S4 experience at a greenfield implementation
Our company has been selected as an implementation partner in August 2018 by a Hungarian subsidiary of a German mechanical engineering company to install a new S4 HANA system.
The goal of the project was to switch from a non-SAP ERP environment and go live in 2021. The solution to be developed had to serve 1200 users.
The project is based on a classic “waterfall” project methodology. A 3-month Concept Planning phase was followed by a 6-month Detailed Planning and in September 2019 the Implementation phase was started to prepare the business go-live in 2021 after several testing cycles.
We have collected 10 factors which we consider to be the most important. These require due attention in an S4 implementation project in order to deliver a suitable solution:
One of the most important success factors. During the project the client has assessed correctly that the complex corporate operations, the large number of end users and the replacement of the ERP system creates a significant change and provides ample time for implementation, testing and training. For the lead times of each project phase, in addition to complexity, it also had to be considered that the duration of the stage shouldn’t take too long, thus avoiding scope creep.
2. Software version
Between the two solutions offered by SAP (cloud and on-premise) the difference was the freedom of development provided by the on-premise version. This was the easier decision to be made. Based on the long lead time and the SAP Roadmap the key question was which version to select for the on-premise software. The utilization of the new versions had to be continuously assessed, looking for the moment where the stability of the solution is more important than the 5-year support period. For the decision we took into account the requirements of the client and the information of the SAP Roadmaps. During the project we started with the 1809 version, now we are working on the 1909 FPS02 version and this will be the business go-live version as well.
3. Cloud or on-premise hosting
For this aspect the client’s willingness to take risks and avoiding the difficulties caused by “too many changes” was taken into consideration. The ERP replacement in itself is causing a significant change and the graduated approach has been used here.
4. IT architecture
Sufficient time has to be spent on building an architecture that is acceptable in all aspects. For each component an important consideration factor was whether it should be implemented as an embedded or decentralised element (Fiori, EWM, PPDS).
5. SAP Basis
Compared to previous R/3 projects the importance and scope of the SAP Basis Area has increased significantly. This means additional resource needs.
6. ” Roadmap” thinking
One of the most difficult tasks is the compilation of the scope and the building blocks providing the solution. On the one hand, care should be taken to ensure that a feasible scope is developed, on the other hand, it is necessary to consider it from licensing aspects, and the “everything as well” requests have to be addressed. From the start of the project, we are drawing and updating a roadmap containing the elements and development directions that can be implemented even after the launch of the productive environment.
7. Solution vs. License
During the design of the processes, attention has to be paid to the changes brought by S4 licensing. The solutions for certain business needs have to be carefully created, since the licence purchasing willingness is defined by the client, but in more and more areas even one or two processes can require obtaining another licence. We strongly recommend to pay the necessary attention to licencing even during the conceptual design.
Our client requested to use Fiori at going live. During the project we have attempted to fully comply to this, but in our experience for each area it has to be examined – either based of the functionality, the number of users or the Fiori maturity -, where it is practical to use GUI at business launch and where it is possible to start with Fiori. Currently 80% of the areas have started using Fiori. We also recommend to follow the principle of gradual approach for developments. It should be examined whether it is necessary to create a new generation Fiori tile for a certain development request or whether a Fiori-like tile is sufficient.
9. System usage
When moving from non-SAP ERP to SAP ERP, it’s important to bring system usage to the project as soon as possible, even at the Detailed Planning. This helps the client to view the user interface and the process. The alignment of the Superuser / Key User Training with Functional Testing has contributed significantly to the easy and quick mastering of the solution on the client side.
Integration should be a priority area on both the consultant and client side. It should be present throughout the project, organizationally, in the project tasks and during the execution as well. Separate workshops and knowledge transfers were held about various integration topics, and the individual building blocks were coordinated in internal workshops. This has helped to create a high-quality solution.
Hopefully, by sharing our experiences we could support your work with useful information. If you have questions or would like to request more information please contact us now!
Author: Ferenc Patkás, project manager
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