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How a COO Can Avoid the S/4HANA Implementation Trap

It Is Enough to Make a COO Shudder
By
Martin Rowan

Many COOs—perhaps you are one of them—are hesitant to move forward to S/4HANA because of their fear of the implementation trap.  Memories of the last go-live implementation continue to haunt them: will this new implementation be as rough as the last?  Will there be better data this time, will users be adequately educated on how to use the system effectively, and will there be sufficient support for the change the organization will go through(again)?

It is enough to make a COO shudder. The good news is it doesn’t have to be that way. If your business team has continued to experience a mistrust of the data, frustration with the system, degrading of service levels and increased demand for IT support, the first thing to do is address the elephant in the room. Chances are, your last implementation was not a huge success because of a combination of factors: a lack of business ownership of SAP, a lack of true education of users and managers, and the realization that true transformational change was never achieved. As a result, your organization never stopped being stuck in siloes and slowly but surely regressed to the old way of doing things. Let’s consider:  what can you do this time around to help ensure that the expected return on investment is achieved through maximum automation and integration?

Spoiler alert: if you are not embracing a single source of truth and addressing your current challenges and still expect to gain maximum benefits from an all-new, from-scratch implementation, you are bound to once again be disappointed. So, before you hit the reset button and move into the accelerated world of S/4HANA, you must leverage the SAP tools you currently use to their fullest capacities. Other wise, all you are really doing is accelerating the chaos.

Preparing your business for optimal usage of S/4HANA depends on how far your business has traveled along the Business Maturity® continuum. Those who are familiar with Reveal know that we employ this proprietary five-level continuum to measure an organization’s ability to meet and exceed its business goals by leveraging its technology investment.

If your organization rates high on the Business Maturity® continuum, it will possess a deep understanding of SAP and how it runs the business. Through this increased understanding, actual changes in behavior will occur. Cross-functional teams will already be established for process and organizational integration, and strategic or tactical governance structures will be set up. This only occurs when there is only one system of truth and everyone lives in the system. When this occurs, good things begin to happen: increased revenues and service levels, optimal inventory values, increased inventory runs and reduced inventory write-offs, reduced stock-outs and lost sales and real-time visibility of performance goals, process, and data events.

Before you launch the journey to S/4HANA, you must make certain that you already have all the pieces in place—established business ownership of the master data (business rules), educated users, cross-functional organizational integration, a manage-by-exception mindset, and a clear focus on aligning behavior with business rules—i.e., reaching Level 4 and 5 on the Business Maturity® continuum. Unless you can claim that you have achieved all of this, you are not yet ready for the next wave of technology.

Once the processes and human capital are working the way they should be, you are ready to rapidly convert the improved and optimized business processes/practices and master data toS/4HANA. Your next step will be to determine the implementation model that will get you there with the least cost, disruption, risk and re-implementation.  When you think of SAP as an asset—the single nervous system of your organization—and not just a tool, you will be able to fully understand the opportunity S/4HANA can offer.

Read this white paper to learn more about what a COO Needs to Know About the Move to S/4HANA and the different journeys to get there.

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