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Designing S/4HANA Roadmaps

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  • Designing or planning S/4HANA implementation, adoption, and progression over time is a crucial part of implementation. But, for many organizations, the roadmap doesn’t go far enough.  

    Jos Romijn is a member of the EMEA Cognitus Board. He offered his input, based on work across dozens of ERP implementations, to define what makes a successful S/4HANA roadmap.  

    His takeaway? It’s the people not the technology that are your greatest bottleneck. If your roadmaps don’t incorporate change management for people, your transformation will falter or even fail.  

    Aligning IT and Business Roadmaps:

    IT strategies often define business capabilities, but, just as often, IT teams do things just to be doing them. For example, when they bring upgrades, new software, or new ERP to the business – it’s often with the intent of having that software. It might say “we’ll move from 40 to 9 SAP implementations over the next year, that will reduce costs”, but what does it do for the business?  

    An IT roadmap is crucial to align budgets, define how IT contributes to business goals, and how software and technology work to sustain the business roadmap for the company.  

    “Most organizations don’t have an IT roadmap. I’ve worked with some of the largest organizations in the world, and quite often, they just don’t have them” says Jos, “A good IT roadmap includes the usual IT goals like cutting costs. But, it also has to focus on supporting business strategy. Then, you can align the business with what IT can support. Your roadmap also has to look at things like updates and downtime, to align those with business strategies and goals. E.g., if you have an OSS note in SAP, you have to look at the projects that touch ERP, when those projects need access to the system, and work to align updates around that – so they don’t impact business goals. Those sorts of roadmaps can provide immense value, so it’s important that people have them.”  

    Fit to Standard means Changing Processes:

    Most organizations are used to customizing ECC to the point where it’s exactly what their users want. With S/4HANA, that’s changing. SAP’s new “clean S/4 core” means you won’t be customizing S/4 itself. Any customization that does happen has to be in the extensions in the business technology platform. That’s essential if S/4HANA is to work in the cloud.  

    But, for many organizations, it also means mobilizing significant change management. End users have to re-align with core SAP processes, re-learn those interfaces, and stay close to standard. That will require significant implementation of training, coaching, and setting expectations based on those customers.  

    Plus, adopting that standardization benefits organizations in the long-term. For example, it reduces total cost of ownership – you won’t be investing large-scale into making S/4HANA perfectly suit your needs. New users will learn one thing and it will always stay that way. So, change management is difficult, but it also provides real business value in the long-term.  

    Realigning the Expectations of People:

    If user adoption and change management is the most critical element of S/4HANA adoption, people management is the most important aspect of an S/4HANA roadmap.  

    “If I present a business case and an S/4HANA roadmap to a client, it always comes down to ‘how do we realign the expectations of our people to a system that stays close to the core, while also changing our business processes”.  

    Changing an ERP can happen quite quickly, but people change management takes time. You have to ensure you’re taking people, their questions, their input, and their feelings into account so you don’t lose credibility – if you don’t, critical people will leave.  

    “Gallop and Gallop Deployment are really good for that. You take organizations along on a preview of the integration so you can look ahead to see the potential impact of change and the transformation before actually doing it. That gives you more opportunity to identify what has to change and what your roadmap should look like”  

    Building Great Roadmaps for S/4HANA:  

    For Jos, the most important aspect of building a great roadmap is to get a good impression of what the company is and why.  

    “The first thing I do is ask people to talk about their business, please explain the positive things you see, the negative things you see, could you show me a production unit” says Jos, “I want to understand what makes the client tick, what their concerns are, where you want to end up, and your business strategy, so I have something to build my roadmap off of and to align it with.”  

    “Then, I take that to the organization and explicitly ask, ‘do you agree this is the pace your need to sustain your business’, and they almost always say yes”.  

    Jos also likes to keep people involved in more ways than one. “I usually start out by walking into an office with a pack of post-its” he says “Then, I hand them out and as people to write everything they want on a post it and put it on the wall. Then, we start clustering. Every time, you’ll very quickly see defined patterns of clusters – where ideas come together and people get the sense they’re contributing – even if their ideas were already part of the strategy”.  

    “You have to bring people into the transformation from day one. If you only work with pre-defined requirements, you can only really do unit testing. If you’ve got real people who know their processes and business involved, you can do retrospective cycles, keep improving, and keep driving people to engage with the “why” of the transformation – and that, eventually, will add incredible value to your roadmap.”  


    If you’d like to talk more about S/4HANA roadmaps, schedule a call with us.  

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