Customer Story: How to explore the New SAP World

What does my ERP reality look like under S/4HANA? Will my old business processes and data structures fit into the new SAP world at all? Only the practical real test provides tangible answers - in the new S/4 Playground.

The meeting with the major German automotive supplier had been arranged for a long time. But we didn't expect the small meeting room to be so full. We're sitting in the conference room with five IT managers, plus two additional colleagues from the Finance and Logistics departments. The meeting seems to be very important to our hosts. "We're at a dead end, we can't go any further," moans the CIO right after the welcoming round. The first steps towards S/4HANA have already been taken, including a preliminary study. But without success. Reliable findings? Nothing. But there are now long lists with rather vague statements about the readiness of the central ERP system. But for the CIO it would be more important to know whether S/4 in the current version is already ready for the own process world. Key user tests with a S/4HANA Trial System in the SAP Cloud were also carried out. But the little voyage of discovery ended very quickly. Reason: The preconfigured processes and the test data are miles away from practice. The central question remains unanswered: What does it actually look like, my reality under S/4?

Test End-To-End Processes with your own Master Data

What is needed is a realistic test environment, i.e. a S/4HANA playground. So that our customer can carry out end-to-end processes with his own master data, discover new functionalities with realistic test data or test Fiori Apps in realistic scenarios. One of the SAP responsible also asks: "Do we still need the custom developments and installed add-ons that have grown dynamically over the years? And besides the operational readiness of their own processes and developments, the customer also wants to give their own key users the opportunity to continue their S/4 voyage of discovery. This time with their own data in their own process world, with new functionalities, such as SAP CoPilot or new UI5 apps, and thus experience concrete added value. Because one thing's for sure: Taking key users on board early on the way to S/4HANA is certainly one of the most important success factors. A new generation of software is usually like a black box for users. There are reservations and a lack of basic knowledge. To resist something you don't know is human. Once those users have executed through real processes in S/4 and lost their shyness for the new, their interest grows. And this creates a positive momentum which also facilitates the alignment between business and IT later on. 

"But how do you get to such a playground? " asks the CIO. The readiness check that has already been carried out has at least clearly shown one thing: a complete system copy with subsequent conversion to S/4HANA is not possible at all due to thousands of customer developments and incompatible add-ons. In addition, there would be significant hardware sizing. The solution: Using the special software cbs Enterprise Transformer® we transfer the current customizing as well as the master data of representative company codes into a new, empty SAP ECC6 system. Selected transaction data, such as stocks or sales orders, are also transferred as required. Since the business partners required for S/4 are not yet available, we also generate them. With the subsequent migration to the HANA database, the newly created ECC6 system is now ready for conversion to S/4.

The conversion is carried out by experienced consultants and also includes the necessary preparation and post conversion activities. This includes the adjustment for the material ledger, which is mandatory under S/4HANA, or the new asset accounting. Subsequently, the customer's individual S/4 playground is handed over to the customer. The entire project only takes three months. The effort for the customer remains low. The effort essentially consists of participating in the kick-off workshop, data validation tasks and coordinating some basis activities. 

First Customer Experiences with the Playground

Half a year after handing over the system our customer is still using it to test new technologies or UI5 apps. One of the biggest surprises for the automotive supplier: a large portion of the core processes can also run without own customer developments in S/4HANA. Further advantages: Those responsible now have a much better feeling for the magnitude of the S/4 switchover, for the upcoming changes and all related issues. A different awareness of S/4 has developed in all areas. After making some interesting discoveries while approaching S/4HANA, users, in particular, are more interested in switching to the new SAP product. And: On the playground, the in-depth testing of new functionalities is also possible. A good basis for prototyping. 

Repository Objects Become S/4 Compatible

Another important goal of the customer is the analysis and selective adoption of customer developments. This is where the software lifecycle management functions of the cbs ET help us. Software-supported evaluations help us to find out which developments are still being used. Once the relevant reports have been identified, the "ET Environment Analysis" is used. This determines all associated tables, domains, function groups, and other repository objects that are required for a consistent transfer. These repository objects are then transferred to the target system and made S/4HANA compatible. Ideally, the programs are adapted in coaching mode in order to prepare the client's developers for the S/4 journey. 

From Playground to System Future 2020+

At the end of the meeting, there is an interesting question: "Can fun actually become serious?" asks the CIO. His co-workers look irritated. We know what he means. The S/4-Playground as starting point and basis for the new target system, which is still to be developed, is quite conceivable. Even if it is only a test system: adapted processes, transferred data, and completed changes can be transferred 1:1 into the later reality. Duplicate work can thus be avoided. So the answer is yes! The playground can become the system future 2020+, which saves time, money and resources.