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Fit-to-Standard: How Does It Support the Big Picture?

The purpose of this blog post is to shed some light on the fit-to-standard process and how it plays a key role in the Application: Design and Configuration workstream within SAP Activate and the overall implementation project.

Fit-to-standard may be a new term for some colleagues who are implementing SAP S/4HANA, however, it has been the configuration planning method which has been used in SAP S/4HANA Cloud implementations for many years now. It is a buzz word that can often be slapped onto PowerPoint presentations or thrown into conversations and often when asked “What is fit-to-standard?” there seems to be many flavors of answers to this question. I will provide insight in the next couple of paragraphs of what fit-to-standard is and what purpose it serves in the bigger implementation picture for our customers.

The Big Picture – the Application: Design and Configuration Workstream

To understand fit-to-standard and its purpose, we must understand the purpose and goal of the workstream that fit-to-standard resides in, the Application: Design and Configuration workstream. The whole goal of the Application: Design and Configuration workstream is to help the customer plan, prepare, and realize the planned value-add of the solution for their business needs. In order to help the customer realize the value of an SAP solution for their business, they must scope the processes they need to run their business. Next, they must determine and plan how they want the solution and the business processes to be optimized to meet their business needs. Lastly, they must configure the solution based on their plans, and finally, they must use the solution.

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Figure 1 – Application: Design and Configuration workstream overview and high-level purpose.

The end goal for the Application: Design and Configuration workstream is to configure the solution in a way that will help the customer realize the planned value. In other words, our end goal resides in the Realize phase. We should be planning what needs to be configured so effectively in the Explore phase that all we need to do is execute during the Realize phase. Simply, do all the planning and thinking upfront so that all we need to do later is execute. As with some things in life, the things we do not plan well at the beginning the more rework and mess there is later when we begin to get our hands dirty during execution. In the context of a software implementation, rework or late decisions can cause a delay in the overall implementation and further delay the potential value-add of the solution to the business.

How do we ensure the solution satisfies the needs of the business in a way that will bring the customer the planned value they were looking for?

We must strive to understand the business as effectively, and efficiently, as we can so that we can produce a solution that match the business requirements with the capabilities of the software.

How Do We Effectively Achieve the End Goal of the Workstream In the Realize Phase?

By determining and planning the solution definition in the Explore phase.

Drilling down a level, to a phase level within the workstream, the solution definition processes within the Explore phase is made up of two main components: the fit-to-standard workshops and the design workshops. Think of it as a solution definition process that is made up of two different refinement processes and are used to help produce the best possible configuration plan that will be executed in the next phase.

The fit-to-standard workshops have a business focus, gathering the requirements from the business, while the planning and design workshops have a technical expert focus, working on further refining the business requirements with a technical outlook.

To simplify it further, when you think fit-to-standard, think business and when you think planning and design, think technical experts.

Where Does Fit-to-Standard Come into Play?

Before drilling down into the purpose of these workshops, I want to highlight that fit-to-standard is more than just workshops in an implementation – it is a mindset. It is a mindset that follows the idea that we should look to what is available to us, the standard (the definition of what is standard might vary based on the solution), first before looking to create something ourselves. In fact, this fit-to-standard mindset is one most of us apply in our daily lives without realizing it. One example of how we live a fit-to-standard mindset in our everyday lives is house buying. Most often when buying your first house, unless you are a very fortunate individual, most look to find a house that is already built rather than building one from scratch. Now that house might not meet 100% of your requirements at the beginning but with some minor adjustments and tailoring can be a place that meets your living requirements and add value to your personal life.

Therefore, the purpose of the fit-to-standard workshops is to discuss how the pre-delivered business processes fit with the customers processes and to document any required configuration and identify any delta requirements, and requirements from the business that need further refinement from technical experts. Often, this discussion is driven by the demonstration of the pre-delivered business process to be discussed to the business process experts from the customer’s side.

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Figure 2 – Fit-to-Standard process view within the SAP Activate phases.

Summary – How Does the Fit-to-Standard Piece Impact the Whole?

By planning to configure a solution that is as close to the standard pre-delivered processes, the customer can later adopt new invocations and best practices for their industry at a much faster pace than if they planned to have a solution that started from outside the standard. Thus, allowing them to adopt business benefits faster and lower their total cost of ownership. In addition, by planning to adopt the standard for the solution, they can shift the spending on non-differentiator business processes which allows them to focus on the thing that really differentiates themselves from their competitors.

The solution definition, what is to be configured, foundation is built during the fit-to-standard workshops by centering discussion on what is already pre-delivered and capturing the findings, configuration already known is needed or delta requirements that need further refinement by technical experts. From this solid standard foundation, the solution definition can grow into a configured solution that provides a lower cost of implementation and a faster realization of the planned value to the business.

The more an implementation can promote this fit-to-standard mindset and foster richer discussions during these workshops, the faster we can achieve the Application: Design and Configuration workstream’s goal of providing a configured solution that will help the customer realize the planned value.

For more information on how the fit-to-standard works when implementing SAP S/4HANA Cloud and SAP S/4HANA with SAP Activate make sure to check out the following links from Roadmap Viewer:

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