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S/4HANA BANANA!

If you spend any length of time at all in Australia, you will hear the following song: “Ba – Na – Na _ Na / Ba – Na – Na _ Na / Make Your Body Sing!”. And what rhymes with the word “Banana”? S/4HANA!

Bananas

As Ben Elton observed in the book “Stark” Australian advertising is not very subtle. It goes along the lines of “It’s a Banana / You Eat it / And it’s Australian!”. Nowadays a few swear words are likely to get added as well, as I observed on some of the adverts on display in Olympic Park in Sydney the other day.

In the UK advertising is a lot more subtle, even cryptic to the point you cannot work out what is being advertised. That subtlety is the opposite of the huge great banner advertising Kentucky Fried Chicken with the “F” word in it which you see as you drive out of Olympic Park. I don’t think the advertising standards authority in the UK would give the green light to that one.

By this point some of you may be wondering what this has to do with S/4HANA. Well I might be an Australian citizen, but I was born in England so I’m being cryptic / mysterious / enigmatic / puzzling.

Now every so often on the SAP Community Website blogs section you come across a blog which appears at first glance to be about a certain subject – say the SAP Industry Solution for the Banana Industry – but after a few lines you realise the post author has just written a book about that subject and the whole blog is an advert.

Now really you are not supposed to do that – blogs on this site are 100% not allowed to be adverts / sales pitches. I checked with the moderators to be sure what the rules were. If you break the rules they materialise out of thin air and take you away.

SCN Moderator

So, let us say – hypothetically – that I had a book on S/4HANA coming out today. I could not write a blog on the SAP Community Site and say “It’s a Book! You Read It! It was written in Australia!” and throw in a few swear words. That would just be an advert and against the rules.

However, what I am allowed to do is give a bit of a back story and talk about the process of book writing. Maybe even encourage other people to write books themselves.

In this case it is not a fully-fledged 700-page hard cover book like “ABAP to the Future”. Instead it is a so-called “E-Bite”. What is one of those when it is at home you might ask?

This was an initiative by SAP Press to have smaller mini-books which are in effect a single chapter (90 – 120 pages long) on one specific topic. These are only available in an online format and are of course cheaper.

SAP Press started off by splitting out chapters from existing books in case someone was only interested in a single topic from a book and did not want to fork out the money to buy the whole book. This did not work quite as well as they had hoped, so they decided to start looking for original content. So they banged on the doors of a lot of their existing authors, including me.

Since I could not use anything in my “normal” book nor anything I was thinking of adding to it in the future, I thought I could do a lot worse than write about what I was actually working on in real life at the time.

Think about this – what are you working on at the moment? You obviously cannot write about anything secret to your organisation, but can you write about the general process or how to use whatever new technology it is you are using? Could this help other people in SAP world?

Going back to my book, this sort of realistic focus coupled with the short (120 pages) nature of the book means – NO MONSTERS!  – because there are very few Monsters where I work.

Banana Splits

This is where – finally – S/4HANA comes into the picture. We were having a series of workshops with SAP to determine the best way to transition to S/4HANA and my role in all this was to have a look at our (huge) custom code base and come back with an estimate of how difficult it was going to be to adapt it to work with S/4HANA on-premise.

Naturally I cannot give anything away which reveals the inner workings of the system where I work (that is why I tend to convert everything to Monster examples) or even say what our conversion plan is but I can talk about the mechanics of doing a custom code analysis, which involves more steps than you might think at first glance.

S/4HANA was first released in February 2015 and whilst a fair few SAP customers have made the jump in the last five years there are a very large number which have not, and since the migration deadline was extended to 2030 many are in no hurry.

Nonetheless, like Death and Taxes, moving to S/4HANA is inevitable for those who wish to stay with SAP. With any new technology – not just SAP – there are a few early adopters who tend to suffer extreme pain as a result of being first with something, and as a result the product gets better for everyone who goes next.

It is rather like everyone wanting to get to that jungle over there because it contains one million tons of bananas, but there is a minefield in the way. The first few people who cross the minefield get blown to bits but eventually all the mines have been detonated, and the remaining people can walk across the field with no risk. However, a small proportion of the “early adopters” might have got through the minefield unscathed by pure chance and so there may not be so many bananas left when the laggards arrive.

That begs the question – is it possible help people navigate that minefield whilst some mines still remain? That means they get to the bananas earlier and in one piece.

Make Your Body Sing!

If you go on the internet you can find half a billion blogs and articles about doing custom code migration to S/4HANA.

I even did a speech on that very subject at SAP TechEd in Las Vegas in 2017 and was going to be doing a similar one in March 2020 in South Africa for the Mastering SAP conference, but some sort of virus caused that event to be postponed. It has been rescheduled for October 2020, but I think even that is a bit Optimistic. After all SAP have pretty much said TechEd this year is going to be virtual, and that is around the same time.

The point is that the theory is all well and good, explaining how all the new tools work is all well and good (and SAP improves the tools very frequently) but what is most interesting to people are so called “war” stories or sometimes horror stories i.e. Person A wants to hear a story about how Person B in real life dealt with a problem Person A is currently facing, and what the results were. That way if it all went horribly wrong for Person B then Person A does not get to repeat the same mistakes and as a result get sacked or burnt at the stake as a witch. On the B-Side if it all went swimmingly for Person B (and Person A can work out why) the Person A can do the same and get promoted and/or Knighted.

So, I wanted to do both – not get promoted or Knighted but rather write about both the theory AND the horror stories.

In such a book you have to tell people how to use the latest versions of all the analysis tools – SA Press is all about “how to” do things – but more important is a step by step guide as to what to do with the results, especially because you get a vast amount of such results, especially in the custom code analysis.

Where I work, “they” were vaguely disturbed when the result came back and said you had to make 56 thousand changes to your custom code before it would work with S/4HANA. On a personal level I was more concerned that I had to analyse that huge swathe of results in short order and then repot back at the next S/4HANA workshop as to how much effort his would involve.

I found you could split that huge number down into a much smaller number of types of problem – which can all be addressed in the same way. It is much easier to get your head around five types of problem than 56,000 different problems.

When the day dawned of the workshop where everybody reported their findings most of the functional teams were luke-warm on the S/4HANA changes – e.g. the benefit of moving to business partners rather than customers and vendors was questioned, and SD found the new credit block process a bit cumbersome. The FI/CO guy said that o-one cared if a line item report ran a hundred times faster and he is right although that is not really the point of HANA – the point is seeing if you can do things now that you could never do before because it was not technically feasible.

As an excursus let me give you an example – if I am going to change a variant configuration rule I want a “what if” analysis which explodes the BOM of every single open sales document in the system to see if the proposed change would invalidate them – and I want the result instantly. That is not really feasible in ECC 6.0 but it becomes a real possibility with a HANA database.

Going back to the S/4HANA workshop oddly enough I was the most upbeat as my presentation basically said that custom code conversion is nowhere near as a big a problem as it looked like at first glance. I honestly think that is going to be the case for most organisations no matter how much Z code you have, unless every single one of your programs is written 100% in the same way ABAP was written in 1997. Sadly, there may be some companies out there in that exact boat.

Anyway, how I arranged the book was by – in real life – keeping a log of what steps I did in what order using the assorted tools, what strange things I found at each stage, and how I dealt with them. Then I made the sections of the book mirror the check list. Then I put the check list at the end so you can follow it yourself if you so desire, or adapt it, or throw it in the fireplace and burn it whilst cursing me and everything I stand for.

Checklist type things are what technical people like – linear goals rather than casting about in a sea of 56,000 results wondering where to start. In the same way the EU liked straight bananas but the UK like curved bananas which is why they left.

EU Compliant Straight Bananas

As the penultimate part of this blog I would stress two things about custom code conversion to S/4HANA.

  • Most of your Z code is not even used. If you can identify exactly what is never used, you can forget about it, and concentrate on the 25% (or whatever) that is used. Happily, this is quite easy.
  • You can start RIGHT NOW, tomorrow, in your current system, even if you are not converting till 2030 or later, and the sooner you start the less effort it will be when the time comes.

 

Unfortunately, and this may make you cry, there is not a single mention of bananas or the Banana Splits in the book, but nonetheless, just to be nice to me, to end this blog the Banana Splits are going to sing a song.

Since the Banana Splits show ended in 1972 it is just possible some of the younger readers of this blog may never have heard of them.

The Banana Splits in 1969

To give a bit of context back in the late 1960’s the Banana Splits (who are human sized animals) started off as a sort of furry rip-off of the Monkees, who were in turn a rip-off of the Beatles. Their show was produced by (ironically) HANA BARBERA. When Hana_Barbera went bankrupt Warner Brothers bought the rights to the Banana Splits and tried to re-launch the show in 2008. They got absolutely nowhere.

So, in 2019 they (WB) had the brainwave to re-launch the characters, this time as homicidal murdering robots, in “The Banana Splits Movie”.  That was a commercial success. However, the theme song was exactly the same as in 1969, word for word. If you look at the three videos below it will form a deep and meaningful analysis of the way society has evolved through the decades a la Forrest Gump.

Anyway, that’s it from me, I will leave it to the Banana Splits to finish up. Cheersy Cheers!

(1969) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMl6HnhFFIA

(1979)- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flMS2gHFOH0

(2019) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEmyszZZsDQ

(2020) – S/4HANA Version:-

Tra la la, la la la la.

Tra la la, la la la la.

Tra la la, la la la la.

Tra la la, la la la la.

 

S/1HANA? S/2HANA? S/3HANA? FOUR!

Changing all your rows to a groovy Column Store.

Tables and Some Modules, in the bin they go

Simple Simple Simple: The S/4HANA Show.

 

Messin’ up your ERP

Messin’ up your ERP

Make you wish for old R/3.

 

Tra la la, la la la la.

Tra la la, la la la la.

Tra la la, la la la la.

Tra la la, la la la la.

 

(It runs on)

Four D-BASES? Three D-BASES? Two D-BASES? ONE!

Pushing down your code in the bright warm sun.

Changing all the Z code to nothing like before: (are)

Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper and Snork.

 

Tra la la, la la la la.

Tra la la, la la la la.

Tra la la, la la la la.

Tra la la, la la la la.

 

https://secure-web.cisco.com/1s8JTGI-Cd5koBws7L58HLkp4Q-iadoI34kTLv8Qo3XOrNC3RqVupwooROcpaYtdndA6zxQuYwhaeupUlzPoenCvXLM4yLd6WE8ShT6Ck_t_Fq9DKl5FEcqdHRmswKmicAV_-raYAsFjaWVhQuLJbCtaTS3uPvIHij0THWbT4U713S9i9eaOzy6M5YAF9524gfHxABkihlqpwpFToWQehs3YjhMUC8CrkuF5BGzOrR4TKqw1hmmSv4Doi4EXvhuOk2jmQPaFBfitaKG-evg5YMiDLz2YUQKdZjbBOcrgIzx7-I9Lft6ruMgGxKUtBpjDoNMAfwmmXxryTWWqlc46Fxw/https%3A%2F%2Fbit.ly%2F3cIfvXr

 

10 Comments
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  • gold

     

    I now have red wine on my keyboard :(… A risk I was prepared to take when I saw one of your blogs!

     

    And now I have the banana song stuck in my head. I was singing it before I opened the link. #Straya

  • So it is a book plug! Anyway, I agree that S/4 custom code conversion is not such a big deal, having gone though all the tortured analysis myself (and a real, though small-scale, conversion), though it scares the hell out of SAP project managers.

    I also agree that the big S/4 migration problem from a developer/technical point of view is getting ANY functional guy to show the slightest interest in Fiori or S/4.

    I agree too that the Banana Splits were compulsive viewing for kids in early 1970’s UK. The guy who wrote the Banana Split song, psychedelic music pioneer Mark Barkan, died just a week ago. Fancy that.

  • Your book plug worked, Paul and thanks for the laughs along the way!

    Funnily enough, even though it says “Available on 05/20/2020″ – which last I checked we already have! – it also says “pre-order now” on the book’s page @ SAP Press.

    Looking forward to reading it once I can actually download it.

    Cheers

    Bärbel

    Update: as of shortly after noon German time, the download became available 🙂

    • You’d use a bendy store database.  Here we have bendy stored table, with 9 fields. The values marked with B are held in together.

      0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
      B . . . . . . . .
      B . . . . . . . .
      . B . . . . . . .
      . B . . . . . . .
      . . B . . . . . .
      . . B . . . . . .
      . . . B . . . . .
      . . . . B . . . .
      . . . . . B B . .
      . . . . . . . B B