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Author's profile photo Andreas Breitrueck

Complexity creates Opportunity – for value creation in your S/4 journey

In this short blog, I want to show you a fascinatingly easy way to discover some complexity reduction opportunity by leveraging SAP SIGNAVIO in your S/4 HANA Journey.

You will see what your ERP System may have in common with your local Pizza place.


There are obviously numerous definitions for ‘complexity‘ – well – an easy one that even I understand is the following:



The more choice you have, the longer it takes to decide.

The more choice you offer, the more resources you need to have at hand.

The more variants your offer, the harder it is to deliver all such variants at the same quality

Italien and Greek restaurants in Germany are typically good examples for long menus, with sometimes hundrets of almost indistinguishable  options. Do you know what I mean?


So you ask yourself what this may have to do with your transformation to S/4 HANA?

  • Choice can drive Complexity !



Fair enough, consider your current ERP system to be a menu, let’s look at the ‘Document Type’ Options, say, in sales.

SAP delivers for a long time some standard document types, such as the infamous TA (Termin Auftrag in German), but also many more. If you check your system, you will discover a great variety of such order types. Now order types require further types, such as item categories, schedule line categories and so fourth.

In the kitchen of your SAP ERP systems, complicated rules are set up that define which ingredient goes with with other and so fourth.

Let’s take the easy math example:

Imagine you had 10 sales order document types, 20 item categories, and 20 schedule line categories.

If you are lucky, you maintain 20 rules, normally, you maintain much more.

Each of these combinations define a #processvariant, which can be in use at any combination of company code, sales organisation etc.

Multiply this “menu” with other factors, and soon you have a great variety of process variants that create effort in maintenance and development, user training and organisational change management.

But aren’t you trying to deliver the once in a lifetime opportunity to reduce complexity, drive harmonisation and enable a new kind of agility with your S/4 project?

How cool would be it to reduce the variants, to focus on what the company really needs?

Here comes one of the answers:

Connect to your SAP SIGNAVIO Process Insights, navigate to Lead to Cash and select the Performance Indicator section:


SIGNAVIO Process Insights, Sales Doc Type Usage

and you will reach the analysis section.

Here, you can select the Document Category  ( e.g. ‘C – for Sales Orders) and analyse the result.


How fascinating is this? You are being informed about when the Document Type was used for the first time, the last time, and how many times in total.

Obviously it is now straight forward on understanding how to reduce complexity, isn’t it?

Scroll down in this list, on you will see document types with different usage patterns

So some document types while in the system for years, have not been used in the time period.

And you find another section of Document types, that no-one ever used ( but that may caused maintenance effort, or users were in danger of using them):



So, how about reducing dramatically the Sales Orders Document Types, and by this, reducing drastically the process variants, process documentation, process testing etc……. ?

It is actually pretty straight forward 😎

Document types can be deleted if no associated document exists in the system. You can also quickly rewrite your current ERP menu by blocking the usage of such document types.

If you run a conversion project to move to S/4, you may want to at least archive the ‘residual’ documents before, and delete unnecessary document types.

And if you are in a green field implementation, you make sure that you only configure what you will really need.

So here is the difference between a restaurant and an SAP S/4 HANA System:

in the restaurant, you look for choice – in your SAP system – you look for harmonisation and simplicity.

Feel free to reach out to me for further talks on this, more to come, so follow me if you like!

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      Author's profile photo Volker von Gloeden
      Volker von Gloeden

      Very nice comparison. Probably you should have mentioned three additional things

      • Of course one can also filter on certain document types, e.g. everything starting with Y or Z, so that only customer-specific document types can be easily analyzed instead of looking at SAP standard ones
      • This is the example sales document types. The same can be easily done for sales billing types, FI document types, purchasing document types (especially interesting for retailers), manufacturing order types, plant maintenance order types, customer service orders types
      • The same can also be done for other master data objects like payment terms, customer master or vendor master, where the later two are essential for the Customer Vendor Integration (CVI) step during a transformation towards SAP S/4HANA. But preparing the CVI with these PPIs is probably worth a separate blog 😉
      Author's profile photo Andreas Breitrueck
      Andreas Breitrueck
      Blog Post Author

      Point taken, and thank you for your advice and recommendations ! I am up for the next challenge - I appreciate your guidance !