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Evolution or Revolution: What is YOUR SAP Roadmap?

Evolution or Revolution: What is YOUR SAP Roadmap?
Paul Edwards - SAP Solutions Architect | July 23, 2018

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Change is the only constant. Be Agile. Deliver Business Value

As Bill McDermott, SAP’s CEO, said in his opening keynote speech at SAPPHIRE NOW 2018 in Orlando: “The pace of change has never been faster, and it will never be this slow again.” The level of expectations from the business on what IT can deliver – and how fast it should deliver it – are like never before.

The latest generation of solutions from SAP provides significant opportunities for organizations to simplify both their processes and system landscapes. I have been working in SAP for 20 years and as I came into the industry after the shift from R/2 to R/3, it is safe to say that the developments in the SAP product portfolio over the last few years are the biggest in my professional career.

The rise of the cloud both from a hosting and an application perspective, the quantum leap in terms of what is possible with mobility and connectivity, and the reengineering of core ERP courtesy S/4HANA indicate we are presented with huge opportunities which come with their own set of challenges.

The process of identifying the right solutions and target architecture is not straightforward. And, that is only a part of the solution you need to come up with. Unless you are fortunate enough to work for a start-up organization and have a blank sheet of paper in front of you, understanding how to get where you want to be from where you are at present is equally important.

The S/4HANA conversation is evolving and maturing

It sometimes seems like we’ve been talking about S/4HANA for years and in reality that is partially true. But what we’ve been talking about has definitely changed over the past few years.

The initial discussions were all around: “WHAT is S/4HANA?”

Once people had got their heads around this, the question shifted to WHY should I move to S/4HANA? This led people to start looking for benefits and building business cases.

But as we get closer to 2025, the end-of-support deadline for ”legacy” SAP products, the discussion changes to– WHEN should I move to S/4HANA instead of just being restricted to WHY the SAP product— S/4 HANA?

And as more and more organizations are on board with the need to move to S/4, and with the product itself becoming more mature and with 2025 fast approaching (at least for now) — the prime question that now dominates proceedings is, HOW can I move to S/4?

And that is the million dollar question in the SAP landscape.

It is tempting to frame this topic just in the context of S/4HANA and that is indeed how it is often discussed. But whilst S/4 is almost certainly the major component and usually lies at the heart of the matter, it cannot be considered in isolation.

The reality for most organizations is that their SAP system landscape includes multiple different applications such as CRM, SRM, and Enterprise Portal and not just ECC. What is clear, therefore, is that any SAP enablement roadmap must consider ALL the elements and not just ECC and S/4.

You need a framework to define your SAP journey

Based on our experiences over the past few years, we have developed a framework to follow a structured, repeatable, and proven process when assisting clients with a predefined roadmap.

Our framework doesn’t pretend to contain the answers – but by describing the topics that influence and drive the decisions, providing supporting information, best practices, lessons learned, and guidance on each, it can shape and guide the discussion ensuring that the ultimate outcome is robust and has taken all relevant aspects into consideration.

Our framework covers four domains:


  • Operating model - It is just as important to understand where you are starting from as where you are heading

    The first section is all about establishing a baseline of where you are now and where you want to head.

    The idea isn’t to get into too much detail – but get agreement around the fundamentals so that the rest of the exercise can be conducted within the appropriate boundaries while ensuring that everyone is working to a common set of facts.

  • Digital Strategy - Your business, technology, and implementation strategies must be aligned

    The decision as to whether to go greenfield (i.e., new implementation) or brownfield (i.e., migration) is one of the most important questions in the definition of an SAP roadmap. This decision is influenced by several factors relating to both the current state of your applications (are they aligned to your current enterprise structure, are they heavily customized, are they able to support changing business needs) and the future strategy and ambitions of your organization. The cost, timescales, and available benefits of each approach can also be significantly different.

    HCL has developed Bluefield™ to provide our clients with an alternative approach that delivers many of the benefits of greenfield but at a lower cost and within shorter timescales typically associated with a brownfield approach.

    But whilst this decision is important, it isn’t the only one to be made – and there are interdependencies among many of these.

  • Solution Impacts - The topics are common, but the impacts are specific to you

    There is a lot of information available about the deltas in functionality between “legacy” applications such as ECC, SRM, and CRM and their “successor” applications such as S/4, Ariba, and C/4HANA.

    But the key is to understand what that information means for you and your organization both in terms of IMPACT and OPPORTUNITIES.

    This is both an IT and a BUSINESS matter and both the angles need to be considered. In many cases, the most effective way of doing this is “hands on” via a proof of concept.

  • Delivery Capabilities - An agile transformation requires a cultural change

    The output of the framework assessment will be a set of projects and activities that may be larger and more complex than many organizations have undertaken in the recent past – especially if they have been running in a “steady state” mode for many years.

    What that means is that in addition to working out what you want to do, you need to ensure that you have the right skills, tools, and capabilities in place to be able to execute that plan.

So what is the answer?

Having used the framework to understand the various options available and the things that need to be considered, what can one conclude?

Well – once you have understood where you are starting from and what you are trying to achieve, understood the various options and approaches and agreed the underlying strategies you want to follow for your business, you can apply all of this to your current application portfolio and determine:

  • A clear vision of how your “to be” SAP landscape can support your “future state” business
  • An identified list of key impacts, opportunities, and business justifications
  • A roadmap for each of your SAP applications and application components
  • A high-level implementation plan sequenced to optimize time to value

If you would like to understand more about our SAP Enablement Framework and how it could help define your SAP Roadmap, please get in touch or check the details below for other ways of finding out more:

  • HCL Insight Webinar: “Evolution or Revolution: What is YOUR SAP Roadmap?” Thursday 26th July, 11 GMT Register now (or listen ‘on demand’ after the event).

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