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Experience Talks: How to Plan for a Smooth SAP S/4HANA Implementation

Director of Product Management for SAP
Wednesday, September 29, 2021 in Cloud, Enterprise, SAP

Last year served as a harsh reminder for IT leaders regarding the need to be nimble, agile and innovative. In order for decision makers to remain competitive in a fast-paced world, they must keep their businesses running under a variety of tough constraints, including game-changing events like the global pandemic.

The main solution under consideration to meet these demands is infrastructure and application modernization. In particular, moving away from legacy SAP systems by implementing SAP S/4HANA in a purpose-built cloud environment.

However, S/4HANA implementation in the cloud can be a complex process requiring methodical planning and execution to be successful. If rushed and done the wrong way, IT modernization through cloud-based S/4HANA can become an arduous process that delays the realization of business benefits.

Enterprises planning for their cloud future don’t simply need an implementation plan. They need a smart implementation plan, with the right cloud partner, that enables them to deploy their S/4HANA environment in the cloud with minimal disruption, reduced risk and a shorter time-to-cloud. With experienced hands at the wheel, enterprises can more quickly realize cloud benefits and start seeing a return on their investments faster.

Why Implement SAP S/4HANA Now?

The latest updates to S/4HANA have been designed to help enterprises modernize and become truly intelligent businesses, providing substantially improved computing capabilities. For example, database queries that have taken hours in the past can be completed in just minutes or even seconds today.

With broadly enhanced and new functionalities, businesses can rollout new features even faster with S/4HANA. Furthermore, the platform enables businesses to run both transactional and analytical applications at the same time, allowing for actionable, data analysis in real-time.

The value of a smart plan for implementation and management of S/4HANA in the cloud is fundamentally about enabling a more complete IT transformation, unlocking the fully optimized benefits of a more agile, adaptable and efficient business. To achieve these transformative benefits, however, the experts at Virtustream suggest carefully exploring these three areas prior to executing your cloud deployment.

Three Steps to Improve Your Game Plan for Implementing SAP S/4HANA in the Cloud

1. The devil is in the details – start by understanding your environment’s complexities

With many businesses seeing impressive projected results for their S/4HANA journey – ranging from stronger ROI numbers to improved revenue growth – it can be tempting for some IT leaders to dive right in. Add external factors to the situation, like a massive shift to a remote workforce, and the urgency only increases. However, moving to S/4HANA is not a traditional upgrade, as SAP rewrote the entire application. Many businesses that have run SAP for years may be adept at standard application management tasks but will likely lack the specialized skills necessary to complete a successful S/4HANA implementation in the cloud. When exploring Brownfield scenarios, the more complex the legacy system – originally designed to run on-premises – the more potential for short- and long-term issues. With more than a decade of experience migrating and implementing SAP workloads in the cloud, our experts suggest that your first step should be an honest assessment of your internal skill sets and capabilities on this front, followed by an extensive review of the current environment.

2. Your strategy should include a solid implementation process and optimization plan

Once your unique complexities are well understood, the next step is to plan… and then plan some more. One of the first decisions you will need to make is whether you want to pursue a Brownfield or Greenfield implementation, and the impact either direction will have on your business. The biggest challenge for most organizations making these strategic decisions is pulling together a smart, comprehensive implementation plan that fully takes into account all of the special requirements, nuances and limitations for your unique environment that can hinder a smooth and successful transition.

For example, if exploring a Brownfield upgrade to S/4HANA in the cloud, the first step is to identify how many landscapes exist within your current SAP environments. There are production instances, of course, and there will likely be several non-production instances, such as sandbox and development environments. Easy enough.

However, once identified, you will then need to define a specific process for migrating all of those landscapes to the new S/4HANA instance in the cloud, including how and when to schedule those changeovers to go live in the cloud, how to best orchestrate those moves, and how and when to validate the changes.

The deeper you properly plan, the more complexity you will discover. In the end, the plan needs to be comprehensive from start to finish to ensure business-critical functionality is maintained, no data is lost along the journey, and that there is zero impact to ongoing business operations while the migration is underway.  

3. Choose the right cloud partner for your unique IT requirements

There are plenty of cloud options today, from public hyperscalers to specialized industry-specific clouds, to private clouds and everything in between. Each option offers technical nuances and a mix of capabilities, and S/4HANA has very prescriptive standards about how to best manage the environment in the cloud. Choosing the right cloud partner may be the most important step in the entire process.

To help ensure a smooth implementation that enables a business to maximize the full benefits of its cloud solution, you should look for a cloud partner that has deep SAP expertise, the capabilities to deliver a full assessment and plan, from implementation to disaster recovery, and a broad set of time-tested blueprints. Virtustream can check all of these boxes and much more.

Virtustream is in the business of delivering white-glove, best-of-breed cloud solutions, including expert xStreamCare Services for SAP and even on-site Residency Services if necessary. With expanded services for security and compliance integrated into our solutions, and thousands of SAP migrations and implementations under our belt, we stand apart as a trusted cloud partner that can truly offer our customers a one-hand-to-shake model. We have the tools, people, and processes to work smarter and move fast. To learn if we’re the right partner for you, go here.

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