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SAP Mentors and the SAP S/4HANA Product Management team held their second S/4HANA validation workshop in Walldorf on April 12-14. Owen Pettiford (Comprise) and Arno Mielke (SAP) connected the ten influencers with the corresponding SAP experts.

While the first workshop in December was dedicated to the general overview, the April workshop now put more weight on the roadmap and the deltas in architecture, analytics, Fiori, Acitvate, Best Practices, Finance, Material Management, Industries ….

Another focus was the road to S/4HANA, migration, system conversion and the experience with the customer implementations supported by the mentors and by the SAP Regional Implementation Group RIG.  Last but not least the experts discussed tips and tricks for integration and S/4HANA extensions based on SAP HANA Cloud Platform.

The mentors provided very valuable feedback on critical factors where SAP should pay special attention:

  • Functional Scope: Especially for the cloud versions it is necessary to invest more development resources to extend the capabilities and further increase maturity.
  • Effort for conversion: Customers still fear the costs and risks to move to S/4HANA. Further investments in Activate is needed.
  • Variety of Versions and Product Naming is often perceived as confusing. Consolidation and simplification is recommended.
  • Documentation should provide more detailed comparison between the various editions and the difference compared to ECC. SAP should make it easier to find concrete available features.
  • Partner enablement and the cooperation with partners needs to be intensified.
  • And there were many other precious hints about vision, business cases, customer engagement, education, trials etc.

The following topics were identified as most important benefits for customers and partners:

  • UX delights users with role based entry to the system. Simplified and smarter transactions with better workflow improve user productivity.
  • Real time Analytics combined with transactional processes, embedded search and standard content without the need to build custom reports are key differentiators.
  • Features like soft financial closing, real time planning, stable procedures, no need for replication,  performance boost etc. pave the way for improved and simplified processes
  • Speed of Innovations is facilitated by HANA optimized code, based on solid architecture foundation and good technology strategy and execution
  • Early involvement of communities with customers, partners, user groups …, incorporation of feedback, and a lot of good documentation.
  • Customer support and partner support is well received; especially the support of first customers by the RIG and from development.

The rapid speed of innovation in digital business demands for an early involvement of partners and customers in short feedback cycles. The mentor workshop is an important part of this cooperation. We decided to move forward with these workshops every half year with successively deeper drill down.