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RISE with SAP, three years on: Our top lessons learned

Whether you’ve started your RISE journey or are considering it, a trusted partner is crucial to avoid pitfalls, navigate challenges, and ensure a realistic timeline for maximum benefits.
5 minutes read
Robert  Miller


Robert Miller
Senior Vice President, Head of SAP Practice EMEA
5 minutes read
RISE with SAP, three years on: Our top lessons learned

Three years ago, SAP launched what they billed as a “milestone” or “revolutionary” new offering: RISE with SAP. It promised an accelerated – and simplified – move to the cloud, bundling SAP S/4HANA cloud software and infrastructure and cloud services into a single commercial package. Its evolution as an offering has since included new financial incentives and support mechanisms, and hosting options from full SaaS (Public Cloud Edition) to its own Data Center Option. It is now the cornerstone of SAP’s cloud-first strategy.

If you are like many of our SAP customers moving to SAP S/4HANA, you are likely also considering RISE with SAP, Private Cloud Edition (PCE). Our experience, both as an implementation partner and as an early adopter of RISE – we were the first GSSP partner to go-live with RISE for our own transformation (on a single global instance) – is that few customer teams are prepared for the practical realities of contracting and deploying such a complex service. Further, not fully understanding what RISE is – and isn’t – at the time of signing will undoubtedly have a knock-on effect on your implementation.

To make sure your ride is as smooth as possible, what follows are some key lessons we’ve learned during three years with RISE.

Lesson 1: Engage with a trusted advisor early in the evaluation process

If there is one action to take away from this blog, it’s this: Make sure you have an experienced partner alongside you during the RISE pre-sales process. Do not go it alone.

Remember that with RISE, you are getting a single contract with SAP for software and a number of bundled services – many of which will be delivered by third parties or your own teams. Fully understanding exactly who is responsible for what takes time and may not always align with your assumptions. (Now is definitely not the time to lose your Basis team.) For instance, under RISE, SAP will handle only the basic operation of the SAP system. This means that your team will still be responsible for some aspects of running and maintaining the system, though in some cases with quite different roles and responsibilities.

It’s very important that the new remit for your infrastructure or Basis team is understood at a granular level. Anticipate that a level of change management and communications will be needed as you transition to RISE. Not all of your previously-negotiated terms will be available. Therefore your teams will also need to have a clear understanding of their responsibilities for the entire journey – from setting up environments to operating and maintaining the system.

This is where an experienced partner can really add value. Keep a trusted advisor on your side to help you untangle who will own operational tasks, which services are standard, which are “optional” and to help you understand what your post-RISE operating model will look like.

Lesson 2: Make sure you fully understand the Bill of Materials (BOM)

Related to the above point, again it will pay to have a trusted advisor on board to help you understand and validate SAP’s BOM. Time and again, we’ve found that customers have agreed to a BOM that doesn’t fully meet requirements or align to their implementation scope.

Our advice here is simple: Don’t overestimate the maturity of your own teams when it comes to understanding and having a plan for leveraging the packages and services you are going to get with RISE. Again, your teams will be entering into unfamiliar territory. RISE with SAP is not SAP-as-you’ve-known it. Rather, think of it as a platform for future growth and innovation, leveraging a range of new technologies. Your legacy system is not, and should not be, your baseline going in.

Let’s take SAP BTP as an example. The great news is that SAP BTP is included in the RISE bundle. It will be a worthwhile investment for your team to take the time to understand its full potential, as you will need to develop a strategy and approach for using SAP BTP as part of your continuous improvement journey.

Here is where an experienced partner can help. Partners can provide real insight into use cases and innovations, as well as bring offerings that will help you best exploit the capabilities of the new platform. Their experience will be invaluable as you start to plan your journey. If possible under your procurement rules (and for some public sector procurements, this might be difficult or impossible), our advice is to engage early with a trusted SI to help educate your team about new capabilities and help with BOM validation.

Lesson 3: Be clear on all technical dependencies

When you start your RISE migration journey, be aware that there are certain foundational steps that will need to be sorted out upfront – including identifying technical dependencies, network connectivity and environment setup. You will need a partner with a good relationship with SAP to make sure all of this runs as seamlessly as possible and, importantly, is built into the plan.

Lesson 4: Consider RISE with SAP holistically

It is very important to remember that RISE is more than just a cloud offering for ERP. You will need to approach RISE holistically and not just as a question of where you are going to host SAP S/4HANA and what kind of performance it is likely to deliver.

In other words, you’ll need to approach your decision with RISE – and your system requirements – from a very different perspective. This is not about just lifting and shifting your infrastructure, applications and business processes to cloud. It’s also about considering your wider SAP environment, and which other SAP solutions also need to be migrated, such as HCM, SRM, PI/PO, etc., that are also approaching end of life. This means you need to carefully evaluate the overall RISE and non-RISE services being contracted – and perhaps most importantly, evaluate your operating model in relation to the benefits offered by RISE.

Think of RISE as a new system and not just an enhanced version of your legacy SAP. You’ll need to consider what RISE will mean across your SAP landscape, how it will work with your HR suite, what it means from an integration perspective, how much SAP BTP usage you’re likely to require or whether you’ll leverage other solutions for automation and extensibility. In addition, you might also consider other SAP solutions such as SuccessFactors, Concur and Ariba, as RISE packages that include additional BTP capabilities like process automation, SAP Build Apps, Process intelligence, Datasphere and Analytics Cloud for planning.

Again, an experienced partner can help here, including helping you to evaluate what each hyperscaler offers you, so that you can leverage the right technology and services on the back end.

Lesson 5: You will see benefits from RISE with SAP

The good news is that, once you get over these challenges and get up and running on RISE, your experience is likely to be very positive.

We’ve found that go-live tends to be a non-event, or, as one of our consultants joked, is “just another day.” Once up and running, we’ve seen up time averages exceeding 99.99% — so availability of the environment is definitely there. And RISE with SAP does in fact offer organizations the chance to simplify operations and reduce costs. You will also have the benefits of standardization and the ability to innovate quicker.

Think of RISE as a “success solution,” a true platform that is going to grow and evolve with you while keeping your core clean and avoiding many of the issues associated with legacy IT. RISE with SAP, when seen in its most positive light, is a chance for your organization to reinvent itself, how it does business, what its target business model should be and how your IT organization should operate – now that teams are no longer weighed down by the big anchor that is legacy technology.


Whether or not you’ve already started on a RISE journey – or are still considering its benefit to your organization – we can’t emphasize enough the need for you to have a trusted, flexible partner along for the ride. They can help you avoid common pitfalls and navigate any hidden ones that arise due to your own unique situation. They can also help you plan a realistic implementation timeline and broader roadmap to ensure that your organization fully reaps the benefits that this investment promises.

And to us, that is what success looks like.

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