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SAP Activate Methodology for SAP S/4HANA deployment

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In today’s fast-changing, competitive landscape, pre-defining a fixed scope across a multi-year SAP® implementation can result in an implementation that does not meet client expectations. For many organizations, this results in extensive customizations, schizoid-integrations ultimately lead to a nightmarish experience.

On the contrary, the agile variable-scope approach allows you to adapt to changes, risks, dependencies and feedback while still delivering working software on schedule. You manage risk by ensuring that the teams always work on the highest-value features first. When the unexpected happens—as per Murphy's laws, it always does though ("If anything can go wrong, it will"), you’ll still have delivered the highest-value features.

SAP S/4HANA Capabilities

SAP S/4HANA is an integrated ERP solution run on SAP HANA, SAP’s in-memory database. SAP S/4HANA offers organizations and users a wide range of capabilities that help them perform business processes.

SAP S/4HANA provides users with the ability to perform process automation, supported by multiple intelligent technologies such as robotic process automation and artificial intelligence. SAP S/4HANA also creates opportunities for better and quicker decision-making with embedded analytics, as well as enabling faster answers with conversational interfaces and digital assistants.

SAP S/4HANA applies various modern technologies to existing functionality to create new, digitally based business practices. And with SAP sunsetting its legacy ERP suite in 2027, now is the perfect time to make the move to SAP S/4HANA. Enter SAP Activate.

SAP Activate

SAP Activate was introduced at SAPPHIRE in 2015; it was created to provide the guidance users need to complete their system transformation. SAP Activate can be used by companies looking to deploy SAP S/4HANA, SAP SuccessFactors, and data warehousing products, among other solutions. Using a three-pillar structure of SAP guided configuration, SAP best practices, and methodology, SAP Activate aims to simplify implementation processes and help users build strong landscapes.

SAP Activate continuously provides support throughout the entire SAP S/4HANA transition and offers details for running and operating the solution beyond the moment your system goes live

The New SAP Activate Methodology is the first Agile and S4/HANA focused Methodology for SAP projects. Learn from our global top SAP experts with more than 20 years of working SAP experience how to become an expert in the Methodology and enable you to use the Agile Methodology on your SAP project immediately.

SAP provides just the optimum content and tools in SAP Activate, innovation as a service, that enables customers to maintain agility and achieve their solution deployment objectives. SAP Activate is available to all customers and contains prescriptive guidance in SAP Activate methodology, ready-to-use business processes in SAP Model Company / SAP Best Practices and flexible apps for configuration, data migration, extensibility, integration, and testing. SAP Activate leverages the pre-configuration to drive fast time to value by executing fit-to-standard workshops to determine the delta requirements to tailor the solution to customer needs. Then agile approach is followed to implement the required deltas iteratively and rapidly. Activate continues to support SAP customers in on-going innovation of their solution as they receive regular software release upgrades and adopt new functionality.

Figure 1 – SAP Activate lifecycle phases and key activities

SAP continuously invests in keeping the SAP Activate in step with the latest release of the SAP S/4HANA. Implementation guidance for SAP S/4HANA and SAP S/4HANA Cloud is updated regularly with major updates shipped with each software release and minor updates shipped regularly (for our cloud guidance it is every other week). This ensures that the guidance in SAP Roadmap Viewer and ready-to-run business processes in SAP Best Practices Explorer are always up to date.

When customer’s feedback on SAP Activate Methodology, with the following benefits:

  • SAP Activate was helpful in guiding the implementation.
  • The documentation on the Roadmap Viewer and the Best Practices Explorer are always up to date.
  • Well documented SAP Activate and well followed by our partner
  • SAP Activate helped us turnaround a go-live for a smaller project in three months and we had no problems during the implementation.
  • SAP Activate is a methodology business use to perform SAP S/4HANA implementations.
  • It allows for a speedy system deployment and applies principles that enable an organization to adopt new capabilities.
  • It supports business process innovation and is evolution-friendly, meeting the continuously growing needs of your business.

Figure 2 – SAP Activate methodology for SAP S/4HANA Cloud

SAP S/4HANA is an entirely new generation of transformed application, embracing the changes and adoption of innovation is one of the most important things for adopting S/4HANA. Your transformation project could be a complete failure if people in your organization are inadequately enabled to the changes and innovation S/4HANA introduces. This is where your OCM strategy can play a critical role along with the leadership team. OCM roadmap can formally set expectations, employ tools to improve communication and proactively seek ways to reduce misinformation and build trust into implementation journey. This way all stakeholders are more likely to buy into a change initially and remain committed.

Organizational Change Management (OCM) (Click on the link) <> A KEYSTONE 

Fig: Organization Change Management (OCM) Roadmap for S/4HANA Cloud

Despite best practice in implementation methodologies and deep subject matter expertise, many SAP S/4HANA projects “fail” miserably. So, why is that? IT projects do not only affect the technical infrastructure in a company, they also bring changes to established business processes, organizational structures, employee ways of working and interactions with customers and business partners. This makes it imperative to learn how professional advisory from company like APTWORKS on Organizational Change Management (OCM) can make your project a success and speed accelerate your return on investment (ROI).

Inconsistent business adoption and low returns from major investments in technology have been common historically despite the best efforts of project teams. Recent studies continue to point to an underwhelming return from IT projects and many of the business leaders that we talk about their SAP S/4HANA initiatives are still finding it difficult to get the business value they expected from a very significant investment of money and resources.

If you are still having problems realizing the business potential of SAP S/4HANA despite having developed a best practice solution and nailed the data and integration challenges on your project, then your problems are probably rooted in a lack of focus on business engagement and business change.
With challenging timescales and lean resources, it is easy for a project team to focus on the technology and solution critical path, to underestimate or ignore the impacts of SAP S/4HANA implementation on business operations and as a result underinvest in managing business change. But even a ‘lift and shift’ brownfield migration to SAP S/4HANA can bring big changes to existing ways of working and if you are taking the opportunity of the move to SAP S/4HANA to harmonize processes across diverse business units, like many of our clients are doing right now, the impact is significant and the business risks real. This kind of project is really hard to work in most ways and needs careful business change planning and real business involvement to manage the impact, ensure a safe transition, achieve effective adoption and mitigate the potential risks for business continuity.

Outlined are  measures that you can take to start to meet the business change challenges of your SAP S/4HANA implementation project, improve the balance in your delivery approach and achieve better business results from your investment in ERP.

Measure 1: Develop Great Sponsors

Time and time again proactive sponsorship comes top of the list in what makes the difference between success and failure in complex change projects. You reap what you sow, so invest in project time and effort in identifying, engaging and coaching the business leaders who can swing their business area behind your SAP initiative, resource and support the project and local change teams and focus the attention of busy operational managers (your extended change team) on business readiness and adoption of SAP S/4HANA.

Measure 2: Manage Business Readiness

A successful implementation of SAP S/4HANA needs two things, a quality solution, and a well-prepared business. Reaching benefits realization targets is nearly impossible without these two sides of the delivery equation. Projects do not leave critical path activities like testing or data migration to chance, so why neglect business readiness? If you understand the business impact of your project, know what business readiness means in terms of outcomes and apply the same kind of rigour to business preparations that you would apply to any other activity on the critical path, you are travelling on the road to benefits success.

Measure 3: Invest in Training and Performance Support

Most IT project managers understand the consequences of a solution that does not meet the business requirement or is not tested properly, but they tend to think less hard about the impact that low budget and poor quality training and performance support has on user adoption and operational performance. Competent and confident users who are well supported are quickly self-sufficient, enabling safe transitions to new roles and fast and effective adoption of new ways of working. So think beyond Go Live and invest wisely in training and performance support to put in place some of the key drivers of benefits realization. Your operational colleagues will have enduring gratitude.

Measure 4: Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Actually, don’t. do tsunami of poor or generic communications is likely to reduce stakeholder confidence and deflate any early enthusiasm for a project just as much as no communication at all. Know what you want to achieve with each of your communications and engagement campaigns and deliver targeted, high value communications that are in step with the project lifecycle. If you get the right information to the right stakeholders at the right time and stay alert to feedback, you will be surprised at the levels of enthusiasm and ownership you can inspire.

Measure 5: Pull Organizational Design out of the ‘Too Difficult’ Draw

Obviously if a Target Operating Model has been discussed and agreed before a project starts, this is hugely beneficial (like an early Xmas present for the project team!) as it informs and guides so many aspects of delivery. But you don’t have to redraw the operational world to make a big impact on the success of an SAP S/4HANA project. Give smaller organizational design issues some air and try to make sure that decisions, such as which business unit owns what function, what services (if any) will be collocated, who will own data or processes and how will they be managed, are made early. Fast, inclusive decisions on organizational design, reduce noise, increase clarity and let delivery and business teams move forward effectively. Certainty has significant value.

The above measures are based on some of the key themes in Aptworks’ approach to Organizational Change Management (OCM). Our approach has been developed from our experience of delivery success and the OCM tools and methods that we know work on SAP S/4HANA projects.

We believe that OCM is not a “nice-to-have” but an important discipline that is at the heart of all SAP S/4HANA projects that deliver against their business objectives.
If you are interested in finding out how to make your SAP S/4HANA projects more successful, please get in touch. We would be delighted to tell you more.

Knowledge Works:

  1. Implementing SAP S/4HANA: A Framework for Planning and Executing SAP S/4HANA (Click on the link - Request for access)
  2. Manage Your SAP Projects with SAP Activate (Click on the link - Request for access)
  3. Emotional Intelligence for Managing SAP Projects (pw: Aptworks(Click on the link)