As companies transition to S/4HAHA, there are imperatives for the business about how to get better results from this significant investment. For many production planners, manufacturing executives and managers, the looming transition from ECC to S/4HANA has created some growing anxiety.
We already know that S/4HANA is touted as a powerful planning tool that can help companies develop optimized production planning and scheduling results. However, the primary questions which needs to be answered: “Is there a long and time-consuming learning curve? Will the new benefits really out weigh the time and energy needed to get up to speed?"
The answers, thankfully, are no. SAP S/4HANA PP (Production Planning module) has a lot of familiar look and feel to the ECC version. The transition to S/4HANA should not require a huge learning curve or a whole new way of doing things. In fact, the migration to S/4HANA makes our jobs easier. It provides the opportunity to address production planning/detailed scheduling changes with the legacy solution. The good news is, for those of us who are using standard SAP functionality to generate a production plan and perform detailed scheduling, this functionality also exists in S/4HANA. Want more? There are also FIORI Apps to complement core production planning and detailed scheduling solutions, and that improves your experience in this new environment.
In addition, the S/4HANA embedded Production Planning and Detailed Scheduling (PP/DS) is an add-on advanced planning tool enabling companies to create accurate production schedules based on the available resources, capacity, and material availability. Both the S/4 production planning module and the PP/DS system are used to schedule Planned, Process and Production Orders. Both solutions can be used to optimize the scheduling process through the consideration of various factors which include capacity restraints and components availability.
For this process to work properly, we must not only rely on functionality, but also the data we use. Put another way, how well do the actuals tie back to what we are scheduling? There must be enough disciplines or KPIs to measure the actuals back to scheduling parameters to map the methodology and ensure continuous improvement in production planning and detail scheduling.
The PP/DS solution offers additional functionality as product characteristics (dimensions, chemical properties, and so forth) can be factored into the planning and scheduling tasks. This solution makes it possible to track batch and shelf-life dependencies when building a plan or schedule. PP/DS also offers a scheduler tool to run simulations on a plan before committing to a schedule. Lastly, PP/DS alert profiles are a powerful tool to manage out-of-sync activities in the production processes.
Even though much of production finite scheduling is very familiar, whether run only in S/4HANA PP or with an e PP/DS version, there are benefits for both solutions that are particularly exciting for those involved with production. S/4HANA runs on an S/4HANA database, placing the most advanced in-memory computing architecture at our fingertips. That means we can get real-time business statistics and analytics rather than relying on data that may be hours old.
Additionally, S/4HANA introduced major table simplifications through the consolidation of data. The result: improved system performance along with easier data accessibility.
Finally, major enhancements have been added to S/4HANA with embedded planning PP-DS solution. Master and transactional data are now directly managed within one system: the S/4HANA landscape database. Instead of running a separate APO/SCM system with all the data synchronization issues, the new S/4HANA version offers major improvements over the previous versions in how data is managed.
Now that we know the most significant changes, let’s parse the differences between the two systems and how they will impact the production planning and scheduling process when transitioning from ECC to S/4HANA. One of the main differences between the two systems is the way they handle production planning and scheduling.
We also need to become fully aware of best practices so we can optimize our production planning and scheduling processes. Among the seven top practices are:
- Maintain accurate data to minimize or eliminate errors that can torpedo the production schedule through the top practices listed below.
- Perform regular updates that reflect any changes that occur in resources, capacity, or materials.
- Collaborate with other departments such as procurement and logistics to make sure that production/scheduling is optimized up and down the supply chain.
- Monitor and improve the production/scheduling to maintain a culture of continuous improvement.
- Use advanced planning tools, such as SAP’s PP/DS system, to improve on-time delivery while at the same time, reducing production and inventory costs when necessary.
- Monitor and improve the production planning and scheduling process on a continuous basis to ensure it is optimized for the company's needs.
- Use of advanced planning tools: Companies should consider using advanced planning tools, such as SAP's PP/DS system, to optimize their production planning and scheduling processes.
To summarize, you need to fully understand what to expect when transitioning the PP function from ECC to S/4HANA. S/4HANA’s PP/DS, when supplemented by best practices and advanced planning tools, has the capability to improve production planning and scheduling without incurring undue downtime or rigorous learning curves. Even though the process is largely the same, the added speed, accuracy, and precision will in all likelihood improve supply chain performance.
We provide a more detailed conversation around this topic in our recent webinar, "Business Guide to S/4 vs. ECC's Production Finite Scheduling".