2024’s Hottest SAP S/4HANA Skillsets Are in Supply Chain and Manufacturing. Here’s What You Need to Know.

Brian Trout, Executive Vice President, Sales, Baer
Brian Trout
Executive Vice President, Sales
8 July 2024

As a percentage of Baer’s 2024 SAP job requests, a full third of them are in the SAP S/4HANA Supply Chain and Manufacturing arena. This is a top heavy trend that I anticipate will continue through this year, and well into 2025. A primary driver for it is that many large multinational companies began their transformations with the finance core, leaving more complex and nuanced areas until later releases. As finance work is being completed, many clients are now ready to integrate critical Supply Chain and Manufacturing functionality into their S/4HANA framework.

Supply Chain and Manufacturing have always been sweet spots for SAP, and they truly are best-of-breed solutions. They are also critical capabilities, so it is not surprising to see such a precipitous increase in demand for expertise in this area.

Following are a few key areas where our proprietary Baer data indicates significant labor compression.

Supply Chain: S/4HANA Extended Warehouse Management

A similar dynamic is driving demand for both Extended Warehouse Management (EWM) and Transportation Management (TM) expertise. In the nineties, SAP R/3 Warehouse Management was a fully integrated part of the solution. In 2005, the company introduced EWM as a standalone solution to address growing demand for system customization and more advanced capabilities in areas such as wave management, labor slotting, and yard management. These and other extended capabilities drove demand, and many clients implemented it outside the core solution, while others opted to use standalone, third-party solutions.

With the introduction of S/4HANA 1709, EWM is an embedded product that many clients opt to implement to replace EWM standalone or legacy bolt on solutions. Clients still have the option to leverage basic embedded WM capabilities with S/4, but many SAP clients have complex warehouse operations requiring EWM’s broader functionality.  Either way, S/4 implementation requires clients to reevaluate their existing WM solution and most conclude implementing S/4’s EWM embedded solution is the best choice for modernization.   

Supply Chain: S/4HANA Transportation Management

It’s a similar situation with TM. Basic transportation management capabilities were initially part of R/3’s SD module, which was eventually reimagined with the introduction of APO Transportation Planning and Vehicle Scheduling (TP/VS). Many clients invested in and maintained mature APO architecture, but TP/VS was never widely adopted. Thus, SAP eventually released TM 6.0 in 2011 as a standalone product that interfaced with the ERP core as an alternative to widely used third-party, bolt-on solutions like Manhattan, i2, and Manugistics. 

With the introduction of S/4HANA, TM is also an essential part of the system and activation is required to leverage many of the transportation planning and execution activities that organizations with complex transportation/logistics requirements need.

Since both EWM and TM are inherently complex, particularly because of all the interfaces, cross component processes, and optimization considerations involved, they are both challenging to implement, making them increased risk points for clients.

Supply Chain: S/4HANA Advanced Available-to-Promise

Another area with noticeable high demand has been for expertise in advanced Available-to-Promise (aATP), which enables you to look deep inside your manufacturing operations to see when you can deliver leveraging higher level of extensibility, a variety of current and future state stock availability parameters, and advanced considerations including concurrent orders and regional stipulations.

It’s a standalone component with capabilities beyond the S/4 standard Sales ATP basic functions, so companies do not have to stand it up, but we are finding many clients are choosing to invest and implement aATP.

Manufacturing: S/4HANA Production Engineering & Optimization (PEO)

In the S/4HANA Manufacturing space, in addition to the general overall need for core Production Planning skills, one of the hottest areas of demand is for SAP Production Engineering and Optimization (PEO) skills. This is very much about expertise in specific verticals like Aerospace & Defense (A&D) and high tech where new SAP solution capabilities such as concurrent engineering, complex assembly, and BOM planning are essential. Within the discrete manufacturing space, A&D in particular is seeing an uptick in demand.

Again, people who have a foundational SAP production planning background can learn these skills, but upskilling takes time. If you have a timeline that’s demands this component be implemented quickly, be aware that these skills are tough to come by.

A Broad Lesson for the Entire SAP Ecosystem

The broader lesson here is that across every area of S/4 HANA, SAP has reimagined the way business is done, and in doing so, they have created all new skill sets. While many basic skills remain transferable, to meet the growing demand for more specialized S/4 HANA expertise, the SAP workforce will need to be upskilled.  And that is going to take some time.

If you are relying on your systems integrator to bring these capabilities to your program, as this trend accelerates, it will be more difficult and costly to find this expertise. The bigger risk, though, is delays to your program, if you are unable to access the expertise you need.

Similar vertical-focused trends play out all the time across the entire SAP ecosystem. At Baer, we are paying close attention to these trends and building proactive relationships with proven talent to ensure that our clients can execute their S/4HANA programs on time and within budget.

If you are looking for trends insights to better manage your own S/4HANA implementation, please feel free to reach out.

About Baer

Unlike typical technology staffing companies, Baer is a true enterprise performance partner. We have a deep understanding of the scope of enterprise digital transformation and the highly specialized skillsets you will need at different stages of the process.

To learn more about how Baer can make a positive impact on your enterprise transformation, please reach out to Brian Trout, Executive Vice President, Sales, at btrout@baergroup.com, or John Wilson, Vice President of Strategic Accounts, at jwilson@baergroup.com.

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