The latest market observations show that the Covid 19 crisis is exerting real pressure on companies to digitize. Many are currently being forced to quickly catch up on investments in the development of digital platforms that were not given high enough priority in recent years. It is therefore not surprising that many digitization and IT projects that were postponed in 2020 now have to be made up. In addition, the Corona crisis was also the starting signal for a series of disruptive changes and innovations, for example, data-based business models. This push may prove problematic for many who have been hesitant to make the switch to S/4HANA. The reason: in 2027, SAP will end maintenance of its previous ERP products, SAP R/3 and SAP ECC. For a great many companies, this means that they will have to look for a new ERP solution or migrate to S/4HANA. This is not trivial, because SAP projects are usually very complex and SAP experts are comparatively rare. In addition, companies have to come up with a suitable strategy for the change at an early stage. They have the choice between a mere technical migration (Brownfield), the redesign of business processes (Greenfield) with an orientation to the S/4HANA standard, or an extended migration that sees itself as part of the digital transformation (Beyond Brownfield).
Due to the expected high costs as well as the project effort involved in realigning business processes and adapting organizational structures in a new implementation (greenfield), a technical migration of the existing ERP system to S/4HANA is high on the agenda for many companies.
Despite all this, most companies are also considering adapting and improving processes as part of the migration in order to drive the digital transformation and better align their activities with the changed market conditions, as various studies show.
According to the current Lünendonk Study 2021, one focus of users in planned S/4HANA implementations is primarily on a higher degree of automation in the process landscape. According to the study, the hoped-for improved data quality after the S/4HANA conversion will significantly help companies to boost key digitization topics such as artificial intelligence and robotic process automation (RPA). As a result, higher customer satisfaction and efficiency gains can be achieved through accelerated process times, for example.
In order to achieve improvements at the data level, all information stored in the ERP systems must be at the same level in terms of up-to-dateness, uniqueness and consistency. The prerequisites for this are integration capability and open interfaces. The ability to integrate with other systems and to create transparent end-to-end processes are key added values of S/4HANA. Examples of this include predictive accounting, which allows the effects on financial accounting to be analyzed as soon as the customer order is entered and not only after delivery and invoicing. The new advanced Available to Promise module increases customer satisfaction and planning reliability both internally and externally by determining realistic delivery dates for products on the basis of an availability check across companies.
The consultant bottleneck predicted by market researchers as early as 2019 is becoming even more acute due to the pressure of digitization. So time is running out to successfully implement such a complex project. Especially considering the limited number of SAP consultants and the resulting project demand, it is advisable to hire a suitable service provider for the change as soon as possible. Now, companies still have a free choice to select the best partner to meet their challenges, but the countdown is on. Those who still don't realize the urgency of the task will end up having to settle for what's left. At best, that's just the high cost of the optional extended maintenance contract offered by SAP until 2030; at worst, the company's business foundation will be severely damaged. As the saying goes, the early bird catches the worm, or, to put it in negative terms, the devil takes the hindmost.
With a switch to S/4HANA greater customer satisfaction and efficiency gains can be achieved through accelerated process times.