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Digital transformation is a broad-reaching change that includes people, technology, and processes from across a company to improve the customer and employee experiences and make the company more robust and productive.

Since many systems can be affected while making this change, dependencies must be efficiently handled. Organizational agility has therefore become essential for a successful transformation. The potential transition scenarios for orchestrating change through SAP S/4HANA are explored in this article, along with a systematic approach to doing so in a way that enables seamless digital transformation.

SAP S/4HANA for Digital Transformation

SAP S/4HANA, the successor to SAP ECC, provides the "digital core" for business activities using SAP HANA, SAP’s in-memory database. But a shift to S/4HANA alone may not provide the kind of value required to justify a significant infrastructure investment, nor will it guarantee a successful digital transformation. In order to acquire funding and staffing and manage the delivery risk inherent in a transformation project, it's vital to evaluate and design a migration approach that will produce immediate benefits.

At Applexus, we summarize your Digital Transformation in this picture:

Source: Applexus Technologies, Inc.

Digital Transformation

S/4HANA Digital Transformation Roadmap

While SAP S/4HANA is a game-changing technology, it requires more than just a successful implementation to provide true digital transformation. An organization should have a well-defined roadmap that considers the potential risks involved with change and provides a mitigation plan for those risks.

  1. Prepare for the transformation

S/4HANA digital transformation might be overwhelming if an organization is unprepared, as SAP S/4HANA has the potential to drastically alter a company's procedures, work culture, and IT infrastructure. As a result, it is critical to devise a strategy in advance for dealing with those shifts.

  1. Chart your business processes

Mapping existing business processes early on helps to ensure a successful S/4HANA implementation and avoid running into problems later.  To adapt SAP S/4HANA to meet a company’s business process requirements, the capabilities of the software should be matched to defined process requirements. Early business process mapping can assist in identifying process requirements that align with SAP S/4HANA's features or that need to be modified to support industry, brand or unique processes.

  1. Devise a strong change management strategy

Since SAP S/4HANA has the potential to change the way an organization functions, it is important to identify the scope of changes to technology, business processes, and work culture, and develop a robust change management strategy to help ensure a smooth transition. A company's readiness to change, communication, training, and transition plan should be evaluated as part of the strategy.

  1. Prepare for a cultural shift

Transformative technologies such as SAP S/4HANA can cause a cultural shift, which is sometimes overlooked during the planning stage. For organizations at the beginning of their digital maturity curve, adopting a real-time, data-driven work style by determining the scope of a cultural shift can help to ease the transition.

  1. Form a Center of Excellence

Creating a Center of Excellence (CoE) is a good way to enable continuous improvement and to develop new capabilities for the future. An SAP S/4HANA CoE with cross-functional participation can help a company maximize the technology's potential by identifying new requirements and possibilities.

The above approach can be a starting point to provide structure to a business transformation and help to determine when and how to shift to S/4HANA and how to adjust the level of detail for each activity based on business and infrastructure context.

Drive value through change

Your SAP S/4HANA strategy & roadmap is critical for building a solid foundation for future process and S/4HANA application landscapes. S/4HANA can deliver value by supporting improved decision-making, providing a clear vision and defining the steps required to make digital transformation a reality.

My company has found that no single transition scenario will fit every situation.  A mix and match approach should be used to create your Digital Transformation roadmap that meets your objectives around time to value, cost and ability to change.  This should be developed in parallel to the preparation steps listed above and provide you with the foundation to have a RunningStart into your Digital Transformation.
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