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Practical governance to drive fit-to-standard mindset in your SAP S/4HANA implementation

One of the key aspects in the implementation of SAP S/4HANA is to embrace the fit-to-standard mindset focusing on re-use the pre-configured content from SAP Model Company and introducing custom code and enhancements only where needed to meet business need. In other words, keeping your system close to standard functionality. SAP embodied this mindset in the SAP Activate methodology and codified it into specific assets designed to help our customers understand the concept and technical implementation details.

Whether it is to prepare and run the fit-to-standard workshops, to drive the stay close to standard mindset with 5 Golden Rules or the detailed technical guide in the Extensibility Guide that provides specific recommendation for use of the extensibility techniques in SAP S/4HANA. All these assets aim to help our customers keep the core clean, stay close to standard and extend the solution when needed with the most relevant technology to minimize impact on future upgradability and cost of operations.

Here are links to the specific assets mentioned in the above text. We will not be discussing them in detail here as we will focus on the topic of governance:

The above Golden Rules and assets are important for project teams to understand the technical implementation details of the fit-to-standard, extensibility and stay close to standard mindset, but one aspect has been missing in SAP Activate – formal governance process and organization recommendations.

In the recent update of SAP Activate for SAP S/4HANA Cloud, extended edition we have added task and corresponding template for establishing Solution Standardization Board in your SAP project. This governance body and process could be used in the implementation of SAP S/4HANA Cloud, extended edition, but also will apply in implementation of SAP S/4HANA on-premise and in managed cloud for customers that truly want to stay close to standard.

Now, let me take you through the concept of the governing body and process that the Solution Standardization Board (SSB) needs to execute. As the SSB Governance template states:

The purpose of the Solution Standardization Board is to ensure integrated SAP solution design that is compliant with 5 Golden Rules to drive high level of business process standardization and simplification.

To achieve this purpose, the SSB role is defined as follows:

The role of the SSB is to act as a body overseeing the standardization of business processes and compliance with 5 Golden Rules.

SSB evaluates, reviews, approves or rejects requests by project teams for:

  • Delta requirements addressed through in-app and side-by-side extensions, especially ones in amber and red category per Extensibility Guide for SAP S/4HANA Cloud, extended edition
  • Required integrations with emphasis on use of white listed APIs and compliance with Golden Rules
  • Architectural and cross team design decisions, that deviate from Golden Rules

Reporting line and escalation path that is recommended for the SSB is to the steering group and sponsor of the project. The operational execution recommends that the SSB meets on weekly cadence to review requests from the different project work streams (finance, logistics, warehouse management, etc.) and make a decision on proposed extension with respect to the Extensibility Guide classification (focus is on any extensions, integration or configuration in red and amber category per extensibility guide).

The SSB template accelerator includes details of interaction between the project work streams, SSB and the steering group. Providing path for review of the proposed extension in regular cadence and escalation path for work streams to steering group for any extensions that are considered critical by the work stream but have not been approved by the SSB. The image below shows the process for the SSB work in the project.

The SSB template accelerator also provides a clear explanation of the SSB role during the project aligned to SAP Activate phases. Note that the recommendation is to setup the SSB early in the project lifecycle (during the Prepare phase), then start execution. With most of the work of SSB being done during the Explore and Realize phases.

In Deploy phase the SSB transitions from project to operational level in IT organization or Operations as the work of SSB doesn’t stop with the first go live. It is important to keep the SSB process and organization in place to review any future enhancements to the SAP S/4HANA system and ensure they follow the 5 Golden Rules and Extensibility Guide. The image below shows the visual representation of the SSB in phases of SAP Activate methodology.

The SSB template accelerator also makes recommendations to the SSB about specific tools that can be used for regular audit of the SAP S/4HANA system to identify all custom code, extensions and modifications. The key tools are the SAP Solution Manager, specifically the Custom Code Lifecycle Management (CCLM) in SAP Solution Manager. Customers that do not currently use SAP Solution Manager can utilize the SAP Custom Code Analysis capabilities built into the SAP S/4HANA system.

If you are starting your SAP S/4HANA implementation I strongly recommend you to implement SSB governance in your project to help drive the mindset of keeping your system close to standard to allow for faster adoption of innovation and simplify the upgrade procedure.

For more information on SAP Activate and SAP S/4HANA, check out the following links:

  • Solution Standardization Board here
  • Access Cloud Mindset and 5 Golden Rules slides here
  • How to discover SAP API’s in SAP S/4HANA Cloud, extended edition here
  • Extensibility Guide (requires SAP ID) here
  • Access SAP Activate methodology here
  • Inside SAP S/4HANA Podcast here
  • Sing-up for SAP Activate Jam space here

Follow us on Twitter via @SAP and #S4HANA, or myself via @janmusil

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