Transformation from On-premise to Cloud (a Consultant’s Starter Pack)
Transitioning from On Premise to Public Cloud is no simple matter. From a Consultant’s perspective, it must be very transparent that it is not about the differences in terms of functionalities, but rather a vast and complex transformation journey which starts with adopting a Cloud mindset and understanding a new set of principles and practices.
As many SAP Consultants are considering the transition to Public Cloud and since we expect even a bigger demand for supporting Cloud projects in the near future, the authors Dan Daroga & Robert van Dijk) believe it would be useful to prepare a starter kit for those consultants navigating through this complex, yet exciting journey.
This blog post is based on our experiences and learning, including as well other colleagues’ who have already completed this transition.
- Transition to the Cloud: An On-premise to Cloud story
- Cloud mindset
- How to onboard yourself to the Cloud (SAP Activate)
- How to familiarize yourself with the Cloud (the Golden rules)
- What are the recommended trainings (SAP RISE – Learning journey)
- How to get started
- Resources & Abbreviations
- Transition to the Cloud: An On-premise to Cloud story
Harry has been working for SAP for more than 22 years and is a very experienced Finance Consultant. He can tell you some great tales from the transition that he already experienced from the days of R/2 and R/3, the change to SAP ECC and then more recently SAP S/4HANA. Harry is an On-Premise consultant, and he is very knowledgeable and experienced.
In the last couple of years, Harry has noticed that the company is placing a lot more emphasis on Cloud and Cloud development, and that Cloud is the strategic direction of the company. All of the latest product innovations are based on the Cloud, whilst some of the programs, transactions and reports that he used to be able to execute are no longer being developed further. Some are only supported in the Cloud or using a Cloud solution. This concerns Harry as all of his knowledge and expertise lie in the On-Premise world.
He decides that he has to take it upon himself to see what he needs to do to embrace this move to the Cloud. He undertakes a few delta / ramp-up courses to see if this will bridge his perceived gap between the On-Premise and Cloud solution. However, Harry soon realizes that the transition to the Cloud is not just about bridging the functional (solution gap).
He had not previously considered aspects which he soon discovered meant a different for him a change in mindset, such as the project approach, implementation engagement, customer interaction and a few more. Harry realized that he needed to start adopting solution with a Cloud mindset. This is when Harry decided to reach out to Meghan, a colleague of him and someone he felt could help mentor him to Cloud.
Meghan had been working for SAP for around 12 years, initially in On-Premise, but the last 4 years she has been solely focusing on the Cloud. She too has a focus in the area of Finance, and in turn this she believes will make her role as mentor a bit easier. Meghan explains to Harry that the transition to Cloud will mean that he will have to develop new Cloud skills that he will enable him to work in the cloud, but also a Cloud mindset. With a Cloud mindset Meghan is referring to a new approach to work that takes advantage of what the Cloud offers.
2. Cloud mindset
Meghan starts to explain to Harry that for him to adopt to a Cloud mindset he would have to make the following 6 key principles his mantra:
- Earn your Customer Every Day
- Continual Learning & Relentless Improvement
- End-to-end Ownership
- Data-Driven Decision Making
- Ruthless Prioritization
- Empowerment & Delegation
Meghan continues by telling Harry that she will explain each individual principle in detail.
Earn your Customer Every Day
Meghan starts to explain that it means always focusing on your customers – earning their business and their trust every single day by listening to them to understand their need(s) and challenge(s). Working with them to help deliver iterative value through shorter cycles and to get feedback from the customer(s) more quickly
Continual Learning & Relentless Improvement
For this principle Meghan explains that consultants need to understand and accept that failure will happen, that failure is a learning opportunity, and that consultants be encouraged to experiment, analyze and learn from it. Psychological safety is an underlying basis for continuous improvement and innovation.
Meghan elaborates further on this principle, by reminding Harry that as SAP is an integrated system. There are cross-functional teams involved and responsible for delivering software to end users, and Harry will be a part of the delivery cycle, and that he needs to take his responsibility. She closes by saying, “you deliver it, you own it”.
Data-Driven Decision Making
Meghan enforces on Harry that he best derives his decisions based on real data and not opinions and assumptions. She explains that he should confirm how much value his customer(s) is getting, how efficient is the continuous delivery process, how quickly he can detect and mitigate a problem in a productive system.
For this principle Meghan stresses that it is imperative that Harry create clarity and focus on what matters most by making his work transparent. She tells Harry that it is fine to say NO to a customer and that he should try to limit the amount of Work in Progress.
Empowerment & Delegation
This principle Meghan explains is tricky, but as a Consultant and as part of a Cloud organization, Meghan says that everyone needs to be empowered to contribute with ideas and solving problems. She continues by saying that you need to delegate decisions to where the work is done, and also then trust that everyone does their best.
3. How to onboard yourself to the Cloud (SAP Activate)
Meghan makes Harry aware of how exactly the Cloud implementations differ.
Meghan is stating one of the most important change in the approach: instead of fitting the solution to the business, the focus is on fitting the business on the standard Best Practice solution whilst still allowing configuration using the new tooling (i.e. APP Manage Your Solution (SSCUIs) or Central Business Configuration).
Cloud implementation specifics features
Meghan is asking Harry to familiarize himself with the specifics of a Public Cloud implementation/differences in comparison with On-premise or Cloud Extended and understand the basic principles:
- Upgrades to public cloud solutions are automatically applied by SAP periodically. As part of further reading, Harry will need to get familiar with the Upgrade procedure and what it entails (Identifying new features coming up with the new release and assess the impact on the existing customers, Pre-Upgrade testing, Regression testing etc.).
- Two tier system landscape: Public cloud solutions typically use only one quality system and a production system (this is the current status at the moment of writing the blog post– see also chapter 6 – Extensibility options). This is quite new to Harry who comes from the more traditional On-Premise landscapes with three-tiers structure. Additionally, with CBC only 1 project can be open at any time (either Starter or Implementation)
- Customer owns many more tasks of a public cloud implementation such as data migration, testing and change management.
- Cloud customers are handed over to SAP Cloud Support for long term system management. In Cloud the content lifecycle management (CLM) is the responsibility of SAP as part of the release strategy and SAP will support that content but there will still be a guidance for customers to have their own CoE for 1st level support and content not covered by CLM.
Understand the Implementation shift between the more traditional SAP S/4HANA On-Premise (Design to blueprint) and SAP S/4HANA Cloud (Transformative, Fit to Standard)
Meghan starts to explain to Harry the important implementation approach. In the traditional implementation approach, Harry was focused on the Consultative approach, trying to customize and configure the solution to fit to the customer business’ needs. Sometimes development is needed (although even with On-Premise implementations, Harry still recommends keeping the Core clean).
With the Public Cloud approach, Harry should now rather focus on the Lead with ‘standard’ and best practices instead of being the Client Superhero Finance consultant. He would need to understand the accelerators and the agile approach and the rapid delivery steps.
Cloud delivery approach – “We adopt best practice functionality”
Meghan is advising Harry on the set of principle generally valid for any Cloud implementation project.
- Buy-in from key stakeholders – convince the main actors from the client of the merits of having a standardized, cloud-based solution.
- Change management – a strong Change Management team could assist in changing habits/adopting the new processes.
- Release management
- Out-of-the-box setup
- 80:20 rule (standard vs customization)
- SAP Activate agile approach
- SaaS type responsibility
SAP Activate – the fundamental pillar of a Cloud implementation
Meghan proceeds with explaining to Harry the Self-service configuration through a clear deployment methodology of solution-specific practices, in a standardized environment. He needs to become familiar with all phases of the Activate methodology for a Cloud project and the associated activities per each phase. See the link below figure 1.0.
4. How to familiarize yourself with the Cloud (the Golden rules)
Now that Harry has gone through the Onboarding process, Meghan proceeds to emphasize the Five Golden Rules for Cloud Implementation
- Adhere to fit-to-standard and agile deployment detailed in SAP Activate
- Leverage SAP standard processes where possible (Fit to standard) instead of asking the business what they want to have. This is a big transformation for Harry who now needs to use his experience and skills to promote pre-delivered processes instead of deviating from standard and meet all business requirements
- Deploy your solution incrementally with short releases and sprints (agile deployment).
- Use pre-configured solutions with predefined processes and utilize SAP Fiori user experience (UX). Harry has been using the old-fashioned SAP GUI transactions for quite some time and he was resisting the Fiori applications, but as he found out, there are no transaction codes in the Cloud!
- SAP Best Practices
- Country versions
- Use modern integration technologies
- Use APIs for integration / only whitelisted API’s can be used
- Use SAP BTP for Cloud integration
- Use modern extensions technologies
- Develop customer extensions in a side-by-side approach using the SAP BTP
- Harry is made aware of the SAP S/4HANA Cloud extensibility guide which he must follow and advise clients & partners accordingly.
- Leverage business logic extensibility within in-app extensibility; avoid classic coding enhancements where possible.
- Meghan shows Harry how to use the Custom Field and Logic apps to extend the master data for Cost centers/WBS etc. and how to set up derivations and substitutions for Cloud
- Ensure transparency on deviations
- It’s recommended that any deviations are clearly documented as part of the implementation; this will help the customer replace these with standard capabilities if they are offered in the future. Meghan ensures Harry understands the deviations are rather related to configuration & extensibility and not changing the core which is to be avoided as explained before.
5. What are the recommended trainings (SAP RISE – Learning journey)
Harry has now a good grasp of understanding the Cloud mindset and of the fundamental differences between the Cloud vs On-premise modus operandi. However, he wants to know more about the learning journey to becoming competent and certified in RISE with SAP Cloud. Meghan is talking him through the learning journey from the SAP Learning Hub.
First, Harry needs to enroll in the RISE with SAP S/4HANA Cloud – Finance Learning Journey
Meghan proposes that Harry focuses on the essential trainings needed to get him started.
She encourages Harry to go through the following four main courses, followed by certification (in this sequence):
- SAP S/4HANA Planning Strategies (S4CP01e) to understand RISE with SAP, the differences between various deployment options and the SAP S/4HANA Cloud implementation tools. Meghan also briefly explains the RISE with SAP product and emphasizes the business-transformation-as-a-service approach (BTaaS), rather than the product approach. Harry now understands RISE with SAP is not a product in the same way SAP S/4HANA is, but rather an accelerator for Cloud SAP solutions adoption.
- SAP S/4HANA Cloud Implementation Fundamentals (S4C01e) to fix his knowledge about the phases of a Cloud implementation project and the activities associated with each phase. This is a recap of what Meghan explained through the Roadmap Viewer, however in further details. Meghan is also advising Harry to take the self-assessment at the end of this module.
- Implementing SAP S/4HANA Cloud – Finance (S4C30e) to become competent with the Finance specifics of a SAP S/4HANA Cloud project. This is a more in-depth course needed to understand the differences between the Finance Cloud and On-premise and get further clarifications of what can be done in SAP S/4HANA Cloud and what cannot. Meghan recommends Harry pays particular attention to the Central Business configuration chapter as this is now paramount for all new implementations of SAP S/4HANA Cloud. Harry should have a solid knowledge of CBC to advise the partners and clients on the Starter system setup, something which until now has always been delivered by SAP directly. As a student of this course, Harry needs to have worked with SAP S/4HANA Finance already and understand the fundamentals (Universal Journal, Parallel Accounting, etc.), however this was not an issue since he has been working in this area for a significant number of years.
- Implementing SAP S/4HANA Cloud – Treasury Management (S4C35e). Neither Meghan, nor Harry are Treasury experts, however Meghan advises Harry to still go through the course and fix at least the high-level understanding of the Treasury processes. This course is a bit more specialized in a way that at least theoretic knowledge of Treasury operations is needed, which neither of them has. Meghan drops a hint here that Treasury related questions are to be expected for the certification. Harry voices his opinion this course is more relevant to their colleagues, Kate and William who are well-seasoned Treasury consultants but only worked on On-Premise implementations so far.
- SAP Certified Application Associate – SAP S/4HANA Cloud (public) – Finance Implementation. Once all prerequisites are fulfilled and Harry went through the learning journey, Meghan strongly suggests he should apply for certification and stay competent with each new release. Meghan provides Harry a blog post (Blog LINK) that was recently published that will help Harry if he decides to do the certification.
Meghan explains that to be able to complete the certification (see #5), the first two training are fundamental in laying the foundation, and then the training 3 & 4 are more the functional orientated training. For the training number 4, even if you are not a Treasury consultant, a basic understanding is needed for the certification.
Meghan provides Harry a graphical overview of the training and certifications she feels Harry will need to reach the level of Starter, and then advance to the Expert level.
|Level||Training / certification topic||Learning Hub Courses / Certification||Duration*|
|Starter||SAP S/4HANA Planning Strategies||S4CP01e #||4 days|
|SAP S/4HANA Cloud Implementation Fundamentals (training includes SAP Activate Methodology)||S4C01e|
|SAP Certified Application Associate – SAP S/4HANA Cloud (public) Implementation with SAP Activate||C_TS4C_2021|
|Expert||Implementing SAP S/4HANA Cloud – Core Finance||S4C30e||6 days|
|SAP S/4HANA Cloud – Treasury Management||S4C35e|
|SAP Certified Application Associate – SAP S/4HANA Cloud (public) – Finance Implementation||C_S4CFI_2XXX|
*The duration is an estimate made by Meghan to give Harry some kind of idea of how much time he would need to set aside to get himself up skilled.
Meghan points out to Harry that there is an small overlap between the two certifications (C_TS4C and C_S4CFI), as some questions are duplicated between the two exams. She mentions that Harry could skip the C_TS4C exam and take the C_S4CFI exam directly. However, if Harry would be interested in the fundamentals of cloud implementations only, then he should take the C_TS4C exam.
Harry is considering starting with C_TS4C, since he is new to the Cloud space and doesn’t have the time to invest heavily in education on the short term, and will apply for C_S4CFI later after further expanding his knowledge on the Cloud. This way, Harry thinks he will have a sense of closing of a chapter (Starter) before starting a new chapter (Expert) and celebrating a success in the process.
As Harry has now completed the Learning Journey, he decides to dig in even further into Central Business Configuration at Meghan’s advice.
6. How to get started
How to login, what is needed (how to get sandbox system access)
As is the case with the On-Premise situation, Harry asks Meghan if there are no sandbox systems which are available for internal users which he could access and play around with to familiarize himself with the Cloud solution and user interface.
Meghan directs Harry to the Partner Edge – a central location where there the consultant/partner can request access and use a 30-day trail system. Link to SAP Partner Edge for a free 30-day trial system: LINK
Meghan is aware of the complexity that a Cloud environment can have with a host of components, applications, systems, connections etc. that is needed to bring all the different pieces together.
To make the framework more understandable for Harry, Meghan decides to show Harry the below figure 2.0 in the hopes that this will provide at least a high-level understanding of the main components.
Note: this is the current state of planning and may be changed by SAP at any time without notice
Source : SAP S/4HANA Cloud Early Adopter Enablement
SAP Activate for 3-system landscape (August 26, 2021)
Extensibility possibilities (key user extensibility, Steampunk, Embedded Steampunk)
In the next step towards understanding key aspects that Harry will face as a Cloud consultant, Meghan tries to illustrate the extensibility concepts and tasks that could potentially befall Harry in his daily work. Meghan will address the three current extensibility possibilities with Harry, namely key user extensibility, Steampunk and Embedded Steampunk and will do this by explaining the concepts in the figure 3.0 and 3.1.
In the role of a Cloud Consultant Meghan points out that Harry should feel comfortable to support the customer/partner with key user extensibility (see figure 3.1). The key user extensibility tool set is a major pillar of the SAP S/4HANA extensibility concept.
Meghan mentions that key users (which Harry will be an example of) will be able to execute a range of extensions that include, for example:
- UI flexibility (hide/add/move/combine fields, rename labels, define new variants etc.)
- Custom fields (add and edit custom fields)
- Custom business logic or Custom business objects (add business logic to existing enhancement options or create and manage custom business objects)
- Custom analytical queries (create and manage analytical queries)
- Custom CDS views (create own data access by making use of a Core Data Service views (CDS views)
- Custom forms, Custom tiles
Meghan encourages Harry to go to the below mentioned blog post for more details: The Key User Extensibility Tools of SAP S/4HANA (Blog Post)
For Steampunk (Side by side and Embedded), Harry’s role will be more of a bridge between the developer and the business (customer / partner). Harry will not be expected to develop, unless he has these skills and wishes to help here.
Meghan explains to Harry that Embedded Steampunk is still in its pilot phase and is not yet generally available to SAP’s customers and partners, but that it is expected in the year 2022 to become generally available once early testing and adoption is finished.
She continues that Embedded Steampunk allows Cloud-ready ABAP Development on top of an ABAP Platform Cloud based solution like SAP S/4HANA Cloud (this will entail having a 3-tier system landscape, see figure 3.0), by adding the ABAP developer role to the existing key-user role to build extensions directly on SAP S/4HANA Cloud. For decoupled extensions and especially SaaS partner solutions SAP recommends using SAP BTP platform.
Harry is starting to understand more what is needed of him.
7. Resources & Abbreviations
- SAP Activate roadmap viewer (Landing page)
- SAP Activate Roadmap Viewer (SAP S/4HANA Cloud)
- SAP Activate (on SAP Community)
- SAP Support Portal
- SAP Activate methodology for cloud, SAP Jam group
- SAP Best Practices Explorer
- SAP Help Portal
Additional most useful Resources
- SAP S/4HANA Cloud Community – The SAP S/4HANA Cloud community can help customers. Connecting peers and SAP experts to exchange information about product solutions and best practices. In the Cloud community collaboration is even more prevalent compared to On Premise. The reason for this is that the On Premise consultant is expected to be a “know it all” vs. for the Cloud expert the expectation is more to be a “bridge” Search for answers, ask questions, access resources, and more.
- SAP S/4HANA Cloud Blog posts – Connect to an expert, follow a topic, ask questions, or simply see what other peers are talking about or questioning. Feel free to check it out.
- SAP S/4HANA Cloud Blog Posts
- Bonus blog post: Cloud Mindset Now
- Solution adoption – Sustained Customer Success with SAP S/4HANA Cloud
- SAP Learning Hub & Learning Rooms – The Learning Rooms allow the collaboration with peers and SAP Experts, in a community environment, to achieve common learning objectives. Following the Learning Hub helps consultants to gain an understanding of the topics and further expand the basic knowledge by becoming competent. It gives in-depth knowledge provides the option to become certified.
- Customer Influence Portal – Customer Influence and Adoption: SAP offers a range of programs that give customers the opportunity to influence SAP software development decisions and adopt new innovations early on.
More details can be found with the below link.
- RISE with SAP – Business Transformation as a Service. The product and solution Overview can be found under the official link below:
- SAP S/4HANA Cloud – Extensibility for Customers and Partners.
SAP S/4HANA Cloud supports either of the following approaches to extensibility:
- In-app extensibility – an approach taken directly within the software stack
- Side-by-side extensibility on SAP BTP – a broader approach utilizing all the capabilities of a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) platform
- Embedded extensibility – Embedded Steampunk in SAP S/4HANA Cloud (not yet general available (2022) – still in early testing and adoption phase with partners and customers)
- SAP S/4HANA Extensibility – The new White Paper (Blog post)
- The Key User Extensibility Tools of SAP S/4HANA (Blog post)
- Central Business Configuration
Central Business Configuration provides the ability to deliver pre-configured ready-to-run processes and allows consistent scoping and configuration. There are several sources which will enable consultants/partners to understand CBC and learn how to deliver the Starter system for new implementations.
- CBC InfoHub to further expand your knowledge
- SAP Cloud Tutorials
- Have a look at the following link for the Cloud tutorials
|1||SSCUI||Self-Service Configuration User Interface|
|2||SaaS||Software as a Service|
|3||SAP BTP||SAP Business Technology Platform|
|4||SAP GUI||SAP Graphical User Interface|
|5||WBS||Work breakdown structure|
|6||CBC||Central Business Configuration|
|7||ABAP||Advanced Business Application Programming|
|8||BTaaS||Business Transformation as a Service|
|9||APIs||Application Programming Interface’s|
|10||CLM||Content Lifecycle Management|
We have now covered what we believe are the most essential topics in a transition to Cloud, however our experiences and takeaways are by no means exhaustive and they serve as a starting point for the journey. We invite you to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section as we regard this blog post as a way to build and improve on the Cloud transformation rather than a prescriptive listing of To Dos and Don’ts.