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The ASUG CoE community held the second installment of its eight-part webcast series this past Wednesday.  Kevin Reilly, ASUG’s HANA Community Advocate and former CIO at Eby-Brown discussed how the Center of Excellence may be impacted by S/4 HANA, Cloud, and other ‘stuff.’

When HANA was first introduced in 2010, it was billed as an innovative new database that could impact analytics applications.  At this time, many customers believed they did not need it.  As the capability of HANA improved and expanded and it was constantly talked about, customers sensed they did not understand it.  Since it is clear HANA is the platform for future versions of SAP – such as S/4 HANA – customers know they need to act.  Many customers are looking to learn how S/4 HANA will impact the organization and how the Center of Excellence might change as a result.  Mr. Reilly provided several insights as to how this might happen.

HANA is More Than Speed

The first characteristic many people think of regarding HANA is speed.  After all, the ability of a HANA database to sort through large amounts of data has been one of its revolutionary traits.  However, using HANA solely for speed limits its power.  Greater value can be generated from re-designed business processes.  It is in these re-designed business processes that organizational change takes place.

It is one thing to reduce the month-end accounting close from 7 days to 3 days, but what is going to be done with the 4 extra days?  It is one thing to complete a full MRP run in minutes (or seconds) instead of hours, but what activities can be conducted in the time now available?  These questions need to be answered once the re-designed processes are in place:

“What can be done with the time now available as a result of the improved process?”

What new skills might be needed now that other tasks take less time?”

Suffice it to say, the business user community is impacted by a shift to S/4 HANA.  New business processes that have been re-designed, simplified, and combined will emerge.

What about the Center of Excellence?  How might its people be impacted?  Obviously, the core knowledge of the SAP application is impacted and the capability of the resources must adapt.  This is a standard situation as software improves and changes.  However, a major impact occurs in the area of training.  It is likely that changes to the business processes and the underlying applications are so significant that new training materials will be required.  Studies have shown the effectiveness of the user community and the user adoption for new functionality is highly dependent on continuous training.  The CoE must account for these activities and increase its resources in this critical area for the transition to S/4 HANA.

From a technical viewpoint, a move to HANA most impacts the Basis area.  Basis tasks are simplified due to the database simplifications of HANA.  While fewer resources in this area may be needed, the same questions from the business side still apply:

“What are you going to do with the extra time?”

“What higher-value activities can be accomplished now that many of the previous tasks are not necessary?”

It is likely that as job roles change, additional skills / capabilities also need to be updated.

The impact of Fiori on the overall user experience also impacts the Center of Excellence.  Since Fiori makes SAP easier to use, more intuitive, and easier to learn, it is conceivable that fewer incidents will be generated.  If this occurs, fewer Service Desk resources would be required.  This is something to be aware of as an organization heads down the HANA path.

Moving to the Cloud is More Than Moving Expenses from CAPEX to OPEX

Regardless as to whether an organization is running completely in the cloud or on an hybrid solution, there is no doubt one business impact is in the shift from capital expenditures to operating expenses.  But, there are also organizational impacts.  A move to the cloud shifts activities performed by internal resources to external resources.  The most obvious area is among infrastructure resources.  If the environment is managed by the external provider, it does not need to be managed by internal resources as well.  These adjustments must be considered when making the shift.  However, I strongly believe this does not immediately mean reductions; that is the easy (and many times, short-sighted) approach.  As described in the business resource topic, the real question is, “What are you going to do with this newly available time?”  In this case, it is important to determine what skills / capabilities can be developed for this new capacity to generate value.  Moving to the cloud certainly impacts the Center of Excellence.  However, it does not need to be a ‘doom and gloom’ scenario.  Those organizations that understand where the impact is and begin to plan for it will reap the best results.

The CoE is More Important Than Ever

The Center of Excellence is at the nexus of organizational change.  Mr. Reilly highlighted three areas of focus for the Center of Excellence:

  • Value Realization – realizing measureable value from technology initiatives

        As the pool of discretionary funds as a percent of overall technology spend shrinks, this must be a key focus of the Center of Excellence

  • Collaboration – bringing together all areas of the enterprise

        Increasingly, the Center of Excellence intertwines between business process and technology and finds itself facilitating / directing the collaboration

        between the two worlds

  • Orchestration – knitting the application environment together

        As environments get more complex moving between cloud and on-premise, but the integration between the applications gets tighter and more

        seamless, the Center of Excellence must orchestrate how the entire portfolio fits together

Each of these drives a significant amount of organizational change and the Center of Excellence sits in the middle of it all.  The CoE that plans for and executes these items well will find that it:

  • Remains relevant to the enterprise
  • Develops a partnership relationship with its business customer
  • Increases the responsiveness of its resources by adapting the roles / skills / capabilities of the organization

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, Part 3 of the eight-part series is scheduled for Tuesday, March 01 at 12:00p EST.

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