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SAP S/4HANA Implementation Challenges

If you’re now considering a switch to SAP, understanding SAP S/4HANA implementation challenges beforehand are important. Companies are now realizing threats to supply chain due to COVID-19, the pandemic. Between the recent economic dips in the stock market and increasing numbers in storefronts having to close their doors each day due to coronavirus, has companies concerned on how to better prepare for the future. The good news is that business will spike again, and we should all be prepared for that surge. On that note you may be one of the many that is experimenting with the rare opportunity of free access to SAP tools right now and are thinking about the opportunities that could be available to your company if S/4HANA was implemented when we are all able to collaborate in-person again. SAP S/4HANA can not only help your business and supply chain run smoothly during a “normal” season, but also when a company is thrust into uncertainty.

Most business users are aware of the key benefits and value adds that SAP S/4HANA provides users with including, but not limited to; simplification and centralization to management and administration, ease of use, cost effectiveness, innovation, improved performance and speed, and an overall simple transition from on-premise to cloud. But not all are aware of and ready to approach the potential challenges.

We  recognize that there are many business benefits, but also challenges to be addressed from implementing SAP S/4HANA in your business and its best to go into an implementation with a well-prepared mindset. By leveraging relevant experiences working with leading companies within the consumer products industry, many challenges can be overcome quickly with a value added partner backing your business. While every transition presents unique risks and challenges for each company and their team, some broad SAP S/4HANA Implementation challenges to be considered from our perspective include:

SAP S/4HANA Implementation Challenges with Data   
As with any implementation, data will be a key challenge. While the details vary depending on the size of the company, product line, whether it is brownfield or a greenfield implementation of S/4, quality of data in the legacy system etc. data will remain in the front and center of an S/4 implementation. Different categories such as master data (Business Partner (Customer, Vendor), Materials (Articles in a retail scenario), BOMs, Recipes), Open Transaction data (AR, AP, Open POs, Open Sales Orders, Inventory etc.), Transaction data for reporting (YOY comparative reporting, Statutory reporting) need to be carefully evaluated and prepared for the implementation. See our blogs highlighting considerations around data here.

SAP S/4HANA Implementation Challenges with Architecture 
As you move to a new digital platform with S/4, there are several considerations/questions around the overall architecture. Are we going for a cloud solution or on prem? If it is cloud will it be single tenant (renamed S/4 Essentials) OR multi-tenant (renamed S/4 Extended)? If it is on prem, can we host it ourselves or look for a 3rd party hosting provider? How would the employees access the system, laptops, iPads, mobile phones? Will our partners (vendors, customers) access the system as well? What kind of security will need to built in?

SAP S/4HANA Challenges with Training and Change Management 
While we dealt with the more tangible and technical challenges in the previous sections, of equal importance are the training and change management aspects of an S/4 implementation. While you should see this as an opportunity to move to a more best practices based approach of conducting your business, this will be a change for stakeholders that have been doing things in a certain manner (and the quintessential response of ‘we are different’, ‘this is the way we have been doing it forever’). Careful engagement with the stakeholders to understanding of the change impacts with clear mitigations along with a robust training approach are critical. For more information on coming up with a robust training strategy see our blog here

SAP S/4HANA Implementation with resources 
Most companies when considering a switch to SAP S/4HANA aren’t familiar enough to internally head up a project centered on a migration to this ERP platform and must search externally. Therefore, finding a partner that is knowledgeable and can demonstrate and provide their expertise, experience, support, toolkit, and client references is crucial when considering a partner to work with on the implementation.  Ensuring that you are working with someone who has extensive experience in this arena will be imperative in supporting your business properly, staying on timeline, and exceeding expectations for internal stakeholders for your organization.

We realize a move to SAP S/4HANA is a significant decision considering the implications to your business. Clarkston wants to help you unlock new business value with SAP’s Intelligent ERP, realize new benefits, and overcome challenges with ease. If you want to understand our client success stories, start a free trial with SAP S/4HANA, or have a conversation about implementing S/4HANA for your business, please contact us today to learn more.

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