SAP Activate Community Call Recap – 2302 Release, Upgrade Roadmap, and Customer Application
On Wednesday, March 15th, the SAP Activate team held their Community Call via a live YouTube session. The main topic of this SAP Activate Community Call was “2302 Release, Upgrade Roadmap, and Customer Application.”
During our Community Call (see the replays from our past Community Calls here), we were joined by Nishat Fatima (SAP Activate Community Lead), Jan Musil (Chief Product Owner, SAP Activate), Lisa Kouch (Senior Product Manager, SAP Activate), Ying Huang (Development Expert, SAP Activate), Harish Mangtani (Product Manager, SAP), George Yu (Product Expert, SAP), Dennis Leslie (Product Expert, SAP).
- Introduction – by Nishat Fatima 0:00 – 3:36
- SAP Activate Updates – by Jan Musil 3:36 – 8:36
- SAP S/4HANA Cloud 2302 Release – by Lisa Kouch 8:37 – 13:02
- Upgrade Roadmap – by Ying Huang 13:03 – 17:18
- Panel Discussion– by all speakers 17:19 – 31:33
- Q&A – by all speakers and audience 31:34 – 1:03:15
Here is a recap of all the questions asked during the call and we hope you enjoy:
- Question: How can I stay up to speed on the release content for the implementation roadmaps?
- Answer: Lisa: One thing I mentioned earlier in the call is we have a blog where we highlight the different release notes. There’s one for the following implementation roadmaps which is updated every two weeks:
- Question: What are the biggest top 3 takeaways for 2302 for the Upgrade and the 3 system landscape roadmaps?
- Group answer:
- Ying (for the SAP Activate for Upgrade of SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition (3-system landscape implementation roadmap). As I mentioned in the earlier slides, there are a few tasks which relate to transports that highlight some of the do’s and don’ts. A couple of things which come to my mind is software and the content is decoupled, there is this delta transport which is created and by default, is going to be automatically released to the Development system. If you have ongoing things which you haven’t released out of the Dev system, certainly that is not the best practice to do. However, if you do, the upgrade process will be a lot smoother. Another thing is to take advantage of the import schedule so you can actually pause the import if you choose to do so to give yourself a little more time so you can push things through when you are ready to go. These are some of the things which are worth highlighting and these are also captured in our best practices in our roadmap as well and lessons learned from the past upgrade
- George: another area to highlight is the SAP purposely put the upgrade on the test system first. The intention is you to test it and when we look at a lot of customers, they don’t test it which can waste about three weeks to your Dev system being upgraded and notice “something’s not working.” We really encourage the customer to use either the Test Automation Tool or whatever service is available to them, test it on the Test system before the next three weeks when the Dev upgrade and Production occurs.
- Dennis: To add one more topic, SAP Activate for SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition (3-system landscape) came out and with that comes Developer Extensibility. You get a tenant for development all together. When we talk abut extensions, you cannot change the core of the system. However, there is a lot you can do in the developer extensibility. You’re building extensibility items inside the environment. It’s more powerful than what was previously available. New functionality has come out since which is another key release item which has come out.
- Group answer:
- Question: When we do have customers, what are some of the best practices that we can share on how to best use SAP Activate and keep up with the release cycles and learnings that you have which you can share with us?
- Group answer:
- Dennis: SAP has been saying this a lot but having the cloud mindset is extremely crucial. Please do not think on premise and public cloud are exactly the same. “I know on-premise and I have done on-premise for 30 years and therefore I know public cloud…” that is a wrong statement. You have to change that mindset and look at it from the fact that this is public cloud and it is done differently and handled differently. You have to follow SAP Activate. There are a lot of customers that just negate and ignore which is only to their detriment. You have to follow SAP Activate because it provides guidance as to what and how it has to be implemented. Then, customers have requested for their systems way too early and have done things in their system even before even knowing exactly it is, so not really going through the entire fit-to-standard. That fit-to-standard is extremely crucial and you have to go through the fit-to-standard cycle and collect all the requirements in that cycle.
- Jan: You can activate right from the beginning in the starter where we pre-deliver pre-configuration and data for execution of fit-to-standard. What Dennis mentioned is we sometimes see customers and partners jumping right into the Development system which is part of your production landscape. If you make a mistake in that landscape, you will need to reprovision and restart because if you have the wrong financial settings, you may be setting your company up for different accounting standards for example and that is not desirable. We make that distinction and are encouraging everyone to start with the start as quickly as possible and then development as soon as they understand the key financial decisions they need to make and some org structure and chart of accounts. Start in the starter system as soon as possible. Get used to it, play with it, and try to explore the best practices as much as just as the best practices say. However, when it comes to Development, Test, and the Production environments, hold off, get sign off, and then request it and activate it.
- George: On top of that, I will add a little more. Just as Dennis said, it is a “cloud mindset.” This means the software is being innovated and new features are being added on constantly, so you need to keep up with that. To do that, there are two things you can look at:
- What’s New Documentation for each continuous feature release. We publish a What’s New Documentation so it depends on the area what new features are being added. Some you can turn it on and some you don’t need to turn on.
- Release Assessment and Scope Dependency tool. These two look into the usage of your production system and then it can detect what features you have been using in our public cloud edition. Then, it points out what the new features are relevant to you could be brand new or could be impactful to you. If you have these two tools in your mind, you can be one step ahead of what’s coming whether you want to take advantage of the new innovation or not – it’s up to you so there’s no surprise at each upgrade.
- Group answer:
- Question: What are some of the learnings you have seen at a customer that you can share with us?
- Group answer:
- Jan: when I look at patterns and these are not new to public cloud, these are generally for SAP implementations or probably any implementation, is to understand your data. Understand the quality f the data and start cleaning and rationalizing the data early enough because all of those activities are on a critical path before you go-live. That’s one of our learnings out of the list of learnings from SAP Activate which is still critical to pay attention to when you are planning your project and executing regardless of which solution you’re implementing if it deals with data (and most solutions do), you need to make sure you have access to the data. It’s even more important in using SAP Activate because you want to use at least subsets of your productive data for data. You’re discovering issues during the testing rather than later when you get into this system integration test, user acceptance testing, and you need to go back.
- Dennis: I talked about this financial setting. I’ve had customer who during CBC scoping, initially it will ask you how many Ledgers do you need and if you miss that, there’s a warning that comes up as well. If you don’t choose more than one, there are many customers who don’t need more than one Ledger, but there could be customer who needs that. You also need to be thinking about your future such as would you be expanding into countries where you would need a second Ledger, a second accounting principle, and things like that – then we need to plan accordingly. That step is only done during the first time the system is set up. Making an appropriate choice there and now SAP allows for up to three Ledgers. You have your local, IFRS, and US cap is also enabled and you need to make that choice such as what is best for my customer/partner. Another which comes to mind is about the accounting principle setting at the corporate level. We’ve seen customer who’ve changed it according to SAP’s recommendation but then they’ve not left a local accounting principle in the system. They’ve only set group accounting which only creates bonds and while we’re trying to make it a little more foolproof, that is a setting that we have to be careful about. It’s finetuning or an SSCUI that’s available where you can switch the Ledger and assign the accounting principle. That’s one you need to watch out for and you do want to make sure that one of those is left blank so that in the example of the corporate accounting principle, it’s flagged as a local accounting principle and it will be set at a company code level.
- George: One customer I worked with recently who until SAP Public Cloud, used QuickBooks Time Track Sheet. After the implementation, everything is in place, the users refused to use it. Why? Because they are different. It’s really interesting. I think it’s kind of a mindset of change management. When you have a new software coming in, you need to adapt to that but you cannot refuse using it, or say “I still want to use the old UI exactly the same as the QuickBooks,” Then, if you do that, why do you need to switch to a new software because there’s a lot of new features you can use to make things much easier for you. After some time, we are still at this moment, doing a parallel learning at this moment. It takes some time for people to change their mindset and say “oh yeah, this is a new product.”
- Harish: I would add the enablement side. I of course have a lot of learnings which I can share. One question we always get is “how do we get all of the enablement and documentation together?” The answer is of course, the product release information page, where after the release, we put all of the information on the central page where the following is covered: release documents, features, scope documents. All of this is provided so you know what features are coming in based on what business scope you have and then of course, various LOBs. Apart from that, I wanted to talk about the SAP Activate for Upgrade of SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition (3-system landscape) – especially for greenfield customers. When I spoke recently with the Architecture Unit, the questions which are coming up right now are coming in many times are some basic questions on how do we start with, let’s say, SAP for Me. How do we start the provisioning, which comes first? Then, which system do I need to order – the separate tenant and BTP? Do I need a separate account license for that? How does SAP Cloud ALM come into the picture? If the customer has some integration products, then what is the sequence and timing of the tenant and so on. To answer such questions, next month we are conducting an event called “Product Expert Training” for partners and internal SAP as well. There we will have a dedicated one full day to cover as many possible topics to show from onboarding until provisioning and end-to-end key aspects on how partners can support customers on provisioning and how to give them information on the sequence and how to do it.
- Group answer:
- Question: To what extent is SAP Activate an encapsulating framework under which RISE is a subset? If not presently, perhaps in the future, or am I comparing apples and pears?
- Group answer:
- Jan: We have incorporated RISE into our private cloud last year. You can find several assets and views in the SAP Activate Roadmap Viewer where you can view either the adoption framework which is kind of an encapsulation of all the RISE activities and tasks that need to happen in the deployment. We also have a separate view which is RISE focused and highlights the steps and tasks which are related to the components included in RISE. We understand there are some changes in RISE that are occurring this year, we are going to be refining and updating that for being fully aligned. That’s something that is on our roadmap.
- Lisa: As Jan mentioned, we do have plans for this year the RISE for SAP team has told us they should have their content available in mid-Q2. Within SAP Activate ourselves, we are going to look at that timeline mid-Q2 to end of Q2 to incorporate that content. Here and there we might have some content added in. We currently do have a tag for RISE with SAP. Depending on what we are allowed to share, we will incorporate it accordingly. Look for some time in Q2 between the mid to end of Q2 for hat content in its entirety within our SAP Activate Roadmap Viewer and SAP Activate for SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition (3-system landscape).
- Group answer:
- Question: How do we work with our partners and is there partner specific activities and trainings which are available from an application point of view?
- Group answer:
- Jan: With our partner teams to enable partners. There are now monthly webinars for our ecosystem partners that are focusing on discussions around SAP Activate. We have experts like Lisa and others joining these webinars for public cloud. We have Adi from SAP Activate and other experts from partner enablement joining the private cloud webinars. If you are looking for these webinars, they are listed on the Partner Portal and then navigate to the SAP S/4HANA area, and you can look for implementation specific webinars. These webinars are very fun even for us believe it or not. They are structured very much like this call only the beginning is about 5-10 mins, then the rest of the hour is for the rapid-fire questions and answers. If you are interested, they are posted. We just finished two in February and then they alternate each month for public and private cloud. We highly encourage you to join us and ask your questions there.
- Harish: As mentioned, the expert training session is happening next month. One information which I would like to share is, like Jan mentioned, the registration will be published in the next few weeks in the Partner Portal where the partners can register. The hosting platform would be SAP Learning Hub which we are using for other sessions as well. Partners should have the license for SAP Learning Hub. There is a special partner license for the SAP Learning Hub but of course they can join these sessions. The content is also available later or on-demand learnings. This is one key event which happens every six months which we are doing only for partners. It covers basically the wide scope of the product line of business, technology, how to’s, and a lot more based on feedback.
- Group answer:
- Question: How do our customers and partners get access to our tenants if they wanted to test something? Is there something available publicly and what is needed for this access?
- Group answer:
- Jan: Our partners, specifically for SAP Activate for SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition (3-system landscape), there is guidance in SAP Activate. You can log into SAP Activate Roadmap Viewer with your ID, tied to a partner account, you will see instructions for requesting partner test, demo, development environment. You can request these and there are detailed instructions that you can follow and walk through that process. That’s one way of accessing it for partners. For anyone, even without an SAP ID, such as prospects or anyone interested in the product, there is trial environment on sap.com, navigate to the SAP S/4HANA Cloud area, and scroll down on the page, there are trial environments you can use. You just need to be aware this is a shared environment so there are others in the same environment which you may not know. Use your judgement on what you post in that environment. It is limited in terms of scope of what is exposed. There is a preset of functionality which they can explore. It doesn’t give you access to the full-fledged SAP S/4HANA public cloud system. For private cloud, if you wanted to export options to deploy in a hosted environment, you can use the system for 30 days for exploring. In that case, it is your own environment which you are using and have access to. Those are a couple of options and those are covered in SAP Activate.
- Lisa: If you look under the Discover phase those are the first few tasks you will see in SAP Activate itself.
- Group answer:
- Question: Can you give me a quick, 10 second answer, if you have to describe SAP Activate, how would you describe it?
- Group answer:
- Ying: I love cooking and I feel like SAP Activate is a good recipe book for successful implementations.
- Lisa: I would say it is a guided implementation tool. It helps you walk through what steps are required in order to do a successful implementation. It is based upon experiences of both partners and customers as well as internal guidance. One thing I want to stress is becoming familiar and having the “cloud mindset” as Denis mentioned earlier is very important. Some of the feedback we have gotten is that making sure people are fully invested into SAP S/4HANA Cloud and understand what their roles are and how their system works. I think that making sure you are familiar and have a “cloud mindset” is very important.
- George: I think it is an implementation guide book. You can find the answers to most of your questions there.
- Harish: I would answer it a little differently. I also look at it from an end-user point of view. For me it is like a GPS tool we have. You can see the maps and it’s a little different but similar. Various phases show the direction for the complete implementation cycle.
- Dennis: I would say it’s SAP’s recommended approach and this is something that we would push and request customers do follow.
- Jan: I like all the answers. When I was discussing this topic with another colleague, he compared it to instructions for assembling a chair from IKEA. I would disagree with since it is more like the recipe or GPS if we want to stay with these mind models because it is not rigid. It’s not rigid in the sense if you misplace the screw, you cannot assemble the chair. You can add stuff to it. It’s like a recipe. You can make that meal yourself and make it to taste for your liking but we don’t want you to be following a recipe for making a cake and end up with a burger. We want you to have a cake and maybe you like it a little sweeter or decorated differently than the recipe says. That is what SAP Activate is to me.
- Group answer:
Keep in mind, this blog is only a snapshot of the topics covered today. Listen to the recorded Community Call here to catch all the points in the discussion amongst our team.
Resources and links mentioned on the call:
- SAP Activate Roadmap Viewer
- Follow SAP Activate on the Community
- Follow Jan Musil
- Follow Lisa Kouch
- Follow Ying Huang
- Follow Harish Mangtani
- Follow Dennis Leslie
- Follow George Yu
- Blog – SAP Activate Content Updates for SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition (3-system landscape) written by Lisa Kouch
- Blog – SAP Activate in under 9 Minutes written by Jan Musil
- Blog – SAP S/4HANA Cloud, Public Edition: Product Update Series written by Corina Kinzel
- Tune in the Inside SAP S/4HANA podcast
- More info on new product releases can be found here
- Blog – Release Assessment and Scope Dependency Tool(RASD 2.0) Released to Customers written by Asha Pillai
- Use this link for the Partner Demo Task in the SAP Activate for SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition (3-system landscape) implementation roadmap
- Use this link to Trial Task in the SAP Activate for SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition (3-system landscape) implementation roadmap
A few exciting things coming your way!….
- We are excited to bring you another Community Call next quarter – so be on the lookout for that event and the details coming soon.
- SAP Activate Minute – new videos are published frequently which cover various SAP Activate topics in one minute. Subscribe to the playlist here and get quick insights on a regular basis. Catch up on the already published videos in the playlist.
Please be sure to follow the SAP Activate Community topic page to stay up to date on all of the latest news and content!