The Hidden Risk in Your S/4HANA Initiative—Access to Specialized Technology Expertise

Brian Trout, Executive Vice President, Sales, Baer
Brian Trout
Executive Vice President, Sales
25 August 2023

When asked what the biggest potential risks are to the success of their S/4HANA transformation initiatives, most people will cite choosing the wrong implementation partner or the integration path. While they are right to pay close attention to such critical issues, as more enterprises move beyond the planning stage to tactical implementation, a hidden risk is emerging. Competition for qualified specialized expertise when and where you need it has the potential to delay critical project paths and drive up costs.

At SAP Sapphire early this year, the most pressing question was this: if SAP doesn’t extend mainstream support for ECC beyond 2027, and everyone transitions at the same, time, where are all the people going to come from? No one had an answer. Since then, recessionary headwinds have calmed, discretionary budgets have loosened, and 2023 has shaped up to be a serious planning year, with the expectation that innovation cycles will begin in earnest in 2024. It is becoming abundantly clear that the specialized IT labor market isn’t just heating up—a perfect storm is brewing. With commercial enterprises and the public sector on parallel adoption paths, 2024 promises to be one of the most competitive labor markets for specialized S/4HANA expertise I have ever seen. As such, my words of caution for any organization making this transition: don’t fall into trap that today’s labor market will be tomorrow’s market.

The following are three potential key expertise-related risks to be on the lookout for:

  • Failing to put a surge capacity contingency plan in place – If you are partnering with SAP and/or a systems integrator for all or part of your initiative, then they will likely be a primary source of expertise. Keep in mind, though, that with high demand from both the commercial market and public sector, they may quickly reach capacity within their own resource pools. Timing may also be an issue—the expertise you need may not be available when you need it, resulting in costly delays.
  • Relying on a traditional / general IT staffing agency for specialized expertise – A traditional staffing agency with a bias toward skill set matching can yield a large pool of candidates, but the onus will be on you to evaluate large volumes of resumes and interview multiple rounds of candidates. It’s a time-consuming, burdensome process—and it’s not likely to yield the specialized expertise you need.

  • Miscalculating the contributions of your own team – Many enterprises will naturally want to leverage the talents of their existing team to support the new initiative, but they often miscalculate the impact on business as usual. It’s common to overestimate how much time they will be able to dedicate to the new project resulting in a need for surge capacity to support it and to underestimate to what degree internal teams will need to be backfilled.

The reality is this: S/4HANA transformation initiatives are long and complex—no matter how well you plan, you cannot possibly anticipate every skill set necessary to see the project through. At some point, you will need to directly hire specialized expertise and/or surge capacity and backfill positions within your own team. By strategically aligning with an enterprise performance partner, you will be better positioned to fill those gaps with proven talent as they arise and do so with precision, preventing unproductive interview cycles with misaligned candidates.

An enterprise performance partner like Baer that understands the strategic directive of your initiative, the technologies at hand, and proactively builds relationships with proven expertise is the key to ensuring accessing the right expertise, at the right time, for the appropriate investment thereby minimizing this hidden risk and supporting the long-term success of your initiative.

About Baer

Unlike typical technology staffing companies, Baer is a true enterprise performance partner. We have a deep understanding of the scope of enterprise technology transformation initiatives 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, Executive Vice President, Sales, or John Wilson, Vice President of Strategic Accounts, at

We look forward to speaking with you and learning about your specific challenges.

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