HOW STANDARD SOFTWARE IS FINALLY BECOMING THE STANDARD
In the past, standard software system implementations have deviated from the available standard functions now and again. Thanks to its new project methodology, SAP has achieved a breakthrough for the systematic application of SAP Best Practices standard functions.
Just recently, the time had come once again: our sales team had received a request for a quote for the planning and realisation of an ERP implementation project. This included basic organisational process descriptions, screenshots of the IT solutions now in use and a catalogue of requirements with over 800 questions to be answered by the provider, including the following:
all core functions in the solutions currently in use
a long list of functions which apparently can no longer be realised with these solutions, but which become increasingly urgent as time goes on
general requirements that have long since become standard in modern SAP ERP systems
The idea of the author was to make a narrower selection of providers based on the answers to this questionnaire and then to implement a selection procedure.
A fixed script filled with historical considerations was to structure the provider presentations, and then, too, the rounds of negotiations for licenses and services. The winning provider would then draw up a business blueprint document as part of a preliminary project, which would serve as a detailed description of the solution to be introduced.
IN THE BEST COMPANY
In the past, we have regularly participated in such evaluation procedures. Nearly always, we found the central challenge to be that the requirements formulated by the customer had to relate to the status quo because the customer had indeed analysed how the organisation had functioned to date and how operations were supported by the old IT functions. Our team of consultants made a point of promoting the available standard functions and templates as persistently as possible for the new software to be introduced. And yet, here and there, unnecessary compromises and even heterogeneous solutions were created. There were multiple reasons for this.
WHAT HAS CHANGED?
The emergence of purely cloud-based ERP solutions has shown that completely new approaches are required for their implementation. Cloud solutions that live up to their name are based almost entirely on available standard functions. Customer-specific deviations in the functional core can only be very selectively supported. Consequently, when using cloud solutions, customers and implementation partners must adhere even more strictly to existing standard processes, and now reap the rewards of this in all operational forms in the SAP environment: from the standard variant, operated by a national hosting partner or even locally on the customer’s premises, to the various cloud offerings of the software manufacturer. SAP Activate is the answer.
SAP Activate is a new project methodology that has been developed among other things specifically for SAP S/4HANA Enterprise Management. In the guise of this methodology, SAP is providing a wide range of technical and methodological tools. Skilful use of these tools guarantees that readily available industry/country-specific SAP Best Practices standard functions and extensive system presettings are included to greatest possible extent in as early as the analysis phase of an ERP implementation. Wherever SAP Best Practices standard functions are able to meet the requirements of a customer, the process documentation delivered by SAP with the software is largely transferred 1:1 into the implementation concept. Instead of having to write down obvious basic requirements as before, the project team can concentrate its resources entirely on a more detailed description of functional additions. In this way, it is possible to determine with the necessary certainty where extensions to the standard are indispensable and what influence these additions have on the implementation effort. This information likewise serves as a basis for decision-making for the future operating model.
If there are functional, organisational or strategic requirements that do not allow the use of cloud ERP solutions, then the on-premise solution is the reliable answer. However, the following also applies to on-premise solutions. Instead of investing time, money and intellectual capacity in creating a historically relevant and yet theoretical blueprint document, SAP Activate compiles all the necessary facts to confirm in advance which business processes can be mapped flawlessly with available standard functions and where it is worthwhile to have customer-specific additions to the standard that are crucial to success.
SAP ACTIVATE FOR SAP S/4HANA PROJECTS
This method can be used regardless of whether the SAP S/4HANA project is a completely new implementation or a migration project for a conventional SAP ERP 6.0 system. The basic idea is that the old systems helped an organisation to get where it is today. The new system, on the other hand, must not merely replace the old solutions 1:1. It must also become the basis for the organisational development in the coming years. SAP S/4HANA thus becomes the intelligent core for merging information, processes and people, for process automation, as well as for all forms of digitisation that have to be placed in a business context.
For an SAP S/4HANA system to be fully effective, it must not be designed primarily for requirements that were relevant in the past. SAP Activate, together with the tools supplied by SAP for this purpose, creates the unerring basis for taking decisions about the operating models that can be customized, guarantees that the new system is built wherever possible on proven standard processes and enables detailed, air-tight concepts for functions that can be implemented effectively outside of existing SAP Best Practices standards.
FIT TO STANDARD: THE BASIS OF CLOUD SOLUTIONS
Whether for public cloud, private cloud or on-premise solutions, our customers can rely on this methodology to ensure that standard software truly becomes the standard, that SAP S/4HANA is implemented reliably and accurately, and that there are no unwanted surprises!
> BY PATRICK MEIER
SAP S/4HANA FOR THE NEXT 20 YEARS?
SAP users are clear on one thing: their conversion to SAP's latest ERP generation, SAP S/4HANA Enterprise Management from their SAP ERP 6.0 systems must be completed by the end of 2025. The expiry date set by the software manufacturer may well raise questions about customer friendliness at first.
SAP ERP systems are popular in Switzerland, where the Walldorf-based company now has an enormously high market penetration by global standards. This is because both large commercial enterprises and numerous small and medium-sized companies also rely on business management solutions from SAP. SAP systems are also widely used in public administrations and organisations, and there are a variety of good reasons for this. The appointment calendars of most SAP customers are currently filled with meetings, and their subject lines have project names such as ‘Move to SAP S/4HANA’, ‘SAP Greenfield’, ‘SAP S/4HANA@xyz’ or similar. What is behind these meetings? The objective is to plan the transition from the existing SAP ERP 6.0 systems and even the migration of individual SAP R/3 systems to the latest ERP version from the world market leader based in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. SAP users have known for some time that as at 1 January 2026 SAP S/4HANA will be the only version of the major SAP ERP software going forward (SAP BusinessOne and SAP Business ByDesign are not subject to this rule).
DEADLINE: DECEMBER 2025
At almost every initial meeting on the topic of SAP S/4HANA migration, customers express extremely critical opinions at first: comments such as ‘...the existing solution runs perfectly, so why does it have to be changed? And why is the software manufacturer imposing on me a set deadline to implement the changeover?’ have themselves come to be standard. When we prepare for such appointments, we make sure to note the history of the existing system landscape in advance. We often collect information in telephone conversations and Skype sessions similar to the following excerpt: ‘…aha, SAP R/3 introduced as Release 3.1I in 1998. Release upgrade to 4.6C in autumn 2001 and then to 4.7 in winter 2003, followed by licensing adjustment with a release upgrade to ERP 6.0 in spring 2006. Since that time, continuation with enhancement packages, presently on ERP 6.0 EHP7…’. When we later carefully present this information on a time line, it regularly leads to amused and at the same time astonished reactions, the like of which are usually only seen at milestone birthday celebrations. Indeed, many SAP ERP 6.0 systems in their current form have already been in use for 20 years and longer. These systems have thus achieved this status purely by means of release upgrades. If we look at the organisational development of our customers over this period of time, we see that in many places highly fascinating company histories are emerging that reflect the enormous changes that we have undergone over the past two and a half decades from social, economic and technical perspectives.
THE ERP SYSTEM FOR THE NEXT 20 YEARS?
It must seem almost utopian when we describe today how SAP S/4HANA can be used to implement a system that will continually be the administrative centre of all business-related tasks within an organisation 15 and 20 years from now. Who in business informatics can make concrete statements about where we will be in 2040? However, such a progression would effectively describe SAP S/4HANA systems. This is confirmed by a look into the past, and we all feel much the same about it. Time seems to have flown since the turn of the millennium, while the view of the next 20 years – and thus for many readers the thought of their own approaching retirement age – is still so far away that it is hardly dealt with today. SAP not only stands for distinctive and sometimes very dynamic innovation, but also for planning reliability, which is almost unique amongst software companies. Tens of thousands of companies worldwide have benefited from SAP R/3 over the past 25 years, and it can be safely assumed that this planning reliability will also be maintained into the new ERP era under SAP S/4HANA. Regardless of how and with what content digital innovations will be brought into our lives in future, the deciding factor, ultimately, for the success of our companies and their administration is to bring together information, processes and people in the digital core in a reliable and economical way.
DRAWING CONCLUSIONS ABOUT THE FUTURE FROM THE ORIGIN
Based on the past two and a half decades of SAP R/3 and SAP ERP 6.0, we can therefore conclude that SAP will still be where your company and its administration is 20 years from now. This approach is of central importance whenever we develop concepts together with our customers regarding time, methods and future operating model for their own way to SAP S/4HANA. It is therefore important to tackle our own future plans concretely at an early stage and not simply to see SAP S/4HANA as an almost forced system change. It is also important to see it as an extremely valuable basis for our own business development over the coming years and decades. Ultimately, SAP S/4HANA is not only the organisational ‘System of Record’. It is also a ‘System of Innovation’ that already today enables and inspires digital innovation and efficiency in a way that hardly any other ERP solution can achieve.
LIKE EVERYWHERE ELSE: MORE THAN ONE ROAD LEADS TO THE DESTINATION
The project-related costs of a changeover from SAP ERP 6.0 to SAP S/4HANA are now clearly calculable after appropriate analysis in most cases. During the evolution of the upkeep of SAP ERP 6.0, we have placed the greatest value on continuity and therefore on the further development of these solutions by means of enhancement packages. By contrast, there are multiple roads to take in our progression towards SAP S/4HANA. It should be mentioned in particular that both the ‘brownfield’ migration of the existing systems and the ‘greenfield’ option, i.e. a new introduction according to SAP Activate project methodology, must be carefully considered. Let us remember that many SAP ERP systems in production today have been in use for nearly two decades or even longer. These systems often contain an extensive history of process and data elements that are no longer needed in today’s and tomorrow’s organisation. A greenfield changeover to SAP S/4HANA thus also offers an opportunity to dispose of historical legacy systems and rebuild the new ERP system based on current and future requirements without compromising functionality, stability and user friendliness. The question of the future operating model is also very exciting. Whether a greenfield project is set up as a customer-specific system (in-house systems or hosting partner) or whether the functional and integrative requirements can also be mapped in a variant of the SAP cloud offerings, the SAP Activate project methodology allows a final and timely decision to be made after the preliminary project.
THE EARLIER THE CLARIFICATION, THE BETTER
We recommend that all our customers make their own preliminary enquiries as early as possible. Those who familiarise themselves with these ideas will learn what advantages SAP S/4HANA offers today and what to expect for their own options for this solution. Those who do this will be able to take a calm approach to planning and, last but not least, reserve the required resources for the most suitable time. Whether in the cloud or as an independent system, as expected, SAP S/4HANA will again become the business management, digital core of numerous companies and organisations in the public sector for a long time to come.
> BY PATRICK MEIER
REGENSDORF BRANCH OFFICE TO BE CLOSED AS AT 1 OCT. 2018
Offices will completely move to Rotkreuz (Canton Zug)
We have been headquartered in the first floor on Blegistrasse 1, 6343 Rotkreuz since December 2016.
As at 1 October 2018, we will move into the third floor of the building at our new expanded and modernised space. Our Regensdorf offices will no longer be continued as a branch location and will now be completely closed.
That said, nothing will change with regard to our data centres in Rümlang and at Zurich Airport.
We look forward to your visit!
Compliance with the EU General Data Protection Regulation
The EU GDPR has drastic consequences for Swiss companies.
Whether or not your company is active both nationally and internationally, the European Union General Data Protection Regulation affects, where it applies, a large number of areas and processes at companies. If your company lacks the expertise or personnel to implement compliance with the GDPR, the task may become unmanageable.
The GDPR took effect in all EU member states as at 25 May 2018.
What this means: civil liability will become stricter, in particular with regard to processing order data. Stiff penalties will be introduced. Companies may be subject to fines of up to 4% of their annual global revenue and natural persons may be subject to fines of up to EUR 20 million.
As part of the SAP Forum 2017 in Basel, SAP’s Swiss subsidiary presented the 2017 SAP Quality Awards in gold, silver, and bronze. Taking home bronze in the category «Business Transformation»was none other than «Lindt & Sprüngli», one of Innflow's own customers.
In this year's SAP Quality Awards, Switzerland's Lindt & Sprüngli AG won bronze in the «Business Transformation» category for completely overhauling its ERP environment – an effort that included fresh implementations of SAP Business Warehouse, SAP Supply Chain Management (SCM), and Advanced Planning & Optimization (APO). In doing so, the company managed to move a complex system landscape that had grown over time to an orderly new foundation and update its process and reporting structures to its current situation. The jury also praised the highly organised methodology Lindt & Sprüngli followed for the project management.
The «Business Transformation» category is for major projects involving more than 500 users, a duration of over six months, and more than 900 person-days of effort.
You can read the official announcement from SAP here.
In December 2016, Innflow AG started a new chapter in the history of the company. We’re expanding to two locations, moving our headquarters to Rotkreuz (ZG), and welcoming three new board members who will be strengthening our management team with their proactive, market-oriented support. In addition to enhancing Innflow’s expertise in process and application consulting, this will enable us to augment our portfolio with services that are specifically designed to aid our customers in evolving toward digital processes and business models.
Here’s our new address:
Our Regensdorf offices will be continued as a branch location, while remaining the base for our SAP hosting and operations team. That said, nothing will change with regard to our data centres in Rümlang and at Zurich Airport.
We strongly believe that this expansion will support our ongoing effort to optimise the solutions and services we offer. If you’re interested in further details or a personal presentation of our company, please feel free to contact us at your convenience.
At the SAP Forum 2016 in Basel, SAP’s Swiss branch presented the year’s SAP Quality Awards in gold, silver and bronze. Taking home the gold in the Business Transformation category was Innflow customer Insel Gruppe AG, the largest hospital organisation in Switzerland.
«Merging the Insel hospital with those run by Spital Netz Bern AG to form the country’s biggest hospital system was a major challenge from an IT perspective, as well. It involved integrating six hospitals and an elderly care facility into an ERP system that was replacing more than 30 previous installations. In particular, the jury praised Insel’s professional project management in a politically sensitive environment, as well as its strong focus on change management, communication and keeping its project team motivated. Insel’s main partner in carrying out this implementation was Innflow AG».
The Business Transformation category covers major projects involving more than 500 users, a duration of over six months and more than 900 person-days of effort. For the official announcement from SAP, please click here.