Ensuring a successful transition to SAP S/4HANA


Digital transformation continues to preoccupy boardrooms across the UK, even as macro-trends evolve. If during the pandemic it was about responding to new working patterns and demands for more innovative customer experiences, today a new era of business uncertainty and rising costs has put the focus on efficient growth. For SAP user organizations, S/4HANA is now firmly on the roadmap as they look to the future.

However, as we head towards the 2027 maintenance deadline organizations still have a number of technology and operational challenges to overcome.

The skills challenge

Our most recent UKISUG member survey highlighted that almost 9 in 10 (89%) organizations are currently using or planning to use S/4HANA, up from 74 percent the previous year. While this is extremely encouraging for SAP, 92 percent of respondents are worried that a lack of available skills will slow their migration.  Furthermore, of those organizations that have moved to S/4HANA, a third claim the training they have received is poor or very poor.

Now it’s not clear why skills have become such a critical issue for SAP customers. It could be the impact of the Great Resignation. Or the “quiet quitting” trend identified by some workforce commentators. Or it could simply be the result of increased demand combined with Brexit-related skills shortages.

This is an area that the entire SAP community must continue to focus on. For its part, SAP announced last year the launch of its Partner Talent Initiative to identify and train new and existing talent in the SAP partner ecosystems to support increased demand within the IT channel for skilled certified professionals. At UKISUG, we have also announced our intention to launch our first S/4HANA Academy later this year. The Academy is designed to provide a range of training services to members, tailored to different user personas. It will help to overcome the main S/4HANA issues we identified: a lack of alignment in training materials, gaps in existing content, and minimal hands-on experience in topic training areas.

Integration headaches

Skills aren’t the only challenge facing SAP customers. That same research reveals that 72 percent of UKISUG members feel existing customizations are a possible roadblock on cloud migration. While this is down significantly from the 92 percent who said the same 12 months previously, it represents a persistent challenge that must be addressed. With SAP increasingly pushing its Business Technology Platform as a means to solve customization and integration challenges, it is important that organizations fully understand how it could potentially benefit them both now and in the future.

Effective project and change management are also key. Yet often, organizations underestimate what’s needed – a third of organizations that have moved to S/4HANA say the migration required more change management than expected.

Rising to the challenge

Awareness of RISE with SAP is growing, with over a quarter of organizations now claiming they are currently using or planning to use the service to accelerate the journey to cloud (and S/4HANA).

SAP claims RISE will help customers to accelerate innovation, optimize resources and improve business processes, whilst simplifying migration in a way that helps them to prioritize higher value activities. But these organizations must also remember that, for all its benefits, RISE with SAP is no one-size-fits-all solution. They must first evaluate the impact of using it on overall SAP running costs. Published use cases will be key to helping organizations decide what the best option is for them going forward.

2023 promises to be an important juncture on organizations’ SAP journey. It is up to the entire ecosystem to ensure the move to S/4 HANA is a successful one.

UKISUG’s latest research into S/4HANA and RISE adoption can be found here.