author's profile photo Joao Sousa
      Joao Sousa

      Regarding "Keep Up to Date" there is a real problem with the quality of some updates, it's not just irrational fear. I would like to see some acknowledgment by SAP that they will try to do better testing, instead of constantly blaming the customers for not upgrading.

      Last time I implemented a support package without major testing (7.4 SP02 to SP05), plant master data in ERP stopped working (WB02) and there were no developments. When I debugged there was a whole new class, and inside there were comments that said "Implement exception handling later" next to an unhandled sy-subrc <> 0. Customers should feel safe to upgrade SPs, but right now without major and costly testing, it is too great a risk. 

      SAP Call to Arms: Do better regression testing before blaming the customers for not upgrading. If not, the customers will rationally refuse to upgrade their Cloud.

      Author's profile photo Robert Weber
      Robert Weber

      Hi John,

      thanks for this blog. Yes indeed it gives us some more thoughts to think about before just going forward and installing SAP HANA.

      After the announcement of S/4 HANA we had been wondering how to upgrade without interruption. By the time we found out that technically speaking the move to S/4 HANA is just the installation of one of the Simple Products, whereby Simple Finance 2.0 will be the first one by end of March. Without interruption? I'm not sure. Well, for sure the server itself is running all the time. 🙂

      As we already have migrated some ECC-systems on SAP HANA, we are now curious about the move to S/4 HANA.

      We'll try to be one of the first. And then this move will show the truth of S/4 HANA. Will it really be easier, faster and more sexy?

      We'll see.

      One is true for us all: We all have to change our way of doing IT, there is a new way of thinking, a new approach on solving requests and fullfilling requirements of our customers.

      I'm looking forward to this future, it definitively keeps my job interesting.

      Please keep on posting your thoughts. Thanks again.



      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Excellent perceptions!!! I agree everything!!!

      Something that I did not see it's about about Localization, specially Brazil's localization that is very complex. Is S4/HANA ready?

      Author's profile photo Robert Weber
      Robert Weber

      I just participated to a so called Demo21-program. In the end you have a fully functional S/4 HANA system ready and up and running. There are already some localizations within this Demo21-system available (DE (german), CN (china), US (America) and CH (Swiss)). Others should be easy to be created as our instructor told us.

      If you want to see this Demo21-system in action, please let me know, we can arrange access for you.



      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Dear Robert,

      in a different direction, in the Demo21 program, did you also experience the Guide configuration or Functional customization,

      how was it, did you feel, that, you must have functional consultants in your team for S/4 HANA implementations or the guided configuration is doing the whole job happily

      Author's profile photo Robert Weber
      Robert Weber

      Dear Saee,

      well you still need a functional team, unless you will ask your system administrator to do all the job. The functional people have the knowledge what and how to do, in order to rebuild all the business processes in the sytem. Also in S/4 HANA there is a normal SAP behind, with all the possibilities to customize everything.

      Bottomline: Yes, you need a funtional team.



      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Thank you for your attention Robert!

      Yes!!! I would like to see this Demo21-system. If you can obtain a access to me will be awesome.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      I really enjoyed reading this post John. I have been with SAP for more than 25 years and have seen just how the market has changed over the years, so I fully agree that we have to use the correct approach with S/4HANA. The change in how businesses are run was also a major factor in the decision to transform our service and support area at SAP, which in parallel does focus on clear and actionable roadmaps. We have to help our customers transition to the future. And to your point regarding partners, we don't do this alone, we are very much counting on co-collaboration with our partners.

      Author's profile photo John Appleby
      John Appleby
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks for writing the note Michael, it is much appreciated, and welcome to SCN!

      Hasso said it so well - this is a do-or-die moment for SAP. That makes this an extremely exciting ecosystem to be part of right now. Customers, partners and SAP alike must rally together to make that transition. It requires a new thinking and a new approach for all of us.

      I hope this piece helped a few people rethink their approach.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi john

      you said

      There are glimmers of light here - the guided configurations do away - to some extent - with the expensive functional resources required in SAP projects

      Partner call to action: Invest in training of functional resources,

      so with S/4 HANA, will there be any role for functional consultants ?

      what training are you proposing for functional resources ?

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Dear John,

      reg your "Regression Testing"

      since its cloud, its going to be more of cloud (java) technologies going to main role or

      QTP with some add-ons

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      HANA in itself, however, is just a platform for application development, and it is not the future of business applications in itself.

      Dear John, pls elaborate more on it, can we say simple finance is application development on top of HANA (platform for application development)

      in that case can, who will play major role in this, Implementation partners

      what skills will be involved in building business applications on top of HANA (its a platform )

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Yes, we must partner together, especially those who have experience with migrating from R3, and now they have also hands on experience with S4Hana migration and who are globally certified as Business Process Experts as there is a lot of confusion out there and I've witness clients architecture totally taken the wrong way and entire implementation has to be started all over in many cases as they've lack of engaging the right people like us, so definitely let's work together!  Thank you!

      Author's profile photo Lora Baker
      Lora Baker

      Thanks for this  thoughtful blog, I enjoyed reading it!