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A primary focus of SAP’s Chief Customer Office (CCO) is to help SAP’s customers successfully adopt and deploy HANA.  In 2012, the CCO formed the HANA Ambassador Team and we have worked with more than 400 customers on their HANA journey.

The HANA Ambassador Team mitigates risk.  Think of the team like this... a child is bowling on a bowling alley and there are bumper guards preventing the bowling ball from going in the gutter.  The HANA Ambassadors protect the customers from going off track in their implementation. The HANA Ambassador will either meet with the customer weekly, biweekly or monthly depending where the customer is in their life cycle.  The HANA Ambassador will share with the customer what to do during the implementation and what not to do.  This guidance comes from experience with hundreds of customers. If the customer is using a partner, it is recommended that the partner join the meeting.

Here is what we see as 4 of the top best practices to make your HANA project successful:

Beginning your journey

It’s critical to start your journey in partnership with your business stakeholders to Identify and unlock the business value in the problem(s) you are trying to solve.  For example, is it centered on advanced analytic capabilities, efficient transaction processing, custom application development, or answering questions you don’t even know to ask?  Once the value is identified then the HANA use case (e.g. S/4HANA, data mart, etc.) and deployment model can be determined.  Finally, it’s time to execute and deliver that value to the business.

SAP HANA release and revision strategy

I can dedicate multiple blogs to this topic alone, however, there a few key messages I want to give here.  First, SAP has a well-documented and followed HANA release strategy and the latest version can always be found here, and in SAP Note 2021789.  It’s paramount you understand this strategy, internalize it, and build your release strategy around it.  Here a few more highlights.  SAP delivers innovations to the HANA platform every 6 months.  SAP provides code corrections but not in the manner you may be used to with SAP Business Suite applications, rather these are packaged together and released as new revisions to the HANA support pack stack (SPS). To help our customers plan their moves to the latest HANA releases, SAP has introduced the Datacenter Service Point (DSP) revision.  The DSP revision is released to customers once it has been operational in the SAP production environments for 1 -2 weeks. The DSP is generally released three months after the SPS is released.

Acquiring and developing the right skills

You need to look at skill sets in two ways – 1.) Staffing your project with experts, and 2.) Building your own expertise to sustain your solutions.  Too many times we have seen a lack of HANA skill sets delay projects, increase project costs, and decrease business value.  Look to staff your program with experienced resources who have been involved in multiple HANA projects.  There is no substitution for this type of expertise and it cannot be underestimated. Like a good whiskey, building your own expertise will take time to develop.  In addition to hands on experience, there a number of enablement resources at your disposal. These include SAP training courses, expert blogs and commentary, and the SAP HANA Academy – which include 1,000+ videos on just about every imaginable HANA topic.

Data Modeling

Increasingly, you get 1 – 2 chances at delivering high value added solutions to your business stakeholders before they will look elsewhere for solutions when not satisfied with performance, scalability, and usability.  Our experience indicates that there are organizations with amazingly fast analytics and powerful applications due to the capabilities provided by SAP HANA. Unfortunately we have seen the opposite as well.  Many times the culprit is insufficient model design leading to poor end user experience and slow or stalled adoption.  We have seen examples of query runtimes reduced by > 90% simply due to model design changes.  A great resource to get started is the blog on modeling ‘good’ practices authored by a few of my SAP colleagues.  Though, stay tuned into the evolution of HANA as modeling practices will evolve as well.

We could dive into more including HANA sizing, migration approaches, leveraging your SAP support model, and immersing yourself in the vibrant HANA communities.  We’ll save those for a later post, and I look forward to your comments on this post.  Till then…… If you have engaged a HANA Ambassador, please share your thoughts.

About the SAP’s Chief Customer Office

The Chief Customer Office’s mission is to help SAP’s customers achieve success.

The team averages 18 years of SAP experience.  When SAP started the CCO, the team was 99% reactive. Now the CCO is 73% proactive and typically gets involved before the implementation starts.

All programs the CCO provides SAP’s customers are an investment by SAP and offered at no charge. The one criteria for engagement is that we have a cadence with the customer executive (CIO or LOB leader).