Once you have selected your SAP system integrator, it’s easy to get steamrolled into letting the army of consultants show up on site, start the meter running, and just start doing stuff. Despite pressure you may feel from Deloitte, Accenture, Capgemini, or most other integrators, this is a terrible idea that goes against your best interest. There are critical things to do before beginning your SAP S/4HANA implementation.
I often refer to this as the cliff-diving phenomena. Organizations too often dive head first into “doing stuff” without having a clear vision, path forward, or business blueprint in place. This is why troubles like the SAP failure at Lidl and the SAP challenges at Haribo are so common in recent years.
The problem is that you aren’t ready – nor should you be expected to be ready – to jump right in the minute you have decided to move forward with you S/4HANA transformation. There is simply too much work to do in advance to make the best use of your system integrator. As the below graphic shows, the cliff-diving phenomena that too many organizations get pressured into is fraught with risks.
Instead, the more successful companies engage in a transformation readiness phase of the project before engaging the army of SAP consultants to get started on Day 1. This work should be conducted in a technology-agnostic way – not an SAP-first perspective. In other words, your business needs, requirements, and blueprint should drive the S/4HANA transformation – not the other way around. This work is best performed by technology-agnostic support (such as Third Stage Consulting) that isn’t trying to cram as much SAP software down your throat as quickly as possible.
Below are five of the areas that should be addressed prior to fully engaging your SAP system integrator:
1. Strategic and executive alignment. Your company needs to fully understand what it wants to be when it grows up before beginning software design. There needs to be clear strategic direction and alignment on your team, which should translate into clear priorities and parameters for your S/4HANA implementation. Strategic decisions around standardization, shared services models, organizational design, and other key variables should be decided before getting your system integrator involved.
The best anecdote for mitigate implementation risk and potential SAP failures is to take control of the project and augment your implementation project with independent expertise to address the areas outlined above. Your SAP system integrator isn’t a silver bullet, so be sure to look out for your best interests when embarking on your SAP transformation.
We have helped a variety of companies through their SAP S/4HANA implementations in recent years, so please feel free to contact me if you would like to arrange a web conference for me to be an independent sounding board for your project. I’m happy to help!