As promised at SAP Teched 2015, this week SAP Mentors and SAP S/4 Product Management met for an SAP S/4HANA validation workshop in Walldorf from December 15-17. A great idea realised.
Owen Pettiford (Comprise Limited) invited 8 mentor colleagues and Arno Mielke + Sven Denecken (SAP) brought them together with a seleted SAP expert team. The agenda covered technology topics (architecture, extensibility, simplification, migration, SAP Activate, analytics …) as well as insight into business topics like Finance or Material Management and Operations. The central points of the informal, open and trustful discussion were all around the customer expectations and experiences with S/4HANA.
The most important feedback was that SAP should re-emphasize again and again the clear message: SAP S/4HANA is a NEW product and it is definitely NOT an upgrade of ERP. Nevertheless SAP S/4HANA still provides most of the ERP functions, except those that become obsolete (simplified) because of new improved processes.
Positive feedback of the mentors was:
- SAP S/4 HANA provides a clear roadmap and strategy. It is an opportunity to innovate and renew the business process towards digital transformation
- Real time processing and readiness for digital economy
- Provides processes and analytics together in one environment
- Fiori user experience is well received
- Reduced database size and landscape simplification
- Helpful tools support, e.g. for migration, automated tests, simplified configuration …
- Close assistance for the first customers by the Regional Implementation Group (RIG)
Nevertheless there is room for improvement:
- The variety of the different S/4HANA editions (on premise edition, cloud enterprise-, cloud project services-, cloud marketing editions) causes some confusion on customer side.
- There is an urgent need to extend the functional content of the cloud edition
- More industry specific functions
- Some customers feel locked into HANA
- Costs for conversion, rollout to employees etc. let many customer still hesitate
- Request to further enhance Fiori coverage. Too many applications still use SAP GUI
- Localization: need to extend Best Practices for more countries to reduce configuration efforts
In order to better illustrate SAP S/4HANA the mentors requested to make system demos also externally available for partners and customers to make the innovations more tangible. For example:
- Real-time insight into financial results and Fast Financial Close
- Stock (& cost) reduction via a real time inventory system, reflecting the real physical stock.
- Solving critical production issues (e.g. broken parts) via simulation of different scenarios and real time mitigation.
- Increase efficiency for billing and invoicing by solving issues in the Sales Order Fulfillment Cockpit
- Lower procurement operations cost by increased process effectiveness
Overall the exchange workshop was very valuable for the mentors as well as for the SAP experts. The plan is to repeat this setup next year, extend it to other influencer groups and enrich with selected deep dives.
Thanks again to the mentors from the S/4 team and best wishes for a quiet time around new years eve and a fabulous start into 2016.