It’s true, SAP S/4HANA Cloud can transform your business. When reviewing SAP's comparable products, SAP S/4HANA Cloud Essentials Edition (Public Cloud) has three major advantages:
To start, the Public Cloud offers the lowest TCO (Total Cost of Ownership). Sharing your company’s infrastructure allows you to throw-out old physical servers and begin to free-up costly real-estate. The total cost of the Public Cloud (which is a complete SaaS solution) is comprehensively less than its substitutes, including the implementation, licensing, and overall support.
Second, the Public Cloud has the fastest time-to-value due to its simplified configuration and reduced complexity. SAP’s automated testing tool expedites the process to roll-out new business to your SAP landscape, and it also reduces time to regression test existing functionality. Speed is not only a timesaver, but it also allows your business to adapt to change and promote scalability.
The third, and most intriguing rationale of moving to the cloud, is its top echelon in innovation. From machine learning to predictive analysis, SAP’s quarterly upgrades will keep your SaaS environment up-to-date with the most innovative technologies. SAP has found a way to keep software receptive to industry changes, while keeping in mind dynamic regulatory requirements.
Despite all of these benefits of a SaaS environment, it won’t always be sunny if you don’t watch out for these five key areas:
The calendar isn’t always yours
When implementing SAP S/4HANA Cloud, Essentials Edition, your project timeline is dependent on SAP. Mandatory Quality Gates are established to ensure progression is made and approved before advancing to subsequent phases.
Agile sprints are the new approach to configuration. Make sure your sprint planning gives a buffer for SAP to activate each of your countries. Historically, SAP has taken an average of 4-6 days to activate each country. If you plan on a global roll-out, think twice before activating all 195 countries at once. Throwing more consultants to get work done fast isn’t a solution anymore since we’re reliant on SAP’s bandwidth.
Once you’re finally ready to configure the system, transports can only be released by one country at a time. Your agile sprint planning is paramount in order to align with SAP’s rigidity of implementation requirements.
It won’t all be there day-one
SAP ECC is a mature product which has been around for 15+ years. SAP’s Public Cloud is not that. The Public Cloud and its SaaS methodology is no doubt the future, but it’s still in the early years of existence, only being introduced within the past five years.
Seemingly, the youthfulness of SAP S/4HANA Cloud gives reason to why it doesn’t have all the bells & whistles yet. Not all the configuration is open, which we’ve become accustomed to with ECC. Within SAP S/4HANA Cloud, Essentials Edition, some configuration is characterized as ‘Expert Config’, meaning SAP’s Service Center is required to perform these configurations. Additionally, some configurations are not at all accessible due to the required conformity which exists in the Public Cloud.
This is the new world we live in: Configuration is simpler and faster to deploy. The drawback is that configuration abilities are limited.
If you can’t find a functionality within your S/4 self-service configuration, you have a few options to bring a component to life.
A) Lobby SAP to add to their implementation roadmap
SAP has a concise 18-month roadmap for when they plan to deliver upcoming functionality, new innovations, and its enhanced user interface. SAP delivers these updates in quarterly automatic installations to their customers. Prompting SAP to add a component to their existing roadmap is difficult; but with the right use-case, you may convince SAP to ‘pencil-in’ your requirements.
B) Raise a feature request in SAP’s voting-based customer experience portal
It’s simple: If more of SAP’s customers want it, the better chance SAP will develop it. SAP’s experience portal gives you a voice to identify a desired functionality. You can also vote on a functionality that has already been risen by your Public Cloud peers (SAP’s other Cloud customers). If a specific feature has enough votes, SAP will add to their 18-month roadmap.
Data migration is a thing of the past
Your system is only as good as the data you put into it. The good thing is you have a new fresh start to your data. SAP advises to bring no (none, nada, zip) historical transactional data when transitioning to the Public Cloud. Even if you disobey command and convert data anyway, there are many limitations.
Typically in (ECC) implementations, creating multiple clients can assist with data conversion efforts. The Public Cloud by default gives you only one Production environment and one Quality environment (with one client each). Loading data multiple times for mock trials is tricky without loading into different years for each iteration.
You’re not SAP’s top priority
If you want something changed from SAP, it better be what your peers need as well. Since the Public Cloud is public (duh), changes made to your environment can affect everyone else on the cloud as well.
The fit-to-standard methodology is an important concept to grasp. SAP encourages ‘fit-to-standard’ workshops to assess which of your company’s business processes can fit into SAP’s standard approach. If you’re used to highly customized solutions, the Public Cloud may not be your best fit.
Being on SAP’s Public Cloud means your SAP infrastructure is shared with many of SAP’s customers. Changing the infrastructure or development of your system, can cause a change for everyone on the Public Cloud. Convincing SAP to make a change for you will be harder knowing there are other (possibly larger) customers using the same Public Cloud.
Change, change, & change
Change is inevitable and change is hard; we all know this. Even one of the primary advantages of the Public Cloud, enhanced analytics, is something some end-users are struggling with. The analytics are much smarter and much more flexible, but SAP end-users are often stuck in their old ways.
The FIORI interface is a sexy web-based platform with simplistic navigation and in-screen training.
But new is new. Even if the process or navigation is better, your company's end-users are accustomed to seeing things a particular way. Be prepared for internal pushback even for the obvious ‘wins’ of moving to the cloud.
In all, you should be excited to move to the cloud. The money and time saved will help productivity. The IT innovation and flexibility will keep your competitive advantage in the marketplace. You just need to remember to stay grounded in your journey when moving to the cloud. Take some the lessons we’ve already learned, to help pave your way to the Cloud.
As they say, sky is the limit.
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