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Staffing is the Largest Bottleneck to S/4HANA Implementation  

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  • Today, most organizations have just 5 years to transform from ECC 6.0 to S/4HANA. That’s being pushed by SAP and Rise with SAP as we move closer to the 2027 support deadline. And, naturally, many organizations want to wait as long as possible to commit, to make the transformation to S/4HANA, and to get that process started. That’s natural and reasonable, considering you have significant work ahead of you in terms of scoping the work, resources, and investment needed to make that transformation. You have to answer basic questions like, “is the transformation to S/4HANA worth it” and “what will this transformation cost us”.  

    Unfortunately, the longer you wait, the more that transformation will cost, both in terms of resources and in terms of available manpower. With a clear and delineated deadline, big players are making the move to source and lock in talent now. And, with a limited number of experts in those SAP transitions, investing in and bringing in the talent to make your transformation possible will become the bottleneck to that transformation.  

    Start the Move to S/4HANA Sooner Rather than Later  

    “You have to make the transformation “, says Mike Biggs, solution partner and SAP consultant at Cognitus, “if you don’t, it’s a lot like skipping Windows updates. Eventually, your software is slower, you’re facing security flaws, and your competitors have a lead on you because the tooling they’re using is better. SAP is helping you to make that transition with programs like RISE to help you cross the line, so you won’t feel like you’re lagging behind.”  

    “Start to plan for the transition now,” says Mike “People like me will not be on the bench to go to a project in 3 years, we’ll already have one. And, if you don’t get experts now, you’ll have to source new people, and that means facing exorbitant costs as well as having people who don’t know what they’re doing. The nature of this market is that it will be consumed”.   

    “Cognitus can help with that decision-making”, he continues, “Gallop Discovery is an Assessment and 3-month pilot of S/4HANA, using your existing ECC data, which we use to create a scope, a roadmap, and to assess resourcing and timelines for your project. That allows you to deliver a real business case with requirements, timelines, and costs to your stakeholders, so you can make those decisions”  

    Plan for Business Resourcing  

    Enabling an S/4HANA transformation means assessing internal and external bottlenecks and using business resourcing to determine which aspects should be taken on internally versus externally. For example, you want to build the availability of business resources into your staffing budget.  

    Doing so well means looking at the transformation from an internal, external, project, and business perspective. That means determining who is working on the project internally and why, what percentage of the team should be internal and what percentage should be external, and what you already have.  

    For example, what has your business done to analyze the existing internal skillsets that can contribute? Do you know what skills you need to complete the project? Understanding what you have internally starts with HR review and standardization. For example, companies rarely have standardized role titles – but if you’re moving to the cloud, you need them. And, if you’re doing a company-wide competency assessment, you need them.

    You can rely on tools to help – and Cognitus can offer tools to help – but the important thing is that you map where everyone is, what they do, and why – so you can see what it means when you move those people. A clear competency map allows you to determine what competencies you have in the company, but it also allows you to set better priorities around what you don’t. For example, which roles do you want to be owned by the business? Which can you benefit from relinquishing control of?  

    The business processes owners should always be people who understand how operation works in the company. They have to say “that will work or not” when process changes come up or decisions have to be made. So BPOs should always be internal, but they often lack S/4HANA skills.  

    Often, that requires partnering with external process experts, for a mix of both.  

    Investing in Talent Acquisition & Internalizing Skills  

    You’ll also want to discuss talent acquisition strategies. For example, hiring external talent for transformations is often cost-effective, while allowing your teams to build up internal knowledge by participating in the project.  

    Getting the right people into the right roles is the fastest way to gain an advantage in your transition. You’ll also want to think about succession planning, who’s taking over after existing people leave, or after external people step out of roles.  

    As a technology provider, Cognitus can help to advise you on sourcing that talent more long-term. However, you have to understand your roadmaps, where you’re headed, and why before you can find the right people. The right fit for one company might be the wrong one for another. We’re currently investing heavily in both gaining and retaining existing SAP expertise as well as increasing intelligent automation to help with upcoming transformations, while investing in recruiting, training, and building experience in the next generation of experts.  

    “We’re building campaigns to bring new people into the company”, says Vladimir Hrouda, head of staffing and resourcing at Cognitus EMEA, “and that involves both reaching out to experts who have the skills and the experience to complete your S/4HANA transformation, as well as creating programs to help the next generation of SAP consultants build those skills. This includes outreach programs, bootcamps, and training initiatives, where we pair our junior consultants with seniors to ensure they get the coaching and hands-on expertise they need to truly add value at a later date”.  

    But, you don’t want everything to be external. Eventually, your organization has to internalize skills your external experts bring to the table. Therefore, you’ll also always want some form of a center of excellence with any technology center. As you bring in external experts, you should be internalizing those skills. Then, you can eventually roll off external resources.  

    S/4HANA and business transformation skills are currently lacking in most organizations. Working with external teams and experts can help in the short term, while giving you room to internalize those skills and eventually move forward with full ownership of the new roles.  

    Outsourcing and Finding S/4HANA Talent with Cognitus  

    Cognitus uses a flexible delivery model, and we work with you on a case-by-case basis to agree what’s onshore and what’s offshore. For example, it’s almost always better to outsource technical builds, you’ll get a better return on investment because you don’t actually need this internally. You’ll also want to ensure that you keep lead roles onshore, you need project leads to have relationships in the company. But that flexibility allows you to get around some staffing and resourcing issues, while enabling faster and more efficient resourcing at a lower cost. That’s why we maintain offshore centers in India, Malaysia, North Africa and South America.  

    We also work with partners to bring in relevant expertise and technology. If you have to stop and separately resource every aspect of the transformation, it ends up costing internal resources you don’t have.  

    Finally, Cognitus always offers role advice to help you set priorities, so you get what you need, where you want. Of course, there will always be compromises in terms of choosing to outsource to save budget, etc.,  

    If you’d like to learn more, contact us.

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