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Is a Fully Remote Digital Transformation Possible in the Middle of a Pandemic?  

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  • A key focus of Atea’s digital transformation journey is the standardization and simplification of business processes, technology, and governance to drive better efficiency and business agility. One key step in the transformation was to implement a new ERP solution and use this as a catalyst to accelerate needed business transformation.

    When Cognitus stepped into an S/4Hana implementation for Atea, one of Europe’s largest IT infrastructure companies, it was clear this was a special project. Not only does Atea have a large and complex implementation with numerous custom processes, but, due to the COVID19 crisis, all work had to be completed in a fully remote environment, using consultants they’d never met before and who had never visited the client’s site. The question was, could it be pulled off?

    Atea employs over 7,000 people across 7 countries and is internationally recognized for its IT infrastructure services. This includes hardware and software services such as data centers, software, printers, and services management, and consulting.

    In Urgent Need of Digitization

    When Atea began the implementation from non-SAP to GreenField S/4Hana, time was a crucial factor. Atea was running a large digital footprint thanks to numerous non-standardized processes and a large system landscape. This created a complex environment – mostly reflecting various acquisitions, which led to reduced Business agility and transformation speed. So Atea also wanted to consolidate its business processes, adopting SAP standard. The goal was to create traceability and transparency; minimizing overhead while maintaining security and regulatory compliance.

    A Fully Remote Digital Transformation

    When Cognitus took over Atea’s digital transformation, headed by our S/4Hana program manager and solution architect Andrea Cipriani, it was taking over from a previous implementation partner. The initial scoping took place at the height of the pandemic, in 2021. Andrea and project manager Marc Ulbrich stepped in to evaluate the full project and to create an implementation plan which would meet Atea’s aim to drive process standardization to the furthest extent possible. For example, with a broad scope of processes, significant preparation had to be done to perform work according to S/4Hana best practices.

    However, with all work being completed remotely, Andrea and his team had to tackle the nearly unprecedented task of getting to know Atea, its processes, and its unique needs without ever setting foot in the organization. Andrea and team had to create a process to ensure good collaboration and data integrity in a fully remote environment. It was essential that ATEA’s implementation retain the data and integrity of its very custom ERP – which presented a significant challenge.

    Building Solutions and Implementing Digitization

    Following virtual onboarding, the digitization project quickly moved up to speed. Andrea led the project to manage handover, which involved learning Atea’s specific and highly custom business processes, onboarding the full project team in a virtual environment, and managing workloads digitally. This aspect of the project was remarkably successful, with the full team showing versatility in working in new ways. While the previous implementation partner was almost fully Swedish, they now have a fully international team, working in English.

    Andrea and his team then introduced a structured methodology, the S/4Hana Standard Activate. The goal was to ensure full governance with a solution manager and to ensure full documentation of the project and the full solution using Activate best practices for business processes. Atea’s complex process also meant bringing in more consultants.

    Moving Forward

    Today, Cognitus has completed the exploratory phase for Atea. Andrea and his team are in the process of using the results of the Explore phase to build the SAP solution, with rollout intended for Q4 of 2022. That process will involve rigorous testing to ensure it’s a good fit for the company and meets the majority of business requirements.

    While the project is still fully remote, the team first met with Atea in October of 2021. However, complex, remote project has given Cognitus and Atea the chance to broaden horizons and outlook – to bring in diverse opinions from different parts of the world, and to work together to build better solutions. Most importantly, Cognitus looks forward to delivering a strong solution to Atea in Q4 2022.

    Learn more about ATEA here

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