I recently attended the SAP Federal Forum in Washington D.C., and as anticipated, it was an incredibly engaging and energizing experience on a number of fronts. One of the sessions I found most informative was focused on Lockheed Martin’s use of RISE with SAP and how they are implementing its core business processes in a managed, FedRAMP-compliant, cloud environment. I narrowed down a multitude of insights into three best practices that I will share with you in this blog post.
I also came away from the Forum with a better understanding of the economic and competitive pressures currently impacting the public sector and government SAP-focused labor ecosystem, and if you’re interested in my take on that, I’ll touch on it at the end of this post.
Best Practice #1 - Start with an Exploration of Your Business Processes
Organizations must internally align around strategic objectives before undertaking an SAP S/4HANA migration. Business process transformation is only one of many objectives—others include operational standardization, improved customer, supplier, and employee experiences, and a reduction of total cost of ownership. While any one of these reasons can be a primary driver for the undertaking, I find it interesting that some organizations choose to maintain many of their current processes. Reasons for this may include not having the capacity to do so, choosing not to disrupt business as usual, or commitment to proprietary processes that deliver a competitive advantage, among others.
In the Lockheed session, the case was made for allowing ample time for business process exploration to take full advantage of the best practices SAP brings to the table, to ensure you are meeting the specialized needs of your industry and specific business use case, and to simplify long term management and enhancement of the system. As an advantage, it better positions you to minimize technical debt, which supports long-term system performance, as I’ll explain next.
Best Practice #2: Evaluate and Address Technical Debt
Over time, every organization, regardless of size, will accumulate technical debt associated with its ECC instance. Often, this is custom code, initially developed to address a niche, now obsolete process. If the code no longer serves a purpose, there is no point in bringing it over to the new system. Doing so will only add complexity to the migration, and if there is a good deal of it, it may negatively impact the performance of your system.
If you’ve started your transformation with an exploration of your business processes, you may find that you are able to take advantage of the more of the S/4HANA core processes than anticipated and leave behind even more custom code—and associated data, depending on what regulations you are subject to.
Best Practice #3 – Use BTP to Keep Your Core Clean
Having evaluated and addressed your technical debt, minimizing accruing it in the future should be a priority, and making use of SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) is a good way to do that. BTP enables you to keep your S/4HANA core clean by providing a separate, unified environment where you can connect to other SAP and third-party applications and even build customized functionality. (There is quite a bit more to BTP than this—including AI and analytics capabilities.)
An Update: Public Sector and Commercial Enterprise Competition for S/4HANA Expertise
At SAP Sapphire earlier this year, there was a good deal of conversation around how both the public sector and commercial enterprises were investing in S/4HANA in parallel and how that would likely increase competition for resources. The question on everyone’s minds at the Federal Forum was, with the federal government struggling to approve a long-term budget, would public sector investment slow to a degree that resources might become more broadly available? The consensus was that for public sector initiatives already underway, it is likely that funds have already been appropriated. However, organizations with programs that have not yet been funded might experience some delays getting started, and with commercial enterprise initiatives heating up, finding the necessary talent could become extremely challenging.
If you are interested in learning more about key considerations in planning an S/4HANA transformation, read my series of in-depth articles on the topic:
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