Part 2 Changing the mindset: Prepare and Explore
As explained in the previous post, SAP uses the Activate methodology. There is already a lot of information regarding this methodology, but I strongly recommend you check out the official roadmap viewer from SAP: https://roadmapviewer-supportportal.dispatcher.hana.ondemand.com/# (again you must be logged on to see all the documentation). All the collateral can be found there:
This web page is the step-by-step guide that will be used as the main source of information during the whole project. It includes the description of each task that is performed at each phase and all the so-called Accelerators (specific collateral to make your implementation easier)
Let’s get our hands dirty…
Before formally starting the project, you can register for a trial system with your S user. Although this system cannot be customized, it helps you to get used to Fiori and to the new apps in case you don’t have any prior experience. Most importantly, it gives the customer a first glimpse of the system and realize the capabilities and new features. This is done in the Discover phase.
My takeaway: in the first meetings with the customer, while explaining the new S/4HANA Cloud features, it can be useful to jump into the system and show how some processes work (KPI’s, Financial Statements, drill down navigations, Overview pages …). Even if the customer is an existing SAP user, it is very valuable for them to see online, all the new S/4HANA functionality that he/she may be aware of.
At this point, we already have the framework so we can start all the project management tasks. “Formally” speaking, the project lifecycle has 5 phases (Prepare, Explore, Realize, Deploy, Run).
Bear in mind that instead of the typical landscape of a Development, Integration, Quality and Production system, we will use different instances depending on which phase we are at:
That means, for example, that once you have moved to the deploy phase you will no longer have the starter system. You don’t need to configure any system, SAP provides them to you as a part of moving to each phase during the project.
My advice: before moving to any phase, I strongly recommend downloading the accelerator ‘Quality Built In New QGate Checklist’. This is a checklist of the items you must have done before moving ahead from a project management perspective.
1 Prepare phase
Prepare phase corresponds to the Initiation and Planning phase of a traditional Project Management methodology like in PMBoK. The key activities in this phase are the project Kick-off and the Starter system provisioning.
In the Roadmap viewer, you can see all the deliverables expected for this phase and it’s corresponding accelerators:
These Accelerators save a lot of PowerPoint and administrative time and are a powerful tool for both project management and customer, when structuring the project and carrying out the meetings.
My advice: Activate is Agile based. If you are not used to Agile methodologies such as SCRUM, I strongly recommend downloading the Agile Release Planning (Customer).pptx Accelerator from the Roadmap viewer to learn the basics of this methodology
I will leave you to go over each deliverable and explore all the Accelerators. I will instead focus on the strategical importance of this phase.
Prepare phase is about defining the high-level scope, the project plan and introducing the team to get the customer onboarding. The main output of this phase is the kick-off meeting, it formally starts the project and states what the project will include and how it is going to be managed.
It is crucial to understand that S/4HANA Cloud is not for everyone. The “adapting the processes for each company” approach is not valid here. That means that companies with very customized processes may not be a suitable candidate. Thus, before the kickoff meeting, you must already have analyzed the high-level requirements. Make sure that at least all the “Must” (and all or almost all the “Should”) core requirements are covered in the Cloud solution. But remember, covered does not necessarily mean done the same way!
Failing to carefully analyse the core requirements, may likely lead to a failed project. If at this point you find relevant differences or potential high-level issues, you should stop and clarify them with the customer. The sooner the better.
My takeaway: The Cloud system is a lot more rigid than the On-premise version, before the kick off, try grouping the requirements into the standard scope items. Double check that they are covered out of the box. Don’t focus on operational details, that would be discussed later in the Explore phase, we are talking about customer’s CORE processes. Check also the Cloud customizing limitations to see if they could be an issue.
In addition, in each release new features are available, you can check what is available in https://rapid.sap.com/bp/#/browse/categories/sap_s%254hana/areas/cloud. Finally, consider HCP for specific custom developments and HCI for third party integrations.
In the PM_13.pttx Accelerator you can find a useful kick-off template that includes all the topics of this phase.
2 Explore phase
Again, in the Roadmap viewer you can see all the deliverables expected for this phase and its corresponding templates:
The most important activities during this phase are the Fit-to-Standard workshops. The goal of those workshops is to learn the detailed specifics from the scope defined in Prepare phase. As I suggested above, if you have already analyzed the scope items you should have a high level Backlog, and it would be less likely that you encounter any unpleasant surprises!(Remember, the more standard, the less risk, and the less time and money).
Please note the huge importance on carefully gathering and checking requirements. In the Cloud you cannot easily code a missing functionality or create a new program in SE38.
To start preparing the Fit to Standard workshops refer to the roadmap viewer where you can find some useful collateral like “How to approach Fit to Standard Analysis – Cloud.pptx”
Before scheduling the workshops, group (or review if you have already done it) the requirements into scope items and prepare the agenda. For each scope item, you can analyze the processes in the Roadmap Viewer and lower the level of your backlog requirements.
The output of this analysis is the workshop calendar for each scope item to be discussed. In my case some of the workshops planned were:
When doing each workshop you can split the meeting into four main blocks:
- Present the scope item and processes involved using the accelerators available
- Show how each process works into the system and the details and capabilities of the Fiori Apps involved.
- Discuss configuration, operational details and custom logic for each process
- Look for gaps and update the backlog
In our project for instance, I started referring to the standard templates of each scope item:
After introducing them I used the Business Process Flows and the Starter System side by side and went through the processes discussing how they fit their business needs:
The business Process Flows may be too technical for some audiences, on some workshops I just focused on the Starter system, but it is still good to have them as a guideline.
Note: You can also use automated scripts to show the processes to the customer downloading them from the Best Practices portal.
My advice: Prepare in advance all the related configuration topics (SSCUI’s and Expert Configurations) to make sure that everything is included in the discussion. I recommend to relate to the Expert Configuration template mentioned in the previous post (S4H_043 Expert Configuration Template – EM.xlsx)
When discussing the details of the requirements, it is also important to know that S/4HANA Cloud allows field extensibility and a simplified enhancement/user-exit designer to add some specific logic. So no, a Z field or a “specific Id check before posting a PO” is not a missing functionality that the Cloud cannot cover. You can enhance the processes using standard:
Even though extensions are coded in ABAP, not all the statements are available (like direct DB operations except views, or dynamic programming). If you foresee that some enhancements may be needed, you can do some testing and get used to this tool to be more confident and learn its possibilities.
My takeaway: Change the mindset. Instead of focusing on what the customer does, focus on what the system does and how it can fit in the customer needs. You may find some aversion to change depending on the audience. Analyze the customer needs to make sure that a potential gap is really a need for the business, if it can be done differently or if it is just a matter of change aversion.
After each process is shown, we discussed the specifics of the Customer’s operational processes and performed the delta analysis for further study.
The main output of this phase is the detailed backlog with all the requirements prioritized, including all user processes (and their scope items involved), their specific reporting needs and forms, and custom developments / logic needed.
Once the Customer’s approval of the scope items is obtained you are ready to ask for the Q system. To do so, you will need to fill the Chart of accounts template (in case you want to use a different Chart of accounts), the Organizational Structure template and the first Bank Account and send them to SAP. As always, these templates are included in the Explore Phase Accelerators webpage.
The moment Q system is available (it takes few days) you can start activating the specific scope items in the “Configure your Solution” tool explained in the previous post.
My advice: once you gain the approval of the Project’s scope, the riskiest part is done. You already have all the information, so you can analyze all the migration objects you will need in the app Migrate your solution (see previous post). Start the migration the moment you have the Q system available. Don’t load only a sample, try to involve the customer from the beginning, it’s better to have all the data sooner rather than later. Some templates are a bit complex, by loading only a sample data you may be missing errors you will have to face later. For example, all G/L account mappings and definitions should be 100% consistent with the kind of postings you want to load (Open Item Managed, no direct postings allowed, Tax types allowed… if the volume is big, it is likely to have some inconsistencies when loading)
This is it for the second post in the series, thanks for reading my blog! Soon I will be releasing Part 3, where I will continue with Realize, Deploy and Run phases and some other considerations regarding the quarterly releases and the integration options. Stay tuned!