Facts are friendly, data delivers – the smarter route to S/4HANA migration

A moody image of a darkened server room with a large amount of connecting cables | Celonis S/4HANA

The deadline for migration to SAP S/4HANA is looming. By December 31, 27, SAP Business Suite 7/ECC users need to be on S/4HANA, pay for an extension to 2030 (for a two percent additional maintenance fee) or stop using the SAP ERP system altogether. No exemptions. No hall passes.

As many in our industry know, ERP migration is neither simple nor fast. Completing a program of this type in two years is considered rapid – three years plus is more typical. Added to which,  a high percentage of the tens of thousands of companies using legacy SAP ERP systems  have yet to migrate to S/4HANA. So…there’s likely to be a stampede to secure the limited expert resources available to assist with managing these programs.

This means the time to act is now, and with intelligence.  This approach means taking a dispassionate data-driven approach to S/4 migration,  which could accelerate the transition and turn this significant challenge into an opportunity for positive business transformation.

Process intelligence: The force multiplier for S/4HANA migration

This is not a tech story. It’s a transformation story. The fact is that programs of this scale are faster, easier and more effective when built on a foundation of business understanding and detailed process data. Process intelligence combines both, providing insight capable of powering S/4HANA migrations.

Combining detailed process data with standardized process knowledge and best practices enables organizations to both understand and optimize end-to-end processes. The clarity and understanding of business workflows drives greater success in four key areas.

Controlling cost and scope

A major systems transformation is a bit like moving houses. There’s a huge amount to plan, coordinate and budget – plus you’ve got to take inventory of what you have and decide what to take with you and what to ditch. Whether selecting a green, blue or brownfield approach in moving over to S/4HANA, you have to take inventory, plan the move and evaluate which applications, processes, automations, codifications, customizations and aspects of your master data will be retired, migrated or replaced by the new system.

Key stakeholders will have strong opinions on what brings value and what is essential. Process intelligence provides an objective, data-informed perspective on what should be included in the new system. It helps prioritize based on usage, relevance and impact on key business metrics. This insight can help provide the building blocks for a transformation that keeps on track with business goals.  It also provides detailed insights for the clean-up of master data which, like your basement or garage, accumulates things best left behind.

In short, you get a fact-based framework from which to define the scope of your transformation and gain confidence that everything you take with you adds value.

Minimizing migration risk and disruption

Having a clear objective picture of how your business currently operates enables you to create a successful rollout strategy. It allows you to manage the migration as seamlessly, quickly and painlessly as possible. A clear objective helps to reduce the risk in the transition by providing visibility to fit-gapped end-to-end processes  and, most importantly, by identifying where the new system rollout could be disruptive and in need of change management.

The digital twin of your systems articulates the change impacts of transformation. You know in advance what the shift is going to be like for your teams; by role, function, location or process. Process intelligence provides a view into where the greatest differences, support and training needs will be – updated throughout the migration based on variances between legacy ERP and the new system.

Drive user adoption

Adoption and conformance are key to a successful S/4 migration. Assessing change impacts early provides specific requirements regarding jobs, responsibilities, scope and skills which allows for essential training requirements to be baked into the rollout. Post go-live, you can automatically trigger a return to training materials with action flows for low-conformance users.

This data-driven approach supports resource management during the crucial post-migration hypercare phase. You can monitor how well different teams are adopting new processes based on conformance levels and apply super users exactly where required – providing precious support resources on to the next wave of implementation.

Maximize business value

Migration programs of this scale are a big investment. It’s vital from the outset to have a clear business case and expected ROI. For business-wide buy-in, this business case needs to include tangible improvements to key metrics that the program will deliver – such as fewer days sales outstanding (DSO), for example. With a baseline, you can track and drill down on value management pre, during and post-transformation.

Change is led and managed by people who lead and manage the business every day. Being able to extend process execution visibility, efficiency and conformance rates across an organization post-migration means leaders and managers can continue to drive adoption levels, evolve best practices and target areas where further training or process change may be required to foster process excellence. By having the facts at hand, in real time, data-driven continuous improvement can build as a core competency in the organization.

The practical and painless approach

There are so many variables to consider and control in an S/4HANA migration that taking a data-driven approach – in any circumstance – is prudent. Given the timeframes now involved, it has become an imperative – and the best chance of delivering the transformation on scope, on time, on budget and on value. If you have process data at hand, use it. If you don’t, get it.

An S/4HANA program is a major undertaking – major but manageable. Visibility into your system’s processes accelerates the migration, gives you confidence that you’re building something that will work for you and – by taking only what adds value across to S/4HANA – transforms your business along the way.