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Preparing for an SAP S/4HANA Transformation

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  • Part 1: Building Roadmaps  

    With thousands of organizations looking to transform their digital environment to SAP S/4HANA before the 2027 SAP ECC sunset date, there’s some urgency to most transformation projects.  

    Yet, those organizations often lack insight into the activities, measures, programs, and resources needed to make that transformation. Program managers are faced with the task of making massive decisions regarding processes, budgeting, and resourcing – without the clear data to do so.  

    Taking the time to prepare your S/4HANA transformation ensures you have the data to make those decisions, to build roadmaps, and to properly resource your project so you have everything in place for a smooth transition to the S/4HANA cloud.  

    Scoping Your Current Situation  

    The first step to any transformation program should always be to assess what you have now. Creating a clear picture of your current SAP environment and a rough idea of where you want to be is an essential step.  

    That’s especially true considering that many SAP systems have been cobbled together over a period of 10+ years. You start out with a clear network of what you have and why – but customer-specific functional enhancements, new processes, and software limitations always change that.  

    Creating an overview of your systems, whether they are a single system, geographically split, functionally distributed, etc., and grouping or categorizing those systems based on goals and expected outcomes for those systems can help you to create a clear roadmap.  

    For example:  

    • Your company has three SAP systems, geographically split between Europe, South Asia, and North America. Here, you could separate the roadmap per geographic area, allowing you to maintain a functional split in strategic goals per SAP S/4HANA implementation.  
    • Your company uses a mix of SAP and non-SAP ERP systems, with the intent of moving everything to the SAP S/4HANA cloud. The roadmap could align moving non-SAP S/4HANA processes to the SAP S/4HANA cloud with a dual trajectory of bringing the existing on-premises ECC implementation to an on-premises SAP S/4HANA implementation.  

    That kind of approach allows you to better visualize which resources are needed and why, for better project scoping and planning.  

    Here, Cognitus delivers an Assessment and Pilot of S/4HANA with Gallop Discovery. The assessment alone is enough to get insight into your environment, existing dependencies, and how your existing processes should map to new S/4HANA processes. We use best-of-breed tools and leverage partnerships to handle those assessments using automation with manual review to offer the best-possible value. 

    Aligning with Business Needs 

    It’s not enough to transition to S/4HANA for the sake of S/4HANA. You want business input and alignment from the earliest possible phase, to ensure that any new technical solution will help the business to meet its goals. Often, that means assessing strategic business requirements and adapting the roadmap to those needs. For example, how does the transformation solve business problems? How does it help the business to achieve its goals? Does the transformation timeline directly interfere with major projects or goals set by the business? Ensuring you have the right stakeholders at the table will ensure you can answer those questions when building the roadmap. Otherwise, you might find that your transition directly interferes with valuable core processes.  

    Aligning with business needs also means gauging buy-in and assessing how much of the roadmap needs to be about people and change management. Cognitus’ Gallop Discovery fits into that process as well, with a 3-month trial of your ECC data on an S/4HANA implementation – with ongoing support from our team. That gives your teams the opportunity to try S/4HANA, to understand what risks and problems are actually present, and to get over the fear of the unknown.  

    Technical Resourcing  

    As you start to build your S/4HANA roadmap, it will likely quickly become obvious that your organization doesn’t have the internal skills to answer the right questions or to handle the technical implementation. SAP has changed a lot and most organizations don’t have S/4HANA expertise in-house.  

    Normally that involves a process of deciding which roles you need in-house, which you will let go of, and how you will start to internalize those skills. For example, at Cognitus, our recommendation is normally to outsource technical implementation and then to work to internalize S/4HANA skills during the implementation and during ongoing support. You’ll always want to keep product ownership and other key roles inside the business – which you can do by ensuring they have an S/4HANA expert to work alongside and by offering training.  


    This is part 1 of our series on preparing for an SAP S/4HANA transformation, contact us now for a direct introduction into how Cognitus can help you solve those problems with Gallop Discovery, our pilot and assessment, as well as long-term assistance with the technical transformation, change management, and business process improvements.  


    Read Part II : Choosing an S/4HANA Approach and Building a Plan.

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