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SAP HANA is the hot topic at SAP (with good reason) and your company may be thinking about making the leap towards SAP HANA. But where to start? You may be an existing SAP customer with SAP applications implemented or you may be completely new to SAP. Either way, SAP can help you plan out the appropriate roadmap for your use cases.

How is this done?  One successful approach is through the “Design To Value” or “D2V” method encouraged by SAP’s Global Center of Excellence for SAP HANA. This blog will explain the method for you.

Typically, the SAP HANA conversation begins with finding an executive sponsor. Usually, an “executive first” meeting (or meetings) is conducted between SAP and potential business sponsors to explain the high-level possibilities for transforming business process with SAP HANA. This is often a brief 15-minute to 30-minute meeting that showcases success stories at other customers and focuses on the business value. It is not a conversation about “bits and bytes” or technology.

The hoped-for outcome from these executive meetings is to schedule a Use Case Discovery workshop. These workshops are (free of charge and) conducted with your business influencers and IT support folks. The Use Case Discovery workshop is planned for one full day and the agenda includes (1) an introduction to SAP HANA technology, told at a level for business people; (2) a brainstorming session on potential use cases which are based on business pain points; and (3) a prioritization exercise to truly understand and map the urgency of the various use cases onto a roadmap.

Here’s an example of how this happens: I have been personally working with a military customer over the past number of months. This customer is a traditional SAP customer with both ERP and BW installed. One of the senior officers had a mandate to improve analytics in the organization and was keen on taking analysis to the next level to include predictive capability. After an executive meeting with him and also meetings with a wider audience of other officers to socialize the SAP HANA offering, we were granted permission to conduct a Use Case Discovery workshop.

We planned for a full day and multiple officers and civilian support personnel were invited to bring forward their business challenges. The attendees were given “homework” to think about the business challenges they faced which were impeded by technology limitations (i.e., processing speed, time to access data, limited tool sets, etc.). After an hour-long introduction to SAP HANA on the whiteboard to level-set their knowledge and to get them excited about the prospect, we began a number of hours of brainstorming. As facilitator in the room, I captured each potential use case/business challenge on a flip chart. We eventually had 10 use cases captured from procurement-based use cases all the way through recruitment use cases.

At the end of the day, we prioritized these use cases by evaluating each one across three dimensions: business value to the organization (will this bring in money or save money); business impact (will this have a wide-spread, positive impact on the organization); and feasibility – the true “litmus test” (can the organization actually accomplish this, given realistic (?) change management requirements).

The prioritization exercise is always enlightening for everyone as it often illuminates the true priorities of an organization rather than the presumed needs. And, in this case, it was no different for this customer.

Following the Use Case Discovery workshop, the customer decided on a particular use case they would like to prove out. The next logical step in the process is usually more technical workshops to delve deeper into the details and the customer gave us the opportunity to tour one of the military bases to understand the use case through “a day in the life” of the users. This was very insightful for everyone involved to further understand not only the specifics of the use case but also the urgency and importance.

A Proof of Value (prototype) was then built by SAP with the customer’s anonymized data to show case SAP HANA functionality and prove out the customer’s requirements.

The customer’s next step is now to promote the prototype and results achieved internally, to drive awareness and build support for the value. The customer will also (with the help of SAP) build a business case that proves the value of the solution through cost-savings.

Conclusion: it should be evident then that taking a step-wise approach to understanding the true business pain points and corresponding challenges, as the foundation for potential use cases for SAP HANA, is the first step in creating a made-to-order roadmap. The prioritization exercise is critical to mapping these use cases onto a roadmap to accommodate true priorities.

For many customers, implementing a small, but critical use case directly on native SAP HANA is the first step to proving the value of the SAP HANA platform. For other customers, a high-priority use case might be implementing SA PERP on HANA or moving BW to HANA, often for technical and performance reasons. Regardless of the use case chosen first, the Design to Value process can truly help you understand all the possibilities for SAP HANA in your organization and develop a prioritized roadmap for getting there.

If you’re interested in more information, please contact your SAP account team and ask about involving the Global Center of Excellence for SAP HANA in your decision process. We are happy to help!