SAPinsider recently published a report based on a survey of 200 SAP professionals on the status of their S/4HANA migrations. 48% of respondents said they had started their S/4HANA implementation, with 29% of those already using SAP’s latest update to its ERP business suite. The survey identified several factors that are delaying migration projects including ongoing fallout from the pandemic, supply chain disruptions, and a remote workforce.
The report offers a comprehensive look at the key challenges companies are facing during their migration, recommendations on actions that should be taken, and a look at the technologies they are using to get there. Be sure to read the entire report for more details but in this blog, we’ll highlight a few key points we think are particularly relevant.
S/4HANA migration challenges & impact
One of the more significant migration challenges cited in the survey was maintaining dual systems in parallel during the conversion. Managing change across systems is difficult at the best of times but is compounded due to the architectural differences between ECC and S/4HANA. Every transport in ECC must be checked for redundant or incompatible code before it can be moved to S/4 and manually tracking down every change and performing the necessary remediation adds significant delays and risk to an already complex project.
This is a challenge many Basis Technologies customers face, and they approach us specifically because they are struggling to manually maintain their multi-track environments. One of them, a global consumer goods firm with over $60 billion in annual revenue (The Company), had a large, highly complex ECC environment. Instead of a ‘big bang’ cutover, they chose to migrate their systems to S/4HANA gradually to start realizing the benefits of the new platform as soon as possible which required them to keep their ECC and S/4HANA systems in sync for years during the transformation.
Our ActiveControl DevOps automation tool, built specifically for managing the complexities associated with an SAP landscape, helped them seamlessly manage their environment to streamline, accelerate, and de-risk their migration. ActiveControl identifies, manages, and synchronizes changes between landscapes with minimal user intervention and ensures they are deployed to the correct system when released, which enabled The Company to support business-as-usual (BAU) operations without pausing work on the new S/4 systems.
“Simply put, we will not be able to upgrade without automation. Either we would have had to do a pure greenfield implementation, which was going to be too long and unaffordable, or we would have taken a major operation risk by just trying to do it ‘manually’,” said The Company.
ActiveControl also laid the foundation for The Company to modernize their SAP development approach by adopting agile, DevOps and CI/CD, something nearly half of respondents said they were seriously considering as part of their S/4HANA transformation. This massive, complex transformation provides the perfect opportunity to adopt these industry best practices which are proven to help deliver SAP change faster and with less risk.
Overcoming migration challenges
According to the survey, the primary step enterprises are taking to facilitate a successful migration and maximize their investment is to modernize or eliminate custom change management processes to streamline the transition and provide more agility for future updates.
Companies are implementing “best of breed” change and release management systems and processes to support business changes and requirements. In today’s market environment, the needs of the business are constantly changing and to keep pace, firms must be able to deliver change to SAP at speed. By far the fastest, safest, and most efficient way to build and deliver SAP change is with automation.
This was something The Company also struggled with as they were adapting to the digital transformation sweeping across the consumer products industry. Like a lot of enterprises, SAP is the backbone of many important business operations and enterprise systems, and their slow, error-prone manual SAP change management processes were delaying valuable business innovation. With ActiveControl, the significant increase in speed, reduction in manual effort and elimination of risk enabled The Company to leverage the power and business benefits of S/4HANA quickly and safely.
Automation is the backbone of a successful S/4HANA transformation
Based on the challenges and steps listed by respondents, SAPinsider recommends exploring third-party solutions that will maximize the investment in S/4HANA, “especially as it comes to making SAP S/4HANA the platform for further innovation within your organization.” To fully leverage the business benefits of S/4HANA, which includes applying the promised yearly updates from SAP, automation is essential. Automation transforms S/4HANA into an agile, flexible, robust system that can deliver innovation at speed and support business transformation for years to come.
There are many tools and technologies that can support the move to S/4HANA but change management solutions were listed as the second most used overall, just behind SAP Readiness Check. Fast, error-free, efficient change management is difficult to achieve under normal circumstances and relying on traditional methods (spreadsheets and emails) during the migration will cause further bottlenecks and delays during and after the transformation.
The Company recommends that enterprises “look for specialized players like Basis Technologies which can help make this upgrade a bit more seamless. Because unlike many other software upgrades, without the assistance of additional players, this upgrade is by no means seamless.”
As we’ve seen from The Company’s S/4HANA journey, the best way to deliver change quickly without risk is with DevOps automation. It lays the foundation for modern, future-proof ways of working like agile and DevOps that revolutionize the way firms deliver SAP change. This is especially vital for those looking to use their S/4HANA migration as part of a larger enterprise transformation to increase agility.
DevOps automation for SAP enables:
- Significantly faster delivery of change – delivering rapid, high-quality change to SAP will be critical as the ECC end of life date approaches (currently stated as 2027 by SAP). Companies will need to conduct their transformations quickly to avoid the cutoff date without increasing risk to the business.
- A complete, enterprise-wide software delivery value stream – integrating SAP with other best-of-breed applications like Jira, ServiceNow, Jenkins, and more enables firms to align SAP with the rest of the IT stack to deliver value to the business faster.
- Greater business agility – seamless management of multi-track landscapes enables firms to deliver change to SAP on demand, with less risk and without disrupting the business.
As you look to implement new tools and technologies to facilitate your S/4HANA migration, SAP change management automation should be at the top of your list. Adopting these industry-leading tools and practices aren’t just about supporting new business changes and requirements – agile and DevOps are the foundation to digital transformations that enable greater agility across the IT landscape.