Whilst the announcement of S/4HANA may be seen as exciting and interesting to analysts and customers there are an army of consultants whom may have to learn some more skills to benefit from the new technology. There are numerous articles that focus on the new functionality and the approach I thought of taking a new view to focus on what this means to a SAP consultant.
I will try and be as inclusive as possible – but the breadth of the SAP solution portfolio is extremely broad and I may not cover off specific areas.
Ok – once you get your head around the name or naming and what it actually means, and what is included my first recommendation would be to look who could use the new solution. I believe there are just under 40,000 SAP Business Suite solutions live on the planet. Some of these customers may have more than one solution (instance) – however that is a pretty big number that will need to migrate/ upgrade to S/4HANA. There are also a bunch of net-new customers out there too !! Now there are a number of approaches to migrate/ upgrade to S/4HANA – and that is the first area that I would recommend people research and get up to speed on.
In terms of migration/ upgrade there are three specifics to focus on:
1 – What are the options to migrate to S/HANA? – Cloud/ On Prem, Side car options, drip feed, or big bang.
2 – What are the constraints/ pre-requisites that are needed to migrate to the chosen path
3 – How do you actually perform the migration/ upgrade – what does a project look like.
Having migration skills, knowledge and experience will become very valuable over the coming years. As I write this article, there are no live customers using S/4HANA. I am aware of customers trialling out the product, so this will be a real growth area once customers start to migrate/ upgrade to S/4HANA.
Solution knowledge is the second area I would recommend people to focus on. There is a bunch of new functionality that has been released with Simple Finance (launched in June 2014) and the volume of screens/ transactions migrating to SAP Fiori increases quarter by quarter. Being able to understand what the functionality does, the benefit it provides, and most importantly what you need to activate it, will help customers make the choice to move to S/4HANA. In a number of customers, the historical restrictions of SAP have become embedded, and the expectation levels have been adjusted accordingly. With some of the new functionality within Simple Finance the immovable restrictions that were there within R/3 are now removed and month end processes and reporting become simpler.
Code, code, code. As standard a SAP Business Suite solution is made up of millions of lines of code. Customers then add additional code, tables, transactions, screens and reports. The historic code delivered by SAP can be modified to utilise the new Simple processes within S/4HANA as standard – however the bespoke stuff will need to be reviewed and amended if this is still required. Functional resources need to review all of the bespoke and understand the benefit of it in the new S/4HANA world. If required the code may need to be modified to meet the new SAP HANA standards and processes. At the same time, it is a great chance to get rid of code that adds no value leading to a leaner SAP environment
New tools. I am aware calling out SAP Fiori as a new tool is a bit short sighted. The product has nearly been around 2 years now, and adoption has really taken off. However the sheer scale of the transactions that are now available via SAP Fiori (especially in the Simple Finance area) provides a real opportunity for further tweaking. I called out last year the career advantages of working with SAP Fiori and SAP UI5, the momentum behind SAP Fiori is really growing and it will continue to do so, so understand how the technology works, and how some of the standard Fiori apps could be improved by simple tweaks. There is also the release of “ SAP Intelligent Business Operations” which replaces “SAP PI”. I wont pretend I know too much about this – however a change in direction and functionality for “PI” – which many customers use, signals to me a potential growth area for relevant consultants.
Lastly, SAP have announced that they will be releasing demo environments that users an customers can use to learn more about S/4HANA. This will be based on the cloud solution, and whilst provide some insight, the ability to change configuration items will be removed. The idea is to help people visualise the new solution. Further to this there is a new SAP Open SAP course focused on S/4HANA. https://open.sap.com/courses/s4h1 This course will run at the end of March – enrol and participate.
What are the areas that you are interested in? I have not covered platforms, landscapes, integration to BW on HANA solutions, reporting and integration points to non-SAP ECC solutions, however all will be impacted !!