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During this blog series, we established “Transforming your business is key” as one of the leading themes. Today I would like to introduce you to two customer examples that perfectly balance the two flip sides of the same digital transformation coin: The fast lane and unprecedented time to value with commodity processes on one side, and agile and fail forward adoption of differentiating processes on the other side.

But enterprises cannot adopt numerous business processes in a “one size fits all” approach.


Commodity Processes

A commodity is a basic good or process used that has common characteristics and is not customized or tailored. It could be interchangeable between companies. The quality and detailing of a commodity may differ slightly, but it is essentially uniform across companies.

We embody a commodity as a theme of “running the company” in the most efficient way.

Commodity processes are addressed:

  • By building on past experience derived from past analytics

  • By ensuring continuity while increasing efficiency

  • By anticipating challenges of the well-known business – making heavy use of intelligence technology to automate and generate efficiency gains

  • Where customers strive for operational excellence – standardizing as much as possible but keeping features that are significant value drivers for customers differentiated.


Differentiating Processes

The flip side of standardization are differentiating processes. It is important to actively recognize or ascertain what makes someone or something different and brings value. This is a highly desired state for companies targeting a digital transformed economy.

Here we also leverage intelligence to generate insights and re-imagine existing standards, business processes and models and ultimately, drive effectiveness.

Disruptive technologies are leveraged to challenge the de-facto standard and target new products and services, with direct effect on the top line at best. The battle ground is where companies want to stand out, boost employee productivity, and empower their developers to build innovative apps in an agile manner. This is an extremely important ingredient of the overall transformation journey.

The SAP Business Technology Platform is the integration and extension platform that offers all required capabilities.


Customer Example 1: Optimize the Mobile Workforce Across the Park


I would like to share a customer example from a world-famous leisure park operator with you.

Over time, operational deficiencies had crept into the organization, affecting street and office workers alike – and eventually, also guests.

While the core operations and finance backend were already built on SAP S/4HANA Cloud, the largely mobile workforce was running forms on paper to register activities and create tasks or follow-ups. The staff had become overwhelmed with time-consuming administrative functions because nobody explored opportunities to incorporate the very specific and highly customized workforce tasks across the park into an overall experience strategy.

Another challenge was the emergency concept. In case of an animal breach, it had been expected of the employees to simply race to a workstation or to pick up a phone to try and send out a message without any defined process.

Being empowered to spend the maximum percentage of working hours on the job would be far more productive than having to chase down a manager every time they needed to have a requisition physically signed off.

To address this issue right away, the company partnered with SAP to develop a mobile application to unify and simplify the employee experience, improving employee engagement on incidents and notifications.

Now if there is an animal breach, someone can simply open the app, click a button and it immediately issues an alert via email to all users – something the Jurassic Park founders would have loved to have.

Employees are getting visibility into incidents and notifications. But beyond that, digitizing its core processes at the same time, including finance, procurement, payroll, and human resources. The new cloud application “STAX” simplifies the employee experience with a single point of entry into all core business applications.

With SAP S/4HANA Cloud at the core, strictly running on best practices and implemented in record-breaking speed, the customer added all its differentiating processes fully flexible and highly scalable on SAP´s PaaS offering.

Both sides come together for greater experience, taking full advantage of available data to improve operations and expand their impact:

  • A central, scalable digital core and intelligent ERP system with SAP S/4HANA Cloud

  • Interactive dashboards and reports with embedded analytics across the business using SAP Analytics Cloud

  • A unified mobile and desktop experience, enhanced security, and accelerated integration using the SAP Portal service

  • Central Content and custom data store

  • Seamless connection to the data center and other cloud SAP and third-party applications

  • Transition from paper-based processes to digital workflows across functions and systems using the SAP Workflow Management service


Customer Example 2: Digitizing Existing Customized Processes

Let´s look at a French multinational food-products corporation.

The company has taken a leadership role in global environmental stewardship and has established “planet” KPIs focused on reducing energy consumption, increasing green energy sourcing, increasing recycling rates, composting, reducing carbon impact, and improving water conservation and compliance.

They faced a challenge to transform their traditional way of approval processes into a new, digitized world of auto-tracking and auto-approval opportunities. There was a missing link to track these measures.

Projects would get potentially rejected and delayed without visibility into the company’s planet KPIs. A Business Technology Platform based solution will now track each of these measures throughout the approval process, making it easy for reviewers and approvers during each step to gain the required insights. Furthermore, projects and their impact can be rolled up and viewed by important dimensions such as location, division, and region.

The previous process forced reviewers and approvers to switch between multiple screens and systems, memorizing codes and numbers when switching over, and left them to take educated decisions without proper information.

Executives did not access the system directly, rather they had assistants track down missing information and use the desktop front-end. A huge win of the simplification is a personal executive approver access, running all in one from a mobile app.

The old system and process could not reflect the everchanging structure of the transforming business. Previously, supply and demand were local to each business unit and country. Increasingly though, there were more synergies across business units. Spain, for example, may need to do an investment in the factory that will serve France and Germany. That workflow was technically impossible to implement in the old system. Email became the de-facto medium to manage discussion and prepare a “pressing the button” approach. The objectives they achieved are:

  • The investments with the highest impact on the business and the planet values are prioritized

  • Faster decision making for projects and large investments

  • Easy to use on mobile devices so that approvers/reviewers see, validate, and approve investments quickly

  • One source of truth for all CAPEX requests to provide financial visibility and transparency

  • Departments that own the approval process can change workflow steps and business rules without involvement from IT, empowering the business.

I hope the two examples showed you the compatibility of differentiating processes and commodity processes with a digitized core and a strong PaaS approach.


Follow us via @Sap and #S4HANA, or myself via @SDenecken


Inside SAP S/4HANA Podcast

As always, I would like to encourage you to subscribe to our podcast “Inside SAP S/4HANA”. This podcast leverages the unique knowledge and expertise of SAP S/4HANA product experts, partners, and customers to address your needs by sharing product insights and project best practice. There is no customer success without product success and project success; we help you get to the next level and make your SAP S/4HANA projects a success. Subscribe now and benefit from the shared knowledge.


openSAP microlearnings for SAP S/4HANA

Just a couple of months ago, we launched openSAP microlearnings for SAP S/4HANA as an exciting new learning opportunity. What began with a small batch of 20 videos, has now become a channel with more than 50 microlearnings that have generated over 20,000 views since then. Today we cover multiple lines of business, like Finance and Manufacturing & Supply Chain, and key technology topics like Master Data Management, Extensibility, User Experience, and Upgrade Management. We are continuously adding new microlearnings to the SAP S/4HANA channel, so make sure you check them out.


Your Voice Matters!

If you want to learn more and actively engage with SAP subject matter experts on SAP S/4HANA Cloud, join our SAP S/4HANA Cloud Community – now fully integrated with SAP Community. The community brings together SAP S/4HANA Cloud customers, partners and SAP experts and has a clear mission: deliver an interactive community to engage with one another about best practices and product solutions. We invite you to explore the new SAP S/4HANA Cloud Community ‘one-stop shop’ as the central place for all resources, tools, content questions, answers and connect with experts to guide you through your SAP S/4HANA Cloud journey.


For more information on SAP S/4HANA Cloud, check out the following links: 

  • The power of best-in-class and Next Practices business content for a modern ERP blog post

  • SAP S/4HANA Cloud: The Intelligent ERP blog post

  • SAP S/4HANA Cloud: New Product Releases here

  • Latest SAP S/4HANA Cloud Release blog posts here

  • SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation Content here

  • SAP S/4HANA Cloud release info: http://www.sap.com/s4-cloudrelease

  • SAP S/4HANA PSCC Digital Enablement Wheel here

  • Inside SAP S/4HANA Podcast here

  • SAP S/4HANA Cloud Community here

  • SAP Activate Community here

  • Best practices for SAP S/4HANA Cloud here

  • Help Portal Product Page here


Follow us via @Sap and #S4HANA, or myself via @SDenecken