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On November 3rd 2021, the Middle East customer community had the privilege of listening to 3 separate customer accounts on their S/4HANA transformation journeys. The 3 testimonies allowed for the audience to walk in other customer shoes, understand the ‘behind the scenes’ of some of the key decisions taken along their SAP S/4HANA transformation.







SAP Services prepared the 3 speakers with an SAP S/4HANA decision framework, which crystalizes some of the key decision IT executives take when embarking on such a transformation. The discussion allowed the SAP services teams and the other attending customers to practice empathy and understand the drivers behind some of the most relevant and difficult decisions. We hope that the insight from the panel discussion helps other customers in their SAP S/4HANA transformation journey

The Panelists

The 3 IT executives who participated in panel, were both at very different stages in their journey and had adopted different conversion strategies




















Mansour Al Rebdi 

Information Technology Head at SPIMACO.

SPIMACO is a leader in the regional pharmaceutical market listed as a Saudi Joint Stock company (SPIMACO ADDWAEIH).

While SPIMACO is an early regional adopter of SAP ERP (2001), it is at early stages of its SAP S/4HANA transformation journey.

 


Richard Emmott

Chief Technology Officer at TROLLEY

TROLLEY is a Kuwaiti chain of convenience stores founded in 2010 catering to the niche markets at private universities and malls before making its way to the gas stations (trolley.com.kw).

TROLLEY is in the middle of its transformation taking a conservative approach to limit risk and maximize store adoption


Ammar Al Omani

IT Application Associate Director at Red Sea development company

The Red Sea Project is being created as a unique, luxury tourism destination that will embrace nature, culture and adventure, setting new standards in sustainable development and positioning Saudi Arabia on the global tourism map (Home | The Red Sea Development Company).

RED SEA DEVELOPMENT COMPANY (RED SEA) is already live with S/4HANA having taken a green field approach as a new SAP customer .

 

Key decisions

  • Discovery workshop or not?


While we encourage the reader to listen to the panel discussion to get the individualized testimonials of the panelist, organizing a discovery workshop was unanimously agreed by all 3. Why organize a Discovery workshop?

For Mr Emmot, understanding the “strategy and culture” are key ingredients to the transformation. The discovery workshop allows to create that alignment between the program stakeholders to support that Culture, which, in the case of TROLLEY is centered around delighting the customer through innovation.

Mr Alrebdi emphasized on getting sponsorship from the board and chairman. For SPIMACO deploying SAP S4/HANA is not just about technology but also about restructuring business models and supporting the 2030 vision. The discovery workshop allowed to also align the group strategy and IT while considering Life science industry trends and the pressure from regulatory authorities. He went on to explain that the discovery workshop was a powerful way to close the expectation gap between the strategic vision and technological capabilities. It’s clearly important for SPIMACO and MR Alrebdi to make sure the program stakeholders understand the program intentions and goal from day 1. Process agility and adoption were key themes addressed during the discovery workshops

In the case of RED SEA, the discovery workshops were broken down into 2 parts. During Step 1, Mr Al Omani addressed vision and expectation before introducing SAP in step 2 to present the transition. Similarly to SPIMACO, the IT organization was empowered by the group CEO to drive automation and transparency for the business with SAP S/4HANA as the baseline.

In all 3 cases, discovery workshops were crucial in planning the transition to onboard the organization and focus on change management.

  • Which transition plan: on premise or cloud?


For both Mr Emmot and Mr Al Omani, the choice of on premise or cloud was key and surprisingly straightforward. Mr Emmot described it even as a “simple decision”. While the current store environment is very successful, it was key for TROLLEY to move to the digital space. TROLLEY therefore elected for cloud with a platform approach. Mr Emmot started with the deployment of a clean core before extending with Cloud Microservices leveraging the SAP Business Technology platform in a phase 2. Also in terms of outsourcing, Mr Emmot made sure to contract key industry skills for adoption of retail best practices while sourcing locally some of the commodity skills.

Mr Al Omani saw the cloud as an opportunity to “hit many birds with one stone”: lower operations, better security, lower overheads, higher flexibility, increased collaboration while adopting leading practices in line with local security regulations.

  • Disruptive or Conservative?


For SPIMACO and Mr Alrebdi, the initial move to SAP ERP in 2001 was motivated by gaining a competitive edge and becoming and industry leader. The move the SAP S/4HANA is driven with the same goal: to support the next 30 years and move faster.

TROLLEY chose a more conservative approach in order to focus on the simplification of store operations. It is very important for Mr Emmot to enable store staff with a user friendly easy to adopt FIORI based interface. One of the program success criteria is to improve the customer journey with clean and real time information. The FIORI intuitive interface allowed for store staff to easily adopt the new processes empowering them to stay close to the customer and not spend time on back office operations. This approach allowed TROLLEY to address cultural change and win the hearts and minds of the program stakeholders rather than on function and feature.

  • How to manage custom code?


The management of custom code was the only technology specific key decision discussed by the panelists with Mr Al Omani recommending to challenge processes to adopt leading practices. While custom code was not addressed directly as RED SEA is adopting a green field approach as opposed to a conversion project like that of SPIMACO’s, Mr Al Omani was adamant in avoiding customizations to avoid unnecessary risks and Costs.

Mr Emmot and TROLLEY elected to start with a clean core with a plan to extend the core with platform based microservices. This approach is the SAP recommended approach to manage ‘customizations’ as it allows customers to easily adopt innovation with new releases having separated the extensions and the core.

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