In the previous blog, we have learned about the steps a project team takes to determine the configuration values and required extensions to the pre-delivered solution in the Explore phase (the pre-activated SAP Best Practices in SAP S/4HANA Cloud). Let us now shift our attention to the steps the project team takes to personalize the pre-delivered system with customer-specific configuration and how the solution can be extended to cover a customer’s unique requirements beyond configuration.
The purpose of the Realize phase is to incrementally configure, extend, and test the pre-configured solution to reflect a customer’s integrated business processes based on requirements defined in the Explore phase and captured in the delta requirements backlog. Additionally, during this phase, the project team loads customer data into the system, plans adoption activities, and prepares cutover plans and plans for operationally running the solution.
The following activities are key to the Realize phase for SAP S/4HANA Cloud:
- Configure the customer solution in the quality environment using Agile iterations and the backlog created in Explore phase
- Walk through solution processes with the stakeholders to confirm the solution has been configured to meet their requirements
- Execute data migration loads into the quality environment
- Conduct overall end-to-end testing of the solution
- Integrate with other SAP system(s) and customer legacy systems, as required
- Continue with project team enablement on key concepts and system operations
- Prepare cutover plan and plan change management and end-user enablement
- Receive quality and production environments
During the Realize phase, the project team uses a series of Agile sprints to incrementally configure, test, and confirm the entire end-to-end solution and to perform legacy data uploads. The project team actively works with business representatives to ensure a good fit of the built solution to the requirements from the backlog. The project team releases results of multiple Agile sprints to the business users in a “release to production” to accelerate time to value and provide early access to finalized functionality.
The solution configuration and walkthrough is the main purpose of the Realize phase to personalize the customer system to fit their business needs as they were determined earlier in the Explore phase Fit-to-Standard workshops. Therefore, the most important activity during the Realize phase is to take the results of the Fit-to-Standard workshops and implement the required configuration values to personalize the pre-delivered SAP Best Practices based system to meet customer business needs. In addition to the configuration activities, the project team will also implement the required extensions, adjust forms, and set up integration scenarios. The configuration capabilities in SAP S/4HANA Cloud are supported by two distinct types of configuration technologies and approaches: guided configuration through easy-to-use applications available to consultants and customers, and expert configuration performed by SAP Service Center on behalf of the customer in coordination with the customer project team as part of the subscription contract. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Guided Configuration – For most configuration, such as setting up blocking reasons for billing or adjusting address for a customer’s organizational unit (e.g., a plant or warehouse), the project team can access the self-service guided configuration applications in the Manage Your Solution application in SAP S/4HANA Cloud and select the Configure Your Solution button. All configuration will be done in the quality system (Q-system) and can then be transported to the production environment in short configuration cycles.
Once you view the configuration applications, the screen displays your systems current project phase. All the configuration applications are assigned to an application area and contain additional details, such as description, indication whether the configuration is mandatory and thus must be accessed during the configuration activities, and so on. Here, you can also use the filter, the search functionality, and adjust the sorting order of the self-services configuration UIs accordingly.
Once you are ready to access the configuration application, use the Start button to start the application and adjust the configuration values. SAP provides examples of the configuration activities in the SAP Activate framework that show visual walkthroughs of the configuration steps. Once the configuration has been adjusted, the project team can use the comment field to capture relevant documentation and the status of the activities for this configuration application.
The Self-Service Configuration, in release 1708, provides access to over 250 self-service configuration applications (depending on the capabilities activated in a customer’s system)— a number that will continue to grow as SAP adds new configuration applications to cover additional settings as part of the self-service approach.
Expert Configuration – For selected advanced configuration such as enabling direct access to configuration tables (something that is common in SAP’s on-premise solutions), SAP offers expert configuration, which is performed by the SAP Service Center on behalf of the customer. Customers can request that the SAP Service Center complete the expert configuration identified and documented in the Explore phase. The expert configuration does not need to be requested all at once; in fact, it should be part of a configuration sprint wherein one or more processes are configured, tested, and moved to the P-system.
Configuration Sprints – Project teams run both self-services and expert activities in short 1-2 week-long Agile configuration sprints. In each sprint, the project team performs the required configuration (using the self-service configuration or requesting expert configuration) and requests that the configuration be pushed into the P-system. This way, the Q-system and P-system are synchronized during the implementation, which minimizes the risk in deployment of the functionality into production.
Key User Extensions – Key user extensibility is a part of the SAP S/4HANA Cloud in-app extensibility capability that enables customer key users to extend the standard functionality without modifying the code. The extensions are only applicable within restricted organizational context, meaning the key users in this scenario can do simple extensions of the application that impact their line of business in the organization. SAP S/4HANA Cloud supports key user extensions to the user interface (UI), adding/testing simple business logic and adding a new custom field to the UI. Refer to this blog series for more details on Key User Extensibility.
Integration – For integrations that are included in the scope of the initial project (as the team decided during the Explore phase), the team sets up the integrations during Realize phase following the guidance provided in the SAP Activate framework (these setup steps are detailed in the SAP Activate Methodology in the SAP Roadmap Viewer including links to guides and documents detailing the setup on both sides of the integration). SAP provides standard integrations for solutions like SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central, SAP Fieldglass, SAP Ariba, SAP Concur, and SAP Hybris, to list a few examples. Always refer to the latest information about available standard interfaces published for SAP S/4HANA Cloud in the SAP Best Practices Explorer. In addition to standard integrations, each customer can integrate their custom applications with SAP S/4HANA Cloud using published APIs. The SAP API Business Hub provides comprehensive documentation of all available APIs for SAP S/4HANA Cloud.
The work in Realize phase is relatively broad and includes following the activities that we suggest our readers to review in detail on the SAP Roadmap Viewer:
- Data Migration – loading of customer data into the solution utilizing the data migration capabilities in SAP S/4HANA Cloud
- Setup of Output Management – including adjustment of forms and e-mail templates
- Adaptation of Data Sources for Reporting
To access full list of deliverables in Realize phase, use this link.
What’s coming next…
Stay tuned for the next blog which will be released next week where we will cover the Deploy phase of SAP Activate for SAP S/4HANA Cloud. To stay informed about new posts in this blog series, make sure to follow us via @SDenecken and @janmusil. The blog posts will appear in the SAP Communities space with tag #sapactivate, and will also be announced on the SAP Activate Methodology Jam group (request access here), the community of 20k people already actively engaged.
If this topic series interests you, we want to pre-announce the soon to be released e-book SAP S/4HANA Cloud: Implementation with SAP Activate which will become available in a few weeks from SAP PRESS.
Let us know your thoughts and feedback either in the comments to this blog series or in the SAP Activate Jam group(s).