Q-and-A with Ardra Bailey, SAP Client Delivery Manager: Best Practices for Government Agencies Migrating from On-Premises ECC to S/4HANA Cloud

The Baer Editorial Board
5 December 2023

An enterprise-scale technology transformation can be incredibly challenging on any number of fronts, including accessing the right expertise to help you bring your initiative to fruition. If you are implementing a newer solution like SAP S/4HANA, are moving from an on-premises environment to the cloud, or are subject to special compliance and regulatory mandates, the complexity only increases. Baer continuously and proactively works to identify and build relationships with people who have experience with these types of projects, and we nurture those relationships over time. That way, once an initiative is complete, we can place them with another client, and they can bring their proven expertise forward to help the next client achieve a successful outcome.

SAP Client Delivery Manager for large, federal agencies, Ardra Bailey, is one such expert. We recently had the opportunity to talk with Ardra about what she does in her role, why she enjoys it, and what guidance she has for other government agencies as they make the transition from an ECC in an on-premises environment to S/4HANA and the cloud.

Tell us about being an SAP Client Delivery Manager. What do you do in your role?

As an SAP Client Delivery Manager, I function in an overall program management role, as well as that of a senior-level project manager. My current focus is on helping large government agencies transition their on-premises SAP ECC networks to an S/4HANA cloud environment, whether that is AWS, Azure, or Google. It’s my responsibility to partner with the client to understand priorities, and coordinate work with the internal team executing the initiative and ensure things keep moving and stay on track. I am also responsible for reporting to senior level management at both SAP and within the client’s organization about progress.

You’ve served as an SAP Client Delivery Manager for multiple government agencies. How does one project inform the next?

I’ve been working with Baer for several years now, and this is my second placement as a client delivery manager supporting a federal agency moving from SAP ECC to S/4HANA. The first placement was with a smaller agency, and when that project was successfully completed, I was able to bring that experience forward and apply it to the one I’m currently working on, which is a much larger agency making a similar transition. I think of each experience as a building block: I can pull from each earlier experience and use it in my current role.

What do you find most rewarding about being an SAP Client Delivery Manager?

I find it very rewarding to be in a team setting, where we’re all working toward the same goal, and I am an engineer by trade, so I like to see things come together. When I encounter or obstacle or come up against something challenging, I like being able to pivot, take care of it, and get the program and the team back on track. Those small wins add up—they are ultimately what gets you to the finish line.

What guidance do you have for government and public sector agencies making the move from ECC and on-premises servers to S/4HANA and cloud?

When a public sector or government agency makes the move from on-premises servers to the cloud, it’s very important to understand that foundationally, your network is built differently. You are moving from physical servers to virtual ones, so while things will necessarily work somewhat differently, you are going to see better performance, a better user experience, and financial gains. I also recommend identifying your KPIs up front and measuring your progress against them, so you achieve the outcomes you’re looking for without missing anything.

It’s also important to have a clear understanding of how your users interact with your on-premises current system day-to-day and what they need to accomplish, and to visualize how that will be different in the cloud. Another critical area of consideration is security. I encourage any agency undertaking this type of migration to do the necessary groundwork to understand your on-premises cyber security posture, and make note of any differences in cloud that will need to be addressed.

Communication is key. I would encourage all the internal agencies that are going to participate in the initiative to define how they are going to communicate and how decisions will be made to ensure they are working well throughout the process. As the program manager, it’s my responsibility to communicate with everyone and keep them informed, and I recommend daily check-ins with both the team to keep things on track and with stakeholders, where appropriate, to manage expectations.

Lastly, migrating from server to cloud is a lengthy and complicated process taking anywhere from months to years. From a program and project management perspective, it’s important to break the larger program into distinct projects, and each project into smaller sub-projects, to stay organized, keep on task week-to-week, and celebrate the wins along the way. Each of these smaller sub-projects are a step toward completing the bigger picture of a full and complete ECC to S/4HANA transition.

What would you tell government and public sector agencies considering Baer as their enterprise performance partner for their S/4HANA initiative?

Baer wants everyone to succeed—SAP, their customers who are making the transition from ECC to the S/4HANA, and the people they place to support their customers. That’s why it’s so important to them to find the right person for the role, in terms of experience and skillset, as well as the cultural fit. Baer is going to do their due diligence and take everyone’s needs into consideration. They are very thoughtful about who they present for a role and very precise when it comes to placing them.

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